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How fast can your boat travel? Follow these instructions to make your own balloon powered boat and learn about Newton's third law of motion.
What you need What to do
Turn a margarine container into a balloon-powered jet boat? It's easy.
What you need
To do this activity you will need to gather:
• • • • • • •
a margarine container a balloon a straw a rubber band plasticine scissors something that will pierce the margarine container to make a hole big enough to fit a straw through.
What to do
1. Find a clean, rectangular, margarine container and carefully make a hole in the centre of one of the shorter sides about 1 cm from the bottom. 2. Cut a straw in half and insert one end into the neck of a balloon. Fix the balloon firmly to the straw with a rubber band. 3. Push the straw through the hole in the marg container and seal it in place with plasticine. Weigh the back of the marg container with more plasticine in the centre. Blow the balloon up through the straw and pinch the end to keep the air inside. 4. Put the boat in the water, let go - and away she goes. This is an example of Newton's third law of motion - every action has an opposite and equal reaction. The air rushing out of the straw is the action, and the equal reaction is the push against the boat in the opposite direction. Can you improve the design of your boat?
Get your fill of water-balloons and science fun! Illustration by: Ed Radclyffe Follow these instructions for the shot put activity and learn how physics and sport go hand in hand.
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What you need Competition Sport 'n' science Secret scientific advantage
The physics of the physical has a long history. Understanding how the body works allows us to develop techniques and equipment that helps athletes improve their performance. So, why not use innovation and know-how to add scientific advantage to your own backyard sport?
What you need
To do this activity you will need the following:
• • • •
water balloons water measuring tape outdoor space.
Fill your water balloons with water until they are about the size of tennis balls. These will be your ‘shot’. Holding the shot to your neck, push it up into the air by extending your arm. Measure how far away it lands, using the puddle of water from the impact as a marker. The furthest throw wins.
Sport 'n' science
The path your shot takes as it sails through the air is a lovely curved arch that stretches from your hand to the ground. This path, called a trajectory, is ‘parabolic’ - an arched trajectory. When you push your shot into the air, it wants to keep moving in that direction - upwards and onwards. Gravity, as usual, has to get in on the action. Gravity accelerates your shot downwards,
and it's mostly the combination of your throwing power and gravity that creates the curved path of the shot as it falls to the ground.
Secret scientific advantage
With practice, you can create momentum before you even let go of the shot. Start by facing backwards and then spin around as you throw, using your body like a spring. In this case, you get momentum from your body weight and the speed of the direction you move it in - and the momentum can move from you to the shot. By using body weight and leg strength in your throw, your shot will have more force. By Beth Askham
Let's go surfing now... Follow these instructions to surf on balloons and learn about the difference between force and pressure.
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What you need What to do What's happening
Who needs a beach when you can surf on balloons? Try this activity at home or at school.
What you need
To do this activity you will need:
• • • • •
an adult assistant balloons an upside-down desk or some other flat-bottomed object that can survive you standing on it a carpeted floor a table, pole or wall you can use to help yourself balance.
What to do
1. 2. 3. 4. Check that there is nothing sharp on the desk or floor that could damage a balloon. Half-inflate four balloons and tie them off. Place the balloons under the corners of the desk. Have your assistant hold the desk still. They shouldn't try to take the weight, just help keep it balanced. Make sure they do not put any of their fingers under the desk - they might get squashed! 5. Carefully step up onto the desk. You can use another table or a pole to help you balance as you climb up. Unless something sharp bursts them, the balloons should be able to support your weight.
If there are other people around, you could try testing to see how many people the balloons can support.
You should find the balloons can support the combined weight of you and the desk. they stretch and flatten out even more. The air inside the balloon feels pressure from the balloon rubber squeezing in. The air outside the balloon is also squeezing in. until the pressure is equal again. I used four balloons. so the pressure of the desk on the balloon goes down. If you add enough weight to the desk. the lower the pressure. the air inside a balloon must push out. The reason we can stand on the balloons like this is that although we apply a fair bit of force to them. When the balloon flattens out enough. For a balloon to stay inflated. Once this happens. so they would be able to stretch without bursting. adding any more weight will increase the pressure inside the balloon. the pressure of the air inside the balloon equals the pressure of the desk on the balloon and the balloon can support the weight of the desk. When you stand on the balloons. the air rushing out will tear the balloon even faster. My personal record is 27 sevenyear olds. pressure is a force divided by the area it is spread out over. you will see that it flattens out where it touches the desk. To a scientist. You may be able to fit several people onto the desk before the balloons burst. and the balloon bursts. . The shape of a balloon is determined by pressure. the rubber will eventually stretch to its limit. we often think of a force. If you look closely at a balloon as you put it under the desk. When we think of pressure. The shape and size of a balloon is where the pressure inwards and the pressure outwards are equal. the area of the balloon that is touching the desk increases. This is why we only half-inflated the balloons. The same thing happens where the balloon touches the floor. The greater the area. There is a limit to how much the rubber in the balloons can stretch. This will start to tear the rubber. Once a tear starts. we don't apply a lot of pressure. As it flattens out.
