Week 28 (May 22, 2017) Perfecting the Egg Drop

Hey there.

Just wanted to give you one more look at our class and the people in it.

We’re dropping raw eggs today.

  1. From the top of Mrs. Ponraj’s van.
  2. From the height of Mr. Davis’s throw in the air.

Only nobody here wants his egg to break.

Which is why they’re all scrambling to bubble wrap and balloon cushion their sweet little eggs.

I’ll introduce them.

Here’s Wyatt.







And Silas.

Because it’s the most casual thing to stand on top of someone’s van…

Here we go.

Some crack immediately.

And some come down a lot slower.

Time to see who’s still got an egg intact.

The unveiling.

Yup. Still good.

Nope. Cracked.

The eggs that survived get the next test.

Having a big guy chuck them in the air.


There is more than one successful way to protect an egg.

In fact, there’s at least five.

Egg wrapperExperts right here.

Like it’s no big deal.

And all of us.

On the last day.

Of an amazing year in science.

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Week 27 (5-15-17) Leonardo da Vinci’s Self-Supporting Bridge

This probably isn’t the crew you want to pay to build your house.

But a bridge.

Maybe a bridge.

If we’re all desperate.

What we’re doing is taking the basic plans of Leonardo da Vinci, who we learned was considered a Renaissance man because he could do it all–paint, sculpt, build, invent, write…

and piecing together a self-supporting bridge…

using 10 2 x 4s and five dowels.

A self-supporting bridge means that we’re not going to be using any screws or nails or hammers to hold the thing together.

What you’ll notice right now is that it’s not raining. The ground is soggy. But everybody’s hair is still straight.

What we’re trying to do now is build our bridge two 2 x 4s at a time.

For every two 2 x 4, we’re slipping in a dowel.

And why and how everything doesn’t just crash down immediately, I don’t know.

We’re almost done with our first try.

And if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, ain’t nobody going across that thing.

Let’s try again.

We’re being more deliberate now about which boards to use together, as some our different heights.

We’ve also got the whole thing a little narrower.

And if you can believe it, here it is…our self-supporting bridge! Finished in the rain!

To be used in the event we need to cross something and happen to have ten 2 x 4s in our pocket.

Gonna see if this thing works

All right, Silas!

Go, Riley!

That a way, Hagen!

Way to go, Wyatt!

Up and over, Ben!

You can do it, Cody!

Like a pro, Simeon!

You did it, Jocelyn!

The real test. How much weight will this thing hold?

Apparently, a lot! 🙂

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Week 26 (5-8-17) The Science in Baking

The purpose of today’s class was to show us how ever-present science is. Today we found science in the kitchen.

WE weren’t actually in the kitchen. But on Sunday, I was.

And I was making two batches of  Potato Chip Cookies.

Ever heard of ’em?

These guys hadn’t either.

My mom has made potato chip cookies for as long as I can remember. They’re truly simple to put together which is why I chose these, say over chocolate chip cookies.  See here.

Potato chip cookies

1 cup butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour

3/4 cup crushed potato chips

That’s it.

What I did, however, when I made the two batches was isolate one variable. I used all the same ingredients in the exact same quantities, but because of the variable I changed, the two batches of cookies turned out differently.


Here’s where the brainstorming began.

What variable had I changed in the making of the cookies?

Here’s the list we came up with.

And one of them IS the variable I changed.

I melted the butter in one batch of cookies…

Which yielded a really greasy and crumbly dough. Such that when the recipe directions said to roll the dough into balls, I couldn’t.

For the other batch of cookies, I used room-temperature butter, which made a fluffier dough.

One that could easily be rolled into balls and dipped into sugar.

When they came from the oven they looked like this versus the dense squares from the melted butter.

At this point, no one has seen the cookies. They’re writing their hypothesis– what they think melting the butter in the recipe will do to the cookies.

Now with the cookies in front of them–one of each type, they’re trying to discern which has been made with melted butter and which with room-temp butter.

Not as easy to tell as they might have thought.

Doesn’t melted butter flatten the cookie? Not in this recipe.

But at least they taste good.

Real good.

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Week 25 (5-1-17) Color Wheels

Can I tell you what you may or may not already know?

I wasn’t in class on Monday.

But let me tell you something else.

From the pictures I received from Mrs. Ponraj and Mrs. Meier, your kids learned new concepts about colors and had themselves elbow deep in play doh.

