Monday, August 11, 2014

Gizmos, Gadgets, and Goo – Wacky Fun with Science Week 5 : Squish! Polymers, Diapers, and Goo…Oh My!

Be prepared to get messy as we explore the powers of polymers  by dissecting diapers and mixing up  a batch of Oobleck  -- the original Non-Newtonian solid (it behaves as both a solid and a liquid at the same time!) 
For grades 1-5.

As kids arrive, played video on polymers: 
image (this and all other videos used today can be found on my playlist

Opened with: “I Tried to Do My Homework” from What a Day It Was at School! poems by Jack Prelutsky (had shared on some school visits)

Read:  The Secret Science Project that Almost Ate the School – Judy Sierra

Booktalked: Bartholomew & the Oobleck – Dr. Seuss  (too long to read in this program…)

Discussion: Whatever we call it “Slime, goo…Oobleck”…soft material called “polymer” …some polymers in nature: rubber, wool, silk, proteins in our hair & nails, cellulose in trees…some polymrs synthetic “man made” e.g. nylon (“on” indicates a polymer) or polyester or polystyrene “poly” is a clue that it is a polymer too.
The word polymer means “many parts.” The individual parts that actually combine to form a polymer chain are called monomers.  Sometimes a substance can actually help polymer chains link together and form a more solid substance. The youtube video we saw as you were coming in showed the basic formation of polymers and linked polymer chains.  Polymers can be found just about everywhere – Even the double-helix strand of DNA is a form of a polymer known as a “biopolymer.”

DEMO: Oobleck, this version is a natural polymer made only from cornstarch & water.  In the 18th c. Sir Isaac Newton discovered that most liquids flow quickly when heated and resist movement when cooled…but this slimy polymer acts “weird” it is called a non-Newtonian fluid – it looks and feels like both a solid and a liquid, depending on how you handle it.

Mix together 2 parts cornstarch, 1 part water …let kids feel it…see how it flows but then acts solid.

Showed videos:

Pool of Oobleck:

Creeping Oobleck:

Three experiment tables today:
Experiment #1:  Diaper Magic
Tiny polymers no larger than a grain of sand are mixed into the cotton lining the inside of a diaper. Modern diapers actually contain a super absorbent polymers no larger than grains of sand – they are called polyacrylic acid and are designed to attract water molecules.
§ Diapers (we used Luvs size 2) – 1 per child
§ Scissors
§ Gallon-sized zip-top plastic bags
§ Clear plastic cups (1 for each child)
§ Popsicle sticks for stirring
§ Cut into the lining, pull apart the cotton, put the diaper in a zip-top bag and shake the bags.
§ Pour the polymers into a clear plastic cup, then add water..a little at a time, stirring if necessary – have kids guess how much water they can pour in and still be able to turn the cup upside down without spilling!
Result: The polymers absorb the water and congeal to form a squishy, gel-like substance. If the gel-like substance is powdery and loose, it can still absorb water; if the substance is moist, it has reached the capacity of the polymers. Each polymer can absorb about 30 times its weight in water!  If you leave the cup full of squishy polymers on a counter top for a few days (or longer) and allow the water to evaporate, the polymers should return to their original state…what do you think?

Experiment #2:  Goo! formula provided by Science Bob
(I found using 1T. of each ingredient and 1 drop of food coloring was sufficient. We mixed the goo in 5 oz. plastic cups using popsicle sticks.  The resulting goo is lots of fun to handle -- solid enough to pick up in your hands, stretch, pull apart and squeeze back together.)
Another version: silly putty:

Experiment #3: Changing properties – 4 types of Oobleck using different amounts of water --from: Oobleck, Slime, & Dancing Spaghetti by Jennifer Williams -- each has different characteristics.  Data sheet on pg. 52 (didn’t have time to use).

Beforehand: Mix the Sodium Borate solution -- 1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax with 1 quart/liter of hot water in a bottle or pitcher.  Shake or stir well.  If possible, let it set overnight.  Shake well before using.
All of these mix  the same amount of glue (which contains hundreds of polymers) & sodium borate solution (which is a binding agent) to lock the polymer molecules together…adding different amounts of water will affect how tightly the chains of polymers can link together…the more water, the more the polymer can “stretch,” and the less it can bounce and hold its shape.

