Monday, January 22, 2018

Kids Love Project Egg Drop

Engineer a Safe Egg Drop!!
There are scrambled eggs, fried eggs, and then eggs for the famous raw egg drop engineering activity.  It provides an opportunity for some real life problem solving using physics principles,  creative engineering fun, and materials found around the house. The beauty is all ages can do this and have a great time together.
  Question and Pool Knowledge
 How can you protect something really fragile like a raw egg if   it is dropped?  Discuss how packages are shipped when 
there is something breakable inside   What are are the problems to consider? Some are the speed which gravity makes it fall and jarring and shaking when it crashes. Start by dropping a simple Lego space ship with an action figure on top.  Take a look at what happens. How can you protect the action figure?
   How are babies protected in cars? How are children and adults protected in cars, on bikes, or playing hockey? What do soldiers have to slow them down and land safely when they jump out of planes? How could you work in teams to protect a raw egg that is dropped from a height of 4 feet?  10 feet, or more? There are so many questions waiting to be answered.
Engineering Materials
  Help children search around the house for construction materials like cardboard, packing material, cotton, drinking straws, tape, string, newspaper, balloons,
Choose Your Engineering Materials
 pipe cleaners, wire, or foam rubber.  What else could be used to slow down the speed of falling and violence of the crash?
  Lay all of the materials out so children can use pencils, markers, and paper to make a few sketches of possible solutions. This important step encourages children to plan. Then they can construct a few devices and discuss possibilities. 
 Keep asking how will you slow down the descent and make the landing gentle? If possible, have a construction team to talk together. Remind your children that they need to look at the egg and put the contraption back together to perfect and try again after the drop. Make a few models, name them, and predict what will happen.
  The team can test by dropping them from a ladder or stairs onto a cookie sheet or tarp. If the first few don’t work, scoop up the cracked eggs to cook later and remind children what Thomas Edison said about resilience when he and his team
Become an Engineering Team!
were inventing the light bulb.  ”I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” You can take some movies and pictures to share. 
   Really spectacular packages were dropped on Mars in 2004. Google or Bing ” Spirit rover landing on Mars “ and view a video version of the rover parachuting and bouncing around safely on the surface of Mars.  For more science at home see and Through the Seasons.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Teaching Grandchildren to Help and Thank Others

Do Good Deeds; Use Good Social Skills 
 A New Year’s resolution might be to continue teaching children to do good deeds and have good social skills. Children can show gratitude to those who rarely receive a thank you. People who deserve a lot of gratitude are those in the the service industries such as truckers, grocery workers, all in the restaurant businesses including take-outs and bakeries. How often are they working very early in the morning, late at night, or holidays when we are enjoying a rest?
Thanking Restaurant Workers
  We can start with restaurant workers. One family teaches their young children to write thank you and other little notes to people who work in the restaurants they visit. 
Thank Your Waitstaff
The family takes along paper the size of thank you notes and crayons. The activity also keeps the children occupied and helps practice writing skills. While waiting, adults help children ages seven and nine write thank you notes to the server and cook. During a holiday they might write a little note that says “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, thank you, their first names, and add pictures. Then they leave it on their table.
  The family also teaches children to thank servers for their food and to use “please” with a smile when asking for something. When the server comes around to ask how everything is, they say “Thank you. This is really good.”
  The young children help to clean up their area, organize the used dishes, and pick up anything they drop on the floor. The family discusses how hard restaurant and other service people work, especially around any holiday, as part of the children’s economics lessons.
No, Thank you
  Another reader shares this good social skills tip. Since her
Use Your Words - Socially
children were very young, instead of saying “No” to them, she says calmly,” No, thank you.” Now when adults ask her children if they want something and the children don’t want it, they say, “No, thank you.” It’s automatic. “No” and “thank you” are linked. Immediately other adults will raise their eyebrows and say, HOW did you do THAT?” The parent adds when her children are in the middle of a tantrum, “Forget it! There is no link. They aren’t perfect.”
Young children think about themselves, making themselves comfortable, and getting what they want. However, with these easy activities families can teach them to be “good” children and think of others in a very natural and positive way. Doing little acts that show appreciation like writing thank you notes to hard working retailers, grocers, mail carriers, restaurant employees, and others helps children learn that being nice to others has more benefit than being nasty and ill mannered at any age.
  For more ideas see, Learning Through the Seasons live and pod casts; Pinterest, and Facebook.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Balloons Make Physics Fun

