Monday, December 23, 2013

Latino Family Literacy Night

On Thursday, December 19th, the Latino Family Literacy families made electromagnets together during their visit to the Workshop. Jeanne Jones and Lillian Savilla who co-teach the class thought it would be fun to host their last class of the 10 week session at the Workshop. I was very excited at the opportunity to show parents what their kids have been doing on their Science Fridays. I loved having families there together, building models & investigating the microscopes, pendulums, circuit boards & all the other fun exhibits around the room. Hopefully this was just the first of many more family nights at the Workshops.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Wednesday Workshop - mini zoetropes

Yesterday's Workshop involved making mini zoetropes - little spinning motion pictures. Most of them were successful but next time I attempt to do this I need WAY more black electrical tape & pre-made templates for the younger learners. Most kids got their zoetropes spinning flawlessly by the end of our Workshop but only a few had a picture sequence that worked well. Fortunately that part is an easy fix requiring only a 10.5" x 1" piece of paper with 1.5" frames. Each frame should contain a progressively changing image. Darker, more precise drawings work better but since we have an abundance of crayons at the Workshop, and not enough markers or colored pencils for everyone to use, some picture strips didn't quite turnout dark or precise enough. This, moms & dads gearing up for two weeks with your young geniuses at home, would be a fun project to master over break!

Wednesday Workshop - cardboard automatas

Last Wednesday, our Workshop goers made cardboard automatas - simple mechanical sculptures that playfully introduce simple machine elements. I'd like to try this again with group workstations that each have a wider variety of materials to use and examples of more intricate movements. Everybody completed an up, down, round and round motion Exploratorium Cardboard Automata cam examplesimilar to this one here but with the axis in the vertical cam slightly off center, pushing the horizontal cam up and down as well as around. Some still needed some tinkering but most automatas were properly functioning mechanical sculptures by the end of the Workshop. I encouraged makers to experiment at home by adding cams and three dimensional sculptures to maneuver. Anyone interested in trying this at home can get some ideas by clicking the cardboard automata link to the Exploratorium how-to page or checking out Makerspace. If you search Google images for cardboard automatas you'll see some fun spins on this project as well. -pun intended!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Packed House

Wow. Astronomy Night was a huge success, and the John Muir Science Workshop was PACKED! Families streamed in to Room 20 tonight for two hours straight, either to escape from the cold after telescope viewing or to come check out the Workshop - either way, I'll take it. Dads & kids got pretty serious about the Touchdown Challenge (kudos to Design Squad / NASA for the idea) while others made constellation viewing tubes and Keplar Star Wheels. Some worked at the Make-It table and others were fixated on designing a successful flier to launch out of the wind tube.

I loved seeing everybody there - so many John Muir families, my friends and family that came just because I asked them and the teachers that stayed to help and clean up. The most memorable part of this crazy night was when a girl named Katie shyly came up to me and apologized to me for what she did to my door. After some lengthy Q & A between us, I found out that she had taped up a sign on the door thanking me for making the Science Workshop. She wasn't sure if it was vandalism and she was really sorry. Sadly, I never saw her sign but assured her it wasn't vandalism, thanked her for her sign & told her she is so very welcome. In return I got a big hug before she left. Bliss.

Big thanks to Colin Barnard and John Muir PTA for putting on Astronomy night, Amanda Tamo, Ms. Hussey, Ms. Jones & Ms. Kenyon for all the help, Melvy & Alex for all the cardboard cutting & my family for all the support. Astronomy Night / JM Science Workshop open house was a hit!