Tags: art, holiday, humor, museums in the news, reading, video/animation, winter
In recognition of the holiday season, I have decided to celebrate with twelve posts of things that make me happy, inspire me, make me think, or otherwise stick alluringly in my brain. (Expect a bit more humor and a bit less curriculum!)
Today’s Topic: Seasonal Papercraft, with a highlight on origami and snowflake making
Round Up of Origami Snowflakes and Snowmen directions from the Origami Resource Center. Very cool stuff. I love the idea of using wax paper or patty paper so that you get the layered translucent snow-like effect.
Decorating the Origami Tree at the American Museum of Natural History:
On the first day of popcorn, this idea gave me glee–a pop-up folding snow-bedecked tree…
Tags: environment, fairytales, music, ocean, perception, physics, sound, video/animation, winter
My anonymous tipmaster sent me a very cool video earlier this week showcasing the universality of the pentatonic scale. (Bear with me: it means that anywhere in the world, people watching Bobby McFerrin jump around a stage can actually sing on pitch and together with almost no instruction). This incredibly cool exploration of sound, music, and the way we think reminded me that I’d been collecting some very fun sound-related links to share with you here on Brain Popcorn.
A Not So ‘Silent World’
Diving in New England is a relatively quiet business. Most of the time, it’s your air bubbles, your dive buddy’s air bubbles, and the occasional scrape of gear on rock that accompanies you in the deep. But not always, and not elsewhere. Diving in the USVI a few years ago I was thrilled and startled to be surrounded by what seemed like a chorus of marine Morse code, and was informed that there were ‘very talkative shrimp’ on that particular reef. A recent report highlighted by the Smithsonian suggests “A Noisy Reef is a Healthy Reef,” which is a fascinating new look at ways to measure the health of communities in endangered waters.
For most of us, the ‘sound of ice’ is skates carving up the surface, or possibly that sharp pop you get when you drop an ice cube into a glass of lukewarm juice. If you’ve been lucky enough to visit the land of glaciers and icebergs, maybe you also think of the great rumble and splash of a calving glacier. But what about a lake in winter? Thoreau certainly noticed interesting sounds at his spot by Walden Pond:
The cracking and booming of the ice indicate a change of temperature. One pleasant morning after a
cold night, February 24th, 1850, having gone to Flint’s Pond to spend the day, I noticed with surprise, that when I struck the ice with the head of my axe, it resounded like a gong for many rods
around, or as if I had struck on a tight drum-head. The pond began to boom about an hour after sunrise, when it felt the influence of the sun’s rays slanted upon it from over the hills; it stretched
itself and yawned like a waking man with a gradually increasing tumult, which was kept up three or four hours. It took a short siesta at noon, and boomed once more toward night, as the sun was
withdrawing his influence. In the right stage of the weather a pond fires its evening gun with great regularity.
If you can’t make it out to a pond when the weather is perfect, then listen to some amazing ice sounds from the warmth of your own desk, with sound artist Andreas Bick’s recordings, or check out compositions played on instruments made of ice by Terje Isungset.
Sounds Like a Fairytale
The Voice of the Little Mermaid — How might the Little Mermaid have sounded under water? If, like certain people who shall remain nameless, you’ve ever tried humming in the swimming pool to find out, here’s a way to explore a little further. An opera singer has actually performed most of an opera, singing underwater, and discusses her technique and the changes in the sound at the link above. Very cool–but hard on the costumes, I should think!
Ladle Rat Rotten Hut – Did you ever notice that when listening to the radio or the TV in the background, you could still get a sense of the meaning even without catching all the words? Try reading this intro to “Little Red Riding Hood” aloud with a ‘storytelling voice’ and see how far you get. Listen to the narrator on the Exploratorium’s page if you’re stumped, and find the rest of the story there too.
Wants pawn term, dare worsted ladle gull hoe lift wetter murder inner ladle cordage, honor itch offer lodge dock florist. Disk ladle gull orphan worry ladle cluck wetter putty ladle rat hut, an fur disk raisin pimple colder Ladle Rat Rotten Hut.
