Thursday, June 26, 2014

Community Building Days

Community Build Days are the best. On Friday, June 20th, the Mission Science Workshop & Excelsior Science Workshop hosted a community build day. 50 employees from Genentech volunteered their time to make exhibits for CSWs around the Bay. I was so excited that the John Muir CSW was included & so fired up to receive a Wave/DNA Model, a Lux-a-gon and a stellar set of  Pipe Chimes, all made with the hard work and modesty of Genentech volunteers. A huge thanks to Sam Haynor (CSW instructor/outreach/developer/ideation extraordinaire) for including me in this awesome day & a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to all the Genentech volunteers!!!

Inspired by Sam, and motivated by the experience, I hosted our own John Muir CSW community build day today. We were a small but mighty crew of 15 volunteers over the coarse of the 4 hour session. We accomplished so much in such a short time. Thanks to our super star community helpers we have 2 Table Top Supply Trees, 10 sanded, painted, nailed & in some cases googly-eyed boards (ready for soldering & then our Electromagnetic Wall on Wheels), 20 manipulative Marble Wall pieces, a painted box to hold the pieces & a craft stick box made to hold the pegs, a new & improved Water Table (also on wheels:), an IQ puzzle model, a ridiculously organized supply cupboard & work space for the Make-It & Take-Apart tables & some strategic planning on how to securely put up our Wave/DNA model. I have much appreciation for our litte CSW & our BIG hearted volunteers.

Thanks also to the MSW, the CSW Network & JM PTA for the donation for supplies - this is some serious stretching of your dollars going on here.

Volunteers, you make a big difference and I have the most sincere gratitude for your generosity. Thank you!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

John Muir 5th Grade Design Challenge Derby Today at 2

The Derby will be held in the cafeteria at 2:00 today. The Derby entries will race first & then our Open Derby race, will be held right after. Open Derby is for those who tried their darnedest but just couldn't get their cars to work; they will be as creative as possible to get their cars to the finish line first without touching their car - I'm not sure what to expect but I'm looking forward to it!

Monday, June 2, 2014

5th Grade Derby Prep

5th graders are getting ready for their first annual Derby Design Challenge coming up on June 10th. Each team has been given a motor, battery, wire & material to design a car that will propel itself across the finish line first. There are several working models for them to look at and I've been offering suggestions and guidance as they work. The key is in the ingenuity of the propeller, the lightweight design of the car, and straight axles with the least amount of friction. It's been really hard for me to watch these kids get excited about their designs, and know they won't work... but where's the learning if I tell them how to do it right? I ask them how they think they can make it better, offer suggestions, and cross my fingers they don't give up.
I had to spend a few hours in my garage tinkering with different propeller designs just to make sure the motors I gave them weren't too heavy. I failed at least 4 or 5 times before one glorious design cruised across my garage floor. I'd hate to rob anyone of that feeling. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

GAK! The Non-Newtonian liquid plaything

GAK - 
Mix 1/4 c. white glue + 1/4 c. water.
Mix 1/4 c. water + 1/4 tsp. Borax.
Pour Borax solution into the glue solution or experiment with your own recipe. White vinegar helps with clean up - be sure not to pour any GAK down your drain. 

We just wrapped up our last Science Friday for this year at John Muir - 14 classes, K through 5th, lots of glue, a little Borax, a manageable mess & a ton of fun. Class discussions included liquids, solids, polymers, molecules, elements, chemicals, chemical reactions & the ridiculously fun thing we call Gak. Thanks for a great year! We're working on funding for this program for next year. If you'd like to ensure the return of the CSW, feel free to donate. Checks can be made payable to MUSD-NEW LEAF-COMMUNITY SCIENCE and sent to New Leaf Collaborative, ATTN: Ellen Concepcion, 614 F Street, Martinez, CA 94553. Also, stay tuned for a Community Building Day, tentative date set for Sunday, June 22nd. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Take Apart Table

 A big thanks to the Kiwanis Club of Martinez for the donation of old electronics! They kept the after-school Workshop crew curious for over an hour & a half today.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Family SciNight - Hydraulics

Last night was our final Family SciNight at John Muir CSW, 4th & 5th grade students and their parents came to the workshop and engineered their own hydraulic machines out of syringes, tubing, wood, pegboard, cardboard, pipe cleaners, tp & pt rolls, masking tape, markers & hot glue.
Among the finished projects were a jack-in-the-box clown that had a two part system in place, the first hydraulic system opened the front of the box revealing the clown and the second system pushed the clown's hat up taller. One of the makers said "man, that was hard work!". We also had a magnetic crane that was operated by a hydraulic arm, a spectacular bridge (I say spectacular because this kid copied my draw bridge example but made it so much more precise and efficient and just plain cooler - hence earning the choice adjective.) We had a three part rocket that launched and grew taller from it's base, as well as an existing craft stick bridge that was hacked by it's builder and our New Leaf intern with a four part hydraulic system so that it can now lift up.
Thank you Daniel for volunteering your time!! And of course thanks to Jessica Conkle and John Muir PTA for supporting our Family SciNights. Overall, I really enjoyed the intimate setting of sitting around with kids and their parents and our interns in the Workshop just tinkering and being creative together.