Red Oobleck:1 T. white glue
1  drop food coloring
2 t. sodium borate

Green Oobleck:1 T. white glue
1  drop food coloring
1 t. water
2 t. sodium borate

Yellow Oobleck:1 T. white glue
1  drop food coloring
1T.  water
2 t. sodium borate

Green Oobleck:1 T. white glue
1  drop food coloring
2T.  water
2 t. sodium borate

For each color of ooblick:
§ Mix glue and food coloring in a plastic cup.
§ Add  water (if applicable) and stir till well-blended
§ Slowly pour the sodium borate solution and stir for about a minute
§ Lift the spoon slowly out of the cup and observe the Oobleck. What does each look like?
§ Feel or knead the oobleck …how do they differ?  Can you roll it into a ball?
§ If you put it on the table, does it hold its shape or start to flatten out after a while?
§ If you can make it into a ball, how well does it bounce?

Have zip-top sandwich bags for them to use to take home their creations.
Another version of slime:

Much of this program was inspired by:

BWL 11/14

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gizmos, Gadgets, and Goo–Wacky Fun with Science Week 4: Boom! Energy Explorations -- Catapulting contest!

Boom!  Energy Explorations -- Bounce on over to the library and join us for a great big bang with a catapulting contest!
Grades 1-5
(Based on:,  including some of the explanations below -- Thanks for the ideas!)

Before kids arrived, teen volunteers practiced making both types of catapult so they could help the kids make them later.

As kids  were arriving , played video of nature’s catapults:  (a complete playlist for this program is here.

Read Book: Big Bang: The Tongue-Tickling Tale of a Speck that Became Spectacular – Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano  (Alternatively, if wanted to emphasize the engineering aspect, could use:  Rosie Revere, Engineer  -- Andrea Beaty)

Discussion:  “Big Bang” – a lot of energy – What is energy?

Asked kids:  If you were asked to describe energy, what would you tell someone?
Energy is the ability or capacity to do work

And what is work? 
Work is done when something, regardless of size, moves. 
In other words, energy is needed to cause motion.

Energy itself is generally divided into two categories:  Kinetic and Potential
Potential energy is stored energy that is waiting to work:

DEMO: Rubber Band --stretched a rubber band --this rubber band is holding potential energy -- Potential energy can be found in many forms – chemical, mechanical, nuclear, gravitational, and electrical. Gasoline, for example, is a chemical form of potential energy.
Let go of rubber band and watched it fly -- Kinetic energy is essentially the opposite of potential energy -- kinetic energy is energy in motion that is actually doing work. That rubber band flying is experiencing kinetic energy. So is a baseball being thrown or a person bicycling down the road. Where gasoline in a can is an example of potential energy, the fire that gasoline creates would be an example of kinetic energy.

Showed Youtube Song: Potential vs. Kinetic Energy

Anywhere you see motion there is energy. Even in classic cartoons!
Potential Energy: Wile E Coyote & Roadrunner

Demo:  The Slinky!  “Walked” slinky down a set of stairs made from boxes:
The Slinky, which has been around since the 1940′s, provides an excellent example of potential and kinetic energy. When a slinky is sitting at the top of a set of stairs at rest, it is holding potential energy; as soon as it starts to “walk” down the stairs, it is experiencing kinetic energy.
Slinky dropping down hanging mid-air:

Demo:  the balancing egg.  Half-fill a paper cup with water and set it on the table. Center a pie pan on top of the cup, with a TP tube standing in the pan. Balance an egg atop the tube. Strike the rim of the pie pan from the side, causing it to fly out and take the tube with it. The egg will hover in mid-air for a split second because of inertia. Gravity will then cause it to fall straight down into the water, unharmed.
“But what if you WANT to hurl something through the air?” 

Different kinds of catapults - sling shots, trebuchets, and even aircraft catapults.

Mentioned opening video a sneaky grasshopper catapulted lots of bugs off of a leaf.

“the world’s largest slingshot,”:
Catapults used in medieval warfare:  Making of Warwick Castle Trebuchet 
Giant trebuchet hurls a piano

Project time:  Now we are going make catapults.