2. .Staying up there The balloon stays in the air stream through a balance of forces. What actually happens is that the balloon hangs in the middle of the air stream. Blow up the balloon and tie it off. Turn on the hair dryer and point it so the stream of air is blowing towards the ceiling. Hold the balloon in the stream of air and then let go. If you've never done this activity before. you'd probably expect the balloon to float up and then fall to one side. Follow these instructions to make a balloon hover in mid air and learn about forces and air pressure. What to do 1. Diagram of the 'staying up there' activity. 3. • • • What you need What to do What's happening What you need To do this activity you will need: • • a balloon a hair dryer.
The balloon stays in the centre of the air stream because the fast moving air has a lower pressure than the surrounding still air. The downward pull of gravity is balanced by the upward push of the air flow. the higher pressure of the surrounding air pushes it back. If the balloon starts to move out of the air stream. Try tilting the hair dryer a bit.What's happening The balloon hangs in the stream through a balance of forces. What happens now? .
Don't worry! There is nothing wrong with your lungs. Try and blow the balloons up in the bottles. large darning needle or a knife. . Gradually release the pressure of your finger. 3. Take the PET bottle with the hole in it and place your finger tightly over the hole. Ask an adult to make a small hole (less than one centimetre across) in the bottom of one of the bottles. place your finger over the hole and take your lips off the bottle.25 L soft drink bottles work well) a metal skewer. What happens? Follow these instructions to make your own bottled balloons and learn about how air takes up space. you were trying to push air into a limited space. Air takes up space just like anything else. There wasn't enough room for the air in the sealed bottle as well as the extra air you were trying to blow into the balloon. You wouldn't have had much luck with the other one though. What to do 1. What happens to the balloon? 6. What happens when you try and blow it up now? 5. Gently push the balloons so they sit inside the bottles. What happens to the balloon now? What's happening You probably found that you could blow up the balloon in the bottle with the hole in it. And your lungs certainly don't have the power of an air compressor so you can't blow much extra air into the balloon in the hole-less bottle. Take the PET bottle with the hole in it and blow the balloon up inside it. When you blew up the balloons in the bottles. Which one is the easiest to blow up? 4. • • • What you need What to do What's happening What you need To do this activity you will need to gather: • • • two balloons two plastic PET bottles (1. Stretch the neck of a balloon across the opening of each of the bottles. Be very careful when you do this because PET plastic is extremely strong. It's got to do with space. 2.Bottled balloons Try blowing up a balloon in a bottle. At the end of your last breath.
returning it to its original size. the elastic sides of the balloon forced the air out of the balloon. So air was forced out the top but was replaced by air entering back through the hole at the bottom. . As you released the pressure of your finger. You saw the reverse happening when you blew up the balloon in the bottle with the hole and then put your finger over the hole.You could blow up the balloon when the hole was uncovered because air escaped from the hole and made room for all the extra air you blew into it. So you were blowing some air in the top but some was also escaping through the hole.
• • • What you need What to do What's happening What you need To do this activity you will need: • • • • • a one or two litre plastic bottle water a plastic pen top a piece of Blu Tack or similar a hook (optional). Seal the bottle tightly and squeeze the sides of the bottle.The top diver Squeeze the bottle and see what happens. 4. Put the pen top into the bottle. What to do 1. 2. Squeeze just the right amount and you can get the top to hang in the middle of the bottle. the pen top sinks. 3. If you squeeze hard enough. What's happening . The Blu Tack weighs down one end so that the top stays upright with a bubble of air inside. Stick a small piece of Blu Tack onto one end of the pen top as in the diagram. Follow these instructions to make your own top diver and learn about buoyancy. Fill the plastic bottle to the brim with water. Stop squeezing and it rises.
Diagram of the top diver experiment. When you squeeze the size of the bottle. The top and trapped air now displace less water and weigh more than the water. and the bubble of air trapped in it. . The top floats because it. you put pressure on the air trapped in the top causing it to shrink in volume. displace a greater weight of water than it weighs itself. Illustration: Alec Ellis This is a clever demonstration of buoyancy. Try adding a hook to the Blu Tack and use your top diver (also referred to as a cartesian diver) to lift objects off the bottom of the bottle.
Make sure no flammable items are nearby. The burning paper causes the air inside the bottle to expand. • • • What you need What to do What's happening Caution: This activity involves fire. You must have an adult present. plus water and other safety equipment that the adult feels is needed. The air pressure outside the bottle is greater and the egg is 'pushed' into the bottle. . Scrunch up a piece of paper and light it then lift the egg up and carefully (but quickly) put the burning paper into the bottle and replace the egg. 2. Peel the shell off the hard boiled egg.Eggs ins and outs Can you fit the egg in the bottle? Follow these instructions to trap an egg in a bottle and learn about air pressure. What you need To do this activity you will need to gather: • • • • • • a hard boiled egg (boiled for 15-20 minutes) that has been allowed to cool a glass bottle or jar with an opening at the top a couple of millimetres smaller than the egg some newspaper matches or a lighter a sink to do the activity on an adult helper. When the paper goes out. 3. What's happening Thwump .the egg gets sucked into the bottle. the air cools and contracts. Place the pointy end of the egg in the neck of the glass bottle or jar. What to do 1. pushing some of it out of the bottle.
