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.

Sound Waves - Pre-K activity

Sound Waves - Pre-K activity


2015-02-21 10.45.00

Inventing Instruments

Making instruments is a great fun for preschoolers! It's also a great way to introduce the idea of sound waves and vibrations. There's no need to delve deep into these ideas, but using these physics terms breed familiarity.

And this time, we did it without instruction. Just put out some beads, balloons, plastic cups n tubs, and paper cardboard tubes.

I made a drum by cutting the bottom off a balloon, stretching it over a container. Tapped on it with a pencil crayon, and then the kids wanted to make their own. Of course, adding beads and stuff was really exciting and exploratory and magical.

Sooooooo the noise factor was amazing. And then, someone noticed that things only make noise when they shake! Sound waves, man!


telephone paper cup

With all the kids from kindergarten to grade four, we made plastic cup telephones.

Take two cups, poke a hole in the bottom, thread the string through and secure. Alternatives include making it with paper clips hooking through (good if you want to change up the cups with a single string) or beads for securing (excellent sound quality).

We brought it plastic, paper and styrofoam cups of all kinds of description to experiment with. The 7-8 year olds were particularly delighted to make these and experiment with various configurations.

In order to bring in the sound vibration thing, we'd test our phones both with the string taught and slack. The obvious thing is it just doesn't work with a slack string -- but why?

Well, one way to investigate this is to flick the string while keeping it taught. This'll make a noise and you'll be able to see the vibration -- the key to making sound. This imagery is good to keep in mind, as the string is truly making a wave. A physical wave that produces sound waves!

More sound machines.

Recreating Microfossils at the CLS

Recreating Microfossils at the CLS

Bringing high tech down to earth

Bringing high tech down to earth