Catapults are another example of potential energy. When we pull the lever (or spoon) back, stretching the rubber band, potential energy in the spoon is transformed into kinetic energy when we release the spoon and let the pompoms fly!
(We used pom-poms instead of marshmallows out of food allergy concerns…the kids loved choosing their favorite colors and it made it easy to identify which catapult shot had the greatest distance.) 

Children had the choice of making two different models:

Simple catapult design (we recommended this for our 1st & 2nd graders)

Target Practice from PBS’s program FETCH (more complicated, so we suggested that 3rd-5th graders might want to try it.)

Then kids practiced launching pom-poms into a literature display rack we set up.
After the kids made and tested their models, they were encouraged to modify them.  One father, watching the fun, created a great model of his own!

BWL 7/14

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gizmos, Gadgets, and Goo - Wacky Fun with Science Week 3: Crash! Structural Engineering: The Great Bridge Challenge!

We'll be taking a look at some famous shaking structures then building our own suspension bridges - - and seeing which one can withstand the greatest weight.
(from our  Fizz Boom Read Summer Program (For students entering grades 1-5)  )

As children arrived: had a bunch of bridge & engineering books out for kids to browse..

Opened with this: “Engineers are problem solvers…so today we are going to be engineers and design and build bridges. Here’s a true story of how one man figured out how to make a very unusual bridge in a very unusual place..”

Showed The Man Who Walked Between the Towers* by Mordecai Gerstein (since we were a large group, watched the Weston Woods DVD version rather than reading the book.)

Talked about how the tightrope is a simple bridge -- illustrating tension (skyscrapers were anchoring cable on either end) and compression (the weight of the cable “dead load” and the weight of Philippe “live load”) pressing down.

Demonstrated this by having two kids pull on opposite ends of a rope (tug of war style) and pushing down on the rope with a toy car. 

Showed pictures of three main types of bridges: span, arch, and suspension – had drawn these beforehand on a whiteboard based on images on p. 17 of Bridges! Amazing Structures to Design, Build, & Test by Carol A Johmann & Elizabeth J Rieth and pointed out tension & compression in each structure…several kids knew how the keystone worked in an arch design.

Talked about how they were going to be engineers today – “Nearly everything we use has been engineered…including roller coasters, smart phones, running shoes, and even ways of keeping food safe.  But engineering is called “the stealth profession.” That’s because engineers work behind the scenes.  We hardly ever hear about the talented but “invisible” engineers who devise many of the creations on which we all rely.” – from Bridges & Tunnels by Donna Latham

Showed this diagram of the engineering design process.


Distributed thick books (to use as riverbanks/anchors) and pieces of paper and had kids experiment with different ways to make bridges from one piece of paper (no cutting, gluing or taping allowed, but they could try arches & folding – fan folding made a very strong bridge).  This was a good activity but took too much time from our one-hour program so I would omit it next time.

Mentioned that it is important that engineers create bridges that won’t break…but that sometimes hasn’t happened…showed video of “gallopin’ gertie”:

Talked about parts of suspension bridge:

Explained that they would divide into groups of 3-5 to create their own suspension bridges and see how strong they were (idea based on the plans from the wonderful ndolan’s and PBS’s Fetch episode:

Challenged them to design & build one using the rules below:

After bridges were built, piled books on to test the bridges.
(Since I had some younger kids (5-7 year olds), I also offered the option of building bridges using our straws and connectors kits.)

Good program but we were a little tight on time today – would love to do it again!
* thanks to  for the idea of using this book!
BWL 7/14

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gizmos, Gadgets & Goo -- Week 2: Bang! Balloon-a-mania

Ever heard a balloon scream, or made a balloon brain?
Join us as we explore a bonanza of balloon possibilities! 
(Part of Fizz, Boom, Read Summer Reading Club)
For kids entering grades 1-5

(Many of these ideas were taken from ndolat’s wonderful Balloon Bananza! –  Her ideas and text are interspersed with my additions below.)