Nobody missed a beat.

Our goal was to learn about more than just primary colors. Which is why on the board the definitions for secondary colors and tertiary colors, etc. are there.

Each student was given a bag of play doh with twelve different colors.

From there, I can’t tell you the exact instruction and conversation that followed, but check out these smiles.  Maybe they can tell you more.

Color wheel pride right there.

And…I have no idea.

Still no idea.

But I can tell neither Riley or Ben is miserable about what they’ve created.

Here’s Hagen rolling his doh.

And Jocelyn.

And the rest of the class.

All busy blending and creating their own color wheels.

I wonder if there hasn’t been a new awareness for colors awakened within each person…

Knowing now that most colors don’t just appear…

But must be created carefully with the colors we already have.

For from our three primary colors…comes all others. More colors than we may have thought possible. More colors than we can name.

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Week 24 (4-24-17) Newton’s Third Law of Motion

It’s Newton again.

And we’re doing our best to unpack his laws of motion. Last week we focused on Newton’s 1st law, the one that says:

Objects at rest will remain at rest and objects in motion will remain in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

And so we started there, reviewing what we already knew to be true.

Here we are seeing if these cups will remain at rest if we apply a force to only the paper between the cups. If we can quickly pull the paper from between them, the only force on the cup (gravity) should allow the cup to stack neatly on the next.

But it’s a bit harder with cups of lighter weight.

What was difficult last week–stacking the heavy orange cups, is simpler than bending over and tying our shoes.

But those tiny cups…

Yeah. Not so much.

Newton’s third law states:

For every action there is an equal an opposite reaction.

So, say I’m leaning against the wall. With the same amount of force that I’m “pushing” against the wall, the wall is “pushing” against me. Kind of hard to see.

Which is why we’re going to use a balloon, a straw and a piece of string to SEE if we can understand our action and reaction forces a little better.

The air in our blown up balloon is going to be our ACTION force. But only when we let go of the opening holding the air in.

According to Newton’s third law, when the air pushes out of the balloon in one direction, the balloon itself should propel in an equal and opposite direction.

This is what we’re testing with our balloon rockets.

We’ve taped the body of our blown-up balloon to a straw which has been threaded through with string.

The end of the string is tied to a back of a chair.  When we let go of the opening of the balloon, the action force–the air in the balloon–should push out in one direction, and the balloon should whiz down the string in the opposite direction as it deflates–the reaction force.

Here it goes!

We can see the result of the REACTION force.

Looks like our balloon could have gone further had our string been longer.

What will happen if we tape two blown-up balloons to our straw, each opening facing a different direction?

Is this what you thought?

The action forces of both balloons in opposite directions cancel out the reaction forces. The balloon sputters in the middle of the string where it started.

Just how long can we get a balloon to fly down the string?

We need the hallway for this.

What we’re noticing is that we’re working again with several variables:

How new or old the balloon is now, how stretchy we’ve made the balloon, how tight we’re holding the string…

What has naturally happened is that once we’ve learned and understood Newton’s third law of motion, we’ve started creating our own scientific test on our balloons.

Whose will go the farthest?

And hypotheses like: I think my second balloon will go the furthest because it hasn’t been used yet. Or. I think that the balloons with less air in them will travel the furthest.

I can hear it!

The language the kids are using is language fit for a scientific experiment.

We didn’t set out to do a test, but we could have–they could have.  The understanding is there.

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Week 23 (4-17-17) Newton’s Laws of Motion

It’s all good news. But the first good news is that we’re finished with our rice experiment. Like finished-finished.

And maybe your rice has been long thrown out or long ignored–no matter. How we finished the experiment was by  walking through our final steps of the scientific method. Until now we had only observed and collected data. Or not done that.  Today we discussed our variables in the experiment and drew our conclusion. I doubt you’ll be surprised.

Our variables were many. Too many. Especially for an experiment that required consistent attention from the same person for a whole month.

And so as a result of our many inconsistencies–forgetting to speak to our rice, shaking our rice, having someone else speak to our rice, forgetting to record… our conclusion was impacted, making our conclusion at best: Inconclusive.

For those who would like to watch a completed rice experiment by someone else, you’ll easily find them by typing in “rice experiment” on youtube.

Now Newton’s Laws of Motion

First Law: An object at rest will remain at rest and an object in motion will remain in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

What we’re showing here is our penny at rest.

