Archive for the ‘Science Friday’ Category

How to know if you did too many puzzle books as a kid

Posted by jonesey on Friday, 2 March 2012, 6:42

I walk by this apartment house on my way to and from work. I suspect that most people, when they see it, think “Go Ducks” or “hey, only six more months until football season.”

Not me. Because I am, and always have been, a giant nerd. A giant nerd who spent way too much time with puzzle books and secret codes and Frank and Joe Hardy (and their portly chum, Chet Morton, who was a big quipper, if I recall correctly).

Every time I see this display, I can’t help but think “F, of course.”


I fly my nerdy kid flag proudly….

Science Friday: What color is your car?

Posted by julie on Saturday, 4 February 2012, 0:37

Eugene (and global climate change) gave us a sunny, dry Friday afternoon for a little scientific study. Recently, the kids and I were chatting about what color car is the most common. I suggested we come up with a little counting study. This afternoon, the kids made charts (Sylvan’s had some columns with colors written at the top: green, black, blue, red, brown, silvr, wite, and u for another) and hopped on their bikes to find out if silver really is the most common color car (actually, we hadn’t even ventured a guess or talked about hypotheses before we set out).

Once on the sidewalk, Miss E wanted to head west and Mr. S was hoping to venture south. Could we do both? Sylvan magnanimously suggested we go to Elena’s preferred corner first. We’d brought chairs, and, once we were comfortable and ready, I used my iPod timer to set 15 minutes. Then, the craziness began. That first corner was 22nd and Hilyard, which has a traffic light just two blocks south. When the light turned green, I’d say, “Okay, head down, Sylvan. Ready?” Then I’d call out, “blue, silver, silver, white, black, white, silver, red, blue, black, black, black,” and hope that he got it. “Can you just remember them, Mom?” Um, no.

Elena, independently, figured out her own system, and, while she didn’t really get a complete sample, she did pay attention and fill in her chart.

Then we biked to the second corner counted for another 15 minutes. While we didn’t have the same rushes of cars, the steady stream at 24th and Harris was challenging to keep up with. And we had to keep saying hi to all the folks we knew (1 in a car, 3 on bikes).

The final tally:

  • 6+12 green=18 green
  • 33+36 black=69 black
  • 21+11 blue=32 blue
  • 24+15 red=39 red
  • 2+3 brown=5 brown
  • 41+31 silver=72 silver
  • 38+32 white=70 white (includes city buses, of which there were 3 or 4)
  • 2+10 other=12 other
  • 167 cars at Hilyard/22nd; 150 at 24th/Harris

Silver it is. Blue may have been under-represented and counted as black in the second count (21 vs. 11) because we were squinting into the sun the second time around. We didn’t count any parked cars, by the way.

Sylvan started to make a histogram after dinner. I’m not sure he’ll have the staying power to finish it, but here it is in its nascence.

Beginning of a car color histogram, broken out by study location

If we were to do this study again, I’d suggest putting the chart together with some rhyme or reason to it to make recording simpler. I’d also add a “gray” column. Lots of gray cars were counted as black. And I’d add a bicycle column, just because I’m interested.

Happy scientific creativity

Science Friday: A bone

Posted by julie on Friday, 18 November 2011, 9:37

We found this vertebra in our dining room. Chris stepped on it in his sock feet, which was a bit surprising. We have no idea how it got there. We do have a cat, and she’s interested in small animals, but this bone is actually too big to have been part of a mouse; and I would expect Tephra to leave a slimy organ underfoot rather than a lovely bone with no trace of meat on it (My cat Tiger left organs; I think I only once stepped barefoot on a liver, but that was enough.).

I’m considering starting Science Fridays with my kids—and hoping that NPR doesn’t take me to task for use of the idea. This afternoon, I’m planning to take them to the Science Factory, because it’s quite cold and wet here in Eugene today (snowflakes this morning! winter storm warning at the pass!), and our membership to the Museum of Natural and Cultural History gets us into the Science Factory (and a slew of other fun places) for free.

Other Fridays, I’d like to set up some experiments and science activities. Sylvan, as I’ve mentioned before on this blog, only chooses non-fiction books from his school library. One such book was of science experiments done with items most households already have (string, ice, and salt, for instance; or dish soap, water, and paper). I just found another good resource, Scientific American’s Bring Science Home page. They add an activity every week, and the supply lists look straightforward. Some activities look messy, others fun, many simple enough for my 6-year-old to carry out and understand, and others too obscure for most grown-ups (banana DNA). We’ll try out some Science Friday activities and experiments, from Bring Science Home and the library, and we’ll keep you updated with blog posts and photos.