Opened with 8 volunteers doing reader’s theater with Shel Silverstein’s poem 8 Balloons (the rest of the kids helped with all the “pop”s!): (page 1)

Asked kids who had seen the demonstration of a water-filled ziploc bag pierced with sharpened pencils (which we did at our school visits for Fizz Bang Read!)?   Then asked for volunteers, one sat underneath bag, others pierced it….asked “anyone know why this works?” explanation: plastic made of polymers.  rubber in balloon works same way…

The Properties of Polymers: Experment: The Balloon Skewer -- “Balloon on a Stick” (Teen volunteer did this demo for us…later, during the stations section of the program, teen helped kids try it.) The rubber in balloons is made of long strands of molecules called polymers -- the elastic quality of the polymers allows the balloon rubber to stretch.

Materials and technique for this and the 3 experiments below at:

READ: Balloon Trees by Danna Smith (overview of process of balloon making from tapping the trees through finished product.)

Centripetal Force Experiment :  The Spinning Penny  The Spinning Penny  A single penny is placed inside a clear balloon. The balloon is inflated and tied off with the penny still inside.  After shaking the penny a bit, the balloon is then swirled to help start the penny on a circular path inside the balloon itself. Due to the limited amount of friction, the penny can stay on its circular path for close to 30 seconds before gravity begins to slow it’s path!
ndolat’s explanation:  The word “centripetal” is actually Latin for “center seeking.” And that truly describes this force. Without centripetal force, objects would not be able to travel in a circular path (they would only be able to travel in a straight path). One example is how a satellite orbits the earth. In this case, the centripetal force is supplied by earth’s gravity (think of it like an invisible thread that links the earth to the satellite and keeps the satellite moving around the earth in a circular orbit). Another example is the swings ride at an amusement park, where the centripetal force is supplied by the chains that link the chairs to the central pole. Jeff Williams on the International Space Station (ISS), shows that, due to centripetal force, the bubbles in his iced tea package move to the center of the package and form a large, singular air bubble when the package is put into a circular path.

Friction: Experiment:  The Screaming Balloon -- variation to The Spinning Penny. For The Screaming Balloon, used a 1/4” size zinc hex nut…ndolat’s explanation: The nut also moves on a circular path within the balloon due to the centripetal force we supply, but there is more friction between the hex nut and the balloon thanks to the shape of the nut, and thus we get a high-pitched whining sound!

READ: June 29, 1999 by David Wiesner (engaging fantasy of balloons carrying a vegetable experiment into space)

Balloon RocketsNewton’s 3rd Law of Motion (For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction)  Experiment: I blew up a balloon and asked which way it would go when I let the air out, then demonstrated how they could make balloon rockets:    On a rocket “track” – a pair of chairs with some kite string strung between them (like a zip line) and a straw was threaded onto each string, then inflated (but not tied off) balloons can be taped on to the straws. When the air is released, the straw rocket will go to the other side.  Similar idea at: -- try to hit a target with balloon and ingenuity.

“What goes up must come down…”
Main event: make helmets to protect our balloon “brains” (similar to the classic “egg drop” but less messy cleanup!
Materials: water balloons (teen volunteers added faces drawn with Sharpies), soft and protective materials (egg cartons, cardboard, newspaper, etc.), masking tape.  We made the rule that they could cover every part except the eyes (so our our balloon heads could “see” where they were going).  After kids made their “helmets”, we went outside to see which sustained “head injuries” in their falls.  The kids were quite creative, we got lots of different designs and had a chance to discuss how their designs worked (comparing “crumble zones” to the way automobile hoods are made, multiple egg carton bumps similar to the Mars Rovers, etc. – mechanical engineering at its best!)clip_image005
Similar idea at:

Another possibility (skipped this because did something similar last week):
from or use Balloon Inflation Demo

7/2014 BWL

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Gizmos, Gadgets, and Goo - Wacky Fun with Science Week 1: Fizz! Sizzling & Explosive Science

Week 1 of Fizz, Boom, Read! Summer Reading Club:
Fizz! (Chemical & Physical Reactions) -- Come help us get our crazy science summer off the ground with some sizzling and explosive science!  

