critical thinking

Fireworks Colors

Fireworks play a role in many holidays and celebrations. Have you ever wondered how they get the different colors into the fireworks? If you want yellow fire, do you add yellow paint to the mixture? No, that would not work. Instead, you need something that will burn with a yellow flame. Yellow flames are fairly common, but what about green flames or purple flames?

Feeding Bread to Birds

bird and bread

bird and bread

Is eating bread bad for birds?

What began as an investigation of an urban legend quickly turned into an investigation of several other urban legends. This combines my enthusiasm for birds, food, and science myths, so I warn you that I may get long winded ( or long fingered since I am typing.)

Sail Fans

I got the idea for this experiment while driving around town. We were driving across the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine, and I pointed out a sailboat that had a large fan-like propeller sticking up behind the sail. The propeller is attached to a generator, using the wind to recharge the batteries. We joked about it being a fan to provide wind if the breeze died down, which lead to a discussion about what would happen if you tried that. That lead to this experiment.

To find out what would happen if you did mount a big fan to blow on the sails, you will need:


This experiment was inspired by my Mom. As she was cleaning the lint filter on the clothes drier, she jokingly asked where the lint comes from and what it is good for. That was all it took to set my mind to working.

To learn more about lint, you will need:

Static Cling?

This experiment comes from a question sent to me by a subscriber and her daughter. They wanted to know why plastic cling wrap clings. I thought I knew the answer until I began experimenting. That lead to more research and all sorts of interesting things. To follow along, you will need:

Melting Icebergs

This week's experiment comes from a report I recently heard on National Public Radio. Unfortunately, I was driving and could not write down the fellow's name, so I could give him proper credit. He was talking about the facts and fictions of global warming. One point that he mentioned was one that I had heard many times and had never thought all the way through. What would happen if the global temperature rose enough for the polar ice caps to melt? All of that extra water would cause worldwide flooding, right? Lets investigate. You will need:

Stirring Sand

I ran across the idea for this week's experiment (which is really more of a challenge), while researching another question. The more I thought about it, the more I liked it. It involves the unusual behavior of sand in a glass of water.