Tag Archives: Science

Spring has Sprung!

What a day it was yesterday! Not only was it the Vernal (Spring) Equinox, it was also Purim, celebrated by Jewish people (see the next post!) AND it was a Super Worm Moon! All in one day…!

So if you’re looking for fun, lively decorations for your springtime spaces, check these easy ones we made here for our learning wall. All you need is medium weight crepe paper, some glue sticks and scissors – oh! and paper plates to glue all the lovely petals to. Check out the pictures below to see how simple it is :0)

Happy Spring wherever you are!

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To make the center piece, just roll up a thinly fringed piece of crepe paper & glue it on in there!
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We added watercolor for the edges and middle of this beauty to give it some dimension!

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.

Wonderstructs!

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)

The Chemistry of Honey!

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!

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Pit Fire Time!

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!

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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!

 

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

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

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

A Collection of Shells…

I happen to love and collect many things, but my favorite collection by far are my shells and rocks! If we go on a trip, I’ll always come back home with a mini collection of shells and stones which is then added to the ultimate collection facility. (It’s really just a box, but its piled high so it sounds far more impressive when I say, “Oh yes, these are going directly into my collection facility for processing!”).

So! As a research project that connected to our geology focus, I was given the task of identifying the biological classification of shells along with many other details about them. For things that I love so much, I was surprised how much there was to learn about them. Here was my project brief:

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Some of the shells were easier than others to identify. Online can be such a strange place to get information… I know it’s out there, but finding it can be a challenge. This fella had a super great video that helped me on my hunt for information! It’s a 35 minute video, but super interesting.

This great website that talks about Biodiversity and Evolutionary Trees – a perfect resource to get a 3D look at shells you might have. So, I won’t go into a ton more detail and instead post images of some of my shells and the final charts with a ton of impressive information! Olive and I are trying to convince our parents to take us to Sanibel Island – the home of what else?? SHELLING!

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