Archive for the 'The Laboratory' Category

Last Day of Crime Science Camp

For the past two weeks I’ve been going to Crime Camp at the Lawrence Hall of Science in the Berkeley Hills. We started out with fingerprinting and invisible ink, but quickly got into blowing things up. One of the best things we did was fill a balloon with hydrogen and put a candle under it to make it explode. We also took a field trip to the Cal campus police station. On our last day we worked on codes and ciphers. We ended the day by throwing cabbages that had been frozen with liquid nitrogen off the top of the museum. They shattered like glass when they hit the cement. In this picture I’m putting a marshmallow that’s been frozen by liquid hydrogen in my mouth and breathing out. The three other people in the picture are our awesome teachers/camp counselors – Randal, Justine and Wes. Wes, in the yellow shirt, plays the drums in the Cal marching band!

Chemistry Set Cake

Peabody isn’t your typical chocolate cake kid. For his 8th birthday, he was looking for something vanilla with a laboratory theme. He filled plastic test-tubes with colored sugar and stuck them into the cake alongside the candles. It looked and tasted great!

Spider observation

We’re in the midst of an arachnid invasion. It seems every bush in town is covered with webs. One little spider is living behind our car’s review mirror. Every morning she weaves a new web across the frame. A big European Garden Spider has taken up residence in the doorway between our kitchen and backyard. We’ve given up using the door to watch her spin circular webs and catch little insects. Orb spiders, like the European Garden, are said to eat their webs each night along with the small bugs stuck to it. At least some of us are looking forward to seeing that!

Ice hands

Peabody’s first summer project: ice hands! He filled surgical gloves with water, tied them off and left them in the freezer. Once frozen, he tore off the gloves. They’ll make a funky centerpiece to a family cocktail party. Next up, Jello hands!

How to make Gak

Peabody has been making mounds of Gak, a homemade polymer that’s fun to squeeze. There are many different recipes online. Peabody mixed eight ounces of Elmer’s glue with 3/4 cup of water. Then in a separate bowl, he dissolved a tablespoon of Borax into 1/4 cup of warm water. Then he mixed them together with a plastic spoon. You can get different consistencies of gooiness by reducing or increasing the amount of water. You can also add food coloring. Peabody recommends putting it in a plastic zip-lock bag and using a rolling pin to flatten it out like pizza.

Ladybug eggs

Peabody found some ladybug eggs in the backyard by the bamboo and wild rose bush. He’s put them in a jar, waiting for them to hatch.

Making a model Earth

Peabody’s class made tiny Earths with Crayola’s Model Magic. First they rolled a small red ball to be the inner core. Then they wrapped additional layers in different colors: yellow for the outer core, orange for the mantle and brown for the crust. He let it dry overnight and this morning we sliced it in half to reveal its cross section. Model Magic is also perfect for creating model cell’s like these. Although Nettie prefers Jello for her cells.

Buran on the Rhine

Just as we were wrapping up a day long meeting at the EA offices in Cologne, we stepped out of the conference room for some fresh air and noticed a space shuttle floating up the Rhine. It was a former Soviet Buran (Blizzard) orbiter on its way to the Technical Museum in the city of Speyer. Scientific American has a news item on it.

Catching the Eclipse


We finally caught a glimpse of the eclipse after the moon broke through the clouds. I was able to take a few pictures, but clearly I have work to do master astronomical photography.

Reminder: Total Eclipse

Total Eclipse

Residents of North and South America will get to see Earth’s shadow fall across the moon tomorrow night. Check out NASA’s eclipse home page for local show times. (Image courtesy F. Espenak of NASA’s GSFC)