Tuesday, August 28, 2012

{Tuesday Teaching} Edheads

"Edheads creates unique, free Web experiences designed to make hard-to-teach science, technology, engineering, and math concepts understandable."

 Doesn't this sound exactly like a Mrs. V tool? I'll try it out this week and let you know! Two activites in particular catch my eye:

Design a Cell Phone
Using the Engineering Process (Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Improve), you analyze data and research and come up with a plan to create a new cell phone. In class, I would do a similar exercise with my students. I asked them to spend some time thinking of how to make the phone more functional, user-friendly, or more visually appealing. For extra bonuses, the students could come up with new features to add to a phone. I remember one student suggesting a built-in mini printer. I, for one, had never heard of it before. Isn't that genius! Our future is bright!

Click here - Engineering Design - Edheads

Simple Machines

A simple machine is any device that changes the magnitude or direction of a force. It makes work easier.

Click here - Simple Machines - Edheads

Try this one out and next week, we will build our own simple machines!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tuesday Teaching {Wordle}

Word clouds by Wordle.

My curriculum for my technology classes always includes a graphic design unit. The students always get a kick out of finding their inner designer, and they love using Wordle! I'd even go so far as to say the students prefer spending their time on the internet on this site over an educational game website. Believe it! :)

I love this. I love this for games, for summaries, for brainstorming, for design - in science, technology, reading, English, a little girl's bedroom. I love this for everything!

The first word cloud comes from a 'Copy & Paste' transcript of one of my earlier Teaching posts. Hm... Displacement, water, boat, tinfoil.... Can you guess which post it is?
Click here!

Wouldn't Wordle come in handy when in a Reading class setting? Or even with your kids at home. After the child reads a story, they can type in the main points they remember and see their word cloud come to form. Or you could make the word clouds and have the child guess which story the word cloud represents. 

Sound familiar?

I also think this is a very creative and cute way to incorporate a personal touch in a framed print in a child's room.
Taken right from her Wikipedia page. Did I pick a famous enough woman? :) 

To use Wordle,
1. go to http://www.wordle.net/create
2. type in your set of words. Click go!
3. change settings in the upper left hand corner of your image (font, color, direction of words, etc.)
4. if there are words you do not want to have in your graphic, simply right click on the word and click 'Remove _______'

I can't wait to see what you come up with! Comment with a link to show off your designs!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday Teaching {Hovercrafts}

There were certain concepts that were always met with a groan when introduced in class. Maybe this was because the concepts were taught them over and over again and they were certain nothing exciting was coming out of the lesson that day. Which made me want even more to find and create awesome projects to demonstrate the science principles!

One such principle was Newton's 3rd law - Every action has an opposite and equal reaction. 
A common example of this is letting the air out of a blown-up balloon. As you let the air out to your left, for example, an equal force pushes in the opposite direction (into the balloon) and causes the balloon to propel to the right.

Using this same concept, we can harness that equal and opposite force to create a simple and quick hovercraft.

With that brief introduduction, I'm sending you over to Scientific American to create such a hovercraft. Let me know your results! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Anything Else Fridays {Spice Container Labels}

Our Friday this week falls on Wednesday. Or atleast, a boating adventure tomorrow gets me feeling like it's the weekend already! This week, I wanted to spice up our .. spice rack. Zing!

We've been in the market for a spice rack since we moved into our everything-is-bigger-except-the-kitchen apartment to free up some much needed cupboard space. A nice wood one was our first choice, and we scored one off Craigslist for $10!

Included were the dull generic bottles, identical, making it ridiculously hard to tell the 32 spices apart and adding 10 minutes to dinner prep time.

I shopped around for some new spice container labels and only found blank labels that you write on yourself. AH. Not going to ruin my new beautiful spice rack with my squigglies! I decided to make them myself. Another excuse to break out the tiny graphic designer in me. 

I like to do test prints on lined paper so I know exactly where on the paper the graphics will print. Put it in the correct way a normal lined paper would lay and see which side/corner your design comes out on. It's foolproof!

The initial plan was to use Avery labels with their printing template. Sounds easy, right? Should've been. But, the Martha Stewart version I got sadly printed out really runny - not even a step up above my squigglies. So, for the (hopefully) temporary time, I've just cut these out from printer paper and glued them on the blank labels.

Not ideal, but I invite you to imagine what they look like from really far away :) Even with that hiccup though, I feel like they add lots more personality to the kitchen. I love them! 

Let me know in the comments if you'd like the sheets I designed and in what format (Photoshop/Word/PDF). I'm going to try these with the normal, non-Martha Stewart Avery 1.5" labels soon to see if they work. Enjoy!

