STEM Themed Backpacks

With a new school year about to start, it is time to start shopping for school supplies.  At the top of everyone's list is a backpack.  Here's some STEM themed ones we like.
If you need a roller backpack, we highly recommend the Jansports ones.  We've had Jansports roller backpacks last for years! We've tried the cheaper ones, but they rarely last past winter break.  They come with a lifetime warranty, just be sure to save your receipt.

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How to Make Four Different Technic Lego Fidget Spinners

Technic Lego Fidget Spinners

To celebrate over 2000 views on my first Lego Fidet Spinner video, I have four more Lego Fidget Spinners to share with you.  If you are on an FLL team these fidget spinners are just for you!  All the parts to make them are included in your EV3 kits.  They are great to play with at FLL team meetings when your are thinking up the solution to one of the missions.

Flag Fidget Spinner

The picture above shows all the pieces you will need for the flag fidget spinner. 

Step One

Place orange flag on the end of each of the three axels.  Add the red bushing under the orange flag.  

Step Two

Add a white flag under the red bushing on each of the three axles.  Make sure it is facing the opposite direction of the orange flag.

Step Three

Step Four

Place each axle in one end of the tri-angle connector.   Make sure to place them so the orange flags all face the same way.

Place the axle with a stop on one end in the center of the tri-angle connector.  Place the half bushing on the end without the stop.  Enjoy spinning your new technic lego spinner!

Original (Tri) Fidget Spinner

The picture above shows all the pieces you will need for the orginal (tri) fidget spinner. 

Step One

Insert three of the axles in the tri-angle connector piece.

Step Two

Place a gear on the end of each of the three axles you attached to the tri-angle connector in step one.

Steps Three and Four

Place a bushing on the end of each of the three axles above the gear.  Then place a half bushing on the end of the remaining axle.

Step Five

Place the remaining axle through the center of the tri-angle connector piece.  Then finish off the fidget spinner by placing the last half bushing on the end of the axle.   Have fun spinning!

The Blender Fidget Spinner

This is a totaly orginal design that I created.  I call it The Blender.  All the pieces you need to make this fidget spinner are shown in the picture above.

Step One

Place the flag on the end of the axle.  Then place a bushing below the flag.

Step Two

Place the axle through the center of the beam.  Than add the other bushing on the end of the axle.  Next add the remaining flag to the end of the axle.  Make sure your flags point in the same direction. 

Step Three

Place studs on each side of each end of the beam.  Mixing and matching the stud colors will get you different looks when you spin it.

Step Four

Place the cones on the studs on the end of the beam.  Spin it and watch the different colors you get on each side.  Switch up the cone and stud colors to get even more looks!

The Bubblebee Fidget Spinner

The picture above shows the pieces  you will need to make the bubblebee fidget spinner.

Step One

Place a half bushing on one end of the each of the two smaller axles.

Step Two

Place a 2x2 round piece on each of the smaller axles below the half bushing.

Step Three

Insert each of the smaller axles into the angle connector.

Step Four

Place the remaining axle in the center of the angle connector.  Then place a bushing on the end.  Now you can spin and enjoy your fidget spinner!

Need Lego Technic Pieces?

You can get a 1 lb of random technic pieces on amazon.com.  Click on picture to get to product page.

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How to Make Glitter Slime

What you need for this experiment

Glitter Glue

Water

Borax

2 Glass Bowls

You can buy the glitter glue and borax we used on amazon.com by click on the pictures below.

Experiment Directions

Add 1 tsp borax to 1 cup of water.  Set aside.
Empty glue bottle into another bowl.
Add 1 tbsp of water to the glue and mix.
Add the borax and water mixture to the glue and water mixture.
Mix with your hands until you get the slime to the consistency you want. 
Enjoy playing with your gorgeous glitter slime!
Do not forget to wash your hands when you are done playing with your slime! 

Why does it do that?

When you add glue (which is made up of polyvinyl acetate) to borax/water solution (Na2B4O7. 10H2O) you get a chemical reaction that produces a highly flexible, cross linked polymer. A polymer is made up of lots of monomers all strung together in a really long chain.  A monomer is one molecule that has the ability to combine with other identical monomers to form a polymer.  Since these chains are flexible, your slime can stretch and flow making it so much fun to play with. 

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How to Clean Your Dirty Pennies

Instructions

To clean your pennies you will need vinegar and salt.  Use 1/4 cup vinegar to 1 teaspoon salt.  Be sure to use a non-metal bowl.  Mix the vinegar and salt, then add the pennies.  It only takes a few seconds for them to get nice and shiny!

How does it do that?

Over time the copper on the pennies combines with the oxygen in the air to form copper oxide. It is the copper oxide that makes the pennies look dirty. The vinegar and salt creates an acid that dissolves the copper oxide.  With the copper oxide removed, the pennies become nice and shiny.

