Step #5: Pour the chocolate on to wax paper and let the new mixture cool. After just a brief wait, you'll see how the rocks (chocolates) have melded together to create a new form. These new rocks are called metamorphic rock because of the changes they have undergone.
Step#6: Break open the rocks to see the newly formed layers. And yes... enjoy!
When I asked my boys to think about how these chocolates were like and not-like metamorphic rocks - this is what they had to say:
And always one with a flair for the dramatic, my 10 year old sums up this science lesson for us all:
My family recently enjoyed the Sizzlin Science Festival here in Salem, organized by A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village. One of the events was the annual 'Egg Drop'. Engineers of all ages were invited to construct a contraption that would save an egg from the damaging effects of a fall from the Marion Street Bridge.
This activity is perfect for home as well... Step #1: Give each child/adult an egg, free rein of the recycling bin, and a whole lot of masking tape. Step #2: Find a high place to release your creations. Step #3: Begin your countdown.
As the Discovery Village drop took place over bark dust, we brought our designs home to test on the hard concrete of our driveway. My youngest son and I formed Team Tough and followed two different strategies. We used fabric in both designs and focused on layers of "cushion."
Team Tough Designs:
My youngest took the lead on this design. First, he surrounded his egg with fabric within 2 styrofoam trays.
Next, he wrapped the trays with tape; again and again and again,
Last, the secured trays were places in a cereal box and then wrapped in large packaging pillows. More tape was added.
I came up this design: filled with fabric scraps and wrapped in twine.
My older son and my husband made up Team Crusher. "I think you've misunderstood this activity's objective." I cautioned them.
Team Crushers' creations:
My oldest son, followed his brother's design but swapped a parachute for the outside padding.
My husband decided to try his luck with just two materials: balloons and tape.
Here at home, we launched our designs from the upstairs window.... and had varied results.
Our team was made up of seven great kids (both boys and girls) ranging in age from 3rd grade to 6th grade. The team met weekly (September - December) to complete a research project, to build and program a robot to tackle the First Lego League 2011 Food Factor Robot Challenge, and to work together as a team to improve collaboration skills. Typing this now, it all sounds so nice and civilized -- but the reality actually involved a lot more noise, commotion, and chaos in my basement that I had anticipated.
Now having survived a Lego Robotic season, I offer these words of warning to anyone considering coaching a Lego Robotics Team in the future: Coaching a team will cause you to learn more about robots and middle school boys than you've ever wanted to know. That said... I admit the combination is worth the chaos. When our team earned the tournament high score - the boys jumped up and down and squealed just like the eight year old girls (maybe even louder). It was incredibly satisfying to see the kids enjoy such a unique opportunity.
Now with the season over, my boy is teetering on the edge of STEM student and mad scientist. He's broken down our team robot and reconfigured it to make the 'Alpha Rex.
_Each day he programs this robot to attempt something new and I find that I too have been bitten by the robotic-bug because I keep making requests:
"Can he give me a high-five?" "I want to see him dance." "Use that light sensor-thingy." "What else can you make him say?"
The programming software that comes with the robot set is a little beyond me, but my nine year old keeps trying new configurations of loops, sensors, movement, and switches -- and he continues to have success. The first of tonight's programs aimed to have the robot walk forward until it "sensed" my son's hand waving. Then the robot was to move its arm and continue walking until it received a high-five. At that point, the robot would say "Good Job" and show a skull and crossbones on it's small reader screen.
Tomorrow night, I'm told he wants to make a voice controlled car, a catapult that fires on command, or a robot that looks and acts like a crocodile. I'll keep you posted on the results.
This summer my nine year-old has been using the Lego robotic set, passed to him by his older cousin, to make this fine creation:
We’re also in the first stages of creating a LEGO robotics team – and would love words of advice from anyone who has experience with the FIRST LEGO League.
This Sunday ABC is airing the 'i.am first: Science is Rock and Roll' special to highlight the importance of science education. Although I'm not a fan of 'My Robot is Better Than Your Robot' (the phrase seems to lack the Gracious Professionalism I hope to see in youth), I do appreciate willi.i.am's observation that although very few students grow up to play in the NBA every school has a gym. I'd like to see our student scholars embraced and encouraged just as our high school athletes are currently.
It's the oldest science experiment in the book... but this time of year just begs for it. Here's our kitchen window sill --- We've outfitted each of the three, empty peanut butter jars with one cup of water and three drops of food coloring. Add a daffodil or two (the white variety work best) and watch the magic each day.
This last summer the boys and I made volcanoes here at home. (See the 'Science' tab to your right.) I'm now prepping materials to take that same project to my youngest son's school. Thinking back to our summer projects, I was reminded of the home movies we made using our volcano creations.
This project was relatively quick. Older children can write out their script (a great opportunity to practice those writing/thinking muscles), take the photos, and order the items within the movie software. Younger children can talk through their ideas with an adult (and in this case, look to their older sibling for guidance.)
Here's the basics: 1) Make your volcanoes. 2) Build your Lego scientist character and vehicle. 3) Write your script/plan. 4) Set it up outside and take a dozen or so sequential photos. 5) Record video of eruption. 6) Drop these photos and video into Movie Maker. 7) Add sound effects. 8) Edit and add narration. 9) Unveil your masterpiece and share it with friends. 10) Bask in the applause.
If you create a volcano video- please let me know. We'd love to be in the viewing audience!
We used our favorite play dough recipe to make our very own volcanoes this past week. To try this project all you need is a cardboard base, a bit of magazine paper (to provide bulk) and the essential recycled yogurt cup. Once complete (we added flags with our mountain names), take the final product outside and dump in half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar.