Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Physics Fair

Last weekend, the girls and I decided on a spur of the moment trip to a physics fair at a nearby university.  It was crowded, but a lot of fun and the girls got to do a lot of hands on experiments which were all explained by college students and some professors that were manning each station.

Here's Sedona walking on water (and cornstarch):
She was scared to go up and try it at first, but when she played with a bowl of it and realized what it was, she couldn't wait for a turn.  Sierra didn't want to get messy, so she didn't do it.
I couldn't get a good angle without people in the way, but they also learned how to do the "disembodied head on a table" trick.
Sierra did have a fun time checking out a floating arm trebuchet:

She also enjoyed the lesson on levers:
Sedona lifting a stool with a flat rubber disc and learning about how differences in air pressure can push two objects together.

I didn't get pictures, but they also enjoyed a demonstration of Bernoulli's Principle, which is what allows airplanes to fly.  They had a set up of two bowling balls hanging near each other and then aiming a leaf blower at the space between them, which causes the bowling balls to move towards each other instead of away, like most kids guess.  The best part was demonstrating the same principle by shooting and entire roll of toilet paper over the audience in a few seconds though.

One of Sedona's favorites was getting to safely check out the sun and learn a little about sunspots.  She loves all things telescope (though I sometimes wonder if that's because using a telescope generally involves staying up late).

They also enjoyed learning about the density of planets in our solar system as well as what they would weigh on each of the planets (different scales had their face plates changed so they showed the adjusted weight for different planets).
And a square-wheeled bicycle!  Not every day you get to ride one of those.  Sedona wouldn't take a turn since it involved being helped up by the students, but Sierra loved it
If you look very very closely, just to the left of the silver bar in the mirror, you can see the one and only picture of Secora.  Being around so many people was really stressful for her, so I carried her the entire two hours we were there.  This was the only picture I could get of her since the mirror was right there.  It's a spinning surface with ping pong balls, she loved to hit them as they came by.
We did tons of other things too, just couldn't catch pictures of it all.  There were a lot of laser experiments set up, a tornado made with a humidifier and fan, a Ruben's tube (where flames are used to visualize sound waves), synchronizing metronomes, giant bubbles, a Van der Graaf generator (which they wouldn't go near, but were all about pushing me towards saying, "touch it momma! you do it!"), and about 100 other things.  If you're interested in learning some similar things with your kids, there is a pretty good page at the University of Minnesota site.  They do some of these same experiments in shows.  There are videos of some of them and if you click on the heading of each section, it will explain why the experiments work the way they do.

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