Thursday, May 31, 2012
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
1 piece of stiff paper or cardboard (about 4*5 in)
1 small paper cup (this holds the astronauts)
3 index cards
2 regular marshmallows (these are the astronauts)
10 miniature marshmallows
3 rubber bands
8 plastic straws
1. Design a shock-absorbing system (think springs and cushions).
2. Build spacecraft by attaching shock absorbers to the cardboard platform.
3. Tape the cup to the cardboard platform to hold the astronauts. Cup must be right-side up, with no lid--no cheating!
Drop the lander from the height of one foot. If the astronauts fall out, modify your design. For instance, you can
--make sure the weight is evenly balanced so that the lander doesn't tip the astronauts out
--add soft pads or change shock absorbers so astronauts don't bounce out.
The "landers" I saw also had fins or paper wings, which slowed them down as they fell. This must be simulating an Earth landing, as the moon has no atmosphere to slow down a lander, no matter how many wings it has!
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Upon realizing (1:30 am last Saturday morning) that the upcoming solar eclipse was a rare annular eclipse that we'd actually be able to see from the southern US, we packed up and started driving south that very day. 26 hours later (we arrived at a Utah mountaintop in time to watch the celestial spectacle as the moon began to cover the sun. To watch the eclipse, we could use a welding face mask, a telescope flipped backwards to project the eclipse onto a white poster, or a pinhole viewer, in which the light goes through a small hole to project the sun's shape.
Here's the solar eclipse as seen through the backwards telescope, with the moon covering most of the sun.
And here's my pinhole solar eclipse viewer.
I recently read a Tufts Health & Nutrition email update which described how scientists in Cardiff had shown that chewing flavorless gum doesn't help with cognitive tasks; therefore, "chewing gum is only considered a performance enhancer as long as flavor lasts." Did that mean that mint flavor was a mental stimulant?
I loaded up on wintergreen Altoids, Tic Tacs, and Lifesavers. The Altoids had enough of a sharp flavor to jolt me into hyperawareness, the Tic Tacs made me laugh as my 4-year-old kept asking for "tic tac toes," and as an added benefit, I could let my kids chew the Lifesavers to make sparks in the dark. Perfect driving aids!
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
At this booth, run by the Society of Women Engineers, visitors were challenged to build sailcars and race them to see whose was fastest. The catch: they could only use the following materials:
1 small piece of paper
2 paper clips
50 centimeters of tape
Stumped? Here are some hints:
-Mount the Lifesavers on the straws to make wheels (they spin surprisingly well!)
-Turn the piece of paper into a sail you can blow on
With their candy wheels and their breath-catching sails, these little cars worked surprisingly well! Yet another great way to use candy for science.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Fat free? I think not. High-calorie? Yes, especially with all that extra sugar. Deceptive? Absolutely.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
This snack might make a yummy dessert, but I won't be serving it for breakfast. I won't be serving it for dessert, either. I much prefer cookies.*
*Though I did realize, on the airplane ride home from DC, that serving sugar cereal for dessert might have some advantages. It's so full of air that kids have to eat several pieces of cereal to get the amount of sugar they'd get from a few pieces of candy. In other words, it takes a little bit longer to eat, and on an airplane ride, that matters!
Find more details about the deal here:
You can also learn more about Dawn's chocolate classes (and cake decorating classes and how to buy specialty ingredients) at her website.
Saturday, May 5, 2012
--Every time a child stared at the 10 rolls of Smarties that match the sugar contents of one bottle of orange soda
--The kids who were so interested in their chromatography papers that they took them home
--Every time a parent read our blinding orange sign to their kids, so we didn't have to waste our voices repeating the message: "The candy is for experiments, not for eating!"
--The mother who learned that brown M&Ms actually contain red dye, when she'd always told her dye-sensitive children that brown was all right because it was made of chocolate
--Watching my family members, as well as a bunch of super volunteers, step up to demonstrate these exciting experiments.
I also found some new candy experiments as I was wandering around. Check back for details!