You can try to trap those pesky little devils, but they always seem to get away. If you’re a frequent reader of this infrequent blog, you probably know “Jack” – yes, my six year old son. He came home from school several weeks ago with a mission: To create a Leprechaun trap. From the very start, he wanted something that smashed the Leprechaun… kind of like a mouse trap for little green people who run around and cause trouble. After explaining to him that smashing Leprechauns was politically incorrect, I suggested that he “capture” the Leprechaun. So, off to Home Depot we went. If in doubt, always head to the plumbing isle. Jack and I found a 10 foot long piece of 1/2″ PVC and a saw (we just borrowed it!) and the creative juices began to flow. I cut the pipe while he ran over to the connector bins to assemble his idea. An elbow piece here… t-fitting there… a few eye hooks and we had the basic structure. Honestly, it’s a memory that I’ll always treasure… father and son sitting in the plumbing isle at Home Depot building a Leprechaun trap.
Here’s how it works… The big cup is attached to a piece of string that is fed through a series of eye-hooks, and a large washer is tied to the other end of the string. Pulling on the washer raises and lowers the cup. So, the washer is held in place using a plastic cup filled with “liquid gold” for the Leprechaun to drink (hey, I can’t make this stuff up!). Lifting the cup releases the washer and the big cup falls on the Leprechaun! Life is good!
Oh, one final touch… the “liquid gold” is just water with yellow food coloring. If you secretly add a drop of blue food coloring to the water, the water turns green. Jack set the trap before going to bed in hopes of catching something in the morning. He came bolting out to the kitchen the next morning to find the trap sprung and the “liquid gold” had turned green. “Mom… Dad… It worked! The Leprechaun fell in the water and turned it green!” I think he might remember this St. Patrick’s Day.
How did this happen? It all started as a harmless science workshop for teachers presented by an outstanding teacher in Beaumont, Texas. Marie “Mel” Moreau from the Region 5 Education Service Center gathered her teachers outside to watch the “release of carbon dioxide gas from a bottle of Diet Coke”. Well, next thing you know, everyone is running for cover.
Want to try it? Just drop a roll of Mentos candy into a 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke and you get the Mentos Eruption! Unfortunately, this workshop participant forgot the last step which is to RUN! If we only had video.
Drum roll please… and this week’s most asked customer service question is… Is there more than one Insta-Snow on the market? Answer: NO, but there are a number of knock-offs and the calls we get are pretty funny. There is only one Insta-Snow® as indicated by that “circle R” thing. We don’t use the ® everywhere because it becomes somewhat annoying, but the name Insta-Snow is a federally registered trademark of Steve Spangler Inc. (Federal Trademark Registration #2928946). But that hasn’t stopped the knock-off companies from branding their own versions of a snow powder. Our favorite knock-offs are the companies who believe that Insta-Snow is the same superabsorbent polymer found in a baby’s diaper. If this were true, every time the baby went potty, the diaper would erupt to an enormous size and explode! Might be a great way to potty train the kid, but it’s not true. Insta-Snow® is the only polymer that instantly ERUPTS when it comes in contact with water. The knock-off “snow” companies tell their customers to “…add water and stir the mixture for 20-30 seconds to make snow.” All you have after 30 seconds is a tired hand and a cup of baby diaper goo. Just stick with the original Insta-Snow® and you’ll be safe, happy and amazed.
Here’s an idea from one of our Minnesota Hands-on Science Ambassadors, Lisa Schoneman, using Pearl Swirl Solution:
I use pearl swirl to make behavior bottles. I shake the bottle up and put it on the table near the “Take a Break” chair (time out). I tell them they need to sit there until the bottle has stopped moving and then they can either come back to the group and join us, if they are or they can shake the bottle one more time. When they are done with the bottle they are ready to join us back in the group.
It’s official… the Hands-on Science Boot Camp is scheduled for July 27 – 28, 2005. Pack your bag and make plans to be in Denver, Colorado at the end of July. The Boot Camp is an intensive, two-day, hands-on training for kindergarten through 3rd grade teachers who want to make science more fun and better connected to the daily curriculum. I’ve posted a video from the last summer workshop to give you a glimpse into this special opportunity.
When I asked primary teachers what would be the best way to teach science, teachers responded with a no nonsense approach. “Give us easy science activities that help our students build critical thinking skills… to use the scientific method… and are so engaging that kids want to learn more on their own.”? Let’s face it, science is already fun, but it also has to be relevant to the curriculum and to the real world. And teachers need science lessons that can be easily integrated into all areas of the curriculum. “The days of trying to squeeze science in at the last minute are over… we need something new and easy.”?