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!
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!
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!
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).
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.
It’s winter. On the lakeshore in Michigan that means a lot of snow (usually!). Did you know there are different types of snow? The magic of snow starts in a cloud high in the sky where supercooled water droplets bounce around and knock into dust particles which in the right conditions, become the ice nuclei. As the ice crystal grows, more water droplets collide with it – that process is called accretion. As a side note, accretion is also how galaxies form (far out!)!
Angles are very important when talking about snow. The ice nuclei is in the center of a snowflake. Because its formed from water, the molecule of H20 is positioned with a single oxygen molecule with 2 hydrogen molecules located 60 degrees apart from each other. This is the same angle that the branches of a snowflake forms off of. So each branch is at a 60 degree angle from each other, which is where you get the 6 arms of a snowflake!
There are many kinds of snow… graupel (like granola, or popcorn!), sleet (melts, then re-freezes), aggregate (bunches of snowflakes connect to each other), hail (supercooled water droplets in the cloud being recirculating through the atmosphere, building up layers each time it makes a full trip), snow, freezing rain (similar to sleet but colder and freezes on impact). That’s a lot of different kinds of snow!!
For our experiment, we headed outdoors to learn how 3D shapes can affect snow and creates drifts. We called in the help of expired potato flakes, flour, rice and literal snow to see what happened. It kind of worked. There was too much wind (in addition to the fan we were using) and we needed a van full of material to make it look like an actual drift! Check out our results below!
We always hope for more snow here on the Lakeshore. We hope there’s enough still to come (22′ anyone!??) to head back out into the dunes for some exhilarating sledding, snowboarding and adventure before Spring arrives in Michigan!
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!) we found here. 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!!
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!