Thursday, March 24, 2011


Over the past two weeks we conducted an experiment into the permeability of an egg's shell and membrane.

The first step was to cover a raw egg with vinegar.  An egg's shell is composed of calcium carbonate (limestone) which immediately reacts with vinegar to produce carbon dioxide--that's all the little bubbles (gas) on the egg:

Day 2

Day 3

Day 5

The vinegar completely dissolved the egg's shell, but not its membrane.  The egg also increased in size because because of osmosis.  "Water always moves through a membrane in the direction where there are more dissolved materials, so the water in the vinegar moves through the thin membrane into the egg because the water inside the egg has more materials dissolved in it than does the vinegar" (Janice VanCleave's "201 Awesome, Magical, Bizarre, & Incredible Experiments." 35)

Next, we submerged the egg in corn syrup.

Day 2

Day 5

From The Science of Cooking: 
After you dissolve the eggshell, the egg is surrounded by a membrane. (Actually, it’s two membranes, but they are held tightly together.) This membrane is selectively permeable—which means it lets some molecules move through it and blocks other molecules.
Water moves through the membrane easily. Bigger molecules—like the sugar molecules in the corn syrup—don’t pass through the membrane.
When you put a naked egg in corn syrup, you are creating a situation where the egg membrane separates two solutions with different concentrations of water. The egg white is about 90% water; corn syrup is about 25% water. In this situation, random movements of water molecules cause them to move from the side of the membrane where they are more abundant to the side where they are less abundant. So water migrates from inside the egg to outside the egg, leaving the egg limp and flabby
Now, we're going to soak the egg in water and food coloring. Stay tuned......

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How many people can fit in a Honda Element?

A conversation last night:

Noor:  How many people can fit in Poppa's car? Not just on the seats, but on the floor too?

Brie: Well, how many people can fit on the seats?

N: 2 in the front, 3 in the back.  Then another person in the front, in the middle, and three people on the floor in the back and another 3 people in the back-back. How many is that?

B: Lets draw it out:

I I I       front
I I I       back/floor
I I I       back seats
I I I       back-back

That's like saying 3 X 4

Noor: 12 people! Lets go try it out........

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Medium: Gum

Sculpted in chewing gum:

Sea Serpent

Allosaurus Femur and Tibia

Friday, March 11, 2011

Feeding swallowtail

Noor feeding "Sugar"

She realized that it is helpful to uncurl Sugar's proboscis with a toothpick:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Swallowtail update

We've identified our butterfly as an Eastern tiger swallowtail, and we're pretty sure she is a dorsal female. Michael and Noor resurrected the hutch they made a few summers ago to place over milkweed plants in the hopes of encouraging other butterflies to lay eggs.

She hasn't flown yet, and we're thinking the house is just too chilly for her.  We're hoping that the lamps will add some much needed heat.

She hadn't touched the sugar water we placed in the cage, so Michael fed her from a dropper.  She immediately perked up and flitted around the cage! Now we just have to figure out how to keep the cats away.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Barometer update

They work!!!!!

We're supposed to get a big rain storm tonight. When we got home this afternoon, we checked the weather station and:

The dot next to the second line was our starting point, when the weather was clear.  The straw went down more than an inch as the air inside the jar expanded, which means the pressure dropped (the balloon puffed up and out because of the increase in pressure in the jar).

The water level in the other barometer rose slightly as well, but definitely not as noticeable as the straw.

Weather Station

The tornado-in-a-bottle brought up all kinds of weather related questions, so today we made two barometers.  With the Weather Glass barometer, the water level will change as the air pressure changes.  The straw will go up or down on the Aneroid barometer.

A drop in barometric pressure means a storm is coming.

We tested the theory that increased (air) pressure will cause a rise in the water level by placing our hands in a pan of water.  Exerting pressure on the water caused it to rise.  We're hoping the same thing happens with our barometers!

  • When you fitted the balloon over the glass, you captured air under a certain pressure. The balloon now indicates changes in the atmospheric pressure, that is, the pressure of the air around you. Higher air pressure pushes the balloon into the jar and makes the straw go up. Conversely, the air inside the jar expands against lower pressure and will bulge the balloon, moving the straw down. The straw makes it easier to see the motions of the balloon.
  • As the straw moves up with higher air pressure, the days should be sunnier. As the straw lowers, the skies may be looking gray and you should expect cloudy or rainy weather on the way.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Swallowtail birth

When we moved our bedroom a few months ago, we found a cocoon crysalis behind our bed.  We assumed whatever was inside was dead, but of course, Noor wanted to keep it anyway.

