Tag Archives: science

Welcome to Camp Woggle Review

oodlethunks_3The Oodlethunks: Welcome to Camp Woggle by Adele Griffin, illustrations by Mike Wu

Scholastic Press, 2017. 978-0545732918

Synopsis: School is out for the summer and Oona and her brother Bonk can’t wait to help their dad over the vacation. But now that the kids aren’t in school, Stacy, their pet stegasaurus, is bored. So Oona and Bonk decide to create a summer camp for their pet and the pets of the other kids – Camp Woogle!

Why I picked it up: I loved the idea of having a dinosaur for a pet.

Why I finished it: Clearly I have a thing where I start series not on the first book, which I have referenced before, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying this prehistoric adventure. Oona and Bonk are clever, entrepreneurial young cave people with a can-do spirit and big hearts. They see that Stacy is driving their mom crazy and tearing up the cave, and so the two put their heads together in order to solve the problem of keeping their pet entertained and keeping themselves occupied during the school break. Oona wants to be able to include all of the community’s pets, but runs into a problem when she realizes that one of the newcomers has a pet T-Rex that could potentially eat the other campers. Her ability to create and enforce rules as well as compromise on an effective punishment for rule-breakers shows younger readers that they themselves are capable of creating solutions to everyday dilemmas. Oona and Bonk show a positive attitude in the face of some adverse situations that at first seem discouraging, but in the end turn out okay. Wu’s art reminds me a lot of the animation for the film Inside Out, which seems appropriate since he has done work for Disney. It has a realistic yet whimsical quality that adds to the fun of the story, helping Oona, Bonk, and rest of their friends and family come alive. I’d recommend this book for those of you like me that love strong female characters and for kids who have dreamed of having a dinosaur for a pet – it’s a enjoyable and inspirational story about how we face challenges and overcome setbacks.

Other related materials: Oona Finds an Egg (Oodlethunks, Book 1) by Adele Griffin, illustrations by Mike Wu; Steg-O-Normous (Oodlethunks, Book 2) by Adele Griffin, illustrations by Mike Wu; The Dino Files books by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Mike Boldt; Dino-Mike series by Franco; Dinosaur Boy by Cory Putman Oakes; Dino Detectives books by Anita Yasuda, illustrated by Steve Harpster; Haggis and Tank Unleashed series by Jessica Young, illustrated by James Burks; Mad Scientist Academy: The Dinosaur Disaster by Matthew McElligott; Who Would Win? Tyrannosaurus Rex vs. Veliciraptor by Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by Rob Bolster

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Listening Now: Brains On!

logo_taglineBrains On!: A Podcast for Kids & Curious Adults hosted by Molly Bloom, produced by Marc Sanchez, writing and reporting by Sanden Totten

http://www.brainson.org/; Available on iTunes, Apple Podcast, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Spotify, and NPR One

Synopsis: Brains On! is a podcast featuring science and kids produced by American Public Media. We ask questions and go wherever the answers take us. Sometimes that means talking to a food scientist or a snake handler, other times that means putting on a play about sound waves or writing songs about sleep. A different kid co-hosts each episode. We talk to them about the interesting stuff they’re doing and the things they think about. It’s a science lesson for your ears – so join us and turn your brains on! – from the website

This podcast is another one of many that has helped to support the STEM movement, helping kids and adults alike get in touch with hard science (psychology is considered a soft science). The hosts tackle things from farts to how airplanes fly to why mosquitoes are so annoying to how our brains read books – and so much more! I also think it is unique to have different kid co-hosts each show that come on and talk a little bit more about their experiences with the topic. One of the episodes even featured some kid inventors that have won national awards for helping to tackle issues that they notice in their everyday lives. It was inspiring to me because there was never anything quite this big when I was growing up and I’m always so excited to hear about how kids are going out and exploring and interacting with the world around them. I remember science fairs being a huge deal when I was in school and in some school districts around the country they still are a big deal. You can also sign up for a monthly newsletter that gives some extra special bonus content to go along with the episodes. It’s a great way to get inspired to get out there – here are so many things to do and explore and showcase their smarts – you just have to know where to look.

