Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Bubble Solution & Wand Testing

Today at one of our school site CSWs, kids followed 3 different recipes for bubble solution.

They then made polyhedral bubble wands (which is surprisingly calming - so much focus!!) With 15 minutes left in the workshop, we tested out each solution, students finally stood behind their favorite and explained why.

We realized each of the three lines had different criteria for 'good bubble solution'; some were happy with the super bubbliness of #1, others pleased with the multitude of mini bubbles produced by #2 and some preferred the enormity of bubbles from bubble solution #3.

Students then discussed what they liked about their hand-crafted bubble wand, how well it worked or didn't work, and if they had more time & materials, what they would do differently. Good stuff.

Air pressure mobiles

We've been busy getting this year's CSWs started up. Last week we talked about air pressure & made balloon cars - it was cool to hear students explain why the knew the air would deflate out of a balloon. Sometimes it's difficult to explain things that we just know to be true; but it leads for some interesting conversation.

As I was prepping for the lesson, I couldn't find my pvc cutters (small pieces of 1/2 inch pvc fit inside the mouth of a balloon & can be wedged into a piece of cardboard to fit snugly.) As I was contemplating my options, I found a party noise maker in my garage & found that it fit even more perfectly inside the mouth of a balloon AND that not only can it help power a balloon car but it makes a kickin noise to boot! Just one more reason I dare to live outside the boundaries of organization - creative inspiration.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

GAK! Back for More

We just wrapped up our second year making Gak with students at John Muir. Approximately 400 students, TK - 5th grade made and explored the fascinating Non-Newtonian fluid. Class discussions included examples and descriptions of liquids, solids and gases. Upper grades also talked about polymers, molecules, elements, chemicals, and chemical reactions. 
The science workshop at John Muir is a program of the New Leaf Collaborative, a 501c3 nonprofit, and is paid for through grant funding. This year, lessons on watershed stewardship and water catchment systems were sponsored by the City of Martinez, who funded our educational components on water quality, conservation and rainwater harvesting. Supplies are currently paid for through a grant from Martinez Community Foundation.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Fun with MakeyMakey

Students at John Muir played a Scratch piano with play-dough and a MakeyMakey. My 4th grade student helper suggested we make a CSW account for Scratch so that anyone at the workshop can use the common account to create content. She made this for me... she even took and uploaded the picture so the background would be realistic. I think it's pretty awesome.

Here is the LINK to sign your student up to participate in the John Muir Science Workshop on Wednesdays from 1:30 - 3:00.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

John Swett Scribblebots

John Swett workshop goers in March worked in groups to make robots that scribbled - affectionately called scribblebots. Students were challenged to add switches or change the direction of their bot. My goal, to keep all students tinkering, thinking, laughing or otherwise meaningfully engaged throughout the duration of the workshop - was easily met. I even learned something new from a curious young tinkerer; when a brown Mr. Sketch pen is attached to the end of a spinning motor, your friends - and everything else within several feet wind up freckled.

Upon the request of this young engineer, I shared the video with his mom, and now with you as well.

Stomp rockets