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.