Wednesday! {Mrs. V revamping}

Hello to all you fantastic readers who I left for a whole month!

 My apologies. When I took on the Mrs. V role at home, I wasn't sure how it would all go. There were kinks, most of the kinks being the amount of work I was going to be able to do for the blog and the many, many days I spent/am spending out of town and away from the computer.

From now on, I'll be {teaching} once a week on Tuesdays and {basically crafting/designing} on Fridays. And I'll try my best even when I'm out of town.

Hope your summer is coming to a wonderfully fun close.

:) Mrs. V

Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday Musings {Quietube}

{Sorry about last week! We started the week off out of town, and we had to get our routines back when we came home. Thanks for being patient!}

Sometimes in class, Youtube is my biggest helper. I can generally find exciting clips of projects we are about to make or detailed video diagrams of certain concepts. But, as you know if you've ever used Youtube before, the comments are open to any kind of language and sometimes suggested videos on the side aren't appropriate for the audience. Some teachers used Quietube - so I thought I'd share. Quietube takes out all the comments and side videos and just shows you the single video playing with one ad below it. I haven't used it much, but I've been very grateful for it the few times I have! Here's an example of one video I might show in class, which happens to be a person launching a rocket made from plastic soda bottles. Pretty awesome.

This does ask to put a bookmark on your internet, so disclaimer there. But once you have the bookmark, you just find a video on Youtube, push the Quietube button  on your bookmark (Similar to a 'Pin it' button) and it transfers you to the quietube site with the original video. Check out Quietube.com if you're interested. So far, I've had no trouble with it. Enjoy!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Anything Else Fridays {Finishing up}

I'm real excited (and relieved) to report the Projects Completed this week!

Other side of Pillow cover for baby girl's room. Design by cluckclucksew

Still no curtain rod, but I'd say this baby girl's room is done! Finished the race, but hasn't gotten the medal yet kind of done :)

Flip side of the pillow
This gallery wall was tricky! I had a few different arrangements that I really loved and so I put the different sizes of paper on the wall only to discover that the spotlight above gave really weird shadows! So I decided nothing could go underneath the middle one, which is going to house a cute typography of our family mission statement. So I had to go out horizontally. In the end, I made a single breakage line on both sides of the middle frame and matched up the little ones to keep the breakage line obvious through the whole thing. Yes, I made up the term breakage line. It's the new planking.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thursday Teaching {Paper Bridges}

Project: Paper Bridges

Concept: Structures

I usually teach a unit on Bridges to my students using Dominos, followed by a project making different kinds of bridges out of popsicle sticks/balsa wood/toothpicks. If made correctly, these bridges hold some substantial weight - It's not unusual for a toothpick bridge to hold 50 lbs!
For today's experiment, we're using index cards, which won't hold quite that much weight in this configuration :)

Start with a single index card and lay it across to create your bridge. How many pennies can this bridge hold? 

When a horizontal piece is supported on either end by piers, it is a beam bridge. Ever walk across a log above a river? Beam bridge! Beam bridges rely on the stiffness of the building material.

There are three kinds of beam bridges shown here and one arch bridge.
The arch bridge was made by cutting slits on both ends of the index card and slipping those slits into the cover of the book. Try them all out and let me know how much your best bridge held!

What other bridge designs can you come up with?

Materials needed: Books, index cards, and a whole lot of pennies!
One single flat card
Lasted ~22 pennies
One folded index card
Supports a lot more weight!
Arch Bridge
Another Beam bridge

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday Teaching {Tightrope Walker}

Project: Tightrope walker 

Concept: Center of Balance

I was excited to find a couple emails last week from family wanting to know the science behind some interesting phenomenons. Which inspired me to think of how much more fun this would be for your kids if they were experimenting with their very own questions. So find out your kid's questions and let me know through the 'Ask Mrs. V' button on the sidebar ---------------------->
Thanks all!

One of the questions last week was:
Why do tightrope walkers carry those long poles?

This question may or may not have been spurred on by the recent feat of Nik Wallenda crossing the Niagara Falls. I only found out about this yesterday, but after reading how many viewers this attracted, I'm sure I'm the only one to not know about this.

Source here
He crossed the Niagara Falls in less than an hour. And yes, he did carry one of those long poles. But why?

This relates to center of gravity. Remember when we made the Balancing Bird? The bird would not balance because the center of gravity was not directly over the fingertip, or balance point. We needed to adjust the 'weight' of the bird so that the center of the 'weight' was at a point directly above the fingertip. 

