Saturday, September 12, 2009

more science!

Rain cancelled J's sports program yesterday afternoon, so we decided it was time for another museum visit (because we haven't been doing that enough lately....just joking!). The kids overwhelmingly voted for a return trip to the CT Science Center, and since that fit in well with other homeschooling friends' plans, off we went.

The kids spent more time in a few of the exhibit rooms this time, so we didn't see the entire museum this visit, despite being there all afternoon again. First they spent an hour or so playing with water volumes, currents, measures and streams. I saw a lot of really cool problem-solving and out-of-the-box thinking on Zoo Boy's part, which was fascinating to watch.

Then we attended a talk about electricity. J got to check out their Van de Graff Generator, which made his hair stand on end! The Scientist giving the presentation made lightening with it as well. We also got to watch a demonstration of a Tessla Coil (the small copper-looking cone in the bottom right corner). This is one of the really wonderful features of this museum -- there are real Scientists on the floor giving live demonstration and talks and interacting with the visitors. It's a pretty unique learning opportunity, especially when you and your friends are basically the only people in the museum to garner their attention!

The boys work with balls and ramps in the invention exhibit. J in particular spent a lot of time here exploring the various options for sending the balls down the tracks while Zoo Boy was making his own scientific discoveries (see below).

Not surprisingly, J became absorbed with a 3-dimensional program on the moon. We spent quite a bit of time in the Space Exploration exhibit this time, I think the kids got to view most of the available films and interactive tours.

The highlight of Zoo Boy's day was working with one of the Scientists on creating electrical circuits. His first challenge was to put together a basic circuit (turning a light bulb on with a switch) based on a schematic. No problem. Then he was challenged by the Scientist to run a fan by only changing one thing. He substituted out the light bulb for the fan. Then he was challenged to run BOTH the light bulb and the fan. He substituted out one of the wires for the light bulb, but when he flipped the switch, the light didn't come on and the fan was turning slower. He waited patiently for the Scientist to finish helping our friends D and T (seen in the background of this picture) with their circuit project, then showed her what had happened. She asked him what would happen if he stopped the fan? He put his hand on it to stop it from spinning, and the light bulb lit up. So she showed him a drawing of a parallel circuit, a way to better distribute the power. He rearranged his circuit board to accommodate both the light and the fan in a parallel circuit, and I snapped this photo to catch his expression the instant he flipped the switch and both the light and the fan came on. SO delighted! He wanted to stay and work on more electrical challenges, but it was getting close to closing time and we had to move along. He can't wait to go back and play with more electricity. And I guess I'll be searching for a circuit board set for him for the next gift-giving holiday....

No comments: