Here are some descriptions of activities that might happen during the summer:
· 1 egg
· 4 pieces of string (about 2 feet long)
· 1 large sheet of newspaper
· 1 paper plate
· 1 egg
· scraps of fabric
· paper cups
· plastic bags
· Cover the ground with newspaper where you plan to drop your eggs.
· Start with Materials Set 1.
· You have 15 minutes to work with these materials.
· The goal is to find a way to protect your egg from breaking when dropped from a high place.
· When the 15 minutes are up, drop your egg from a high place. At the Exploratorium, we drop our eggs from the mezzanine onto the first floor.
· Check to see if your egg survived. If not, how could your design be improved?
· Now you have a second chance to keep your egg from breaking. You may work with Materials Sets 1 and 2, and have unlimited time to redesign your egg protection.
· Drop the egg again. Did it break this time?
· Clean up the egg-y mess!
What’s going on?
When you lift your egg off the ground, it gains potential energy. This energy has to go somewhere when it hits the floor. This energy will break the egg when it hits the floor. There are ways to keep your egg from breaking: provide a cushion, or slow it down. If you pad the egg with something that can absorb the energy when the egg hits the ground, it may not break. Or, if you create a parachute with your materials, you can use air resistance to slow down the egg’s fall and give it a softer landing.
· Cotton T-Shirt
· Permanent Markers
· Isopropyl Alcohol
· Paper Towels
· Water-Based Markers
· Glass Cups
· Scotch Tape
· Pour about an inch of alcohol into the cup. Note: Alcohol is harmful if put in eyes or swallowed. We also recommend doing this in a well-ventilated space.
· If you do not want the pattern to bleed through to the back of the shirt, place a piece of cardboard or plastic bag between the layers of the shirt.
· Use the permanent markers to make designs on your t-shirt. For step-by-step photos and design examples, visit this web page: http://www.life.uiuc.edu/boast1/sciencelessons/chromatography.htm.
· Carefully drop the alcohol one drop at a time onto your designs. Watch the ink spread out, and add more alcohol as you like.
· You can do some experiments with chromatography to find out what colors make up the ink in your markers at home.
· Pour about an inch of water into one glass cup, and an inch of alcohol into the other.
· Tear paper towels into strips about an inch wide.
· For each strip, make a mark an inch from the bottom with a marker. Use water-based markers for half, and permanent markers or pens for the other half. Make sure to try at least one black, and a few other colors.
· Place the strips of paper with permanent markers into the glass of alcohol so that the bottom of the strips touch the alcohol, but the marker marks are above the liquid. Carefully tape them in place.
· Repeat this step for the water-based strips of paper in the glass of water.
· Wait for awhile and watch the colors travel up the strips of paper towel. What colors appear. Are you surprised by any of them?
Wind Tubes and Marble Machines
These activities were designed by the Exploratorium PIE team (Play, Invent, Explore). We love the way that they naturally encourage playful creativity, problem solving, and experimentation. To learn more about their activities and process, visit their idea page here: http://www.exploratorium.edu/pie/ideas.html.
Size and Scale of the Solar System
· 10 spheres (see below for sizes)
· You will make a scale model of the planets in our solar system. The scale for this model is 1 inch: 3,000 feet. This means that every 3,000 feet on a real planet is represented by 1 inch on the model planets. Using a scale model, the planets will not be there actual sizes, but will be correctly sized in relation to each other.
· Take a look at the 10 balls and guess which one represents which planet. One of them represents the Earth’s moon.
· Line up the balls in the following order and find out if you guessed correctly!
Planet Approximate Diameter Model Diameter
Mercury 3000 mi 1 in (large marble)
Venus 7500 mi 2.5 in (raquetball)
Earth 8000 mi 2.67 in (tennis ball)
Earth’s Moon 2100 mi 0.7 in (regular marble)
Mars 4200 mi 1.4 in (ping pong ball)
Jupiter 90,000 mi 30 in (yoga ball)
Saturn 75,000 mi 25 in (slightly deflated yoga ball)
Uranus 32,000 mi 10.67 in (soccer ball)
Neptune 31,000 mi 10.33 in (junior soccer ball)
Pluto 1500 mi 0.5 in (tiny marble)
What is going on?
It is difficult to imagine the relative sizes of the planets without seeing them all at once. Because of the huge sizes and vast distances in the solar system, this model cannot include both the relative sizes of the planets and the distances between them. To make a scale model of the distances, check out the solar system space activity.
· Adding Tape
· Measuring Tape
· With the paper and markers, make a sign for each of the 9 planets in our solar system and the sun. Assign a student or group of students to each of these objects.
· Mark out a stretch of field 100 ft long.
· You will make a scale model of the distances between the planets in our solar system. For this scale, the distance from the sun to Mercury (about 60 million km) is equal to 1 foot.
· Have the sun stand at 0 ft.
· Let the students guess where each of the other planets should stand within the 100 feet.
