Thursday, January 15, 2015

Paper circuits

John Muir Workshop goers made paper circuits on Wednesday using copper tape (slug tape), surface mount LEDs,  3v cell batteries, tape, paper & crayons. Proud of these kids for their persistence, working with copper tape & those teeny tiny lights gets tricky!  Thanks high-low tech for the idea.

Friday, January 9, 2015

JMSW electromagnetic wall additions

These Wednesday workshop goers worked on some clever & crafty additions to our electromagnetic wall, Others made magnet toys, some made lava lamps & some were fascinated watching all the living creatures in our pond. Everybody was working on something they chose, it was slightly chaotic and harmonious all at the same time.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Family Science Night - WOBBLE BOTS!

MUSD's Latino family community braved what some dubbed the "storm of the decade" to come out and play at the John Muir Science Workshop last month. Families worked together to build some superbly creative wobble bots. (Yes, that one there on the right is a house bot.) What? What's a wobble bot? Well you'll have to build one to truly appreciate it's magic. Check out the Instructables below to build your own or schedule a family science night for your friends, school or community. A big shout out to Jeanie Jones for the batteries, Sam for writing up Instructables , Sol, Director of the Excelsior Science Workshop for his infinite wobble bot wisdom and of course to Dan, Director of the Mission Science Workshop for the battery packs. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Wind Tube!

John Muir Science Workshop's first Science Friday series gave students the opportunity to play with aerodynamics. Students were given tubs of materials, masking tape & crayons to create a flying machine for the wind tube. Students were encouraged to think about how they wanted their flying machine to act in the wind tube; hover, spin, soar, zoom.... and then test it out. It was nice to see so many students not get discouraged at having to go back to the drawing board.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tinkering with Chemistry

 I asked our workshop goers who had ever made a 'potion'. They all just stared blankly at me. I guess it was just something my brother & I used to do? We used to hit up the camping supply (less chance of getting caught?) for liquids & powders (flour, baking soda) to mix together to make potions. Of course we don't want to teach kids to be wasteful, but a little cooking oil, water & food coloring can go a long way. Mix in some salt & Alca-Seltzer & you have a good time on your hands... literally. I wrote the following on the white board, gave each group of 2-3 students a tray with the first few supplies on it, and told them when they're done contemplating each step, to come up and get the next ingredient. They'd excitedly tell me what happened in the first step. I had a super star dad helper that day & it was definitely a great workshop.

1) Oil + water = ?
2) Oil + water + salt =?
3) Oil + water + salt + a few blobs of food coloring = ? (Whip out the magnifying glasses & watch from the side!) Instructor's Note - be sure to hand out craft sticks for stirring BEFORE the magnifying glasses. kids will invent dual purpose for end of magnifying glass.)
4) Stir it all & watch it settle down

We also did a sink. float or settle in between to see what objects would sink through the oil but sit on top of the salt water. Possibilities are endless from here - some stayed on through the entire workshop making miniature lava lamps, while others strayed off to wonder about something else.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wind Mobiles

Workshop goers received tubs with
the following supplies:

1 piece of paper
3 straws
2 paper clips
4 Life Savers

Teams were challenged to make wind powered cars. I'm always fascinated at the amount of different designs kids come up with. I learned last year that when you show kids an example, they do their best to mimic it. When you leave it up to their imaginations, the results are always WAY better. Life Savers got sticky... kids got hungry... need better wheels next time.

Activity courtesy of  ZOOM Engineering.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Conductive Creativity with MakeyMakey

I first tested this out with the high school interns at Vicente Martinez High School & although I haven't incorporated computers into the JM Science Workshop yet, it definitely was a hit & really helped students play with technology in creative ways. 

Here are some great educational resources for MakeyMakey Invention Kits:


Classrooms next level


A big thanks to the John Muir PTA for supporting the John Muir Science Workshop!! Here's just a few Standards that were covered in this lesson - courtesy of Educade. 

ISTE NETS - Digital Age Skills

Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.
Understand and use technology systems
Select and use applications effectively and productively
Troubleshoot systems and applications
Transfer current knowledge to learning of new technologies

Next Generation Science

4-PS3-4: Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.
5-PS1-3: Make observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties.