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Whoa! Don't Fall Over! TRY athlete ball 8 2016 IMG 3555 web

Try training like an Olympic athlete.


  • Smooth-surfaced, solid wall
  • Tennis ball or other similar-sized bouncy ball


  1. Stand facing the wall about a foot away holding the ball.
  2. Balance on one foot. Raise your foot high up and behind you so it is level with your knee.
  3. Bounce the ball off the wall and try to catch it all while balancing on one foot!
  4. Try to keep going for at least 30 seconds without falling over or putting your foot down.
  5. Keep practicing until you can bounce the ball and continuously balance for a full 60 seconds.

Take it further:

  1. When you can balance for a full minute, try backing up and starting farther from the wall. Is it still easy to throw and catch without tipping over?
  2. Switch feet! Is your balance the same? Which foot is easier to balance on? Why do you think that is?
  3. Try throwing the ball with your non-dominant hand. Is it harder to control the ball? Is it harder to balance and catch the ball?
  4. For a real challenge, use your non-dominant hand to throw and catch while standing on your non-dominant foot!

What’s going on?

Athletes depend on good balance and spatial awareness to help them excel. Spatial awareness is knowing where you and objects around you are compared to your surrounding environment. This is important for athletes because they need to understand and direct, to a high degree of accuracy, how their body parts move in relation to each other, and how their body moves in relation to their teammates, competitors, equipment, and environment.

In this activity, you are training your balance and spatial awareness. This can help improve your agility and coordination, which are essential skills for athletic performance and injury prevention. If you start to tip over while the ball is bouncing off the wall, your muscles and balance sensors (inside your inner ear) will react to keep you upright while your spatial awareness will adjust to help you sense where the ball is as you move into a different position, enabling you to catch it.

To maintain your balance, you need to keep your center of gravity over your base. When you stand on two feet, your center of gravity is in the center of you (around your belly button), but when you stand on one foot, you have to shift your weight over the foot that is still on the ground or you will fall over. This weight transfer shifts your center of gravity over your base leg to help you stay balanced. As you continue practicing, you will improve your ability to lean and bend (which shifts your center of gravity) while staying balanced because your muscles will be stronger and will be able to pull you back to a balanced position more quickly. With this type of training, you could be on your way to becoming an Olympic gymnast, swimmer, or track star!

Fireworks in a Glass

Make your own colorful creations with liquids in a clear glass container.

They mimic the spread of fireworks in the sky, but you can see these “fireworks” even in the daytime!

Materials:TRY fireworks drops

  • 1 tall glass or large Mason jar
  • 1 short glass or small Mason jar
  • Food coloring, multiple colors
  • 2-3 Tbsp. cooking oil
  • Warm water
  • Measuring spoons
  • Fork


  1. Fill your tall glass about ¾ full of warm water.TRY fireworks jar to jar
  2. In your smaller glass, add 2-3 Tbsp. of cooking oil and drops of food coloring. About three drops per color should be plenty, and try to use one or two colors to start.
  3. Use the fork to disperse the food coloring in the oil. To do this, gently zig-zag the fork back and forth through the oil just a few times to break up the food coloring drops.
  4. Slowly, pour your oil and coloring mix into the tall glass of water.
  5. Watch as the water in the glass erupts with colorful underwater fireworks!

Take it further:

  • When you mix the food coloring with the fork, do the drops collide? What happens then? Did you see any colors you weren’t expecting? How many different colors can you make?
  • Try it again with a different kind of oil (vegetable, canola, olive). Do the drops fall faster through one oil than another?
  • What happens if you use two types of oil at once? Do they separate from each other like they do from the water?
  • What happens if you sprinkle some salt in your glass? Which liquid does it dissolve in? What does this tell you about salt? Try it with sugar. Is there a difference?

TRY fireworks completeWhat’s going on?

A helpful reminder in chemistry says, “Like dissolves like.” This means that only molecules and compounds with similar properties can dissolve one another. In the case of oil and water, the two liquids do not mix because they are not “like” compounds.Water is polar – each water molecule has a negative end and a positive end. This polarity makes water molecules stick to each other. Oil on the other hand, is nonpolar. There are no negative or positive charges, so water does not stick to oil; it would rather stick to itself. This explains why the oil and water don’t mix, but why does the oil stay on the top of the glass? Oil floats on water because it is less dense than water. Oil is less dense than water because there are fewer oil molecules than water molecules in any given volume. What about the food coloring? The food coloring is water-based, so it does not dissolve in the oil. When we pour the food coloring and the oil into the jar, the food coloring falls through the oil because it is denser. The color drops are also a little bit denser than water because of the color dye molecules, so the drops fall through the water too. But as they fall through the water, they begin to dissolve. This diffuses the drops outward and makes the ‘fireworks” effect.



Edible Science: Ice Cream

Shake off the heat with a cool, tasty treat!


