Save The Date: GEMS on February 11, 2012!

We had a terrific time at the Girls Exploring Math and Science event last year on Saturday, February 19, 2011. The Museum was buzzing with lots of learning – songs about kinetic and potential energy, buzzing instruments made with straws, Popsicle sticks and rubber bands, and lots of “ah-hah” moments throughout the day!

We had a fabulous presenting sponsor in KBR and two of their engineers were our featured speakers, Rachel Amos and Elaine Jimenez. Rachel and Elaine shared with the GEMS attendees a bit about their careers in Mechanical Engineering with KBR, their education, some tips for aspiring young engineers and scientists, and even a little about what they loved about math and science as kids. Interactive booths were hosted throughout the building by students, girl scout troops and local organizations and companies - there was so much to learn everywhere you turned!

Girl Scout booths have just been accepted for GEMS 2012 and there are some exciting topics and new ideas I’m very excited to see.

We’re still accepting applications from School Groups for booths and if you’re just now considering hosting a booth with your friends or opening it up to your class for extra credit it’s time to get some brainstorming going!  

What is a topic you’d like to know more about? What have you recently learned that you would want to share with your peers?

Here are a few links to sites that might inspire you for your awesome GEMS booth! Applications for school booths can be found online here at the HMNS website.

The Library of Congress – Everyday Mysteries

PBS.org’s Zoom for kids  - this link is to the engineering section but they offer lots more if you click around

How Stuff Works - go ahead – ask how it works!

Penn State College of Agricultural Science – Food Science

Exploratorium.edu - so many cool things to explore!

I’m also including some fabulous outcomes provided by some of our super star 2011 presenters, the “Truth in Numbers” group and the Rice University Association for Women in Mathmatics both presented booths on the topic of statistics and asked visitors to participate in their experiments pulling samples and recording results!

We can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with for GEMS 2012!

Visitors were asked by the Rice University Association of Women in Mathmatics to open a funsize bag of M&M's candies and chart how many candies of each color were included.

 

 

 

High Fashion: Hot Wax Batik

Recently, teachers had a great time at the Museum participating in fun fashion projects during our ExxonMobil Teacher Training called High Fashion.  Try out this activity from the class.  Have fun and be careful! 

Hot Wax Batik

a woman's work...
Creative Commons License photo credit: filtran

Materials:
Adult helper
Soap kettle
Paraffin wax
Iron – be careful to protect it from wax or use an old iron
Q-tips
Thick brown paper – like grocery bags
Cold water dye
Plain cotton fabric
Scratch paper
Pencil
Old newspaper

 

Procedure:
1. Grab an adult to help you.  You must have supervision for this project!

2. What is batik?  Batik (pronounced ‘Bah-Teak’) is a technique used to dye fabrics. Wax is applied to the areas on a piece of fabric that are not to be dyed.  There are various ways that this is accomplished, but the most common are for the hot wax to be “painted” onto the fabric using a brush or to be poured onto the fabric directly.  Once the wax hardens, it has penetrated the fabric and it is now time to dye the fabric.  The hard wax prevents the dye from penetrating the fabric in the areas it has been applied.  The wax is removed after the dyeing process by using a solvent or heat. 

3. Pick a fabric that you would like to dye.  Thin cottons work well (not t-shirt cotton).  You can buy remnants cheaply at a fabric store.  You will need to make sure and wash the fabric before the activity for the dye to penetrate properly. 

4. Melt the wax in a soap kettle or in the microwave.  Please be careful, as hot wax can cause serious burns. 

5. Mix the cold water dye according to package directions.  Be careful not to get this on your clothing as it will NOT come out.  Put the dye aside for now.

Sarah's Eyes
Creative Commons License photo credit: allyrose18

6. Sketch out your design on a piece of scratch paper.  Make sure to keep in mind the size of your fabric and plan accordingly. 

7. Put down some old newspaper to work on.  Dip a q-tip into the wax and use it to draw the design on your bag.  You could also use a fine-tipped paint brush to apply your design.  Allow the wax to dry.  This takes very little time.

8. Put on disposable gloves and immerse the fabric into the dye.  Be careful not to get it on your clothes, as it will stain permanently! 

9. Remove the fabric from the dye and allow it to dry.

10. Using an iron, remove the wax by pressing the fabric between two pieces of heavy brown paper.  Grocery bags work well for this.  It is best to use an old iron or extra paper to protect your iron from the wax.

11. Look!  You have a beautiful fabric design!

12. Do not wash your fabric with other clothing as some of the dye may come off in the wash.

Mystery Skeleton – Update 2

hydrogen-peroxide-resize.JPG

Post three – The experimentation continues…

Grass clippings got in my vat o’ bones and turned everything green.  The Bone Builders Notebook indicated that this was bad and probably permanent. Hmmm. Drastic action had to be taken. 

A quick trip to Wal-mart and 12 bottles of Hydrogen peroxide later I returned to the house for further experimentation.

The week previous, I had dinner with Dave, and Dr. Bakker and my little project was brought up.  I know that it isn’t dinner conversation for most people, a soaking mystery skeleton, but you’d be surprised how often stuff like that comes up when you work at a science museum. Anyway, I was telling Dr. Bakker, who has articulated skeletons before, that I was feeling confident-ish about the degreasing of the bones, but I wasn’t sure if it would be better to have an articulated skeleton (one where ligaments and whatnot are still attached to help keep the bones in the right order) or an disarticulated skeleton (each bone is separate and you have to put the puzzle back together).  After a bit of discussion, I decided to go with disarticulated. It doesn’t seem like it would make that much of a difference, but when you consider that there are about a 100 tiny bones in the hands and feet of a canid, not to mention the tail bones, it felt a little daunting, BUT, as with most projects I tackle, a total lack of knowledge or skill isn’t going to stand in my way.

So, back to the hydrogen peroxide…

Once I decided to go with disarticulated, the green bones weren’t so daunting. Hydrogen peroxide will slowly bubble all the ligaments and meat off the bones, but it will also bleach the bones of the grass stains. After a good soak, I was able to get most of the green off and the cartilage between the vertebrae totally disintegrated.

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of Mystery Bone Update.