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.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Family SciNights at John Muir CSW

As I was driving one of our New Leaf interns home last Friday night after the 2nd/3rd grade Family SciNight and talking about the day and how exhausted we were,or really just how exhausted I was, she said in her casually frank voice "this was the best day ever". Instantly reaffirming and musical to my ears, this made all the hours of planning so worth it. She'd never made Gak before and that was "super fun" (we made Gak and talked about chemical reactions with 5 classes K-5 for the day's Science Friday, a messy yet satisfying experience). Only a few hours later, we rolled right into making polyhedral playthings with John Muir's second & third graders with the help of three other New Leaf interns. All sorts of different shapes were created with pipe cleaners and clear straw pieces including tetrahedrons, octahedrons, hexahedrons, & lots of these dodecahedrons (soccer ball shapes). Just creating the shape is fun in and of itself, but to take it an exploratory step further, you can dip the shape in a bubble solution and observe the fascinating geometrical shapes that the soap films form as well as the shimmering colors in the soap film. When you lift the shape out, the soap film flows into a state of minimum energy (when it's covering the least possible amount of surface area). It was a lot of fun watching the parents and kids interacting together and making connections and observations, and it was great to see generations of kids, high school interns, and parents all at a table working and learning together. Thanks to Jessica Conkle for coming up with SciNights for grade levels and big thanks to the John Muir PTA for sponsoring all three family SciNights!