Our penny remains at rest even when we quickly pull the piece of paper out from under it because we didn’t apply a force to the penny; we applied a force to the paper.

And so what happens is our “at rest” penny falls into the cup because the only force still acting upon it is gravity.

These guys are fast.

I’m sure the penny is in that cup.

Same, too, with the cups. If we apply a force only to the papers separating the cups from each other, then the “at rest” cups should…?


Only “fall” wasn’t really the word we were looking for.

If the conditions are right, the “at rest” cup should stack on top of the next one when the paper is pulled out.

Aha! It does.

As do all the cups!

If a cup is leaning before we start, it wants nothing to do with stacking on the one below it.

Can we do it again?



We can also demonstrate Newton’s first law of motion with two different eggs.

What each of us is holding is a hard-boiled egg and a raw egg.

And what we’re trying to determine is how to figure out which is which.

Is one heavier? Is one wobblier?

What happens when we spin them?

Our hard-boiled eggs spin fast and quick. Our raw eggs have a hard time even getting going. But how we can tell which is which is by stopping the motion of the spinning egg with our pointer finger.

When we put our finger to our hard-boiled egg, it stops. However, when we put our finger to our raw egg, it stops mostly, but then starts to spin again.

So what’s happening?

Our hard-boiled egg is of one part. When we apply a force to the outer shell, we’ve applied it essentially to the whole egg, and the whole egg stops.  The raw egg has more than one part. When we apply a force to the outer shell, the inner yolk still wants to spin.

The raw egg here is working much like our brain when we get off of a merry-go-round. Our body is on the ground, but our head is still spinning; it is still in motion.

Gosh. What to do with left over raw eggs.

We could watch them drop, I guess.

Or keep tossing and backing up with them until we’re standing on Hwy 512.

These guys…

Champs, for sure!

Ain’t nobody wanting to pick that up.

Here we are. Small but mighty today.

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Week 22 (4-10-17) Silly Putty and Averages

Listed on the board are questions we wanted to ask ourselves about our rice experiment. Only we didn’t start there. And as a result, we never got back to our questions or our rice. But…totally okay.

On the other side of the board is an example of our data gathered last week from our cars and ramps experiment. What we’re trying to figure is the average distance our car moved the yogurt cup it bumped after three trials at three different heights.  I’ll explain in a moment, because we didn’t start here either.

We started here. With Borax and glue and water. What we wanted to do was combine all of these ingredients to make our own silly putty.

This is the gal that makes it look simple. And it’s her recipe we’re using today.

The recipe calls for 1 Tablespoon of Borax to be mixed with 4 cups of water.

Here I am mixing it with the handle of a wooden spoon.

It’s at this time, while the handle is swirling the mixture, that I drizzle in the glue.

So two things at once. Swirling with the handle and adding glue.

What the continual stirring does is keep the glue from wandering away in the water. Instead it groups itself around the handle.

As soon as I’m done adding the glue–and it can be any amount, I swirl it another few seconds and then pull out the handle with the glue wrapped around it.

The stuff is wayyy stringy at first.

And it’s wet. Even gooey.

But as we squeeze it and work it in our hands, it becomes putty.

Let’s do it again.

Please note: I didn’t add more Borax to the water. I just repeated the process by swirling and adding glue.

So here we are swirling again. Kind of like a whirlpool.

Now we’re adding the glue while we’re swirling.

And there we are with another piece of putty.

This is what our water looks like. Cloudy. Because at no time has all the Borax dissolved. Which was why I chose to not add any more Borax during our consecutive glue pourings.

However, what resulted was less concentrated putty the more batches we made.

We had two solutions going, so our putty didn’t range from fantastic to ultra wimpy.

But it did have a range.

Those who were the 3rd or 4th persons to get their putty had putty that was wetter and softer.

Only the putty wasn’t bad. Just different.


Probably should have added more Borax. 🙂

When everyone had putty, and had stored it in a plastic Easter egg, we opened our folders to last week’s data sheet for our cars and ramps.

What we did next was crawl through the steps of figuring out how to compute our averages. We went over each step slowly and then slowly again.

Until it started becoming understandable…and then finally easy for some.

We had to add our distances first. Then we had to divide that sum by the number of trials. This meant long division.

Then, what had been easy for some, became manageable and doable for everyone.

Until we’d all finished strong.

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