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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: http://www.mathgoodies.com/lessons/vol2/circumference.html
Pi is an infinite number! To see a million digits of pi, visit: http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/58312.html


Air Blaster

Experiment with moving air by creating an air blaster! Here’s how:


try this air blaster materials

You will need:

  • An empty cardboard container (such as oatmeal, coffee, salt), without the lid, so one end is totally open.
  • One or more large round balloons (12” or larger)
  • Tape (duct tape, electrical tape or masking tape)
  • Small sharp kitchen knife (for adults to use).
To build your blaster
  1. On the solid end of the container, draw & cut out about a  1½ inch square or circle close to the center. Younger kids - ask an adult to do this part.)
  2. Cut off about half of a 12-inch balloon, and throw out the end that had the opening. Stretch the remaining balloon over the fully open end of your container.
  3. Wrap tape around the sides of the container where the balloon meets the container, to hold the balloon in place.
 
try this air blaster skill 
    Test Your Blaster
  1. Prepare your target: Stack up a few lightweight foam or paper cups.
  2. Hold the can with one hand and aim the small hole toward your target. Smack or bang the balloon, or pinch and pull back the center of the balloon, then release it, to cause a rush of air to leave the blaster and knock the cup over or move the cups. This may take a little practice in aiming the blaster at just the right angle.

 

What is the greatest distance you can be from a target and still hit it with the air?

How could you make a stronger air blaster?

What if you try different sizes of containers?

How about balloons that are stretched more or less taut?

 

The science that makes this work:

The physics of moving air is called fluid dynamics. Air is a fluid just like liquids. Hitting, tapping, or stretching and releasing  the rubber membrane forces a sudden gush of air out the opening. The surrounding air is disturbed forming an invisible swirling and twisting of air similar in shape to a doughnut. Such twisting of air is called a vortex. In fact, some sciene theater performers making these rings of air visible using dry ice or a fog machine.



Ice Melt Race

What material will make ice melt faster? Test different materials in your kitchen to find out.
TRYTHIS ice race 3 17 16


You will need:

  • Tray of ice cubes
  • Metal frying or cooking pan
  • Wooden or plastic cutting board
  • Any other material you want to test, such as a glass, ceramic bowl, plastic plate, cast iron griddle, Styrofoam takeout container, aluminum foil, etc.
  • You may want a towel, sponge, or napkins to wipe up.
    Note: When ice melts, you get… water! Consider the location and surface for your experiment.

1) Prepare your ice several hours or overnight before your experiment.

2) Feel the metal pan and cutting board with your hand. When you put your palm or fingers on it, does one of the surfaces feel warmer or colder than the other?

3) Make a prediction about which material will cause an ice cube to melt faster.

4) Take out two ice cubes. Place one on the pan and one on the cutting board at the same time.

  • Is one melting faster than the other?
  • Is it the one that you predicted would melt faster?

5) Choose other materials to test how quickly they melt the ice. Feel the material and predict if it will melt the ice quickly or slowly, then place ice cubes on them and see if the results match your predictions. OPTIONAL: You might want to use a timer, to time your melting races, and make a chart for your predictions and results.

Do you notice a relationship between how warm or cool each material feels to your hand and how quickly it melts the ice?

 

Spoiler Alert: You may want to read this AFTER you have conducted all your tests.

You’ve probably noticed that the frying pan feels colder than the cutting board. They are both at room temperature, but even though the pan feels colder, it actually makes the ice melt faster!

When you touch the pan, the heat of your hand quickly transfers out of your hand and into the pan. This leaves your hand feeling cold. But when you touch the cutting board, only a little heat slowly flows into the board. So your hand still feels warm. Remember both the pan and cutting board are at room temperature, much warmer than an ice cube! Heat from the room transfers quickly through the pan into the ice cube, melting it very quickly. But heat only slowly transfers to the ice cube on the cutting board, making it melt more slowly.

The difference happens because of a property called thermal conductivity. Thermal conductivity measures how quickly heat flows through a material. Materials like aluminum, stainless steel and copper (materials that pans are usually made of) have a high thermal conductivity, while materials like plastic and Styrofoam (materials that are often used in things like ice chests) have a low thermal conductivity.


Bubble Snakes

Create fun bubble and foam makers at home! Make long “snakes” of foam, and have more bubble fun, using a few simple items!

Note: For more bubbly fun, next time you visit Explora, check out our new exhibit area, Curious Bubbles/Burbujas curiosas, which just opened December 18, 2015!Try at Home Bubblesnake IMG 0572 re JPG cropacWeb400pw
You will need:

  • Small plastic soda/beverage bottles (Note: Sturdier, thicker plastics will hold up a bit better than the thinnest easy-to-crush water bottles)
  • Scissors to cut plastic
  • Small socks such as kid’s socks from a dollar store
  • Food Coloring
  • One or more: Bowl, pan, or plastic tub – large salad or mixing bowl size
  • Dish soap, such as Dawn
  • Tap water
  • Optional: Food Coloring, Pipe cleaners, other plastic cylindrical items, and white paper.

Note: Can be messy & wet. Food coloring may stain. Consider the location and set-up of your experiment.

1) Prepare a bowl of water with a few spoonfuls of dish soap added to it.
2) Cut the bottom off of the soda bottle, leaving the other end as it is.
3) Pull a sock way up over the cut end of the bottle up the sides so it stays on well.
4) Dip the sock end of the bottle down into the bowl of soapy water and lift it out of the water, blowing through the drinking end of the bottle to make a long “snake” of bubble foam.

  • Things to try:
    How long a bubble "snake" can you make?
    How does varying the ratio of dish soap to water affect the bubbles?
    What happens if you use a sock that is less tightly woven?
    Does it make a difference if the sock is cotton, wool, synthetic, or a blend?
    What about trying other fabric, tied around the end with a rubber band, like a wash cloth or panty hose?
    What happens if you try different widths or lengths of plastic bottles?
  • Options:
    In addition to bubble snakes, you can also try blowing bigger bubbles directly through things like a small yogurt cup or small plastic bottle with the end cut off.
    You can make bubble wands with long pipe cleaners found at craft stores – Try different shapes on the end of your wand, like circles, squares, or triangles! Or a sphere, a cube, or a pyramid!
    To make colored soap bubbles, add a little food coloring or water color paint to the soapy water (protect surfaces and clothing from stains)
    To make bubble art, try blowing a bunch of highly colored bubbles, then pressing white paper over the bubbles.
    Try Bubblesnakes IMG 0587 12 2015 re ac JPG crop Web 300pw     Try Bubblemaker adding color IMG 0593 re acWEB     Try bubblesnake art IMG 0600 re ac Web 214 pt

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