Electric – Tesla Coils

I think the one of best parts of the Wisconsin Dells trip we went on a few years back was the Tommy Bartlett’s Exploratory, an interactive science museum.

We saw a real working Tesla Coil

is a type of  resonant transformer circuit invented by Nikola Tesla around 1891.It is used to produce high voltage, relatively high current, high frequency alternating current electricity. Tesla experimented with a number of different configurations and they consist of two, or sometimes three, coupled resonant electric circuits.  Tesla used these coils to conduct innovative experiments in electrical lighting, phosphorsence, x-ray generation, high frequency alternating current phenomena, electrotherapy, and the transmission of electrical energy without wires.

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You can check out someone’s musical Tesla Coils playing the Sugar Plum Fairy on Youtube.

I read Margaret Cheney’s biography Tesla: Man Out of Time not too long ago.  From her book, I read something interesting.

The following is a description of Tesla doing the scientific equivalent of a magic tricks for his guests – English journalist Chauncey McGovern, American humorist Mark Twain, and actor Joseph Jefferson, one midnight in his Manhattan loft/laboratory, as recalled by McGovern:

Fancy yourself seated in a large, well-lighted room, with mountains of curious looking machinery on all sides. A tall, thin young man walks up to you, and by merely snapping his fingers creates instantaneously a ball of leaping red flame, and holds it calmly in his hands. As you gaze you are surprised to see it does not burn his fingers. He lets it fall upon his clothing, on his hair, into your lap, and, finally, puts the ball of flame into a wooden box. You are amazed to see that nowhere does the flame leave the slightest trace, and you rub your eyes to make sure you are not asleep.

One of Mark Twain’s quotes is said to have come about due to his knowledge of Tesla’s work:

…Thunder is good, thunder is impressive, but it is lightning that does the work.

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Posted in Electricity, Tesla Coils | 4 Comments

Kids Inventing! An Interview with author Susan Casey

Susan Casey is the author of Kids Inventing! A Handbook for Young Inventors and Women Invent! Two Centuries of Discoveries That Have Shaped Our World. She is also a journalist and her articles and photographs have appeared in Family Circle, Americana, USAir, Women’s Sports, Soap Opera Digest, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner, Inventors Digest, Electrical Contractor and many other publications. When she was a girl, she loved reading and writing and through the efforts of a teacher, her first magazine article was published when she was in the seventh grade. After graduating with a degree in history from Santa Clara University, she spent a summer doing volunteer work in a small village in rural Mexico. It was a trip to Africa that prompted her writing career.

Today I am interviewing Ms. Casey about her book Kids Inventing! A Handbook for Young Inventors on my other blog, Raising Smart Girls.  Please head on over and show her some blog love and comment.  I would like to host a book giveaway on that blog soon, and I would appreciate it if you left a small comment indicating your interest.

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Local Planetarium

We attended a birthday party at a local planetarium that hosts both private and public shows, housed within a middle school. It was a very fun and educational birthday party.

Since it was in the middle of the day, we didn’t use their telescopes on their observation decks, but we explored the weather station, used  interactive NASA internet displays and watched images linked to  NASA television.

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We saw a simulated sky show using their domed ceiling and projector.

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We brought home a few cool educational toys.

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And played with them.

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I was very surprised at how inexpensive it was to rent the planetarium out for a birthday party and I’m planning on reserving it for Little E’s birthday party in a few months.

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Science Storms

We recently went to the Museum of Science and Industry and I wanted to highlight a few of the exhibits. This one in particular was about the science of storms. It was pretty awesome.

They had a giant tornado.

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A spinning disk to show the nature of avalanches

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Avalanches—or flows of granular material—offer stunning examples of how forces such as friction and gravity can act on an object, affecting its motion. Watch patterns of cascading granules change as you adjust the speed of the rotating Avalanche Disk.

The ripple tanks above our heads…

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Cast shadows below our feet.
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According to the museum website,

guests use tappers to create waves that interact with barriers resembling different coastlines. When the tappers are activated, the resulting waves demonstrate reflection, diffraction, and interference. These wave behaviors are isolated aspects of the complex behavior of tsunamis.

And used a computer to simulate tsunamis.

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And we explored the properties of light using prisms

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For more information, check out the Museum of Science and Industry’s website.

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Chicken Life Cycle

3rd grader M is hatching chicks this week in school.   I went in to school today to take some pictures of the two that hatched.  M’s younger sister K and E got a chance to meet and hold the chicks too.

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Chicken facts:

  • It takes 21 days for the chick to hatch after being laid.
  • It takes 6 months for the chick to grow into an adult, after which the hen can lay their own eggs
  • Chicks will eat seeds, bugs and worms
  • There are approximatelty 175 varieties of chickens. They are grouped into 12 classes and approximately 60 breeds based on geographical areas : – Asiatic, American, Continental, English, Mediterranean
  • Not all chicks are yellow.  Some are brown, and some are black – like the Barred Plymouth Rock (check out the pictures on the right of the screen)

Chicken eggs in a chicken coop at a local farm

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Links

Egg Story Sequencing Cards (I cut these out, colored them in with colored pencil and laminated them with self-stick contact laminating sheets)

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Chick Life Cycle Video (photo slideshow)

Naked Eggsperiment

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Scholastic Chick Life Cycle in pictures Science Vocabulary Reader

Kids Chicken Jokes

I borrowed this image from Eggs.org.au

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On double yolk eggs

From Wikipedia
“Double-yolk eggs occur when ovulation occurs too rapidly, or when one yolk becomes joined with another yolk. These eggs may be the result of a young hen’s productive cycle not yet being synchronized. Some hybrid breeds of hens also produce double yolk eggs by default. Such eggs are produced in West Bengal, India and in particular by Arambagh Hatcheries in Arambagh”

Double yolked eggs will not produce twins because their is not enough food and room for them to grow.

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Adult chicken (no idea what breed)

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Barred Plymouth Rock
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Posted in Biology, Life Cycle, Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Feeding time for the Barn swallow

Outside my mother in law’s door, a barn swallow’s eggs recently hatched.  Yes, that’s a large black fly on the nest too.

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The picture below was taken through a window, so the colors are muted.  If I can upload it to YouTube…I’ll add a short video of the adult barn swallow feeding the babies.

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This is what the Barn Swallow normally looks like (blue and black on the back with a rust colored chin).

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Dragonflies and Damselflies

About.com has a great table of the differences between dragonflies and damselflies.

The quickest way to determine if it’s a dragongfly or a damselfly is if it’s wings are open at rest (a dragongfly) or if they are closed at rest (a damselfly).

Dragonflies (4 different varieties).

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Damselflies, such as the one below also are more long and slender – more dainty, if you will.

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Posted in Insects | Tagged | 4 Comments