Tags: games, physics, recycling, sport, video/animation, winter
Downhill skiing is fast. Ice skating’s got those nifty blades. Bobsleds are faster and those runners are longer, and they make that awesome ‘whooshing’ sound. What’s not to love? (Okay, so I was maybe influenced a little a lot by Cool Runnings as a kid. I’m not the only one.)
Bobsleigh Homepage at Olympic.org — full of fun stuff! Current photos and videos from the ongoing games, equipment and history, techniques, etc.
Want to try building a bobsled course at home?
There was a tree at the base of the best side of the house for sledding when I was a kid. A really big pine tree that you didn’t want to hit, if at all possible. So my brother and I, assisted by our parents, got pretty decent at packing up snowbanks so that we would curve around the tree, around the corner of the house, and out into the backyard. It worked enough of the time to be worth it.
However, there are safer, smaller ways to build a bobsled course that don’t involve pine needles down your jacket collar. My favorite is the paper-towel-tube bobsled run. The simplest of indoor Olympic sports, all you need are paper towel tubes (wrapping paper tubes, mailing tubes, toilet paper rolls, you get the picture), marbles or toy cars (I’m more of a marbles fan, myself. Run 4 at a time for a four-man sled!), masking tape, and a whole lot of books, furniture, and boxes to form your ‘hill.’ Cut, tape, and go wild!
(To make ‘curved’ sections, I recommend cutting out triangular pieces from the paper towel rolls [which end up looking like diamonds once you've made the two angled cuts] and bending and taping them together. This takes some practice to get a reasonable variety of angles that aren’t going to make your marbles stick in the turns!)
For other examples, check out some of these snazzy runs for ideas!
Winter Olympics Games for Kids from MakeandTakes.com (for very young children)
A 3 floor marble run and you want more?
For the truly Olympic oriented educator, Kathi Mitchell’s impressive Olympics for Kids round-up page, with lesson plans, interactives, and assorted links galore.
Tags: games, multicultural, sport, winter
I love the Olympics–talk about an interdisciplinary event! Theatrics, costumes, sport, science, art, international themes, history…a brain popcorn extravaganza if ever I saw one.
To get you in shape for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic celebrations and competitions, here are links to gear up your brain!
Official Websites of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics
Official Site of the Vancouver Olympics, including a fun interdisciplinary nod to native legends and local ecology with the three kid-friendly mascots, Quatchi, Miga, and Sumi. Have to admit that Miga is my favorite — how can you not love a ‘sea bear?’ Part orca, part endangered Kermode ‘spirit bear’, and relentlessly adorable.
70 Years of Olympic History, from the Washington Post’s coverage of the ’98 Nagano Games
Science of Sport
Winter Olympics Sport and Science from Montana State University
Ice is Nice
Olympic Ice is Different in a Frozen Light from NASA. Very cool photography in this one.
##Current News!## Scientists Keep Water Liquid Far Below Zero Degrees from NPR, reported Feb. 5
Clever snow conservation going on in Vancouver these weeks running up to the games… Spinning Straw into Snow from CNET
Do Try this at Home*
For those who find it too cold to climb trees this season, try some House Gymnastics. Or at least enjoy the pictures of people hanging precariously in their stairways.
*maybe. Some of these activities are a little dubious on the safety-meter. Clamber over furniture, etc. at your own risk!
Coming up next…
Having fun with bobsled/bobsleigh and other things with runners — links and activities!
Tags: archaeology, food, history, weather, winter
Let it Snow
You would think I’d be done with cool snow-themed links by now, right? Nope.
Guide to Snowflakes from CalTech. Great chart of the immense variety of snow crystal shapes, with neat pictures by Ken Libbrecht and descriptions of some of the conditions needed to form specific kinds of snowflakes. This is just one page out of a pretty impressive site all about snow and frost. Well worth exploring. (One of my favorite accidental discoveries on this site was the page on how to make snowflake fossils.)
Solstice: the day the sun stands still (from the Latin)
Find all kinds of cool facts about the solstice today from National Geographic (you’ve all noticed I love these guys by now, I should hope?) I particularly enjoyed the mention of Newgrange, an incredibly cool Stone Age monument/tomb in Ireland which is 1000 years older than Stonehenge. When it was built, it was designed to exactly align with the winter solstice dawn. I visited it in summer, and it was still impressive then.