· Then, stand at the actual distances, which are as follows:
Mercury: 1 ft
Venus: 1.75 ft
Earth: 2.5 ft
Mars: 3.75 ft
Jupiter: 13 ft
Saturn: 24 ft
Uranus: 47.5 ft
Neptune: 75 ft
Pluto: 100 ft
· Roll out the adding tape and mark the planet locations on the tape. Students can each roll up their tape to take home or hang up in the classroom.
What is going on?
It is difficult to imagine the relative distances between the planets since we cannot actually see or travel through these distances. With this scale model, students can see that the terrestrial planets are relatively close together, while the gas giants have much more space between them. Because of the huge sizes and vast distances in the solar system, this model cannot include the relative sizes of the planets.
Fused Plastic Bags
Help San Francisco use up leftover plastic bags by fusing them to create sewable fabric. We designed and made creative handbags and wallets out of a variety of plastic bags. For a complete tutorial on how to do this at home, visit Make Magazine here: http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2007/06/make_a_messenger_bag_out_1.html.
Soda Can Races
If you want to try your own soda can races at home, visit the Exploratorium Science Explorer web page for the complete directions: http://www.exploratorium.edu/science_explorer/roller.html.
· Film canisters (black)
· Push pins
· Scotch tape
· Cylinder and square containers (different shapes and sizes)
· Wax paper
· Tin foil
· Black paper
· Rubber Bands
· Poke a hole in the back of the film canister
· Place two pieces of tape over the open end to cover it completely
· Go to a doorway or window (dim light inside, bright light outside)
· Look at the tape side of the camera, pointing the hole side toward the bright light (about a half an arms length away from your eyes)
· What do you see? Is it surprising? (think of questions you have)
Thoughts and Questions:
· Why is it upside down? Light travels in straight lines, as it passes through the tiny hole, the image becomes flipped (upside down) on the screen.
· What are the basics of this camera— body of camera has dark surfaces, light only passes through the little hole, ‘cloudy’ screen to look at.
Now make your own camera—use different shapes and sizes and experiment! (add recycled lenses/ make a dark box for viewing)
Turn the room into a pinhole camera with black construction paper, black plastic bags, tape, and a strong light to shine from the other side of the pinhole.
Take apart a broken camera. What is interesting? Surprising? Any parts that you recognize? What do you think their function is?
Camera Make and Break
· Used disposable cameras (you can pick these up at a film developing store)
· Old screwdriver
· Safety Goggles
· Hot Glue
· Jewelry Wire
· Take a look at your camera before you take it apart. What do you notice? What do you think that the different parts do? What parts seem to be making things happen that are not visible from the outside?
WARNING: disposable cameras with a flash often hold a charge. For safety, make sure that an adult follows the next 3 steps.
· Put on your safety goggles.
· Using an old screwdriver, carefully pry open the camera body. *Be careful not to put your fingers inside to avoid pinching or getting shocked!
· Once the camera is open, look for the capacitor (a small, barrel shaped object). DON’T TOUCH IT WITH YOUR FINGERS! Use the screwdriver to touch the capacitor connectors to another metal part of the camera to discharge it. There will likely be a large spark. Once you have done that, remove the capacitor from the camera.
· Your camera is now safe to touch. You should still be wearing your safety goggles since the parts might go flying when you’re taking them apart.
· Go ahead and take apart the pieces of your camera, exploring as you go. For example, try to figure out how the film advances, how the shutter opens, and where the lenses are.
· Take some time to play with the lenses. Do the lenses flip images upside down? What happens if you look through 2 or 3 at once? Do they change the size of images? What if you flip them over?
· When you are finished exploring, you will have a lot of interesting pieces left over instead of a camera. Find a creative way to put the pieces back together to make something new. Some popular projects are key chains, earrings, and robots. Use the hot glue and wire to fasten parts together.
What Happens Without Air?
· Vacuum pump, bell jar, and scatter shield
· 2 cell phones (or an alarm clock)
· Piece of foam
· Jar with small amount of water
· Shaving Cream
· Soapy Water
· Latex Glove, tied off at the end
· Tea Candle and matches
· 14 pound rod with a one-inch cross section
· Pick up the 14-pound rod to get a sense of how much air is pressing down on every square inch of us. Without that pressure, what do you think would happen?
· Place the peeps inside the bell jar and evacuate the chamber.
· Watch what happens!
· Let the air back into the bell jar and watch again.
· Place a cell phone on top of a piece of foam inside the bell jar.
· With the other phone, call the one inside the jar. You should be able to hear it ringing.
· Evacuate the chamber and call the phone again. Now what do you hear?
· Place the jar containing a small amount of water in the bell jar and evacuate the chamber.
· Watch what happens!
· Keep on experimenting. We put all kinds of things into the vacuum chamber to see what would happen and tried to figure out why.
What’s going on?