You will need:

Ice cream ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract


  • 4 cups ice cubes
  • ½ cup rock salt or ice cream salt
  • 2 zip seal quart-size freezer bags
  • 1 zip seal gallon-size bag
  • Kitchen towel or gloves or oven mitts
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cup
  • Timer or clock


  1. Add your ingredients (milk, sugar, vanilla) to one of the quart-size bags. Remove excess air from the bag and seal it so it is shut tight.
  2. “Double bag” it: Place your bag of ingredients inside a second quart-size bag, remove the air, and seal completely.
  3. Open the gallon-size bag, place your ice cream ingredients bag inside, then add ice and salt, remove any excess air, and seal the gallon bag shut.
  4. This next part can get messy – go outside! Use gloves, oven mitts, or a towel to help you hold the bag. The outer bag will be cold and will get wet and drippy as the ice melts.
  5. Set your timer or note the time and start SHAKING the bag!! Continue shaking for five minutes.
  6. Check your ingredients bag. Is your ice cream ready to eat? If not, keep shaking! Continue checking your ingredients every five minutes. Is your ice cream freezing?
  7. When your ice cream is thick enough, check your timer and note how long it took to freeze, then open your small ice cream bag and … EAT!

Take it further:

  1. Why did you add salt to your ice? Do different kinds of salt (table salt, kosher salt, sea salt) have different effects? Which one works best?
  2. Try it again without the salt. Does your ice cream freeze?
  3. Do different types of milk or cream give different tastes? Does one freeze in less than five minutes? Try the recipe with heavy whipping cream or half & half to compare to whole milk.
  4. Try making different flavors using fruit extracts or chocolate syrup. Can you make a custom flavor like strawberry vanilla?

Where’s the science?

The freezing point of a liquid depends on how many things are dissolved in the liquid. Milk, for example, is water with a bunch of things dissolved or dispersed in it, like fat, sugar, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Milk is actually an emulsion because the fat and protein molecules are suspended in the water instead of dissolved. Your ice cream is an emulsion too! When you add the sugar and vanilla to your milk, you’ve added more things (solutes) to the water (solvent). Adding all of these solutes makes it harder to freeze the solution, so the freezing point goes down. We now have a solution that freezes at a lower temperature than water. How do we get colder than ice?
To get your ice cold enough to freeze your ice cream, we added salt. The salt (solute) dissolves in the water (solvent) and lowers the freezing point of the water, so your ice gets colder and doesn’t melt as fast. The salt and water solution now has a lower freezing point than your ice cream emulsion, which means the ice gets cold enough to freeze your ice cream!

Origami Frog and Flea

Use the ancient art of paper folding to create a frog and flea.
You can also test your engineering and design skills to see if you can think of ways to help your creatures "leap" or move higher or farther.

You will need:
  • For each creature, you'll need one piece of paper cut to 4" x 8" (You can use any plain or color office paper, or origami paper.)
  • Optional - scissors, drinking straws, tape, markers or crayons or othr items to decorate the creatures.
  • Start by cutting up enough pieces of paper to 4"x8" so you have a few to experiment with.
    The frog includes more photos of the very first few folds, so you might want to fold your frog first. See diagrams for folding instructions.Origami Jumping Frog

    Origami Jumping Flea 150

    Things to Try

    Once you have your origami creatures done, try getting them to move forward, or jump up.

    What happens if you tap the back end?
    What happens if you hold the back edge down, then let the paper slide out from under your finger to release it? 
    What happens if you try blowing at their back ends through a drinking straw?
    Could you hold a race? How you would measure what a "win" is (farthest, highest)?

    Could you re-design them to leap farther, or to always land upside down or always upright?

Try Pi

Let's compare circumferences and diameters of balls and find Pi

You will need:
  ● A few balls or other perfect sphere-shaped objects, like tennis, baseball, or basketball
  ● A few feet of string and a ruler, or a measuring tape
  ● Marker or pens - 2 different colors is ideal but not necessary
  ● A calculator or person who is good at division
If you are using the string method, mark the end of the string you are always going to start from when you measure, so that each time you measure a length, you start from the same end of the string.

Now, choose a ball. Measure its circumference, C, by using a string or measuring tape around the ball at its widest part around the middle. For the string method, mark with a marker just at the point before where the string would start to overlap. Now, measure the ball's diameter, or d. Since the ball is a perfect sphere, however you look at it, the ball's height and width are the same - measure either one to get the diameter! You can sandwich the ball between two hardcover books that you keep parallel, and measure the distance between the two books with string or measuring tape. Mark this second measurement on the string with either a different color marker or a slightly different width of mark, so you can keep track of which mark was which measurement. 
TRY Pi Balls IMG 0258 2016 cropweb    TRY Pi balls IMG 0259 3 2016webcrop   TRY Pi balls IMG 0264 3 2016cropweb   TRY Pi balls IMG 0268 3 2016 web crop 
Which is longer, the circumference, C or the diameter, d? Did that surprise you? 

Try folding the string or measuring tape at the the point of longest measurement back in thirds to the starting end, so that it is in three equal lengths. Where is your other mark? About 1/3 of the way, as if you could fit approximately three diameters lengths into the circumference length? 

Try other size balls or spherical objects. Is the circumference always the longer measurement? Is it always about three times as long?

Now let’s try to find some Pi (also known as π) and see how this special number works. For one item you measured, divide the C (the circumference) by the d (the diameter) to get Pi. What number did you get? Is it close to 3.14? Many people celebrate the number Pi on Pi Day. March 14th! Now can you see why it is celebrated on this day? 

Artists, architects, and engineers all use Pi, which is actually an infinite number (one that has no end) to help them calculate and create perfect circles or curves of specific sizes. This can help in everything from truck wheels to arches in buildings! 

For more formulas that use pi, check out:
Pi is an infinite number! To see a million digits of pi, visit:

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