Weekly Blog

Homemade Batteries

03/27/13 at Thetford
Today we introduced circuits and batteries. We got to know the 12 students that attended and most likely the class will get slightly larger. This was our first week with this group and they were all excited about science. For the hands-on project we lit up LED lights using homemade batteries. We used pennies, vinegar-soaked cardboard, and zinc washers for the batteries, and aluminum foil for the wiring. We provided the kids with a resistor and a variety of colored LED lights. Some of the students were able to get their LED lights to shine, but the other half did not want to leave until they were finished. Unfortunately, we ran out of time before everyone could get their projects working, but we will finish this up next week.

Catapults & Towers

03/21/13 at Westshire
This week was a continuation of last week's activity of building catapults using popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and spoons. We also brought supplies for the 'cheapest tower' exercise in case we finished early. We had three returning students, so they were able to finish out their designs, and test them by launching small fuzzy spheres at paper plate targets to learn about calibration, accuracy, and precision. After many launches and a few lost fuzzies, we moved on to building the tallest free standing tower exercise. This exercise is designed to teach the principles of efficient use of money and materials. The students team up and are given 20 fake dollars to 'purchase' materials: paper and tape. The object is to build the tallest tower with the least amount of materials, and so have the most money left over afterwards. Other students showed up at this time and joined in. There were some interesting successful designs, and much fun was had by all.

Pom Pom Catapults

03/14/13 at Westshire
Today we talked about simple machines. We did some simple lever demos and had kids compare difficulty when opening doors near the hinges versus at the far edge of the door. We concluded the lesson building popsicle stick and elastic band catapults. Project construction proved to be slightly more difficult than anticipated so we will finish these up next week.

Egg Drop Containers

03/07/13 at Westshire
Today kids learned about impulse, momentum, and force. The task they were given was to design a container that would prevent an egg from breaking when dropped. The only materials allowed were paper, tape, and scissors. The parachute idea was a popular concept used to provide drag and slow the container down. Unfortunately all tests resulted in egg splatter, but it provided a great opportunity for analysis and redesign.

Marble Roller Coasters

02/13/13 at Samuel Morey
Today kids learned about energy and roller coasters. We split up into 3 separate groups, and each group was responsible for building their own roller coaster. It was interesting to see what different groups chose to focus on. One group focused on making the marble "launch" and "catch" process more efficient instead of worrying about the coaster design. Another group focused on implementing a design that would meet specifications, without worrying about implementing any real novel ideas. The third group tried to implement more radical novel ideas, and as a result spent a lot of time troubleshooting the problems. Overall the project was a big hit, and it appeared that students were having a lot of fun.

Paper Plate Speakers

02/06/13 at Samuel Morey
Today we finished the lesson on sound started last week. We made speakers from styrofoam plates, neodynium magnets, and wire coils. We wanted to drive the speakers from a cell phone, but unfortunately the signal wasn't strong enough so we had to use a function generator instead. Kids really liked watching the speakers at very low frequencies, because you can actually see the plates moving. The results of the "hearing test" were quite interesting, because the kids were definitely able to hear frequencies higher than what we could hear.