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Fun and Games: Science Activities for Kids, Part 2

This was a blog I originally did for the lovely Darlene Beck-Jacobson that was originally posted in two parts – part one is here. I know summer is almost in full swing, so here’s some more ideas to keep your mind active over the school break . Check out Darlene’s blog here.


– Egg Geodes Experiment (from tinkerlab.com):

You will need:

  • Eggs
  • Rock Salt
  • Sea Salt
  • Borax*
  • Other substance that could be tested for crystallization such as sugar, epsom salts, cream of tartar, baking soda, or alum*
  • Mini-muffin pan
  • Food Coloring

* Borax and alum are not food products, and using these ingredients with small children should be closely monitored, as ingestion can be fatal. Please use common sense and close supervision with such substances.

Procedure:

  1. Tap a knife around the top of the eggs to remove a bit of shell, and then empty the eggs and clean them with water. Using a finger, it’s important to gently rub around the inside of the egg to remove the membrane because the membrane can discolor crystals as they form.
  2. If you happen to have a mini-cupcake pan, it’s like they were made for this job.
  3. Heat a pot of water (not quite boiling) and then pour 1/2 cup into a mug. Add 1/4 cup of kosher salt into the first mug and mix it until it dissolves.
  4. In the next mug: 1/2 cup hot water + 1/4 cup sea salt. The sea salt dissolves quickly, so you may want to add a bit more. The idea is to saturate the solution without putting in too much of the dry ingredient.
  5. And then the final mug: 1/2 cup hot water + 1/4 cup borax. Dissolved.
  6. Add a couple drops of food coloring to each mug to differentiate between the solutions. Make a chart so you can keep track.
  7. Pour the liquid into the eggs. Each solution made just enough to pour into two eggs. Perfect!
  8. And then you wait. 5  days for the liquid to mostly evaporate. Salt crystals will start to evaporate through the egg shell to create the geode.

– Elephant Toothpaste (from navigatingbyjoy.com):

You will need:

  • 6% Hydrogen peroxide (1/2 cup)
  • Yeast (1 tsp)
  • Hot water (2 tbsp approx) in a small dish
  • Food colouring
  • Washing-up liquid (dish soap)
  • Empty soda/water bottle (small)
  • Tray to stand the bottle on to catch the foam
  • Funnel (optional)

Procedure:

  1. Pour the hydrogen peroxide into the bottle
  2. Mix the yeast into the water
  3. Add the washing up liquid and food colouring to the hydrogen peroxide in the bottle
  4. Add the yeast mixture to the bottle
  5. Stand back and admire the reaction!

– Oobleck! (from housingaforest.com): If you have never made it before, Oobleck is a mixture of cornstarch and water.  When played with fast it acts like a solid…when allowed to relax it acts like a liquid.

You will need:

To make the oobleck: about 2 cups of Corn Starch to 1 cup of water

To make the oobleck dance:

  • Subwoofer
  • a thin metal cookie sheet
  • a MP3 of an audio test tone ~ you will have to play a bit to see what works best with your equipment.
  • Food Coloring

Procedure:

  1. Place the cookie sheet onto the speaker of the sub, and pour in the Oobleck.
  2. You can download different test tones and play to see what works best for you.  We used 40 Hz, 50 Hz, and 63 Hz, and found that we needed to turn the volume way up.  We tried a number of different frequencies but these three seemed to work the best.  We did a search for subwoofer test MP3.  There are a number of different sites that you can use.
  3. Before you play the MP3 you will need to place your fingers on the edge of the cookie sheet with gentle pressure.  It took a bit of playing to see what worked the best, but the results were amazing.
  4. We decided to add food coloring to see what would happen.  I love how the colors dance together and you can see all the layers of each color.  This was the kids favorite part!

Tips and Tricks:

  • A thicker consistency of Oobleck works best.  Although with that said you don’t want it too thick.  We used a ratio of 2:1 (cornstarch to water).
  • If your oobleck is not dancing, you may need to change the volume on your subwoofer.  You can also try digging your finger in Oobleck to start the movement.  In the video the kids do it a few times just to get everything started.
  • Keep experimenting until you get it to work.  Honestly we played around for a bit until it worked for us.  Everyone will be working with different equipment so what worked for us might be a little different for you.

