All posts by waterstreetacademy

Gimme Some Skin!

Our skin is a busy place. Feeling the touch of the world around us, sloughing off dead skin, building new, sweating, growing hair, keeping things in a sealed space. And don’t forget goosebumps! Take a ride through the layers of the skin and then come back to check out our attempt at a model of the skin with, what else? Jello and Marshmallows!

Some of these models can be TOO REAL. There’s the subcutaneous tissue (represented by the marshmallows (fat!)), the dermis, (Jello) and of course, the surface layer of skin, the epidermis, represented by a fruit roll up (what is the deal with the printed faces on the Roll ups? Is that NEW?!) The finale was putting in the little wire hairs –  it kind of made us queasy. But we get the point now. We will never look at skin the same again! And that is the ‘skin’ny on skin!


The Skin You’re In…

Skin. The largest organ in the body. Ever wonder how much of it we actually have?  To find out, we did an experiment (of course!) and all you need is: a lot of paper (news paper would also work), tape and two or more well-mannered family members or friends.

LET US BEGIN!! For this fun project Olive decided to step up and be the star of the show, but if you don’t have an Olive handy, you can always use someone else ;0) Long story short, we covered our handy skin model in paper and tape, and carefully cut and ripped it all off in big chunks and then flattened into as close of a rectilinear shape as possible and measured it. We took the dimensions and found the area. Turns out all of Olive’s skin measured up to approximately 2,441 square inches!! I say approximately because we didn’t measure the skin between fingers and toes, into ears, eyelids, you get the idea. In case you’re wondering, average adults have around 2,800 square inches… that’s a LOT of SKIN!

From there, we figured out the pressure placed on her body. Atmospheric pressure is calculated at 14.7 pounds per square inch, which that means there’s 35,8827 pounds of force on her body from the sea of atmosphere around her! Talk about being under PRESSURE!!


Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

Just a couple of days a go we learned the difference between glaciers and icebergs, and along the way we also learned how salt affects ice!

To start, we learned the difference between the two similar looking ice formations. Glaciers are formed with continual tons of snow in a place where it can’t melt, such as the arctic and they are entirely above water level. An iceberg is the broken part of a glacier which floats 10% above water level (and yes we will be learning about that little myth a little bit later!). Now, EXPIRIMENT TIME!!!

The only things you will need for this experiment is: water balloons, two bowls, large clear bowl, food coloring of your choice and salt. Lets get to it!

First we filled several water balloons with plain water and we left them in the snow to see how long it would take to freeze. After a (surprisingly) long overnight wait, we unwrapped the balloons and found really cool looking ice orbs, they had little air pockets inside which actually looked like needles as they froze in place, capturing the air within them. There weren’t any in the tops of the ice balls since the tops froze first, pushing the air downward into the bottom of the all. After admiring them for some time, we each took an orb and placed it in the center of each of our bowls, taking a pinch of salt and sprinkling it over them. Now is a good time now to add a few drops of food coloring.  As we watched, little canals formed and we could hear a slight hissing sound coming from them as the air released from the melting ice. Finally, we took a big glass bowl, filled it with water and plopped the ice in we let it sit for a minute and BAM! much like an actual iceberg, the ice ball was exactly 10% above the water level.  We tried this over and over with different ice balls and it was always the same – 10%.

The last thing we wanted to better understand was the fact that as an iceberg melts, there can be up to 1 mile of fresh water separate of the sea water. We modeled that by making a tunnel in one of the ice balls and squirting green food coloring through it. As you can see from the photos, the green part (representing fresh water) doesn’t mix with the blue water at its edge. With currents in an ocean, eventually, it would mix together, but in the area where it continues to melt it was easier to understand how that fresh water could stay fresh!




Rolling in Art!

Maybe you read our post from last March about the Mobility Cart manufacturing tour we took. If not you can read it here. Maybe you thought to yourself – WOW! I had no idea that so many people suffer from not being able to get around in other countries, just like we did after we saw the incredible videos of disabled people in Africa. This New Years, we came together as a family to create a custom, African design inspired cart for a child in need thousands of miles away! If you read this and think you’d like to do the same or as a fundraising activity or even just donate money toward to cost of a mobility cart, you can check out Mobility Worldwide’s website here.

Once our cart is fully assembled at the plant, we will update this post with a photo…Can hardly wait! Happy New Year!!!


