Houston, we have lift-off! The fourth graders at Wilder Elementary in Littleton, Colorado, invited me to participate in their annual paper rocket launch. This 4th grade unit is inspired by the original rocket boy, Homer Hickam. Instead of using pieces of lead pipe and gun powder, these kid-friendly rockets are made from construction paper, tape and clay… that’s it. No engines or explosives in these rockets – the only fuel was 70 pounds of air pressure.
I first learned how to make the PVC Rocket Launcher several years ago while speaking to teachers at Space Camp for Educators in Huntsville, Alabama. The morning started with each student making their first launch. Some of the rocket designs were great while others just blew up on the launch pad. It was back to the drawing board as the students reanalyzed their designs, fixed the flaws and headed out for the second launch. The success rate for the second launch was well above 80%… and the young rocket engineers were amazed to see their success.
April Fool’s day is this Friday. Do you have your pranks ready to go? Our staff spends the majority of March perfecting their pranking in anticipation of the day. I’d declare April 1st a company-wide holiday, except it’s too much fun to mess with your co-workers. A day off of work would just ruin the “holiday.”
A few of our staffers practiced their tricks last week in our company kitchen using Water Gel, coffee and a little imagination.
Hydrogels, or super absorbant polymers, can absorb over 100x their own weight in water. Farmers and gardeners use it to keep crops and plants hydrated during times of drought. It can also be used as the perfect prop for pranks and magic tricks.
Water Gel, the Sugar Substitute
This prank is incredibly easy to pull off and the look on your victims’ faces are guaranteed to be priceless!
Start by emptying the sugar from it’s container. Be sure to put the sugar into another container so that it can be replaced later. The prank is bound to take a turn from funny to tragic if you waste all
Triscia is a high school math teacher from New York City who recently moved to The Netherlands. She began her career as a high school biology and chemistry teacher. In moving to Holland, she has reconnected with her true passion – science.
As Triscia works to learn Dutch and find her way in the school system, she offers free science demonstration lessons. She collaborates with the classroom teacher before to create a lesson plan, incorporate learning strategies and discuss the connections they need to continue with after the demo.
She wrote me recently to share some pictures of a demonstration lesson she gave to a class of 6 to 9 year olds in a Montessori school. Triscia taught a lesson about elements, molecules and states of matter. Triscia says the children were focused for over three hours. When their teacher tried to stop the lesson to give the children their break, they screamed, “No! We want to learn!”
Science is addicting in any language if it is taught with enthusiasm and hands-on lessons.
A special thank you to Triscia for writing us and sharing her story.
The oil left behind from the Deep Horizon catastrophe on April 20, 2010 is still threatening the Gulf region’s people, economy and environment. During the event, a total of 185 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf region. At a glance, the water looks clear and life appears to be returning to normal. Marinas have reopened and fisherman are returning to work. But that’s not the case deep under the surface.
The government is estimating that less than 25% of the oil is still in the area, but scientists say the oil isn’t gone, it has settled at the bottom of the ocean.
According to ABC News, a “mile below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico, there is little sign of life.”
ABC News was given the opportunity to see the impact of last summer’s massive oil spill from the U.S. Navy’s deep-ocean research machine. From the submersible at
If you’ve had the fortune of visiting Colorado’s high country – especially Summit County – over the past few years, you’ve probably noticed all of the dead pine trees. You can’t blame this one on drought, but instead, a tiny little black beetle living just under the bark. According to Colorado State forestry officials, an estimated 750,000 acres of trees have been killed by the Mountain Pine Beetle… and this is just the beginning. But now we’re starting to see the creative, entrepreneurial spirit of people who are finding great uses for the “pine kill” wood.
I stopped in at Mi Cocina (one of my favorite local Mexican restaurants in Littleton, Colorado) this morning for a breakfast burrito only to find this surprise… brand new floors made from beetle-kill wood. While the pictures don’t do the color of the wood justice, the blue-ish tint of the wood is stunning. Biologists tells us that the blue-ish color comes from a bluestain fungi introduced by the beetle. This fungi disables the tree’s