Sunday, February 28, 2010

Science Museum Fun

Little Bro checking out stop animation and Big Bro checking out closed and open circuits...
Little Bro trying out the laser harp...
Big Bro working hard to get the hand crank generator working...
Little Bro checking out tectonic plates and how their shift / collision leads to earthquakes...
Looks like magic to Big Bro, but really, it is a plasma ball...these are always fun for kids and grown ups, too.

I have seen smaller versions of this game in other children's museums, but also, in Montessori classrooms and homeschools. To do this in a Montessori inspired environment, you give each child the same shapes and then, use a folder divider between them. Then, have one child describe what they are doing and making to the other. The other child then has to try to make the same thing as what has been described to them.
If you have constructive triangles, take one box and scan the shapes into a flat bed scanner. Then, print out the shapes with a color printer. Attach the paper shapes to card stock and laminate.
Then, give one child the laminated paper pieces and the other child the actual wooden pieces.
You can also give each child the same pieces using attribute blocks.
We have a simple machines set and it includes and inclined plane, but this one looks easy enough to make...
This crane looked interesting...think we might need to try to make one...

Today, we ventured a couple hours south of here and went to a neat science museum for kids called G Wiz.

We actually purchased an annual pass to this museum, as the boys enjoyed it so much when we were in Sarasota for the International Montessori Foundation's Fall 2009 conference.

G Wiz was supposed to be opening their new hands-on dinosaurs exhibit, but that got delayed, as it is presently in New Jersey and is stuck in snow and wet ground and cannot be moved at the moment.
That was okay though, as the boys love going there to see their regular exhibits.

We started in the optical illusions room and moved into the simple machines and inventions room.
I decided to take some photos of some of the simple machines, as they are things that we could easily replicate in our home.
Then, there were some other cool exhibits that would be too difficult to replicate in the home, but were neat to experience at the museum. We also went upstairs to check out some of the exhibits involving magnets.

As we were getting ready to leave, some students from the local school, Sarasota High School, were setting up a cool display of their science projects.
We decided to go check out their work, and were really glad that we did, as the students had done a great job!

Made me a bit nervous, though, as the one experiment was using ethanol, another was using hydrogen, another featured lycopodium powder, and another was using dry ice.

Some of the exhibits had fire extinguishers on hand, which was a good safety feature, but made me a bit anxious, as it was a tip off that fire could be a possibility.

We stood and watched from a distance for some of these, but let the big kids handle the flames.

Somehow, these particular ones gave me two flashbacks from childhood:

First, of my sister's birthday, when my brother, who was not even two, pushed my sister, who was turning six, into the lit candles on her cake and her hair caught on fire. My dad had to put out the flames with his hands and I can still smell burnt hair and blistered skin...

Then, I flash to my other brother, about three years old at the time, who LOVED fire as a child, and had decided that, in lieu of taking a nap, it would be more interesting to play with matches and set my closet on fire.
He lit matches and then did his own little experiment to see what goes up in flames the fastest...a felt sports pennant, a piece of clothing, or a dryer sheet.
Guess what? They all went up very fast!!!
Luckily, my dad was able to put this fire out quickly, too, but the smell of burnt clothing, felt, and Snuggle...yuck!!!

So, we stood back and watched but I can honestly say that I was happy when the fire part of the experiments had ended.

All of the experiments were interesting.

One boy had conducted research to see if the components in the cornstarch oobleck could help to make bullet proof vests more effective.
He explained that he tried coating different samples of fabric (kevlar, denim, and one other that is escaping me at the moment) with this mixture.
He let Big Bro and Little Bro play with his sample batch of oobleck and explained to them how it acts differently when you poke at the top of it versus if you store it and try to lift it.
They seemed to enjoy it. He then explained his experiment.
What made this boy a standout is that he did his very best to explain his work and appropriately involve both boys.
The fact that he came up with an experiment that has some real world applications is also impressive. As someone who has had family members either in the military or working on military bases as a federal civilian, looking for a way to improve bullet proof vests is awesome!

All of the students had lovely display boards...

I was truly impressed, as they looked so professional...but this boy went about and beyond the call of duty to actively engage two young boys.

Some girls had experiments about sea life.

They had some sea grasses, a sea star, a hermit crab, and a sea cucumber in a tank.
One of the girls allowed Big Bro to hold the tiny crab and he loved that!

The girls were more shy than the boy with the oobleck, but they also did a fine job.
When I asked them about their experiments, they addressed me instead of the boys but they were able to tell succinctly tell me about their research. The girls' research also seem to have many real world applications, especially the effects of residual chlorine on sea life.

Would have liked to have a little more info. on the dry ice experiment, the ethanol one, the hydrogen one, and the lycopodium one.
My only suggestion for these folks would be that if they do something that is a bit dangerous in a children's science museum, that maybe they should first tell about their work in very simple terms, and then, give heads up to the families about the noise, smell, smoke, etc.

My boys would probably have loved to have known more about what these experiments were actually about, but since their Mommy is a chicken, they did not get to be too close and thus, they did not get to learn as much as maybe they would have with either some advance info. or a braver Mommy.

Actually, it was pretty amazing that these students were high school kids, as their all of their displays and their experiments seemed advanced.

The teacher, Mr. Andy, deserves a huge kudos, too, as these kids were well prepared and really seemed to enjoy their time spent at G Wiz.

So, hats off to all of them!

Please note, I did not take any photos of the students or their experiments, as I just feel that people should not photo any children or their work without express permission from their parents. If their parents would have all been there, I would have loved to have featured their work...all of them...Way to go, students!

And to the students who chose to do the more dangerous experiments, a little follow up about my younger brother, the former curious kid and lover of all things dangerous, esp. fire...
He grew up and got certified to do some other very dangerous work in the Navy!
He has a pyrotechnics certification, a scuba certification, and some other certs for dismantling bombs and such.

It was a really nice day for both boys...and for Dear Hubby and for me, too.

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