Marbelized Milk Experiment

What you need for this experiment

Heavy Cream

Whole Milk

Fat Free Milk

Paper Plates

Food Color - Not the Gel type!

Experiment Directions

Fill a small container with Dawn dishwashing detergent.
Pour heavy cream into a paper plate.
Add a few drops of different colors of food color on top of the cream.  
Dip Q-tip in the  Dawn.
Place Q-tip in the center of the cream.
Watch the show! 
Repeat the process with the fat free milk and whole milk.

Why does it do that?

Milk is made up of water, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minearls and vitamins.  When you drop the food color on the milk or cream, it is held in place by the fats and proteins in the milk.   The dishsoap molecules are bipolar.   One end is attracted to water and the other end is attacted to fat and protein.   This is why dishsoap can dissolve in water but also grab onto oils, which do not mix with water. When you add the dishsoap to the milk/food color mixture, the colors get pushes around as the soap molecules look for fat and protein to grab onto. The more fat in the milk, the slower the reaction and the longer the reaction will continue.
NOTE:  This experiment does not work with the gel type food color.  When you use the gel type food color, the food color will sink to the bottom of the milk or cream.  It is surprising difficult to find the non-gel type in local stores.   After going to about a dozen local stores which only carried the gel type,  I ended up having to get it off amazon.  Below are links to the non-gel food color we used.

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How to Make a Mini-Lava Lamp

It's was Saturday morning and I was bored, so I decided to turn an empty tic-tac box I had in my room into a mini-lava lamp!  (Ya, I do love making lava lamps!)  I could watch this all day.  It is so relaxing.   Enjoy the show!

You can find detailed instructions for making lava lamps on my early post here.  The main thing to remember is 3/4 oil to 1/4 water in whatever container you use.  You can add any color food coloring you want.  Use varying amounts of alka seltzer tablets to see what happens.  Since this is a small container, you will want to use pieces of a tablet.   If you use a whole tablet, it will likely overflow.  But that's fun to watch too!  Just make sure you prepare for the mess ahead of time by putting your container on a towel first.

Friday Funnies #3

Math Jokes

A triangle asked a square, "Why is the circle always so hot?"  The square said, "Because it is 360 degrees!"

The right triangle asked another right triangle, "Why is the obtuse triangle always so sad?" The other right triangle replied, "Because he will never be right."

 

Where Did You Get That Shirt?

A number of people have asked us where we got the "Stand Back I'm Going to Try Science" t-shirt.  We purchased the shirt from Amazon.com. 

Below are some of our other favorite science related shirts for kids.

Clicking on the shirts will take you to the page on Amazon.com where you can purchase the shirt. 

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and purchase a shirt, we'll receive a percentage of the sale.

Rocket Launch Day

We had so much fun at Boeing during the Discovery Cube's annual Rocket Launch Day!    You bring your own 2 liter bottle and they provide the tape, string, fins, nose cone, and parachute.   We brought our own sharpies so we could decorate our rockets.  My friend Trina was able to join me there for the fun.

The first thing you do when building your rocket it to attache the fins.  When you put your fins on, try to make them as straight as possible.  You will want to put the small side facing up to make your rocket more aerodynamic.

After you attach all four fins, you will need to cut the string for your parachute.  We use four equally sized strings for ours.

Next you will need to attach the stings to your parachute.  Then attach the other end of the strings to your rocket and add the nose cone.

Now it's time to decorate your rocket!  Although not required, it makes it much easier to identify your rocket after it is launched and mixed in with all the other rockets.

Before you launch your rocket, you have to fill it with water.  Too much water and your rocket is too heavy.  A too heavy rocket will fall down right after it is launched.   Too little water and it won't have enough power to get very high and will also fall down right away.  We went with about half filled for our launch attempts.

Now you're ready to launch!   They Discovery Cube volunteers place the nozzle on the rocket and pressurize it with nitrogen gas.  When you press the launch button, the compressed gas pushes out the water through the nozzle.  The bottle moves away from the water due to Newton's Third Law:  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

It is so much fun to watch your rocket take off and land.  It was also fun to watch other people's rockets.  Some exploded with pieces go every which way right after take off.  Others flew really high and took a long time to float down.

At this event we met Isabella and her dad.  They made this really cool rocket at home.  The used an additional 2 liter bottle that they cut in half and placed beans in for ballast at the top of the rocket.  The ballast keeps the rocket stable and helps it fly straight.  We are going to try out this technique next year.

My dad was also at the event.  He was a volunteer at the Ask An Engineer table. 

If you have an opportunity to attend a Rocket Launch event, I highly recommend you go!