EVEN MORE fun science-y things can be found on these websites:

lemonlimeadventures.com: blog from a mom passionate about being able to share her relatable successes and struggles with the world. There’s more than just science stuff here, but search the tag “Science Saturday” to pull up everything science-related.

stirthewonder.com: activities and games for toddlers and preschoolers along with teaching tools for parents and educators

pbskids.org/zoom: Site for the PBS Kids show, ZOOM, which features activities and games by kids and for kids. Also has resources for parents and teachers.

fun-a-day.com: meaningful and fun learning activities for kids

igamemom.com: games for learning for kids of all ages!

learnplayimagine.com: outdoor activities, indoor activities, and so much more

growingajeweledrose.com: blog with fun and educational activities for kids

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Fun and Games: Science Activities for Kids

This was a blog I originally did for the lovely Darlene Beck-Jacobson, but I wanted to try something different this week so I am re-posting here. Check out Darlene’s blog here.


When you grow up with a father who is an engineer and a mother who has degrees in both Biology and Geology, science is kind of hard to avoid. Then again, science is pretty hard to avoid in general because it’s happening all around us all the time.

The obnoxiously hot weather? Science.

Trees turning colors as the seasons change? Science.

The reason your dog turns in a circle before lying down? Science.

Making cookies or baking a cake? Science.

Your younger sibling always being with you at the most inconvenient times? Could be science.

There’s a plethora of fun activities and experiments you can do at home with common household items, and like in Math Curse, ideally these can help you stop thinking of science as scary and intimidating and turn it into something fun.

science

After a (largely thorough) scouring of the internet (read: Pinterest), I’ve compiled a list of my own personal favorites along with some of the newer ones I found in my search.

Disclaimer: I’ve tried to ensure clarity of directions in each of these activities, please use common sense when performing these experiments to ensure your own safety and the safety of those around you.

– Erupting Volcano (from how-things-work-science-porjects.com):

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup vinegar (up to a cup if you have a large bottle)
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • cherry jell-o granules

Procedure:

  1. Place the vinegar in the bottle.
  2. Stir the baking soda and enough cherry jell-o mix to make a pinkish powder.
  3. Either wrap the soda mixture in tissue paper or use a funnel to add it directly into the bottle. Tissue helps get all the soda in the vinegar at once, but if the funnel hole is large enough, that method works just fine. Either way, the goal is to get the baking soda into the vinegar as fast as you can.
  4. Stand back and watch what happens – Erupting Volcano!

(Note: There’s oodles more recipes on the site (and the rest of the internet) that can be tried besides the one I have here. Check them all out and then pick your own preferred method.)

– Salt Volcanoes (from whatdowedoallday.com):

  1. Pour several inches of water into a jar.
  2. Add about 1/3 of vegetable oil.
  3. Drop in food coloring and observe what happens.
  4. Shake salt on top of the oil/water/food coloring mixture. Observe, observe, observe.
  5. Pour or sprinkle more salt, as desired. You may want to touch it. (Tip: Have towels handy.)

– Potato Battery (from PBS Kids):

You will need:

  • Potato
  • Plate
  • 2 pennies
  • 2 galvanized nails
  • three 8 inch lengths insulated copper wire, each with 2 inches of the insulation stripped off one end
  • digital clock with attachments for wires

Procedure:

  1. First, cut a potato in half and put the two halves on a plate so they stand on their flat ends. The plate is there to keep your table clean.
  2. Then, wrap the end of one piece of wire around a galvanized nail and wrap the end of a second piece of wire around a penny.
  3. Stick the nail and penny into one half of the potato so that they’re not touching each other.
  4. Next, wrap the third piece of wire around the other penny and put it into the other half of the potato. Put the other nail into the second half of the potato, but this nail should not have wire wrapped around it.
  5. Now, connect the wire from the penny on the first half of the potato to the nail that has no wire on it in the second half of the potato.
  6. Finally, touch the free ends of the wires to the wires coming out of the digital clock.
  7. Does it work?
  8. You’ll probably have to try connecting the wires to the clock in different ways to get the energy to flow through the clock in the right direction.
  9. It’s just like putting batteries into a clock; they have to go in the right way.

