Ever since I’ve been little, I’ve loved Hot Wheels cars and Monster trucks, so when the holidays arrived this past year, we were shocked to find itty-bitty versions – I basically fainted in the store. They came with baby size tracks and just like when I was little, we named them something totally RADICAL! (like Scary, Blu Angel, Pinkerstinker, etc.) But as usual, we turned the delightful little toy into an accidental school project about weight, velocity, friction, probability and a competition in physics!
We have a lot of tracks and we used that to our advantage! We rolled out paper on the floor, taped it down, set up the track, re-thought the names we gave them and assigned colors to each car. Then we sent them down the speeding track for SCIENCE!! We mapped out were they landed and saw if that correlated with each car’s weight. Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than the company that created them! Able to be sold to a traveling tourist in under 10 minutes! LOOK! ON THAT RACING TRACK! It’s a bird! It’s invisible. NO!! YOU’RE ALL WRONG! IT’S RED ELEVEN! (thats another car we named.)
Whew! I got a little carried away with my imagination there. Anyway, I’ll let the pictures tell you basically what happened but in the end, our hypothesis of which cars would have the greatest potential of making it the farthest was correct!
For most people in the northern hemisphere, winter is a time for snow and frosty cold- and that’s what we were talking about this week: frost! As our experiment, we declared a race between a simple spoonful of snow in a metal bowl and SALTED snow, also in a metal bowl. We used snow, but feel free to use ice if you prefer! Whichever got the most frost on the bowl in a 20 minute time span was the winner. Do try this at home, it’s a super fun project! Before we reveal the winner, place your guesses and I’ll explain a little bit about frost in general.
To Put it simply, frost is just a thin layer of ice which forms when the air is very moist and the vapor comes in contact with an object that’s below the freezing temperature, it turns into ice as the vapor reaches the chilly freezing point. As natural loves diversity, there are many types of frost: hoarfrost which only develops on cold clear nights, rime which appears when it’s way below freezing and very humid, and window frost… that only comes around when the outside air is much colder than the warmer inside air causing it to ice up on the window pane.
After that rather long explanation, time to reveal the winner! The salted one not only melted first but it also developed frost WAAAAAAAAAAY faster! That’s also why our fair cities sprinkle salt on the roads – it melts the snow much quicker than it would melt on its own by lowering the freezing point.
This post was way longer than it was expected to be. Anyway, if you made it to the end I applaud your persistence and feel free to leave us any questions, we’d be happy to answer them! Have an awesome day and keep things frosty my fellow humans! ;0)
With the New Year upon us, we used chemistry to help us get things off to a sweet start! We decided to make taffy out of one ingredient: Honey! We started by placing the contents of one bottle of honey in a pot, warmed it up to roughly 280 degrees and then we drizzled the hot gooey mess into a buttered dish to cool. Not hot enough. It never got to the soft crack temp, so we started all over again. Honey in. This time more careful thermometer reading…just past 285 F and set to cool. Second batch – Success!
Once it was stiff enough to handle, it was time for the fun part: pulling the taffy! (Let me tell you, that is a real workout! ). Let me also say that it is a critical detail to grease your hands before grabbing the honey to pull. (see photo from our first failed try). After maybe 5 minutes of pulling and twisting, it started to take on an iridescent, yellowish color. I continued to pull mine while Olive and Mom began wrapping in waxed paper and then it turned to a light beige which surprised us all! Later, we learned through experience, that the darker the color, the harder it is to chew, so the one that didn’t get as much pulling felt like it could potentially take your tooth out… worth the extra pulling!
Thanks for reading this curious post and keep a lookout for more coming soon!
It was a cool but damp late October morning when we arrived at Jeff’s Studio. Pots had been thrown the week before and bisque fired, now it was time for the glaze. We were trying our hands at a pit fire. We gathered all types of wood from around the farm, sprinkled and piled dog food, egg shells, seaweed, and salt into and over the pots, hoping to have color and texture merge onto the waiting surfaces. Jeff lit the fire and instantly, it was a blaze! The fire was then covered with wet cardboard and wooden boards and after hovering around the warmth of the fire, back into the studio we went so Olive could throw more clay.
