Physics Experiments with Static Electricity

This video contains some great easy to do physics experiments that all use static electricity.  Most are really low prep too which isn’t always the case with physics.

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World Space Week

The first Make a Difference Day for 2017-18 is World Space Week – October 4-10th. National has released an instant meeting to help you mark this STEM based week.    I do a lot of space activities already with my Guides so many of these ideas I’ve seen before but I’m glad to see them being promoted.  I am quite interested in the Life on a Space Station activity though.

If you want some alternative ideas, check out the Meeting in a Box: Space from Quebec.  I like the active Solar System game.  I think the girls would have a lot of fun with it.

Science Out of the Box

Science Out of the Box is a new resource from the always excellent BC Program Committee that replaces their old Science in a Box Program. The new resource contains 72 pages of science activities for Sparks – Pathfinders.  All the activities can be completed with materials available from local stores. If you are looking to complete any of the STEM badges with your unit, this resource will have ideas for you.  The index is divided into:

  • Applied Science
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Earth Science
  • Environmental Science
  • Forensic Science
  • Physics

And there is an extensive appendix at the end showing the program connections for all four branches.

International Day of the Girl 2016

International Day of the Girl (IDG) is an opportunity to bring global focus to girls’ rights, the challenges that girls face in their everyday lives and to empower girls to make a positive difference in the world. This year GGC is focusing on inspiring girls and young women to explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and the opportunities that exist within these fields.

This year’s instant meeting has a opening and closing activity and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math activities.  Units are expected to do at least one activity from each section.

Make a Bouncy Ball

For each girl you will need:

  • two small cups
  • 1 tablespoon of borax
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon of white glue
  • 3-4 drops of food colouring
  • two popsicle sticks
  • a small plastic bag
  • warm water
  1. In the first cup measure two tablespoons of warm water.  Add one tablespoon of borax. Stir with a popsicle stick until their are no lumps.
  2. In the second cup measure 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, 1 tablespoon of glue and the food colouring.  Stir wiht a popsicle stick until smooth.
  3. Pour the borax solution into the glue solution.  Stir with the stick and then roll the resulting polymer around the stick.  There will still be liquid in the cup.
  4. Remove the polymer from the stick and roll in your hands until round.   If it is still sticky, roll it in a little more cornstarch.
  5. Now you have your bouncy ball.
  6. Store in a ziplock baggy to keep it from drying out.

Tin Can Lanterns

Tin can lanterns can add a touch of magic to a campfire or camp dinner.  It takes quite a bit of time and is a bit messy so it might be a craft to save for camp.   I would suggest using larger cans such as those used for beans or pasta sauce over soup cans.  To make a tin can lantern you will need

  • one can per girl
  • tea light candle (either wax or battery operated)
  • hammer
  • Large nail or awl
  • permanent marker
  • paint and paint brushes (optional)
  • wire (optional)

Before the craft, fill all the cans with water and leave them in a freezer over night so they are frozen solid.  Have the girls draw a simple design on the can with the marker.  If you want the lanterns to hang, use the nail to make two small holes near the top of the can.  Then continue to make holes along the design the girls have drawn.  It is best to start near the top as the ice will melt there first.  The ice keeps the lanterns shape while the holes are being banged into it.  Once all the holes are in place, set the cans aside to wait for the ice to melt.  Once the ice has melted you can paint your can if you’d like.  You can also bend some wire though the holes at the top to make a handle.  Be sure all the paint has dried before lighting the lantern.  Put the tea lights into the lanterns and light them.  If you are using wax candles, you may want to use a bar-b-que lighter or fireplace match as the inside of the cans will be quite sharp.

This video demonstrates the technique but I’m not keen on the fact that they spray paint the inside of the can.  I’d keep the paint away from the candle.

Engineering Meeting

We tried out the kits from Engspire for their Crazy Contraption meeting.  We lead it on our own as we planned this meeting too late to apply for a facilitator (maybe next year).  The kit came with two activities.

Opening Game: The game contained a set of cards with different engineers on each card.  The girls were suppose to read their card and then imagine what it would be like to be that kind of engineer.  Then the Guiders asked questions like “Would your engineer use a computer?” and the girls were to move to one end of the gym if they though the answer was yes and the other if they thought the answer was no.  The cards represented a good diversity of engineering fields but used some language that was difficult for some of our girls.  Even the symbols were unfamiliar to some of the girls.

The Contraption Kits:  We split the girls into groups of 5.  Each group was given one contraption kit to start.  They were given 15 mins to try and build that one kit.  Most of the girls got the the kit built in the 15 min.  Then they were given four more kits and told to figure out how to build the rest in 20 min.  Some groups had one person assembling each kit. Some groups went with more of an assembly line method.  Even so, the kits were tricky and the girls had trouble keeping them together even once they were built.

We might try a different Engspire meeting next year but I don’t think I’d want to do this one again.