(For students entering grades 1-5)

Read: Amelia Bedelia, Rocket Scientist? by Herman Parish. Explain chemical ingredients of her pie – p.60, (optional: booktalk The Magic School Bus Gets Baked in a Cake)

Demo: Kid-Safe Elephant Toothpaste

3% - “ok, ours will be more like horse toothpaste...not too dramatic because we only have 3% hydrogen peroxide like the stuff you might use at home for cuts – what happens when you put it on a cut?” (note: local beauty supply had 20 crème version but that didn’t work well so used drugstore 3%)

Supplies: Put a 16 oz. empty bottle on a foil pan, insert a funnel, pour in ½ c. 3% hydrogen peroxide, then add 3-4 drops food color, squirt of dish soap, and 1 tsp. yeast dissolved in 2 TBSP very warm water (make this mixture at least 15 minutes beforehand).

Showed pictures of H2O and H2O2  – explained chemical reaction -- yeast, a catalyst -- a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change -- caused the H2O2 to split into H2O and O (heat), oxygen combined with soap to create bubble foam.)

Explanation from  “The yeast contains an enzyme called Catalase that breaks down hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) into oxygen gas and water. The oxygen gas gets trapped by the soap, and you get a large foamy solution that squirts out of the top of the bottle! The cool thing about this activity is that the enzyme Catalase can also be found in potatoes, dogs and even us! We have the same enzyme in our bodies. That is why you see the 3% hydrogen peroxide bubble when you put it on a cut or scrape. The oxygen released is what kills the germs in the cut.”
“Now I will show you some real elephant toothpaste!”

Show video: Patriotic Monster Foam from Steve Spangler

For real drama of our own -- went outside and demoed: Diet Coke & Mentos
Supplies: a couple of bricks to keep Diet Coke bottle upright, 7 Mentos (made a good show with room temperature Diet Coke, don’t know if using more would have been more dramatic), tube rolled of heavy-stock paper to use to slide Mentos quickly into bottle.

HOW DOES IT WORK? Why does mixing Mentos with soda produce this incredible eruption? Actually not a chemical reaction -- scientists now believe physical reaction:

Came back inside – showed book How to Build a Fizzy Rocket – 507.8 SHORES.

Craft/Experiment: Made construction paper rockets then headed back outside: Hands on explosive science -- film canister rockets.   Note: it is hard to find film canisters locally anymore (available for purchase online) and only the clear ones with tops that fit tightly inside work. (The black or grey ones with the tops that overlap leak.) We ended up having kids create their construction paper rockets around the black or grey film canisters then pulled those out and inserted the clear ones at launch time.  We swapped the canister, had each child don goggles, pour the tsp. of warm water in and add a ½ tablet, then a teen or adult quickly snapped on the lid and put the rocket down on the ground. (Supplies: safety goggles, film canisters, teaspoon, warm water, alka-seltzer tablets (we used a half tablet for each, but my teen volunteers tried it with a whole tablet and got more “explosive” results.)

Explanation: Chemical reaction -- water starts to dissolve the alka-seltzer tablet creating carbon dioxide gas. As the carbon dioxide is being released, it creates pressure inside the film canister. The more gas that is made, the more pressure builds up until the cap is blasted down and the rocket is blasted up.

Take Home project: Soda Bottle Boat (Related book: The Magic School Bus Gets Baked in a Cake)
Copied this two to a page:

Soda Bottle Boat
Related book: "The Magic School Bus Gets Baked in a Cake".
Next Sci

clip_image004 clip_image006
your results
Materials Needed
clip_image001 plastic soda bottle
clip_image001[1] thumb tack
clip_image001[2] toilet paper
clip_image001[3] baking soda
clip_image001[4] vinegar
clip_image001[5] marbles
  1. Using the thumb tack, make a hole in the cap of the soda bottle.
  2. Take three or four sheets of toilet paper and put some baking soda on them.
  3. Spread the baking soda out evenly and roll up the toilet paper. This slows down the reaction between the baking soda and the vinegar.
  4. Put the rolled up toilet paper into the soda bottle.
  5. Also add some marbles so that the opening of the bottle is weighted down and the hole that you poked is in the water.
  6. Fill the bottle a quarter of the way with vinegar and quickly put the cap on the bottle.
  7. Place this in a tub or pool of water and watch it go!
You can also do it without making a hole - loosen the cap.

