engineering

Cartesian Raisins

One of the fun things about thinking up new science experiments is combining two or more old ideas into one new one. This time, we will combine the Dancing Raisins activity with the Cartesian Diver.

Capillary Filter

One of the interesting things at St. Augustine, Florida's Oldest House is a large stone bowl with a bucket underneath. The stone bowl is half full of muddy water and there is a slow, steady drip of water from the bottom of the bowl to the bucket. Although the water in the bowl is a bit muddy, the water in the bucket is clear. Why?

Building a Nest

This experiment is one that we used for teaching about birds back when I worked in the Education Department at the Memphis Pink Palace Museum. On our trip, we went by to say Hi to old friends, which brought back tons of great memories. This is one of the fun things my brain dredged up.

Breathing Hot and Cold

One of the most common questions that I get is where do I get the ideas for these experiments. Some are old classics that I try to give a new angle. Others are the result of questions sent to me by subscribers. Some of the ones that I like the best are the ones that just pop up, seemingly out of nowhere. This is one of those. It also comes with its own story, which makes it even better.

The story is one of Aesop's fables. If you have never read any of these, go read some. It is well worth the time.

Bouncing Remotes

This experiment comes from spending too much time in hotel rooms as I travel. As I was packing for the trip home, I found a very useful technique for adjusting the television when I was not directly in front of it.

Whistle Stick

This experiment is a trick that my Grandfather taught me when I was very young. He called it a "whistle stick", and making one brought back delightful memories from my childhood. This experiment requires the use of a sharp knife, so if you are young, you may need adult assistance. It is not difficult, but even adults should keep safety in mind.

Boomerangs

This week's experiment comes from conversation I had with some talented science educators. We got into a discussion that ranged from gyroscopes to bicycles. The conversation led us into talking about boomerangs, so of course we had to make some paper ones to play with. The dynamics are a bit different with the paper ones, but they are still lots of fun.

Blowing Up a Phone Book

Don't let the title fool you. This experiment does not involve any explosions. Instead, we are going to explore the science of resonance. Resonance involves putting in small amounts of energy, at just the right time, to get stronger results. A good example is pushing a swing. Each push causes the person in the swing to go higher. We will lift a phone book high into the air by blowing on it.

Bernoulli in the Shower?

This experiment came as an accidental discovery while working on a different experiment idea. I was playing with ideas for showing how inertia helps remove water from your clothes in the spin cycle of the washing machine. In the process, I saw something interesting, and made a wrong guess about the cause. That led to even more interesting discoveries. There are times when it is more fun to be wrong, because it lets you learn new things.

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