Here we come a wassailing
What’s the solstice without a touch of celebration? Despite my general fondness towards things historical, I haven’t tried either of these recipes yet. However, they look delicious and have very positive reviews, so taste at your own discretion.
Happy Holidays to all! This blog will be going on vacation until Jan. 2nd, 2010. May you and yours be safe, warm, merry, and curious this holiday season.
Tags: optical illusions, video/animation, weather, winter
I was going to post this tomorrow, but in honor of the enormous blanket of white stuff covering the East Coast from DC northwards, I’m posting early.
Boiling Water to Ice Crystals in a Flash
On a day when temperatures are below freezing (the colder the better!), get a mug or pot of boiling water and bring it outside. Toss the water in the air (away from yourself and any innocent bystanders!) and watch the water flash freeze into a cloud of ice crystals. NB: If you do this at your school or museum, do not direct the water where ice will fall on walkways, parking lots, or visitors.
Why does this happen?
All things being equal, cold water freezes faster. It takes time for the energy contained in a hot object to be transferred to a cold object. However, the rate of heat transfer is proportional to the temperature difference between the two objects, so hot water will lose heat faster than cold water. In other words, if you have water at 90 degrees C and water at 10 degrees C and the freezer is at -10 degrees C, the hot water will lose heat five times faster than the cold water; however, the cold water will still win the race. As the hot water cools it’s rate of heat transfer will decrease, so it will never catch up to the cold water.
Some people claim that hot water freezes faster because a pot of boiling water can be thrown into the air on a cold winter day, and it freezes in mid air creating a shower of ice crystals. Whereas a pot of cold water thrown into the air comes down as large blobs of water. This happens because the hot water is so close to being steam, that the act of throwing it into the air causes it to break up into tiny droplets. (hot water is less viscous than cold water, listen to the sound it makes when you pour it in the sink) The small water droplets have a large surface area which allows for a great deal of evaporation, this removes heat quickly. And finally, the cooled droplets are so small, that they can be easily frozen by the winter air. All of this happens before the water hits the ground. Cold water is thicker and stickier, it doesn’t break up into such small pieces when thrown into the air, so it comes down in large blobs.
Joe Larsen, Ph.D. Chemistry, Rockwell Science Center, Los Angeles, CA
For video and further information, see http://blog.wired.com/geekdad/2009/02/boiling-water-.html
Plus an extra-cool kaleidescope snowflake generator, with thanks to Paul Orselli of Exhibitricks for the link! I love the option to spin your crystals round not only in two, but in three dimensions.
Tags: art, games, physics, weather, winter
Here are a bunch of snow activities to try, to celebrate last week’s first intense snow of the year.
Make a Snowflake:
Fold a piece of paper or a coffee filter in half. Then fold it in thirds from the middle point. (As if you were making ‘pizza slice’ shapes, so that you have 6 triangles.) Trim the edges so that you have roughly a circle, if you are using a regular piece of paper. Cut along the edges and folds, then unfold for a proper 6 pointed snowflake!
If you want to avoid the blizzard of cut paper pieces, try an online snowflake-maker, here: http://snowflakes.barkleyus.com/
Outdoor Snow Fun:
1. Jump snow hurdles: Lightly pack a bunch of basketball-size snowballs. Use them to build a course of hurdles to jump over in a round of follow the leader.
2. Get on a roll: Pair up for a contest in which the object is to finish with the biggest snowball. The contest ends when the teams can no longer roll their entries or when you run out of snow.
3. Catch a snowflake: Find out what’s different ? and the same ? about a bunch of snowflakes. Catch some on a piece of black construction paper or a dark mitten or sweater. At The Discovery Museums, we have a bunch of blue-velvet covered cardboard squares available for snow-catching. We tend to store them in the freezer so they’re snow-ready!
4. Make an iceberg float: Invite kids to make two miniature icebergs (snowballs), one packed very hard and the other fairly soft. Indoors, fill a bucket or basin with cold water, put the snowballs in it, and watch what happens. (Because the hard snowball has air bubbles trapped inside, it will float higher in the water than the softer one.)
Stay tuned next week for icy cool science!