Tag Archives: math

And The Winner is….

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!

That’s Snow Amazing!!

Have you ever seen a snowflake up close before, even for just a second? Well, as one of our projects we learned even more about the magic of snow, the different types, and the mathematics behind every snowflake. Math is everywhere in nature, once you look closely :0)

Did you know every branch of a snowflake is exactly 60 degrees apart? Every flake (if its absolutely perfect) has 6 sides, and every branch is identical. The water molecules (after it latches on to a piece of debris ) grows outward in a hexagonal shape – this is what creates the 6 sides. One of the things we loved to learn was that the hexagon is also the building block of honeycomb in bee hives. Summer and winter, this is a very important shape! With this in mind, we each built our very own, non- melting snowflake that started with a single dot… Want to try it? All you need is flat pieces of cardboard, an xacto- knife, a ruler, some white paint (which is optional, in which case you’d also need a paintbrush and water) and drawing utensil and maybe some reference!

Check out some of our photos below, and if you do give it a try, we would LOVE to see the results!

Credit for our beautiful heading photo, check out the Columbia Journal Review.


It all started with Kickstarter.

We were browsing through Kickstarter, appreciating people’s ingenuity when we saw this. Andy and Keith Johnson had an idea. Wonderstructs! A marble run made out of wood. Didn’t take much fur us to sign on as a backer and some time later, after what we imagined to be long hours and months of work on their end, our box filled with excitement arrived!

We have been focusing on physics and movement the past several weeks (and for the next few coming) so this was a perfect project for us to take on. We’ll let most of the photos tell the story but to say the least, it’s a wonder we could construct it! There was a stack of laser cut wood pieces that needed to be punched out and assembled, stacks of magnets, wiring, a motor, tons of little rubber bands, marbles (of course) and the instructions, which was an amazing accomplishment for the inventors to develop! They gratefully, had great assembly instructions (thank you!) and once constructed, there were over 100 parts to use in creating our marble run. It took us roughly 20 hours of the course of a week to get the whole thing put together and installed but it was worth it.

In the end, our first working design has a bowl, 4 switches, 2 funnels, 1 giant conveyor belt, some chimes and many turns and straights. There were a few pieces that broke or fell apart and sometimes it was tricky to get all of the pieces correctly seated, but for the most part, the entire installation is miraculous! Overall we are quite impressed with this ‘king of all kits’ and we intend to change the installation every few weeks. We didn’t include one of our favorite pieces, the tipper arm, so next version is sure to include that one! We’ll update the blog occasionally as we reinvent this awesome invention :0)

Circuit Bending 1.0

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!



There’s dear little Reggie! (May he rest in peace.)


Heres the inside of Todd- we ended up temporarily changing the color of his lights!


Later, we hooked up one of the toys to dad’s music-ing machines and it made some pretty spooky sounds!

The Ways of Money

We use it all the time. Money. But the more things go electronic, the less obvious it is. Credit cards, Apple Pay, gift cards debit cards. When we work our craft booths, rarely do people hand us cold hard cash. Mostly they pop out their credit card and we run it through Square. Their balance goes down, ours goes up (minus the percentage we pay to Square for making the transaction).

But what happens from there? Where did the money come from and how do we get it to buy something we want? That’s what this lesson was all about. Currency. Interest rates. Layaway. Cash – how it is designed to keep people from printing their own. Coins. In a world that seems to (unfortunately) revolve around money, we should know how it works!


Finding Balance…

We’re always trying to find balance. Every day… when we stand, squat, pick up a bag or our plate from the kitchen to bring to the table. We experienced finding the center of gravity in many new ways… we’ve learned about before and these hands on activities helped remind us and reinforce some superior balancing skills!

3 Activities:

Activity 1: Grab a 3′ dowel. Find the center point by balancing it on a finger and mark it with your best guess. Now measure it to see if you were right. How close was your mark? Ours were pretty close :0)

Activity 1b: Next, take that same dowel, turn it on its end and balance it on your palm. Pretty simple, right? Add a fist full of play dough and position it towards the bottom of the stick. Now try and balance it again. Easier or harder? Flip the dowel over so the play dough is toward the top. Try your hand at balancing it again. Easier or harder this time? We thought the results were surprising until we thought about the center of gravity and rotation!

Activity 2: Then, we did this cool experiment found here. 2 forks, 2 toothpicks, a lighter and a LOT of patience (Thank goodness for Olive!!). This experiment was SUPER fun… we love ay experience that we get to see bits of fire.

Activity 3: The last activity was using an empty pop can. Try and balance it on its bottom edge. Doesn’t really work… UNTIL… you grab a cup of water and add a little until you find the optimal balancing point of your choice. (Here’s a tip: less is more…. thats a clue, but you’re a smart organism – you can figure it out!) Depending on how much water is inside the can when you first balance it you can keep filling it in its balanced state until it goes over its center of gravity! (But be aware, after learning the fun of this we kept filling it more and more until it tipped and it nearly wiped out everything that was on the table!)

They were fun experiments and helped us better understand something that is happening every day all around us. Finally, we know how to find balance… well, except for that long list of things we need to do…..;0).



Paper Crane Magic…

It’s become kind of an obsession, origami. Especially the cranes. I’ve been focused on the standard size and smaller. Until today. Today was different. We broke out the big paper. After some measuring complications, we got our paper square and began to fold. Tough when it keeps rolling onto itself, but with the help of a redeemed iTunes card, many folds later, the crane appeared! It’s wings are floppy, a trade off for using thinner paper.

It made me grateful for reasonably sized origami paper. Check out my tiniest cranes. The smallest one, folded with tweezers and a magnifying glass is no bigger than a grain of basmati rice.

Next on the list of folds: a unicorn. Stay Tuned.