Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

SpongeBob Update

At another grocery store in town we found SpongeBob edamame, and they're organic! The updated pie chart looks like this:

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Noor learned how to braid last night and had it mastered by this morning

Long shot:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

More Living Math

This was part of our conversation before falling asleep last night:

N: When will my dad be home?
B: In about an hour.

Some time passes.....

N: Now how much longer until my dad comes home?
B: About 40 minutes.
N: That's 10 minutes 4 times.


N: That's more than half an hour. That's more than an iCarly show. There are two iCarlys in an hour, but the show is shorter than 30 minutes.  30 minutes is half an hour, right?
B: Yes. An hour is 60 minutes.....
N: 30 is half of 60 becuase 3 is half of 6
B: Right.  iCarly is shorter than a half hour when we watch it on YouTube because the commericals are missing. Commercials take up a lot of time.
N: Now when will my dad be home?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

SpongeBob and Hunger: Media Literacy, Ethics, Balanced Diets, and yes, even MATH

We've been talking about ethics a lot lately.  What makes something ethical? How do you decide? I've mostly offered a Kantian set of criteria, when asked for my opinion.

We've also been watching a lot of Nickelodeon.

Noor noticed, with the newest Burger King SpongeBob giveaway (Patrick's pants change color when they get wet!!!!), that there are a lot of SpongeBob endorsed food products.

Last night, on the way home from a friend's house, Noor asked if we could have a SpongeBob shopping day. I asked a few questions and she clarified that she wanted to see if it is possible to eat a full day's worth of food with only SpongeBob products to choose from.

This won't be the first time our food stamps helped pay for an experiment. We talked about that too: the nature of food stamps, where the funds come from, who gets them, how they're used.

Back to ethics.  We looked online for a list of all the available SB endorsed food products on the market. We couldn't find one, but we did find this article from 2007, from which I read this snippet to Noor:

“Nickelodeon will be adopting a policy in which the use of licensed characters on food packaging will be limited to products that meet ‘better for you’ criteria, as established by marketing partners in association with government dietary guidelines,” she said.
Nickelodeon licenses its characters to Kellogg and General Mills, among other companies.
Ms. Zarghami said the only exception is for special-occasion foods such as birthday cakes, which kids aren’t likely to eat all the time. Disney has a similar exception.
A Nickelodeon spokesman said the changes are the result of talks with health and government groups.

The above policy was to be enacted in 2009. As we're in the early days of 2011, Noor reckons that Nickelodeon must believe that Burger King is a 'better for you' product.

Her next question was: "Better for you than what? Dog poop? What does that mean?"

I said I think it means foods that don't have a lot of sugar or fat, probably.


B--"If given a choice, would someone who likes SB choose chose plain packaging or something with the sponge?"


B--What if the SB product had more sugar, fat, chemicals than other foods?

N--Then they're tricking the kids.

Which brought us back to ethics, again.


We decided to go shopping and see what SB had to offer. Noor chose Target over another grocery story because she said they were a more SB kind of store.

Noor passed on the SB cookies

And on the chicken soup

We found seven food products and bought five.  We observed that some SB foods were about 10 cents more than the same food without a SB theme. Noor also noted that for every SB product, you could choose the same thing, without SB packaging.  "It is how they get kids to want that thing," she said.

When we got home, we talked about the foods we'd found and how content Noor would be to eat only these foods all day long, without anything else to choose from.  So, "Could a kid live on SB food and nothing else?"  Probably.  Would they be satisfied? Healthy?  That's a lot harder to answer!

We also talked about different theories about what makes a "balanced diet" and Noor categorized the SB foods according to their food group

SInce Noor loves pie charts, we chose this pie chart for the purpose of our experiment

And then we plotted the SB foods on a graph

Conclusion: Noor doesn't think she'd be happy on a SB-only diet for too long. She commented that Target didn't carry any fresh fruits or vegetables with SB and we'll probably check out a few other stores to see if there are more choices.

Is using SB to sell food to kids ethical?  No, Noor says.  If you just ate dairy, grains and sugar all day, your body wouldn't be healthy. 

But what if companies used SB to get kids to also eat fruit and vegetables?

That's good, Noor says, but making kids want something because of a cute Sponge is "almost not really ethical."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

One Thousand Dollars!

I brought Noor's attention to a youth film festival that is accepting shorts made my kids.  When we talked about it and checked out the website, she noticed that the categories are broken down by age as well as grade.  "So, I'd be competing against school kids?" she asked.

"Looks that way," I answered.

"How much money could I win?"

"I have no idea; it doesn't say."

"Maybe $1000?"

Twenty minutes later I heard Noor tell Michael:

"I'm going to make a movie and win $1000.  That's $100 ten times!"

Yes. Yes it is.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Newton's First Law of Motion...or...Spin Art

We bought a spin art machine recently and busted it out yesterday.  Noor noticed that when she spins the plate fast, the drops of paint run to the outside edge of the paper, but when she spins it slowly, the drop of paint forms a circle that doesn't radiate outwards.  She asked why this was and we looked it up.  Turns out it is due to Newton's First Law of Motion.

According to Isaac Newton, an object in motion will continue moving in a straight line unless acted upon by a force. The paint travels in a straight line once it is set in motion; it doesn't continue in motion indefinitely because it hits the edge of the paper or the edge of the spinner container.

When the force of the plate, which holds the paper,  is less than the force of the rotation, the paint (which is constantly shifting the direction of its velocity) stays in a more-or-less solid line.  When the force of the rotation is greater than the force of the plate, the drops are drawn outward.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Isfahan, Iran

Nahid is home from visiting her mom in Isfahan, the second largest city in Iran.  She brought yummy treats to share with us: dates, jujube and golden raisins.

And Gaz, which we know from Israel, as Turkish Delight (nougat) made from Tamarix sap, egg whites and pistachios. Yummy. Apparently, Gaz originated in Isfahan.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Snow, finally!

Engineering the amusement park "Mount Amazing"
(Crabby wants 3 rides and Ice Dragon wants 4. That equals 7 rides all together, unless they share the slide, and then there only need to be 6 rides total)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Buddah's Hand

Who knew?
This is a Buddah's Hand, a member of the citron family.  According to Wikipedia:
The fruit may be given as a religious offering in Buddhisttemples. According to tradition, Buddha prefers the "fingers" of the fruit to be in a position where they resemble a closed rather than open hand, as closed hands symbolize to Buddha the act of prayer.