Have Fund on Cold Winter Days - With Balloons!
For under two dollars the whole family can have some physics fun on cold winter days. Ten inch round red balloons are very dramatic as they fly around the house. A packet of a variety of balloons makes the time even crazier. Watch the very young children and pets so they don’t chew holes and inhale the balloons when they burst, but other than that the flying balloons should be safe.
  Ben Franklin would be proud. Balloons help teach an important physics principle: propulsion. The opposite action of air molecules rushing out of the balloon’s entrance is the fast movement of the balloon in the opposite direction. For every action there is an almost equal reaction.
Preparing Rocket Balloons
  One tip for prepping balloons without hurting your ears is to stretch the neck of the balloon to loosen it up. Tire pumps also work well. Teaching children to blow their own properly helps, too.
Discuss Rockets and Space
  Family STEM fun begins with a discussion of the science principle and thinking of examples of propulsion like jet engines and space rockets.  Then ask how we can use the balloons and the principle of propulsion to have some fun with science and solve a problem.  How can we prove or show that there is air coming out of the balloon neck?  What happens if the balloon is released under soapy water? Children may suggest that they can feel the rush of air or the rush will make some pieces of paper move.  You can try out a few of their ideas.
  Children can take out a few markers and gently draw silly faces or rockets before or after they expand their balloons. That adds an art component and makes the activity last a bit longer.
Creative Science
Read a Book!
Now it’s time for a little fun and noise. How far can a balloon go down a hallway? How high will it go?  Can it fall into a clothes basket target?  What happens if one puts a marble inside the balloon?  Can you strap on an action figure like Luke Skywalker with masking tape and let Darth Vader chase after him? Whose balloon goes the farthest? Does anything change if the balloons are fired off outside in the cold weather?
   What happens when one squeezes the balloon neck to demonstrate how musical instruments work?  Can children do a little song with it?

  Interesting books about rockets include “Roaring Rockets (Amazing Machines)” by Tony Mitton; “Elon Musk: This book is about rockets” By Evan Loomis; and “The Way Things Work Now” by David Macaulay.  More science fun can be found and archived at; Through the Seasons pod casts and live; Pinterest and Facebook.  Thanks for sharing these around the world, especially to family members in the military.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Children Love Planting and Eating Chia

Fun With Chia!!
Little chia seeds pack a nutritional punch. These little plants are full of antioxidants, omega three fatty acids, fiber, calcium, and many nutrients. “Chia” means strength in the Mayan language and Aztec warriors and runners ate them often before battles. They are a super food. The seeds grow very fast, thicken liquids, and add nutrition to baked goods like muffins, breads, cookies, and pancakes. Young children and teens who will not touch lettuce or spinach salads will happily snack on chia or other sprouts like sunflowers.
Little Chia Garden
  Chia seeds in the grocery store can be planted. For planting, purchase a few new half inch synthetic sponges with little holes.  Soak the new sponges so they are damp but not dripping. Place the sponges on plates 
Plant Some Chis Seeds
and scatter chia seeds across the tops, gently poking them into the sponge holes. The seeds do not need to be washed first. In fact, when washed they will stick together in a glob.
  Keep the sponges moist by misting with several tablespoons of water often.  It is important not to let the chia seeds dry out. You may cover with clear plastic containers over the plates at night to keep the moisture in. Take off the covers during the day so the seeds do not rot. They will take 4-7 days to sprout about 1/4 inches.  Then it is time to move them to a sunny counter to grow 3-4 inches before harvesting with a washed scissors. They are great for children’s indoor gardens because they grow quickly.
  Strawberry Chia Pudding
  For this fresh tapioca- like pudding you will need: 16 ounces fresh hulled strawberries,
1 ½ cups coconut milk, 1/4 cup honey (maple syrup or to taste, 1 tsp vanilla, again to taste, 3/4 teaspoon finely grated lime zest, 1/2 cup chia seeds. Place everything BUT seeds in a blender until smooth. Check sweetness.
  Place chia seeds in a large bowl, pour the strawberry mixture on top, and whisk thoroughly. Let stand for 10 minutes and whisk again. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days. Stir the pudding before serving. The longer it sits, the thicker the pudding will become; if you find that it is too thick, whisk in a little water.
Make a Pudding or Parfait With Chia!
    For a parfait, put 1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple cubes in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring and mashing with a spoon about 7 minutes.  Add 2 cups pitted fresh or frozen sweet cherries mashing and cooking until tender, removing any chunks. Remove from heat.  Add 2 tablespoons chia seeds.  Mix well, cover and refrigerate overnight to thicken. To serve, layer 2 tablespoons of mixture with alternate layers of Greek yogurt.  

Photos: Dick Culbert from Gibsons, B.C., Canada - Salvia hispanica and 
Fran Darling, fdarling fotos