A tightrope walker changes his center of mass by adding a pole. 

Stand up with your feet together and have someone gently (gently, brothers! :) try to push you over. It's pretty easy, right? 
Now stand with your feet spread apart and have someone gently try to push you over. That is harder to do. Even if you were to push harder than before, you would probably not be able to push them over. 

When you are standing straight up, your center of gravity, or middle of the 'weight', is more or less your stomach. When your feet are spread apart, your center of gravity is lower than it was before. When your center of gravity is lower, you are more stable because you are closer to the balancing point.

A tightrope walker on a thin wire is not able to spread his feet apart, but they CAN lower their center of gravity by holding a drooping pole with a little weight on either end.

Find a thin sidewalk to set up your own tightrope walk and grab a broom (with the end off) to test your skills!

Also, check out this balancing experiment for your project today:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Musings {Tech Current Event}

Project Glass. All you ever needed from your computer on your glasses, made by Google (surprise!).

Friday, June 15, 2012

Anything Else Fridays {DC Tourists}

I finished the curtains this week! And tried to get the rest of the house in order. I'll wait until it's all done (and we get a curtain rod :) to show pictures. In the meantime, I thought I'd share the following list from our friends, the Wallaces. They have lived in DC for a couple years and have taken advantage of every opportunity imaginable here. Here's their complete list of sites they have visited in DC:

C & O Canal State Park
Great Falls
MLK Memorial
WW I D.C. Memorial
The Phillips Collection (Art Museum)
Lady Bird Johnson Park
Navy Merchant-Marine Memorial
DEA Museum
D.C. United (MLS)
Albert Einstein Memorial
George Mason Memorial
African American Civil War Museum
African American Civil War Memorial
National Arboretum
Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum
Wizards Game (NBA)
Nat'l Geographic Museum
Ben's Chili Bowl
National Harbor
Spy Museum
Capitals NHL Game
Six Flags DC
Pentagon 9/11 Memorial
Udvar-Hazy Smithsonian
NFL RedSkins Game
US Marine Corps Museum
Air Force Memorial
US Marine Memorial (Iwo Jima)
National Gallery of Art (East and West Building)
US Postal Museum (Smithsonian)
American Indian Museum (Smithsonian)
Hirshhorn Museum (Smithsonian)
National Portrait Gallery
Crime & Punishment Museum
Smithsonian Natural History Museum
Vietnam War Memorial
Korean War Memorial
Potomac River
Rock Creek Park
Jefferson Memorial
Library of Congress
U.S. Botanical Gardens
U.S. Capitol - House Floor
Smithsonian Ripley International Gallery
Smithsonian African Art Museum
Smithsonian Freer Gallery
Smithsonian Sackler Gallery
Smithsonian Castle
Mount Vernon
Fredericksburg: Civil War Sites
Thomas Sweet Ice Cream Co.
White House
Washington D.C. Temple
George Washington Masonic Temple
Arlington National Cemetery
Washington Nationals Game
National Zoo
Freedom Plaza (WTU Protest)
National Cathedral
Holocaust Museum
Smithsonian American History Museum
Lincoln Memorial
World War II Memorial
Washington Monument
Harman Center for the Arts
National Archives
Navy Memorial
Smithsonian Air & Space Museum
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Ford's Theatre
Hard Rock Cafe
National Mall
Union Station

Along with being incredibly impressive, this was incredibly motivating! I think it's easy to get in the mindset of 'we can tour whenever we want because we live here' and then spend Saturdays shopping or .. in our case most of the time... napping and watching Netflix. The colored ones above were places Matt and I have gone to - me only in pink, and both of us in purple. Our goal is to keep turning those places purple :) Thanks Wallaces for sharing!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Teaching {Soap Fest}

Project: Soap Fest

Materials needed. Half & Half is used here as substitute for Whole Milk. Use whole milk if you have it! Use any flat tray you have - a cookie sheet works great too.

Pour enough half & half/whole milk to create a thin layer on the bottom of the tray. Use a few different food colorings and make 6-8 drops anywhere in the tray.

Pour drops of dish soap onto the food coloring. If you're quick, try to hit multiple spots of food coloring!

The initial spread is the most exciting. But continue to watch the dish soap drop and you will notice food coloring fizzing out of that circle for much longer!

When the reaction stops, mix the colors for some fun. Wash tray in the sink when finished - DO NOT DRINK.

