Showing posts from April, 2018

Propeller Powered Balloon Helicopters - New and Improved Formula!

Last week kids came to Pasadena Library to learn about elastic energy and the Law of Conservation of Energy , and then build a helicopter that would rise up in the air at least briefly before coming down. We attached helium balloons to a homemade helicopter that runs on the elastic energy of a twisted-up rubber band, and since the apparatus itself is heavy enough, the whole thing generally floats gently down. (OK, some kids did have to add a weight in order to counteract the extreme lift of the helium.) Kids had a blast making their helicopters, even though it was not an easy project, and required a lot of tinkering and troubleshooting! I did this program before at Pasadena Public Library, and shared it on my blog a few years ago . I'm sharing this year's experience because I think I learned some things that might have improved the project back then. I first found the project in 2014 on . You may have to subscribe to get access to all their projec

STEAM Team: Make Your Own Electric Quiz!

Last week I visited the Hastings Branch of Pasadena Public Library to present a program to their "STEAM Team," a monthly club they have for kids 9-12 years old. We did a program about electricity called "Make Your Own Electric Quiz." It was so much fun exploring the mathematical principles involved in electrical circuits, such as the inverse ratio relationship between voltage, resistance and current explored by Georg Ohm in the early 19th century. I LOVE anything to do with scientific laws, and we got deep into Ohm's law (I = V/R). Then kids wrote down math questions and answers on post-it notes, placing the post-its next to some brass paper fasteners I had prepped for them on a sheet of cardstock. On the other side, they wound a copper wire from the brass fastener for each question to the brass fastener for its correct answer. To reinforce the things we learned about Ohm's law, I deliberately used a battery source not intended for 5mm LED diodes--