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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Spider hunt I asked a class of second graders to look over the weekend in their homes' garages for dead spiders.......the teacher received this email today:

So I'm super scared of spiders!  I will probably not be able to place one in a bag, here's a picture of one that was in Soren's drawer. Eeewwwww!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Hey, teachers, don't forget that tomorrow it's President Lincoln's birthday!

February 12th. 1809

Clean up President Lincoln pennies for his birthday!

This is a fun experiment! You can clean old and dirty Lincoln pennies and explore some of the properties of metals.

Pennies get dull over time because the copper in the pennies slowly reacts with air to form copper oxide. Pure copper metal is bright and shiny, but the oxide is dull and greenish. When you place the pennies in the salt and vinegar solution, the acetic acid from the vinegar dissolves the copper oxide, leaving behind shiny clean pennies.

You need:
·       Dirty Lincoln pennies
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar (dilute acetic acid) and 1 teaspoon salt (NaCl)
  • 1 shallow plastic bowl
  • water and paper towels

This is what you do:
  1. Pour the salt and vinegar into the bowl and stir until the salt dissolves.
  2. Dip a penny halfway into the liquid and hold it there for 10-20 seconds. Remove the penny from the liquid. What do you see?
  3. Place the rest of the pennies into the liquid.
  4. What happens?
  5. Leave the pennies in the liquid for 5 minutes.

(Keep the liquid you used to clean the pennies, so don't dump it down the drain!)

  • After 5 minutes, take half of the pennies out of the liquid and place them on a paper towel to dry.
  • Remove the rest of the pennies and rinse them well under the tap.
  • Place these pennies on a second paper towel to dry.
  • Wait an hour then take a look at the pennies you have placed on the paper towels. (Write labels on your paper towels so you will know which towel has the rinsed pennies.)
v  Rinsing the pennies with water stops the reaction between the salt/vinegar and the pennies.

v  They will slowly turn dull again over time, but not quickly enough for you to watch!

v  The salt/vinegar residue on the un-rinsed pennies promotes a reaction between the copper and the oxygen in the air.

v  The resulting blue-green copper oxide is commonly called 'verdigris'.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Let's see what happens......

At 1.20 ish this morning, Sunday January 25th, my head was spilling over with science ideas.

As I lay thinking about what I had done yesterday (made some dead good dragsters using Starbucks plastic cup lids and tins), I came up with an idea, a BIG idea.

Around 6, I got up and sent the following email to a few friends whom, I hoped/knew, would be interested:

'Mornin' all, 

Last Wednesday, I had the first of my current round of science workshops in schools for parents and their young scientists. 30 kids and 25 parents came for a 90 minute 'hands on' workshop with me.

I'm running three classes in one school: first, 4/5 graders, then, this coming week, 2/3 graders, followed by 1st graders, then, in another school, an evening for all age kids.......THEN, three Saturday mornings in a local community center with all-comers plus parents.

The focus is getting parents to work WITH their kids on fun science ideas.

Yesterday, when preparing for the next class, I became so involved and had so much fun with new ideas using tin cans and plastic cups as the basis for making moveable 'dragsters'.

At 1.30 this morning, I was wide awake, my head buzzing with ideas.

Then, one idea grew and grew: I'm going to write/speak to a number of kids and ask them to 'test' my science ideas on their own and give me feedback. I'll start this with the 30 kids coming to this week's workshop. 
I'm then, with parents permission, going to send the kids one idea at a time to test at home - and give me their feedback...DEASD GOOD, SO-SO, BORING...............

Goal - I'm going to put together a booklet of THE best ideas, voted by kids and parents.................

You came into my head:

Any chance I can send you the ideas, one a time, to test drive, either as an adult or as a partner with a young child (grandkids, for example? 

What do you think?
Go can do it, yes? :)

OK......let's see what happens.

Now I'm going to create the feedback letter for kids, photograph the sciency things i came up with yesterday, and Jeannine crazy!! :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

'I'm a scientist' workshops

Next week, on Wednesday 21st January, I run the first of three evening science workshops - I'M A SCIENTIST - for parents and kids at Mountain View and North East Elementary Schools:

21st January for 4/5th graders and parents
28th January for 2/3rd graders and parents.
4th February for 1st graders

Then, on the 5th February, I'm at Cherry Valley Elementary School................and on the Saturday, I begin three Saturday morning science workshops at PACE, the large community center in Parker.

They'll keep me busy for a bit!!

CLASS ONE - FLIGHT: making and flying twisters, seedcopters, tiny boomerangs, blimps, papercopters (and getting them to land in tins), straw rockets, gliders, making and launching paper planes, AK rockets, parachutes, and more........................

CLASS 2 - for 2/3rd graders, again, a full house.

Then, a week later, CLASS 3 - for 1st graders. This was the one I enjoyed the most - the young scientists were on top of their game and their parents were so helpful. Super, super evening.