On earth, the atmosphere is pressing down on us at 14 pounds per square inch. While we don’t feel the pressure, it’s very apparent when you take it away. In outer space, there is no atmosphere—it is a vacuum. This causes some strange things to happen.
When we drop the pressure in the bell jar by removing the air, the peeps or rubber glove inside expand because there is nothing pressing on them. When we let the air back in, the peeps deflate under the pressure of the air.
The same phenomenon is what causes the water to freeze and boil at the same time in the vacuum. It takes less energy for the water molecules to escape without air pressure, so water can boil at room temperature. The water molecules that are left behind are colder and freeze.
In outer space, there is no sound, because there is nothing to carry the sound waves. This is the reason you cannot hear the cell phone ring in the evacuated chamber.
What else did you put in the vacuum? What happened to it? Why do you think that happened? What else would you put in there if you could choose anything? What do you think would happen to it?
Credit: The Math Explorer
· Index cards
· Masking tape, duck tape
· 2 feet of PVC pipe: 1” outside diameter
· 2 liter bottle
· 2 feet of flexible vinyl tubing: 1” inside diameter (Brownie’s Hardware at Polk/Sacremento)
· Assemble the launcher. Use duck tape to attach the bottle to one end of the tubing and the PVC pipe to the other end.
· To make the rocket, roll a piece of paper around the tube, tape in place with masking tape, and slide off the tube.
· Snip the corners off of one end of the tube to make a pointed end and tape closed with masking tape.
· Cut an index card into 3 triangles and masking tape them onto the other end of the paper tube for fins.
· Place the completed rocket on the end of the PVC pipe. Aim into an open space, and stomp on the bottle. The air from the bottle launches the rocket.
· How high or far did your rocket go? What can you do to make your rocket go farther? You can change things such as the length, diameter, materials used, shape of the nose, shape of the fins, or number of fins.
· Try a few different designs and notice how they change the flight of your rocket.
What’s going on?
Where does the power come from to launch your rocket? It comes from the air inside of the soda bottle. The size of the soda bottle never changes, but the size of the rockets can change. You might notice that a smaller rocket can go higher than a longer rocket, because the same amount of force is acting on a smaller rocket. You may also have noticed that the size, shape, placement, and number of fins has an effect on the way the rocket moves through the air.
Raindrop Sound Box
This is our own version of an Exploratorium exhibit created by artist Ned Kahn.
· Small boxes with lids/ small cardboard cylindrical containers
· Nails (20 per box, thin and approx. 1” long)
· Ball bearings 1/4” diameter (approx. 4 per box)
· Hot glue
· Markers (fine tip)
· Look at this exhibit— what do you notice? What parts do you recognize?
· Glue the flat part of the lid to the bottom flat part of the box body.
· Face the box shallowest side up. Estimate how far apart the nail needs to be hammered and mark small dots for every nail. Remember the 1/4” ball bearing needs to be able to pass through the spaces, but be close enough that they bounce around.
· Hammer the nail in half way and straight up and down where the dots are marked.
· Add the ball bearings, and tilt your instrument back and forth. What does it sound like? Does it remind you of anything?
· Put inside of a bigger metal container (ex. Metal work or big tin coffee can) Does it sound different?
· What other instruments could you image making with everyday objects?
· Block of wood (approximately 1” by 4” by 6”)
· Thin bamboo sticks
· Rubber bands
· Push Pin
· Choose a drill bit that is the same size as your bamboo stick.
· Have an ADULT drill a hole near one end of the wood block, in the center. This will be the posthole for the mast. You may choose to make more than one mast. Set the block of wood aside.
· Choose the shape of your sail. We prefer a square sail, approximately 6” by 6” (total size before folding and gluing). Some people prefer triangular sails or multiple, smaller sails.
· If you are making a square sail, lay it out and place one stick across the top, and one across the bottom. The sticks should be about the same width as the sail. Fold the edges of the sail over the sticks and glue into place. You should now have a rectangle with the top and bottom reinforced with the sticks.
· Using the push pin, carefully poke 2 holes into the sail- one next to each stick, in the middle. These holes are for the mast to go through.
· Now make another stick about 6” high for the mast. Wrap a rubber band about 1” from the bottom- this will hold the bottom of your sail in place.
· Slip the mast through the bottom hole in the sail until it rests on the rubber band. Now wrap the second rubber band near the top of the mast.
· Slip the top of the mast through the top hole in the sail until it rests on that rubber band.
· Your sail should stay in place, but be free to rotate to catch the wind.
· Hammer a nail into the back of your boat and tie a string onto it. You can hold onto the string while it’s sailing so that you don’t lose your boat.
Arrr, set sail in the mighty lagoon!
· Now it’s time to put your boat in the water. Notice that you can adjust your sail to catch the wind.
· Can you control the direction your boat sails by adjusting the sail?
· If you build multiple boats, you can experiment with different sizes and shapes of sails to find out what difference it makes.