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

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 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.