CLASS 4        The following evening, I went to a village school where the PTA had invited parents and their families to an evening of noshing pizza and 'hands-on' science. Noisy, but it went well.

Looking back over all the classes, the papercopters, flip flops, boomerangs, and the straw rockets were a great success, but the activity that really ignited the curiosity of all the kids was the balancing straw.......that's where you balance a straw on a bottle and slowly bring another straw close......

What happens?

Well, try it and see for yourself.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Nope, I haven't gone anywhere.............

......Just REALLY having fun with my electric train set AND my HUGE marble run AND making my 2' model of The Titanic.................................:)

And preparing/gathering resources for 7 'I'm a scientist' workshops coming up in January and North East, Mountain View, Cheery Creek and PACE.......

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Think I know how he felt...................article from NYT

I had a check this week from my publisher. It was for the royalties on my book, $8.............
I was thrilled! When my book was published, a couple of years ago, I sold over a hundred at two or three signing sessions...............all to friends and colleagues.............
Getting the check this past week, my second, means that a few other people bought it!! WOW!!
With that in mind, this article in todays NYT made me smile......
November 29
RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — THANKSGIVING weekend in 1990, I spent two hours at the loneliest place in the world for an obscure novelist — the book-signing table at a Waldenbooks in a suburban New Jersey mall.
I sat at the table smiling like a game show host. Store patrons scurried past me, doing all they could to avoid eye contact. I kept smiling. I straightened out my pile of free bookmarks for the umpteenth time, though so far none had been taken. I played with my pen. Authors at signings like this get good at playing with their pens. I pushed it to and fro. I curled my upper lip around the pen and made it into a makeshift mustache. I clipped it to my lower lip, pinching said lip in an almost masochistic way, and was able to click the pen open by moving my jaw and pressing it against my nose. You can’t teach that skill, by the way. Practice. At one point, I took out a second pen, rolled up a spitball, and then let the two pens play hockey against each other. The Rollerball beat the Sharpie in overtime.
During the first hour of my signing, a grand total of four people approached me. Two asked me where the bathroom was. The third explained his conspiracy theory linking the J.F.K. assassination with the decision by General Mills to add Crunch Berries to Cap’n Crunch breakfast cereal. The fourth asked me if we had a copy of the new Stephen King.
I kept smiling. Four copies of my brand-spanking-new first novel — Waldenbooks knew not to order too many — stood limply on the shelf behind me. I missed the Barcalounger in my den. I longed for home and hearth, for stuffing my face with leftover turkey, for half-watching football games in which I had no rooting interest. Instead I slow-baked under the fluorescent Waldenbooks lights, the Early Hipster booksellers glaring at me as though I was some kind of pedantic squatter. I had become the literary equivalent of a poster child — “you could buy his book or you could turn the page ...”
Time didn’t just pass slowly. It seemed to be moonwalking backward.
Then, with maybe 15 minutes left before I could scrape up the scraps of my dignity and head home, an old man shuffled toward me. He wiped his nose with what I hoped was a beige hankie. His eyes were runny. Odds were this was going to be a where’s-the-bathroom question, but this guy had all the makings of another conspiracy theorist.
The old man’s gaze drifted over my shoulder. “What’s that like?”
“Excuse me?”
“That’s your novel, right?”
He gestured at the four books on the shelf behind me.
“Right,” I said.
He shook his head in awe. “That’s my dream, man. Seeing my book on a shelf in a bookstore.” He lowered his gaze and met my eye. “So what’s that like?”
I paused, letting the question sink in, but before I could reply, the old man lifted his eyes back to the bookshelf, smiled, and shook his head again. “Lucky,” he said, before turning and walking away.
He didn’t buy a book. He didn’t have to.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NYT - Yes, YES, YES!!!!!!!!!!!

To the Editor:
To Help Language Skills of Children, a Study Finds, Text Their Parents With Tips” (news article, Nov. 15) highlights a great way to spread the word about the importance of reading and talking with your children. But many underserved families and communities need more intensive services than texting to bridge the preparation gap, including proven home visiting, quality infant and toddler care, and support for working parents. We need to be sure we don’t lose sight of that.
We need a network of services that address the diverse needs of parents and children: families that don’t have any books in their homes, parents who don’t speak English, parents who have very limited literacy skills, and parents who are working multiple jobs to support their families and rarely get to spend time with their children.
We know that the language gap develops long before children enter pre-K and that the best way to prevent it is to work with families before their children ever enter a classroom. We also know that many children who arrive in school unprepared lack not just exposure to language but also lag in their social-emotional development, making it difficult for them to succeed in a classroom.
So if we’re serious about eradicating the gaps and ensuring that all children are ready to succeed in school, let’s make sure we have a comprehensive approach that addresses these different needs early on.
Chief Exec., Parent-Child Home Program
Garden City, N.Y., Nov. 17, 2014