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Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab Review

nick_and_tesla_1Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab by “Science Bob” Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith, illustrations by Scott Garrett

Quirk Books, 2013. 978-1594746482

Synopsis: Nick and Tesla thought they were going to have a super fun summer with their parents. Turns out, they’re being sent to live with their eccentric Uncle Newt instead while their parents travel overseas to study soybeans. The siblings are convinced that it’s going to be the most boring summer ever…until Tesla loses her necklace when their homemade rocket misfires and goes over the fence of an old, creepy house. It’s supposed to be under renovations, but neither of them can see any sort of renovating going on. Plus, there’s that black SUV that seems to be following them ever since they left the airport…

Why I picked it up: I’d already read the third and fourth books in the series, so I wanted to go back and read the first two! Also: SCIENCE!

Why I finished it: What I like the most about this series is that it features kids just being curious about the world around them. Yeah, there is some mystery involved too, but the gadgets you can build yourself really sell it. It’s encouraging kids to experiment with everyday things, to create things either just for fun or that have a practical purpose (personally, I’m still trying to figure out how to make a robot that does homework for you). Nick and Tesla could choose to be bored and stare at the walls; instead, they find a way to turn broken pieces of whatever that are scattered around their uncle’s house and turn it into something amazing. STEM is getting more and more popular in schools and libraries, and this series reinforces a lot of the themes that the program is trying to teach. The plot is easy to follow, making it easier for struggling and reluctant readers to get in on the action also. The authors do stress that some of the projects will need to be done with help from an adult, so make sure to exercise safety and caution; see if they can’t be turned into things the family can do together. It’s a quick, engaging read that will appeal to both science and mystery lovers alike. For more science fun, check out “Science Bob”‘s web site and nickandtesla.com.

Other related materials: Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage by “Science Bob” Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith; Nick and Tesla’s Secret Agent Gadget Battle by “Science Bob” Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith; Nick and Tesla’s Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove by “Science Bob” Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith; Nick and Tesla’s Special Effects Spectacular by “Science Bob” Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith; Nick and Tesla’s Solar-Powered Showdown by “Science Bob” Pflugfelder ad Steve Hockensmith; Robotics: Discover the Science and Technology of the Future with 20 Projects by Kathy Ceceri, illustrations by Sam Carbaugh; Recycled Robots: 10 Robot Projects by Robert Malone; Tinkering: Kids Learn by Making Stuff by Curt Gabrielson; Frank Einstein books by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Brian Biggs; The Math Inspectors series by Daniel Kenney and Emily Boever; Uncle Albert series by Russell Stannard; George’s Secret Key to the Universe series by Stephen and Lucy Hawking, illustrated by Garry Parsons; Lauren Ipsum: A Story About Computer Science and Other Improbable Things by Carlos Bueno

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Listening Now: Tumble Science Podcast for Kids

tumbleTumble: A Science Podcast for Kids hosted by Lindsay Patterson and Marshall Escamilla

http://www.sciencepodcastforkids.com/; Available on iTunes and Soundcloud

Synopsis: Join Lindsay and Marshall as they talk to scientists and explorers about science and ask those burning questions we’ve forgotten we wanted to ask about the world around us.

