Sorry about this stupid nav tray -- I hate it, but maybe you love it and then I'm sorry I said I'm sorry.

Anyway. Here's a collection of work and projects from science writing to poetry. 

A note about the blog title: in math and physics, the prefix eigen means one's own. It comes from the german, but mostly I always liked thinking about a particle's eigenvalues, and thought I might apply the same thought to my excursions.

Acid Base Mini Rockets

Acid Base Mini Rockets

Eigenmotion Science Classes are back in YXE with some classes at the Mayfair Library. Our first one was for littles, preschool and kindergarten, on acids and bases.

After we did a bunch of experimenting with acids and bases, we made mini rockets using an acid base reaction. We used the terms acid and base even with the 3 year olds to introduce the concept, and breed familiarity.

Here's how to do it.



  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Toilet Paper Squares
  • Film canisters (Yop containers work too)

Take one toilet paper square and sprinkle on about half a teaspoon of baking soda. Fill 1/2 the film canister with vinegar. Gently place the toilet paper square and baking soda over the top of the open film canister, so the baking soda is separated from the vinegar. Replace the film canister lid, sealing tightly. This is a good time to get kids to press down real hard on the lid and make sure things are tight. BACK UP (No heads near the film canisters) FLIP the canister. Wait and watch.

Here's the kid reaction to the chemical reaction.

Further thoughts


My canister just fizzled! Nothing popped! This isn't a rocket!

The most common culprit here is a poorly sealed cap. Sometimes a container just won't close tightly. Sometimes there's too much baking soda/toilet paper/gunk blocking a good air seal.

An air seal is really important since this whole experiment relies on pressure building up inside the container until it explodes.


How to expand into a full experiment

Try different ratios of baking soda and vinegar. Will more always mean a bigger explosion? Try to find the magic combination for a big explosion. Plus, investigate those non explosions to figure out the role of air pressure in this project.

Lastly, if you've already done an acid-base test with other materials, could you try different combinations to get the same effect?

Quick cooking chickpeas use microwaves - but not how you'd expect

Quick cooking chickpeas use microwaves - but not how you'd expect

Airplanes and climate change

Airplanes and climate change