Program inspired by: Soda Geysers & Film Canister Rockets!  –Thanks NDolan! 

Also love this program:

Stay tuned for upcoming programs:
Week 2: Bang! Balloon-a-mania -- Ever heard a balloon scream, or made a balloon brain? Join us for as we explore a bonanza of balloon possibilities!
Week 3: Crash! Structural Engineering -- The Great Bridge Challenge! We’ll be taking a look at some famous shaking structures then building our own bridges -- and seeing which one can withstand the greatest weight.
Week 4: Boom! Energy Explorations -- Bounce on over to the library and join us for a great big bang with a marshmallow catapulting contest!
Week 5: Squish! Polymers, Diapers, and Goo…oh my! Be prepared to get messy as we explore the powers of polymers by dissecting diapers and mixing up a batch of Oobleck -- the original Newtonian solid (it behaves as both a solid and a liquid at the same time!)

Friday, July 4, 2014

School Age Program: 4th of July–Celebrating our History and Heroes


(For grades K-5) Wednesday, July 2Get an early start on the 4th of July as we celebrate our history with stories, music, and  crafts plus a parade through the library.

Room was set up with dozens of collective and picture book biographies of American historical figures… presidents, scientists, activists, women, minorities etc
As children arrived, had them browse through the books (with patriotic music CD playing softly in the background). After everyone checked in, asked them to close the books (temporarily) and sit where they could see & hear the stories.

Read: Imogene’s Last Stand Candace Fleming’s funny yet inspiring story of a girl who stands up for historical preservation…peppered with wonderful real quotes from history.

Read: Of Thee I Sing – Obama’s tribute to the many different people who have made this country great.

Craft: 35 kids and 6 teen helpers made posters of heroes of their choice inspired by the people in the books I read and/or the books they picked (Supplies: 12x18 poster board (leftover from our Baker & Taylor shipments), markers, scissors, glue sticks, wallpaper samples (for clothes) plus hole punches & yarn to hang these around their necks.)

We played patriotic music CD while they were creating.

We lined up for a group picture then took the boom box and I led our “Parade of Heroes” (children wearing their people placards and waving American flags) around the library.  Parade included a great variety of “heroes” Jackie Robinson, Jack Kennedy, Helen Keller, Cesar Chavez, Chief Joseph, Rosa Parks, MLK, Thomas Jefferson, Susan B. Anthony, Sacajawea, Betsy Ross, and many more.  (If I had had a smaller group or more time, I would have liked to have each person say why they chose their person, but we were running out of time and it was rather chaotic getting 35 people out the door for the parade so we had to skip this.)

7/2014 BWL

Friday, June 13, 2014

Fizz Boom Read! Building Excitement for Summer Reading Club at the Public Library

School Age (K-3) Storytime promoting 2014 Summer Reading Club

Introduced summer reading theme: Fizz, Boom, Read!  then shared books on experiments and inventions (both real & fantastic):

Read: Elephants Can Paint Too! by Katya Arnold (599.67 ARN) – true book about how elephants can paint.  Fascinating factoids – who knew elephants had 150,000 muscles in their trunks? (humans have only 639 in their entire body). 

Mentioned another fascinating insight into the elephant mind – teachers may want to share with students:
Elephants in the Mirror - YouTube

  1. Many of the elephants quickly recognize that they are seeing themselves .... Interesting video about how elephants are self aware & are very ...
Other great animal research:  Check out the dog’s vocabulary in this video:

Read: “Experiments with Motion” (interactive yodeling)  from 11 Experiments that Failed by Jenny Offill  -- introduce/remind word “hypothesis”
Speaking of experiments not quite going as planned…
Read: The Secret Science Project that Almost Ate the School by Judy Sierra or The Fungus that Ate My School by Arthur Dorros or Wendel’s Workshop by Chris Riddell. Booktalked: Oh No! (or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) by Mac Barnett. 

Read: “Will a piece of bologna fly a a Frisbee” from 11 Experiments that Failed by Jenny Offill
Creative inventing…

Read: If I Built a Car or If I Built a House or Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit (all by Chris Van Dusen) or Levi Strauss gets a Bright Idea: A Fairly Fabricated Story of a Pair of Pants by Tony Johnston (older groups only).

