Wednesday, April 9, 2008 ;
4:47 AM
Last part of the write ups on the Mexico Trip:

April 7

It's the first Monday of the month and the Utah Museum of Natural History had their free admission day. They were also going to have physics demonstrations by the scientists at the U of U at 5.30pm, so I decided to bring the kids in the afternoon.

Before that, I met up with Jessie, whose hubby's studying at the Uof U. We walked through the whole museum from 3pm to 5pm then she had to go because the last shuttle bus from the museum to her student apartment was at 6pm.

I let the kids play around at the Discovery Center Dino Fossil Digging Pit then we went for the physics demos.

I am not the best person to describe physics concepts but I enjoyed all the demos a lot and captured some to show you all. Esp since ds1 "volunteered" to go up and spin on the "lazy susan".

Note about the videos: Blogger only allows 100MB file per video, and I don't want to upload it on YouTube first, because people make all kinds of stupid and obscene comments there, so I've uploaded the videos in bits. You'll have to play a couple in sequence to get the whole story. Sorry for the inconvenience. I tried Multiply before and then embedded it here, but sometimes it can't play.

I was pleasantly surprised that the 2 physicists were not the stereotypical physics prof kind. True, the guy's a little hunched, probably from all the poring over physics journals and expts, but both of them are more like stand up comedians or actors. They were so funny and entertaining.

The guy even said, "Hmm, looking at all of you having so much fun, I hate to tell you, we're learning science."

The part when ds1 went up was when they were explaining angular momentum. How US Olympic ice-skaters spin around on the ice, and when they stretch out their hands, they slow down, but when they bring their arms in to their chest, they speed up.

There were many kids there and they were so attentive, despite the wide age range of maybe 1 yo to 16 yo! Yes, even ds2 was sitting quietly throughout, enthralled by the 1 hour demo! The guy mainly asked a lot of Qs like "Do you think...." then proceeded to show the kids what they thought could not possibly happen, happened.

Or he'd just ask baffling Qs to get everyone curious, then he'll try it out and say, let's all see what will happen.

Some of them are old favorites. Like how the kids love seeing a blown-up balloon zoom around when the air is let out. Only he linked it to Newton's 3rd law. He asked the kids which direction the air would go when he let go of the blown-up balloon. Ds1 is, thankfully, not like me. When I was young, I was very shy. In a big group or crowd, I'd never speak up or answer Qs spontaneously. But I noticed, through these frequent things I bring the kids to, ds1 will always shout out answers together with other kids and always raise his hand whenever a Q is asked.

The thing is, he doesn't always know the right answer, but he just wants to say what he thinks. Which is good, I don't want to discourage this. The only thing I have to learn, is to develop a thick skin, because when he says a ridiculous or wrong answer out in a big group, everyone will laugh or look at me. I'll laugh along too, but I always wonder if there'd be a time he openly embarrass me about something personal. So far, it's just been the cute kind of wrong answer, the kind the guy in charge would say "oh, good asnwer, but not quite there yet". So, I still have this reflex cringing reaction whenever ds1 raises his hand in such situations and would hope he doesn't get called on. I do hope I'll never have to let him know about this, cos I would like him to retain his boldness and spontaneity.

1. Newton's 3rd Law, when there is an action, there is a reaction. He first pushed against the wall, while standing on a skateboard to demo. Then he bounced balls separately. Talked about gravity too. Then he put one tennis ball on top of a basketball to really show the kids. haha.

2. A scout from the audience asked him what would happen if there were 3 balls, and he gamely took another ball from the scout to try it out.

3. Asking the kids to predict direction of air and everything first, then launching the balloon to let them see what would happen. His balloon made a funny sound too, so it was very funny for the kids. Both ds wwere "wowing" away, and you can hear ds2 going "wahhhh" in the video.

4. So he launched it again and this time I just captured the kids' reactions. btw, ds2 still has the stitches in his mouth so that's why his mouth can't close properly. he looks like he has braces. ha.

5. After explaining further, he took a Y-shaped valve, attached the bottom to the blown balloon, then had the 3 way Y valve attached to 3 different hollow straw-like propellers. He explained the direction that the air would take also, and tied it in again with Newton's 3rd law. Then he launched it. The kids went wild!

6. Describing angular momentum, then asking kids if they wanted to try it out themselves. Ds1 tried it, but this vid of him is not exactly long enough for you to see the concept in action. Most kids fell after folding their hands too, cos it went faster than they expected. But one boy did it long enough.

7. Presented the bicycle wheel. :-) Gyroscope actually.

8. Using the gyroscope to steer. He's standing on the "lazy susan". He describes its use in space shuttles, air planes etc. see for more info. It's also in the Spore Science Center, if I recall correctly, but his demo is very fun.

9. This one is just for laughs but he also used it to introduce the liquid nitrogen.

10. She asked, "Can this long balloon fit into the small container?". "No way!" was answered by many. But it did!

Some other demos they did that are not here:

- pouring liquid nitrogen onto the ground to show it is not water or dry ice but rather super cooled air.

- pouring liquid nitrogen onto a blown-up balloon, which shrinks to a tiny bit, then holding up the shrunken balloon in the air. it returns to original size. of course, he's really funny, and he acts like he's a magician making the balloon "grow larger".

- attaching an unfilled balloon to a test tube filled with liquid nitrogen. the balloon will fill up with gas till it pops.

- putting a bimetallic strip into the liquid nitrogen. it emerges bent, then as it stays in air, it goes back to being straight.

- having 2 identical balls. bounce them. place one of them into the liquid nitrogen then take it out and then bounce both balls. the one in liquid nitrogen doesn't bounce now. knock both of them onto a glass bowl. the one placed in liquid nitrogen makes a clinking sound with the glass now.

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