Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How To: Bubble Science Party

For 3-5 year olds

Book about bubbles, such as Pop! A book about bubbles Kimberley Brubaker Bradley, 10-50ml syringes, 5-8' table, chopsticks, tray, giant bubble wand (2' sticks, cotton twine, weight), markers, goggles, magnify glasses, water jug, small cooler, large sealable plastic tub

3 oz plastic cups, 16 oz plastic cups, roll of paper towels, distilled water, dishwashing soap, glycerin, dry ice, milk, straws, disposable tablecloth, nametags

I'm a Scientist:
goggles, magnify glass, touch, smell, ask questions. Prompt observation behavior at each bubble stage.

Order of Events:
Welcome, names, nametags
Blow bubbles in tap water and milk
Make soap bubble mix
Blow bubbles with bubble wands
Blow bubbles by straw
Dry ice inflated bubbles
Giant bubble demonstration
Clean up

Dry ice doesn't last very long, buy it the morning of your party
Cover your supplies with a cloth or have them on a tray on the side table so kids aren't distracted during the story. Try to resist preschoolers' curiosity about everything and keep the various activities a surprise until they happen
A semi-enclosed outdoor space is ideal, something that is ok to get messy, can be hosed down afterwards, but is out of the wind and even small breezes
Blowing milk bubbles will overspill quickly. Do this with a tiny amount of milk and/or in large cups
Pour soap into small cups for kids to suck up with a syringe. Teach how to use a syringe with two hands. Limit the number of syringes to the number of adults, and give one-on-one assistance putting glycerin and soap into their mixing cups.
Stir mix with sticks, not with straws, or they will blow bubbles into their soap mixture, making it much harder to get a good film on a bubble wand
Premake or buy a guaranteed-to-work bubble solution. The Exploratorium's page on bubbles has some hints, including make it the day before and let it off gas some of the volatiles in the dishwashing soap. Particularly to use with giant bubble demo
Dry ice can be picked up by chopsticks. Break it into pieces by dropping the bag on the floor, stomping on the block, or hitting it with a hammer. Bouncy ball sized pieces work well in a 16 oz cup of bubble fluid. Don't let the kids touch it. It will eventually freeze the surrounding water at the bottom of their cups. Don't touch that ice block either, it has a dry ice core that is still dangerously cold.
PRACTICE making giant bubbles. There's a bit of technique to it, particularly in closing off the bubbles before the film pops. Up, Out, Air, Close, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat. Luckily it is addictively fun.
Too much dripped/spilled bubble mix on the floor can become slippery.
Don't try to explain too much. Science for this age is about experiencing the wonders and variation of the natural world, building up a personal catalog of observations.
Milk and cookies makes a nice snack. You have the milk on hand already.
1:2:5 glycerin:soap:distilled water. You can skip the glycerin if you can't find it. This may be too thick, but it is much easier to add more water in a controlled way than more glycerin or soap.
Don't fill any cup more than half way at any point. They'll spill over anyway.
Collect all liquids for sink disposal in the water jug
Toss everything in the sealable tub and bring it home to sort out and wash later

Today's menu:
chocolate chip pancakes
leftover tarragon chicken, garlic potatoes, and asparagus
beet greens and mushroom frittata, green salad with white beans and avocado, matzo

Friday, December 2, 2011

End of the road, start of the new: The Genderist

For further reading, please go to my new blog, The Genderist, a blog about men talking to men about feminism.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Recommended Organizations

Here are a few great Los Angeles organizations I've become involved with or otherwise come to admire:

Iridescent - Engineering outreach connecting engineering students and professionals with underserved youth and their families. I'm a particular fan of their Family Science program, which puts their engineer-educators into schools in the early evening to facilitate science activities for the entire family.

ReDiscover - Take trash, make art, locally. In a tiny storefront and expansive shed out back, this neighborhood arts center reuses the castoffs of local architecture firms, artists, and manufacturers into crafting activities, support to school art programs.

Trash for Teaching - Take trash, make art, on an industrial scale. Like ReDiscover with much more of an industry/manufacturing focus, TFT is in the midst of inventing a science and engineering outlet for their awesome industrial materials, with a goal of serving the entire LA area.

Treepeople - Environmental awareness and advocacy for the watersheds and ecosystems overlaid on this great metropolis.

Skirball Cultural Center - While they have an eclectically wide range of programs for different ages and interests within the context of their theme of Jewish culture, my favorite (and Miriam's) is the Noah's Ark exhibit, a great and beautifully staffed and maintained children's museum of stuffed animals, toys, daily activities and performances, and fascinating animal sculptures made of recycled materials.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The secret of great salad

The secret of great salad, as conveyed to me by Marcella Hazan: toss the greens with the dressing (or just oil) for much longer than you think necessary, to get an even sheen of oil on every face of every leaf.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Magnetic awesomeness

I did a series of workshops on nanomaterials at Iridescent a few weeks ago, which were a lot of fun to put together and teach. One of the best materials we were able to give the kids to experiment with was ferrofluid, which is composed of nano-sized magnets suspended in oil.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pitagora Suichi

As in so many things, the Japanese version of a Rube Goldberg machines is cute, small, exact, and wonderful. Also, exceedingly plentiful, as You Tube can attest.