Last night, she noticed that the walls had thined and she could see a bit of wing.  She placed the cocoon crysalis inside a bug cage.

A few hours ago, a beautiful Swallowtail emerged.  It is too cold to set her free, and there isn't anything for her to eat outside, anyway, so we're about to improvise a butterfly habitat.

Updates soon.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hello Sketchfu

Noor sat down tonight and decided she wanted to learn how to draw on the computer--she did this, on her first try; Michael thought he needed to show her how, but he couldn't even draw a circle

Rainy Day Shelter

It was a warm rainy day today so Noor decided to make a shelter out of an umbrella, a folding chair and a bunch of old towels.  She said she wants to see what it is like to be homeless.  We talked about homelessness and about her plans to have a fundraiser to raise money for homeless children.


We finally made our tornado-in-a-bottle today.  We talked about surface tension because the water barely drips from the top bottle to the bottom one, unless it is shaken or rotated (centripetal force), which is what creates the vortex (tornado).

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Atoms and beasts

Before we even got out of bed this morning, Noor and I learned a lot.  

We've always done this thing where we press our faces together, forehead-to-forehead.  At one point, years ago, Noor started calling this "Cyclops," because both of your partner's eyes run together into one giant eye.

After we did "Cyclops" this morning, Noor pulled back and de-focused her eyes.  "Now you're a Hydra," she said.

"Wait, you have 1...2...3...4...5...6 eyes," she counted.

"A Hydra had seven . . . no nine heads.  Wait, look it up," she asked.

And we did.  Nine heads, usually, but sometimes eight, depending on the source.  The original legends may have even come about because of stories about giant squid.

In any case, that would make either sixteen or eighteen eyes. 

"Cerberus?" Noor suggested.

"Did he have two or three heads?" I asked.

We looked it up.  Three heads.  Six eyes.  That's the one.

His brother, Orthros, had two.

Hercules killed Hydra and Orthros and captured Cerberus as penitence for killing his wife and children 

We read a bit more about Hercules and Hydra's monster siblings which led to Noor asking if the amount of atoms in our bodies are infinite.

"Look it up," she asked.
And we did.

Nope.  Not infinite.  Turns out a 154 pound-body would have 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000


We decided to get out of bed and Noor opened her "Cuppy-Jug" to sniff the leftover cran-grape aroma.  "I love this stench," she said,

and then cocked her head:  ""Stench"" isn't a good smell though, is it?" she asked.

"No," I answered.

"I love this fragrance," she announced.

"Speaking of odoriferous, lets go brush our teeth."

Friday, March 4, 2011

Open Connections January-February 2011

From Mollie and the gang in Wed's Open Program:

         Here are some of the activities we enjoyed with your young people this February. We hope they enjoyed them too.

         Group Time - Many of us shared our OC or homemade creations at Group Time. We describe what we've created, then the group asks questions and give lots of positive comments.

           The Writing Center was very busy with young people creating books, drawings, cards and letters for one another.

           We honed our balancing skills on the Harmon Rail and scaled it up with by adding bean bags to our heads and  to the backs of our outstretched hands. 

           Our Science area offerings have centered around many Rube Goldberg activities. Some created Marble Mazes, Seesaws, Cotton Ball Catapolts, and had fun with gravity, using penny's and other materials. One highlight was setting up the Mouse Trap Game. 

           Books we have read includeThe Paper Boy,Edward and the Pirates and Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain.  

 Clay Work- We built bowls, plates, creatures and more. We experimented with using molds. After they were fired, we glazed or painted them. 

           Hand Work included lacing with Hemp and sewing fabrics together to create pillows. One youth created a collage out of fabric pieces and adhered them to a piece of foamboard. 

           Experimented with Dry Ice mixed with water and dish soap. 

           Cuisenaire Rods- Mike helps out in the OP and works on a building project with youth, while creating an estimation challenge for all to enjoy.  

           Snap Circuits were explored by youth with lots of problem solving and help from each other. 

           Outdoors- Lots of "slip sliding away" and plenty of sledding. When it was too icy for sleds, we slid on our bottoms and we went just as fast! (well, almost as fast) 

           The ropes course was fun even in snow boots. So bundled up, we bounced when we fell! 

           We look forward to Spring at OC and our upcoming Oceanography Unit in the Science area.