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Introducing Myself -- I have a 6 yo son that I'm trying to get interested in all things science

  1. Aug 4, 2017 #1
    Hi all,
    I hope everyone is well?
    I'm James Fitzpatrick-Ellis and I have a 6 yo son that I'm trying to get interested in all things science.
    It is working so far where he wants to make his own experiments up.
    So far we have:
    Made slime - if you add red food colouring during the mixing process it looks a lot like intestines.... :)
    Made magnetic slime
    Made an electric motor (DC)
    Studied Nikolai Tesla - (this was homework)
    Looked at reactions - vinegar and bicarb of soda

    Like I say, he's only 6, but it won't be long before he is bringing homework from school that I'll need to help him with. So I've decided to re-educate myself in the ways of science and maths.

    Have a great weekend all,
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 4, 2017 #2
    Hi James. Sounds like you are having fun educating your son! Keep it up! I did a Mr science thing myself for my kids science class (it turned into a demo for over 100 students as it turned out) making science things from everyday objects, like taking piezo transducers (size of a dime or quarter) and turning them in to microphones by putting them in a plastic foam cup and feeding that to an amplifier and put up an oscilloscope image on a large classroom movie screen and showed that cup could pick up heartbeats as shown on the oscilloscope display.

    Also built a device the kids called 'electronic popcorn' which was an electromagnet of magnet wire, two paper plates with holes in the center and a toilet paper center roll, about 2 inches wide inserted into the holes in the paper plates and then wound magnet wire around that and made a more or less flat pancake shaped electromagnet and powered that with a variac and relay circuit using a cut up Dr Pepper can as sensors, when a ball bearing was in the device it would short out the Dr Pepper flaps and close a relay that would power the electromagnet and the ball bearing would fly up into the air and back down to redo the process over and over, the ball bearing was confined by a plastic tube about 2 inches across and a few inches high so the students could see the ball bearing bounce up and down. It was a big hit!

    I am a musician and showed how that piezo could be used as a pickup for an instrument, in this case a mandolin and ran that signal to a guitar amp and I played some tunes on mandolin for them besides, and they enjoyed that.

    The teachers had them write thank you notes and I got over 100 of them! It was great fun. I also made a modern version of the old string and tin can walkie talkies, you remember those, two tin cans with a string tied between them and when the string was taunt it allowed each kid to hear each other. I updated that to using Piezo pickups and thin coax cable, RG174 to be exact, about 1/8th inch in diameter, and using the piezo disks glued to the inside of the styrofoam cups and soldered the coax to the pickups at each end the kids could talk and hear each other but now the cable did not need to be taut, just loose on the floor.

    I also used one of those pickups and glued it to a piece of 1/8th inch piece of wood an inch wide and about a foot long and made a super sensitive earthquake detector with the pickup going to the oscilloscope which was projected to a large screen and had a kid in the back just hold his arm up then drop it on his desk. The resulting thud went through the desk, through the floor to the teachers desk which had my assembly on it sticking out held by a brick and the oscilloscope clearly showed the thump appearing on the screen. They were amazed! It was a great day!
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 4, 2017
  4. Aug 7, 2017 #3
    Thanks I will! Going to pinch your piezo walkie talkie idea if that's ok?
    We had a family day out to the local science park near Winchester, Hampshire (UK) and pretty much spent the whole day on all the experiments. When it came to leaving, he was very upset that he'd missed a few experiments (even though he'd been round the whole lot twice... ha ha)
    Spent the day yesterday putting the ingredients together to make crystals. I'm trying to set a spark going in his mind, so that when he starts to learn this in school, he can go, I know this, Dad and I did this at home... That's the plan anyway, I'll probably turn out to be, "I've done this already, why do I need to do it again...!" lol
  5. Aug 7, 2017 #4
    Have you been with him to see Babbage's difference engine No 2 at the Science Museum? For some
    calculations with a result with a long string of digits it could put most desktops to shame until relatively recently.
    I don't know if they let you crank the handle - but they further added his conceptual design for a printer.
    Why not show your son how gears/ cogs work? Or the idea of Mechanical Advantage with pulleys. Use string like
    Blue Peter!
  6. Aug 7, 2017 #5
    @Janosh89 ,
    The Science park had a working demo of the mechanical advantage with pulleys, which he had great fun in laughing at me struggling with the experiment without any advantage..
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2017
  7. Aug 7, 2017 #6
    Great going. What about the tried and trusted Moebius strip to give him and you instant Xmas-type paper chains. Just a 12" x 2½" paper strip dotted down the middle lengthways , sellotape, and then scissors to cut along the dashed line. I seem to recall one had to have an ODD number of twists othewise the 1¼"
    wide "daughter" rings weren't connected!
  8. Aug 17, 2017 #7
    Ok, after you sign an NDA:) Just kidding! Don't think the idea is going to get me a million anytime soon:)

    I used a styrofoam cup they use for hot tea or coffee, got Burger King to donate me a dozen or so to build in the classroom, just a soldering iron and solder, the P disks are a circle of brass maybe half mm thick or so and a coating of the piezo crystal blobbed on one side. So I soldered the RG174 coax shield to the outer edge of the top side brass which you can do because the piezo stuff is a blob smaller than the disk so you can safely solder to that on with the shield wire.
    The P stuff itself is coated with some kind of conductive silver you can also solder to, in this case the center conductor of the coax. I used that because I just had a supply of it. Any two wire conductor will work, just use small diameter wire so the whole assembly will be light weight. So I punch a small hole in the side of the cup to put in the wires and then superglue the P to the inside bottom of the cup. There are versions about the size of a US dime and others the size of a quarter. I used the larger one thinking it would give a larger audio signal. You can test it by just plugging one into an audio amp and see if it works as a microphone, it has a pretty high output voltage and a high impedence, something like 10K ohms or so. The neat thing about that is hooking two such devices together, the impedences automatically match so you don't have to worry about transformers or the like, just cup to cup and it works! Good luck and have fun! I had a thought: make 2 sets and you can talk and listen at the same time.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2017
  9. Aug 17, 2017 #8
    Think Physics Forums or you have hit the wrong button for "likes", as I received it where it was all down to litup where all the credit is due! Tried the rather tame
    Moebius strip in any case?
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