Observing the Eclipse

Just a reminder that on Monday August 21st, 2017 there will be a eclipse of the sun visible throughout much of Canada and the United States.   Eclipse are an amazing and very accessible astronomical phenomenal but it is important to take precautions to protect your vision if you are going to observe a solar eclipse.   You may want to order something like this Eclipse View from RASC now so you are prepared for the summer.  Otherwise you may want to consider making a pin hole camera.  

Polymers without Borax

The Chemistry Badge contains an option for exploring polymers by making borax slime.  Making borax slime has been a popular science experiment for many units but sadly Health Canada put out a warning last year encouraging people to cut back on their borax exposure by not doing crafts with it or making home made pesticides.  You will find many slime recipies on the internet that claim to be borax free but use liquid starch, contact lens solution or Tide Free Liquide detergent.  Most formulations of these products contain borax or boric acid on their ingredient.  And I suspect if you find a version that doesn’t it won’t work well as it is the chemical interaction between the glue and the borax that makes these work

These two project though allow you to explore polyers with your girls without borax.

Milk Plastic

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 teaspoons white vinegar
  • strainer or coffee filters
  • small bowls
  • food colouring and/or sparkles (optional)
  • rolling pin and small cookie cutters

Instructions

  1. heat the milk until almost but not quite boiling
  2. add the white vinegar and stir until the milk goes lumpy.
  3. strain the mixture keeping only the solids
  4. kneed the solids  to get out more liquid.
  5. If you’d like you can add a little food colouring or other decorative elements
  6. roll out your milk solids and cut with a cookie cutter
  7. Let dry for one day then flip over and dry for another day or two on the other side.

Gummie Candies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fruit juice
  • 4 packs gelatin
  • bowl
  • pot
  • glass baking dish

Instructions

  1. mix 1/2 cup of juice with the gelatin and set aside
  2. heat remaining 1 1/2 cups of juice until just boiling
  3. add gelatin mixture to heated juice and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.
  4. pour into baking dish and refrigerate for 2 hours or more
  5. cut into cubes and enjoy.

Moon Viewer

I didn’t find this activity in time for my moon meeting but this is a really neat project to do along with or instead of Oreo Moons.  This idea comes from the Science Notebooking blog. To make it you need a black paper plate and a Popsicle or tongue depressor stick, some white paper, tape and glue.  Cut out the middle of the plate.  Tape the stick to the back of the plate.  Then cut out the different phase of the moon and glue them to the plate.

Alternatively, you can print out a more refined version of this project from E is for Explore!.

Once completed, girls can hold the plate up to the moon and figure out what phase it is in or between.

Oreo Cookie Moons

I was looking for an interesting way to teach our girls about the phases of the moon when I came across this activity that uses Oreo cookies. Like the write on Sciencebob.com, “I’ve always been a fan of science activities that you can eat.” Sadly you can’t use Girl Guide sandwich cookies as you really need the contrast between the white icing and the dark cookie.  We split the girls up into groups of 4.  Each girl got two cookies (a reasonable serving size).  We also gave them napkins to work on, sticks to scrap icing off with and a copy of the PDF activity sheet from Sciencebob.

Solar System Hike

The purpose of this hike is to give the girls a sense of the scale of the solar system.

You will need:

  • any ball with an 8″ diameter (Sun)
  • a white seed bead (Mercury)
  • a peppercorn (Venus)
  • a second peppercorn (Earth)
  • a red seed bead (Mars)
  • bouncy ball 1″ (Jupiter)
  • acorn (Saturn)
  • coffee bean (Uranus)
  • second coffee bean (Neptune)
  • (optional) Facts about each planet to share at each stop
  • (optional) gravel

You might want to tape the seed beads to white cards so they can be seen when you get far away from them.

Place the large ball down at the beginning of your hike.  This ball represents the sun.  Pick a girl to count out the paces.  She will be the “Spacecraft”.  You can switch out after each planet if you’d like.

10 paces. Place the Mercury seed bead down.

Another 9 paces. Place down the Venus peppercorn.

Another 7 paces Earth

Another 14 paces Mars

You may want to scatter some gravel between Mars and Jupiter to represent the asteroid belt.

Another 95 paces to Jupiter

Another 112 paces to Saturn

Another 249 paces to Uranus

Another 281 paces to Neptune

After Neptune you can explain that it could be as much as 242 to the dwarf planet Pluto.  You can discuss the other dwarf planets and asteroids and comets that make up  the Oort cloud.  Feel free to scatter more gravel.  Then head back along the same path to collect your planets

 

Astronomy Badge Meeting

We took our Guide unit on a Saturday evening adventure to the York University Astronomy Observatory. There they had a chance to learn about the solar system and some of the other objects in the night sky. They also had a chance to see some of the big scopes the department has. Since Toronto has grown a lot since the observatory was built in the 1960s, light pollution around the observatory have grown a lot so the scopes can no longer be used for deep sky observing but they can still be used for observing things in our own solar system or some stars.  Sadly, the night we visited it was snowing out so they couldn’t open the dome for the girls to take a look.

To finish up the badge, the following meeting we started by having the girls do skits based on Constellation Legends.  I printed a story for each patrol.  They did a great job.

Then we broke the unit up into groups of 4 and gave each girl two oreo cookies so they could make oreo cookie moons (I’ll post those instructions soon).  They had to show a Guider that they’d made each phase of the moon before they were allowed to eat the moon.  The girls were very motivated and worked quickly.

Finally we went outside to see what stars we could see from the city.  It had clouded over a little while we were inside but the Moon and Venus were still partially visible though the clouds.  Several of the Guiders had star guide apps on their phones and showed the girls how to use them.

Constellation Stories

Part 5 of the astronomy badge requires the girls to learn the stories of some of the constellations.  Constellation Legends has a nice selection of the Greek mythology constellations.  The stories are not too long and they are each illustrated with a image showing both the Greek mythology character and the stars.

I printed some out so my girls could make up skits based on the stories.

I would love a good source for constellations stories from other cultures.  Anyone know one?