Why does this happen? Let's think about Dish Soap. How does this liquid keep our dishes clean? More or less, it breaks down the fat molecules in food. Whole milk has.. lots of fat molecules. Try with reduced fat milk and you will see that this experiment doesn't really work.
As we pour the dish soap into the milk, the dish soap begins to break up the fat molecules in the milk. The food coloring doesn't add to the reaction, but allows us to see the reaction take place. 

Experiment! Does the size of the tray matter? Are there dish soaps that do a better job than others?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Musings {Resourcefulness}

I love the Container Store. When my husband once suggested we go spend some time there last year, I doubted. Spend some time in the Container Store? As you would spend some time at IKEA looking at all their showrooms or at the park watching little league baseball teams and pet-owners? I doubted, until we had spent an hour scouring every aisle and then were ECSTATIC to find out that there was another entire second floor! I was sold. There are things in that store you never knew you wanted, let alone existed. Some things are confusing, some clever, some completely unnecessary, some genius! We have had lots of fun spending some time at the Container Store.

We went there last Saturday and found these containers, which we have turned into our recycling units for our apartment.

I think the reason I appreciate recycling is because you have the chance to turn otherwise useless material into something useful! I like to think of it as 'resourcefulness', although I am well aware of other platforms that try to encourage recycling for differing reasons. No pushing here. I just personally find satisfaction in recycling. I'm excited to be even better now that we have a system going on in the apartment!

A couple of summers ago, my husband and I went to the Dominican Republic to teach science and technology to a group of excelling high school students. We were prepped on their academic levels and planned accordingly, but I was so impressed with how these students shined! They exceeded my expectations, were incredibly creative, and worked hard in their studies. There is a whole lot to say about the language barrier, the unsanitary conditions, the sicknesses, the adjustments, but none of that is very related to the topic - 'resourcefulness'. I came to appreciate this value while there with the children. We talked about utilizing their proximity to the coast to harness wind energy to provide a power source to the village or using the energy of the sun to cheaply and effectively help them in their everyday routine or how they could work to keep their water clean using resources they had there. We talked about attacking their problems from a different angle - turning otherwise unused material into something that was in a real way important in their lives. Resourcefulness! We talked about it, brainstormed, experimented, found some failure and found some success. I loved that experience - the teaching, atleast. The living was difficult, but the perspective I gained there has greatly impacted my life.

So I'll leave you with that. Resourcefulness - what does it mean to you?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Anything Else Fridays {Curtains and Cookies}

Projects in Progress: 3

Pillow for Baby Girl's Rocker
Front will have this design using all the fun patterns in the quilt: Inspired from cluckclucksew.com

Curtains for Baby Girl's Room


Get this stubborn sticker off of the rug. Ideas, please! Help!

Projects Completed: 1

Unpacked the suitcases ;)

Projects to Start: 2

Pillows for our 'new' couch and rocker

Figure out how to arrange our gallery wall

Oh yes - and breathe.

One plus from just getting off vacation is that I have serious energy to cook! I guess not cooking for two weeks makes me feel like spending extra time in the kitchen is a must. *Take note if we invite you to dinner - come over after a long break!* I wanted to use up the last of our frozen tilapia, but I have been pretty disappointed in tilapia recipes. They are either overly fishy or overly butter-ized. But this! This was delicious. The recipe was in a family cookbook, but I had an inkling she got it from allrecipes.com. Walaa! :

We halved the cayenne pepper and it was a good amount of heat (granted, we are big fans of spicy!) I flaked the fish in the pasta instead of plating the whole fillet. I think this helped lessen the fishiness. Also I used half and half instead of heavy cream, and I bet the real cream would have made it even more delicious! Both the husband and I could not get enough of it!

And I topped the meal off with some gooey goodness - chocolate chip cookies. A homemade dinner and homemade dessert!? This may push my husband to want to go on even more vacations. I'll oblige I guess :)

Matt wasn't thrilled about these because he likes a good crispiness to his chocolate chip cookie. You know when you almost throw a batch out because you obviously didn't put enough flour in the cookies and they turn out like flat disks? Matt's choice of cookie. If you do like a perfectly gooey cookie, this recipe is for you!

Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thursday Teaching {Flight}

 Project: Airplane Wings & Ailerons

Concept: Flight

 I actually want to get to two concepts today. The first involves pressure and how an airplane wing helps an airplane to fly. This can get a little complicated, so I'll just leave a simple explanation and experiment. If your kids aren't quite ready for that yet, skip on ahead to the Airplane Ailerons experiment. Enjoy!


We know how an airplane is able to fly thanks to our good friend Daniel Bernoulli, who discovered a fact known fittingly as the Bernoulli principle.

Wikipedia says: The Bernoulli principle can be used to calculate the lift force on an airfoil if the behaviour of the fluid flow in the vicinity of the foil is known. For example, if the air flowing past the top surface of an aircraft wing is moving faster than the air flowing past the bottom surface, then Bernoulli's principle implies that the pressure on the surfaces of the wing will be lower above than below. 

I say: The pressure of a moving gas decreases as its speed increases.

Because the shape of an airplane wing causes the air to move faster above than below, there is lower pressure above the wing. Higher pressure underneath the wing pushes the wing up and produces lift.


You can test the Bernoulli principle using a business card and a match. Adults, always be the one in charge of the matches. This experiment really is a 2-person deal, so I'll have to wait until the husband comes home to show you pictures. But, you don't have to wait - try it now!

Hold a business card in front of your mouth with a lit candle on the other side of the business card. 
Blow hard onto the business card. What happens to the flame of the match? 

... It moves toward you, toward the business card!

This is because you are creating a moving gas between your mouth and the card. Because air is moving quickly, you are creating a lower pressure. 

There is no moving gas between the card and the match. Air is moving slowly, creating a higher pressure.

 The higher pressure pushes the flame toward the area of lower pressure.


This second experiment comes from the book Potentially Catastrophic Science by Sean Connelly.

There are a few different 'flaps' on an airplane wing that control how the airplane is going to move. An aileron is one such 'flap'. Ailerons on a wing control the rolling of the airplane. 

Picture yourself in an airplane. The airplane turns left. Easy, right? Well, the airplane doesn't turn exactly like a car turns. First, you tilt a little to the left (or roll a little to the left) before you turn. Can you imagine that feeling of rolling a bit before turning? Ailerons control that rolling.

In this experiment, you will create 4 identical airplanes. However, each airplane will have a different aileron configuration. Below are paper airplane instructions if you need them.

Fold your 'flaps' (ailerons) to match the above planes and let them fly!
You should have the following results: 

* One will fly nose-up towards the ceiling before falling
* One will nose-dive into the ground
* One will perfectly spiral to the left
* One will perfectly spiral to the right

What did you learn?

For really cool paper airplane designs, check out these websites. Your kids will love them!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday Musings {Space Balloon}

This last week has been quite the busy one, but nothing really in the realm of 'Anything Else Fridays'. Just lots of family and celebrations. Sorry folks - this Friday there will be something here, even if the post is pictures of unpacked suitcases. You can't wait, can you! :)

This week, I want to switch gears from the sea to the sky. And as Mondays aren't really lessons, but tech/science thoughts or videos or inventions, I'm sharing the following incredible experiment:

If 6 minutes isn't too long for your child, definitely watch - it is worth it! A father and son team decide to send a camera into space - using an iphone and weather balloon. After months of research and experimenting, they set a date and come out successful, catching amazing footage and retrieving the balloon.

Although this kind of project requires money and probably a background in science/engineering, a motivating part of this experience is that he was making memories with his kids. However big or small, take the time to do the same.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Thursday Teaching {Lava Cups}

Project: Lava Cups

Concept: Floating Continued!

 Today's project is a continuation of Tuesday's lesson - why things float. (So be sure to check out Tuesday's foil boats for a more thorough explanation.) We'll use the same concept to create groovy retro lava cups. Mrs. V is not a big fan of written tests, but what she does love is when students can see a demonstration and explain what's going on. So I'm putting you on the spot of how to explain this project to your kids. I'll be gracious with some hints :) One of my professors of education said his high school students referred to him as 'the benevolent dictator'. I always liked that approach.

Materials needed: glass 3/4 full of water, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 tsp salt, 5 drops of food coloring

It's debatable which is more fun - the actual experiment or the seriously cool food color art in the water!
Pour all the vegetable oil into your colored water. You'll notice that when settled, the oil floats to the top.
Why is this?

Is the vegetable oil more or less dense than water?

Slowly pour salt into the glass. The salt attaches to the oil, creating little pockets of oil and salt. So we've made the oil bubbles to be more dense now than the water. So they.... will...... now...... sink! Right, sink. Watch as the oil bubbles sink. Eventually, the salt will dissolve in the water, leaving the oil bubbles to be once again less dense than water. So they.... will....... now........  float! Again, float. Continue to add salt to achieve lava lamp-like effects.

Color number 2. I think the lighter color made the movement easier to see, although red is fitting for a 'lava' cup.

Oil + Salt > Water

See the movement?

*Special thanks to sciencebob.com for some inspiration behind today's project!