After about an hour, the fire had died down, wood was cinder and we went to the pit to see the results among the still smoldering ashes. See what you think! We were very excited with the outcome – the texture and mottling appears to be galactic and the depth of the black is beautiful. We are already planning for another one. Very fun and interesting to see the reactions (and non reactions) that showed themselves on the final pieces. What a great way to spend a fall morning in West Michigan!
Welcome to tech class! Before we begin, a brief over view of what circuit bending is: A man named Reed Ghazala created circuit bending in 1966 when unexpectedly, a toy shorted-out when it touched a metal object in his desk drawer. This created surprising types of unusual sounds. Circuit bending today is when people (like us!), customize the circuits in electronic devices, like toys and digital synthesizers to create new musical or visual instruments! WHEW! Now that you know what circuit bending is, let’s move on.
Over the last couple weeks we’ve made changes to over 8 different toys! We’ve changed things like the color of the lights inside, on toys that spoke we shifted the pitch of the words and even the speed of the sentences! By far the most complicated toy was Reggie the rooster. He has all sorts of springs, wires, lights, speakers and buttons which are all controlled by the circuit board inside. Plus, he sings great little songs… One thing that was particularly interesting with some of the toys that we first opened, is that some of them (the ones that have buttons that we could press and it starts talking or making noises) have these little plungers that are connected to the button, so when they touch the mother board, that triggers the lights and sounds! Cool right?
We used a jump wire to find circuits that made new sounds or glitch. By doing this we could make the lights change color, sounds go deeper or turn the board off or on entirely. We then took sounds and worked with Dad to loop them into his audio system. Now, we can use it to make MUSIC!
As an ongoing project, there will be more updates on this especially if something groundbreaking happens, but be sure to keep your notifications on and if you’re not willing to do that, keep an eye out for our next post!
Essential Oils. It seems they can be found everywhere. We recently had a workshop with an ultra awesome “Scent Jeanne” (magic in a bottle – get it?) who has her own skin care line and has spent 20 years researching and experimenting with essential oils, teas and natural remedies. After a talk about plants and their properties, possible uses for them and ways essential oils are obtained from the plants, we headed outside blindfolds and essential oils on hand. Jeanne loves the brand Mountain Rose Herbs because of their craft and attention to the growth, care and harvesting of their plants. Eden’s Garden is also a brand she appreciates the quality of.
One by one, accompanied by a breeze and the sunshine, we teamed up to explore our experiences with different scents. I partnered with the famous Emmy, with one person blindfolded, the other dabbed oils on a q-tip and allowed our brains to figure out what they thought of it. And boy, did mine think! In retrospect, I wonder how great my sense of smell is. I couldn’t tell if it was that I was trying too hard or I simply couldn’t smell as well as I thought I could. Later, we had a scavenger hunt in which we would smell the plants in Jeanne’s garden and pair it by smell with the right oil! That was tricky stuff, but it was super duper fun!
Thank you to Jeanne for just being so cool and teaching us about all of this radical stuff and to Emmy for being my excellent buddy and class partner! We hope this post made a lot of “scents” (get it?).
Sometimes all you need is a great idea. In this case, a suggestion from our recently adopted-by-proximity, nephew, Kevin. As our niece/nephew(s) came for the ‘Finale Family Dinner’ before graduation day from Undergrad, we knew it was time.
DIY videos rolled, supplies gathered and the next thing we knew, it was Pour Time!
All hands were on deck for the giant (36″x48″) first-time pour! Not many explanations needed, would use more paint, thinner and heavier layers of lubricant the next time, hopefully to get bigger cells. Check out the pics. Excited to do it again (and again!!).
This is what it looked like once it dried… some crazing (cracking) in thick paint areas but WAY COOL! Can’t wait to do it again!