Here is a video of the people who are helped by these incredible carts!



Branching Out…

Things are really turning around over here!

Inspired by Olive’s pot-making,  I decided to try a little something new, the lathe! Some of my first projects included: pens and small japanese-like kokeshi dolls… But my new favorite are these mini vases, all of which are less than 4 inches tall! So far I’ve turned many different woods like: cherry, pine, teak, black walnut, redwood and my personal favorite which is made of many types of wood glued together. I’m trying new kinds of wood, both hard and soft, to get an understanding of how each turns and finishes differently. So far, I loved the teak and pine – they cut easily and finish cleanly.  Black walnut has had an unexpected ‘flicker’ in the wood once it is polished. That is COOL! I have been using beeswax as my final coat which makes them smooth and incredible to the touch. Wood has never felt so GOOD!

They are tiny enough to put small bunches of dried flowers, twigs or other natural bits of joy in them. I’m thinking a bowl might be my next project – stay tuned!!

As an aside, for one of my assignments, I researched soft and hard wood. I’ve included the overview of the soft woods on this post. I’ll never look at trees the same again!




Saving Marine Mammals

Over Thanksgiving, we journeyed out to the San Fransico area to visit some friends and get out into the field to learn more about marine life at the ocean. We are so close to Lake Michigan that it was fun to see the differences between salt and fresh water and of course the size difference of 2 bodies of water.

Introducing: The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California. A place where they rescue, rehabilitate and have a positive affect on conservation of oceans and marine life through research and education.

When we first came through the doors we saw a fun little exhibit full of skins, little skeletons and… garbage. Not because the people that come in are messy, but because that’s what they’ve collected from the animals that they save. We were surprised at how large a full sized elephant seal sculpture was. I hadn’t considered how terrifying it would be to see a live group of these tremendous mammals. They are HUGE!

We quietly walked up some stairs to see the rehabilitation center. There were only about 12 seals there then, but we could only see 2 from the observation platform. April is their (sadly) busy season and they have had up to 300+ seals and other marine animals in their care at one time! It takes a TON of work and loads of fish to feed and rehabilitate these little friends.  We saw the kitchen where they prepare all the food, a research lab, and my Mom went to check out the autopsy area, where they research animals after they have died. Thankfully, there was nothing there to see at that time!! WHEW!

After leaving the center, we walked down to Rodeo Beach and spent time looking at the most INCREDIBLE pebble beach and hoards of surfers. We spent much of our time looking for small, red, translucent stones that Native American folklore says if buried along with a wish it will bring you good luck! We did find a few and they are very special. They are HARD to find, but we think we are pretty lucky anyway.



The Water Street Prosthetic Lab!

Sadly, in the last of couple years, the dolls of Water Street have been losing limbs like hands or even heads due to casualties of fun or an attempted playdate with our dog, which has resulted in a bigger than desired group of dolls without arms, feet, legs and hands. It is time for them to regain their full ability as role playing friends. It’s time to turn their disabilities into SUPER abilities!

The dolls of choice were Batgirl, whose arm popped off moments after she emerged from her packaging. The tricky part was attaching it because it broke at the elbow joint and there was still a plastic piece left inside. More on that in a minute. The second doll was an already repainted/modified Bratz doll, named Kimberly, who lost 2 fingers in a dog attack (though it looked like more…).

We used a program called Sketchup! on the computer to create the designs and interfaces we would then print on the Maker Bot. Before we made anything we needed to access the tools we could use. (most of them are listed below) Then we began measuring and writing… we used calipers to measure the teeny stuff so we were sure it would fit correctly. Then we chose an appendage to make: Olive chose a Bob’s Pizzeria box and a hand saw and I chose a large hook and a over-size sword to make…

TO THE COMPUTER!!! after a lot of extruding, re-learning how to measure on that program and getting some critical intellect, we were ready to send it off to the Maker-bot! After a suspenseful night sleep, we went out to the lab to find some printer and part errors: Olive’s pizza box was too thin at the bottom so it looked like a bunch of string and my sword’s cuff was too chunky and short. So we went back to the computer to make modifications on the designs, hit print, and after about 7 hours of waiting – it worked!! The new prosthetics fit tightly  and now Batgirl can cut vegetables with more grace and ease, deliver Bob’s Pizza at a moment’s notice and Kimberly is now continuing her career as a pirate! Arrgh!