Read: “Can a Washing Machine Wash Dishes?” from 11 Experiments that Failed by Jenny Offill

Read: Weslandia  by Paul Fleischman (0lder groups only) – bullied non-conformist invents whole new civilization based on a plant seed that blows into his garden.

Read: “Can a message be sent in a bottle to a faraway land?” from 11 Experiments that Failed by Jenny Offill

…speaking of water experiments, let’s do one.  I need a volunteer – do you feel brave?
Ask for the 4 states of matter – solid, liquid, gas, plasma.  What is a plastic bag? (solid).  So hypothesis – what will happen when I poke a hole in it?  Hold ziploc bag half-filled with water above volunteer’s head, poke with sharpened pencils….ask -- why did s/he not get wet?  (plastic is a polymer, made of molecules in a long stretchy chain so stretched around pencil.)

Poem: “I Tried to Do My Homework” from What a Day it Was at School by Jack Prelutsky
Finished with “There are lots of fun books, reading, and science programs at the library this summer…and cross my heart and promise…your dog (or cat) will be perfectly safe!

Joining a reading club at the library this summer will keep and expand kids’ reading skills.

Also, don’t let your kids’ math skills get rusty this summer…suggest they do a daily Bedtime Math ( problem with their families…they are free, fascinating and fun for all ages!  Here’s a sample:

It always feels good to fold a piece of paper into a triangle, hurl it into the air and watch it sail across the room like a real airplane. So you can imagine the excitement if that paper plane is 45 feet long. A group made a giant paper plane that size from an 800-pound sheet of paper, and used a helicopter to pull it high into the sky. They also strapped a camera to it, so when they cut the cord, the camera took video of the plane's amazing flight through the sky - and its crash. As we see in the film, all good things come to an end, at least for this paper airplane...but hopefully this won't be the last house-sized piece of paper to fly.

Wee ones: If this plane flew at 3,000 feet high and an eagle flew through there at 4,000 feet, which one flew higher?

Little kids: The paper weighed 800 pounds! If the helicopter could lift only 100 pounds more than that, how heavy a plane could it have lifted?  Bonus: If the plane weighed 800 pounds and the camera weighed 10 pounds, how much did they weigh together?

Big kids: To get a sense of this plane's size, a car is about 15 feet long. How many cars long was the plane?  Bonus: At around 1:16 into the video, the camera catches the helicopter whirring high above the paper airplane. If the plane was 2,100 feet off the ground and the chopper was 4 times as high, how high was the chopper flying?

Wee ones: The Eagle flew higher.
Little kids: 900 pounds.  Bonus: 810 pounds.
Big kids: 3 cars long.  Bonus: 8,400 feet.

More Ways to Get Bedtime Math!
Crazy 8s Club, our new after-school math club! It's a free kit that any elementary school or library can order to host 8 weeks of math and mischief. Math club will never be the same. Click here to learn more.
Check out the second Bedtime Math book Bedtime Math 2: This Time It's Personal at the library for more fun, offbeat daily math.

The app: Our whole archive of math problems, with colorful animations and cool sound effects.  Check it out here at the App Store for iPhone and iPad, Google Play for Android!

The website: Find all your favorite bedtime math problems (BMPs) at And check out our new Add It Up parent blog on how we can make math fun for kids.
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Want to find book-related Apps – check out this article:

Whether you are just after something to keep the kids occupied for a while or if you want them to continue learning to keep their brains sharp here are some wonderful apps to help.   MORE

Fossils in NJ: Millions of years of life found in South Jersey sand pits…read MORE.  The fossilized bones of a 65 million-year-old giant crocodile were in several cardboard boxes on the counter of the new natural history lab at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton.
"New Jersey is one of the greatest places on earth if you’re a paleontologist, Of the 11 (geologic) periods in which we identify fossils, nine of them are in New Jersey."
Who knew?



Free and Almost Free Places For Family Fun
in New Jersey And The Surrounding States  2014

Here are some of the amazing places in New Jersey area that the family can go for free, or at a very small cost.  NJ and the surrounding states are abound with some wonderful places for families to have a break from the everyday routine.  Each place is amazing and fun, definitely worth a visit!   MORE.

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