The podcast may be aimed at kids 8-12, but its designed to be listened to as a family. This makes sense to me, partially because of the advent of the STEM movement. The Tumble Manifesto asserts that “We struggle with understanding science in society” and I feel that to an extent that this is accurate. It’s not uncommon to hear the phrase ‘science/research suggests…’ in the media, but what does it really mean? It means that a lot of curious people saw a problem, asked a question, and through a process of research and trial and error experimentation, came up with a (plausible) answer. And that is really what this podcast is after: inspiring curiosity. Kids are some of the sharpest observers of the world and unfortunately, that curiosity about the world often gets stifled by the principle of belief. Science isn’t so much about belief as it is about wonderment: once upon a time, mankind wondered about celestial bodies, whether or not the Earth was really round, and what kept up from floating off into space. But there are so many other questions that need to be asked and answered, and others that have been asked that still need smart, curious people to answer them. That’s what makes this podcast so enjoyable: it encourages kids to go out and explore and discover the world around them. It wants to foster the future generations so that they will go out and do their own investigations rather than depending on society at large to spoon feed them the answers. Plus, science is just cool. Seriously. Like, consider this for a moment: we see stars (balls of gas burning billions of miles away) as small points in the sky, but because they are so far from Earth, it’s possible to still see a star even after it has stopped burning (for one reason or another). And it all has to do with how light travels through space. Every time we turn on a light in our house, it’s because a scientist/engineer figured out a way to bring electricity to the homes of the populace. My point is, we need to know and reinforce that it’s okay to ask questions, that we need to be going out into our backyard and communities and exploring the world around us and telling stories about what we find, and this podcast does that. So next time you have a problem, try science. You never know what you might find.

 

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Primates Review

primatesPrimates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks

First Second, 2013. 978-1596438651

Winner of the 2014 Green Earth Book Award,

Winner of the 2014 Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year

Synopsis: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas have become some of the biggest names in primatology during the 20th Century. Recruited by Louis Leakey, these women dared to go into the bush during a time when women were not yet taken seriously as scientists, and yet were considered better for field studies than men. Their work has influenced how the world now thinks about primates and about themselves.

Why I picked it up: A library colleague of mine highly recommended it.

Why I finished it: This book is every bit as amazing as I have been told it was. It’s a fun, funny, and inspiring look at how the study of primates has evolved (no pun intended) and even how women were able to make a name for themselves in what was still greatly considered to be a male dominated field. Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas all had a clear idea of what they wanted to do with their lives, and they found a largely uphill battle to be able to be with the animals for which they felt such a strong passion to understand. I was sitting on the edge of my seat through most of the book, living out these adventures with Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas and admiring their sheer gumption. It’s one thing to want to study gorillas or chimps or orangutans, but to do out and do the field work, live in the jungle, and truly immerse yourself in the research takes some definite guts. I’m truly in awe. And despite the stories about how awful it sometimes got, it makes me want to go out and do something groundbreaking. Ottaviani does a beautiful job of highlighting the major life events of these three women and the major breakthroughs they experienced that would enable them to present themselves as serious researchers. There is a little bit of fiction inserted into the plot, but I didn’t find that it affected the overall story – I mean, it’s pretty hard to even just fit one scientist’s life into a book, let alone three! Wicks art beautifully depicts each of the women’s lives and really bring to life each species of primate and their natural habitats. I loved that so many of the sequences were based on real photographs of Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas during the prime years of their research. It’s a truly inspiring read about some truly inspiring women that reminds us that we are never done fighting and that we must never back down from defending something in which we truly believe.

Other related materials: Dignifying Science: Stories About Women Scientists by Jim Ottaviani, Linda Medley, and Donna Barr; Two-Fisted Science: Stories About Scientists by Jim Ottavini, Mark Badger, Donna Barr, Colleen Doran, and Rob Walton; Human Body Theater by Maris Wicks; Girls Who Rocked the World: Heroines from Joan of Arc to Mother Teresa by Michelle Roehm McCann, Amelie Welden, and David Hahn; Girls Who Looked Under Rocks: The Lives of Six Pioneering Naturalists by Jeannine Atkins, illustrated by Paula Conner; Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey; The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter; Dian Fossey: Friend to Africa’s Gorillas by Robin S. Doak; Light Shining Through the Mist: A Photobiograhy of Dian Fossey by Tom Matthews; Dian Fossey: Among the Gorillas by Wil Mara; Among the Orangutans: The Birute Galdikas Story by Evelyn Gallardo; Orangutan Odyssey by Birute M.F. Galdikas; Mary Leakey: Archaeologist Who Really Dug Her Work by Mike Venezia; Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science – and the World by Rachel Swaby

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