Turn it upside down and position the egg with the pointy end back in the opening. wait and watch. Continue to hold the bottle upside down.To get the egg back out of the bottle. Take a deep breath and blow in. wash the ashes out of the bottle. .
Make sure you have an adult with you and wear eye protection (safety glasses). place the canister lid down on the plate and stand back. 6. especially your face. Before adding the ingredients. practise putting on the lid and placing it upside down as described in step 5. into the body of the canister. Quickly and firmly press the lid completely on. Never point your canister rocket at anything. but white vinegar is easiest to clean up) an ice cream stick or teaspoon a plate. The exact timing will depend on the canister. 4. sun glasses or safety goggles) an adult. Do this activity outside or in a high-ceilinged building like a hall. about 5 millimetres deep. Put on your eye protection. Never launch with anything breakable above the rocket. saucer. Hold the body of the canister in one hand and the lid in the other. • • • What you need What to do What's happening WARNING: This activity involves a flying projectile. 3.Film canister rocket Preparing the fuel for blast off! Follow these instructions to make your own film canister rocket and learn about the chemical reaction that makes it blast off. Take the lid off the film canister. What's happening . except the sky. Make sure your plate is on a level surface. What to do 1. 2. Pour a small amount of vinegar. Using the teaspoon or icecream stick. What you need To do this activity you will need: • • • • • • • a film canister baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) vinegar (any kind will work. amount of ingredients and how tightly you packed the baking soda in. 5. temperature. tray or similar eye protection (glasses. Have a close look at the lid and bubbling ingredients left on the plate. Your canister rocket will blast off seconds later. place enough baking soda to fill the recess in the lid.
As more and more carbon dioxide is produced. although it is the carbon dioxide gas (C02) that pops the lid off. so does the pressure inside the canister. there is a fast chemical reaction. or apply a force. A good way to understand what is happening is to take a deep breath in.When vinegar and baking soda mix together. In this case. on all the inside surfaces of the canister. The carbon dioxide gas pushes down on the lid. . although as it is sitting on the plate it can't go anywhere when it pops. seal your lips and slowly breathe back out into your mouth. Pressure is defined as a force over an area. it's the force of the carbon dioxide pushing over the inside area of the canister. There are several products of the reaction. The carbon dioxide is also pushing on the inside base of the canister (the top of your rocket) and this pushes it into the air. the bits of carbon dioxide (called molecules) are squashed together and begin to push. Eventually your mouth cannot hold the pressure and your lips will unseal. including the lid. letting some air out. As the carbon dioxide builds up. The pressure quickly pops the lid off. Caution: don't overdo this as you can hurt your eardrums.
Form the hose into a circle. What you need To do this activity you will need the following items: • • • • • garden hose stanley knife plastic funnel duct tape or electrical tape scissors. tighten your lips. 3. Cut a 60-centimetre length of hose using the Stanley knife and rinse it clean. use the tape to secure it in place. and ‘buzz’ (vibrate) them on the mouthpiece to start playing.Blow your own . 2. Tape the hose firmly together where the two ends cross over. • • • What you need What to do What's happening Warning: This activity involves using a sharp knife. Don’t point the funnel into anyone’s ear . What to do 1. leaving both the funnel end and the other end of the hose poking out about 15 centimetres from where the hose crosses over to make the circle. If it doesn’t fit tightly. You’re ready to blow! Hold the looped part of the hose in one hand and the plain end (the mouthpiece) in the other hand.garden hose . Ask an adult to help you. 4. Take a deep breath.the sound can get quite loud! What’s happening .trumpet Illustration by: Angelo Madrid Follow these instructions to make your own garden hose trumpet and learn about how wind instruments work. Place the small end of the funnel into one end of the hose.
Brass-type instruments. Try untaping the hose and cutting it a bit shorter. with the garden hose trumpet. The air molecules move back and forth inside the instrument. The sound produced by a wind instrument is affected by the shape and length of the instrument body. then remake the trumpet. the louder the sound you can make. sound is made when air flows over the edge of the mouth-hole and passes over the air inside the flute. causing it to vibrate. creating sound waves. For example. How does it sound now? . In flute-type instruments. use lip vibrations on a cupped mouthpiece to create sound.Wind instruments make sounds when you blow air into them. trombones and tubas. the larger the funnel you use. such as trumpets.
You may want an adult to assist you. and a needle. Photo from www.sxc. What you need What will happen when you drop it? To do this activity you will need: • • • • • • • • four pieces of plywood a balloon a lead sinker a needle rubber bands tape nails a hammer. a hammer.hu Try these two activities to explore the effects of gravity on falling objects. Be careful with sharp objects. Have fun and be careful! Activity 1: Balloon in a Box Warning: This activity includes the use of nails. • • Activity 1: Balloon in a box Activity 2: Drop cup In the following two activities you'll see how gravity affects falling objects. . You may need an adult to help you put them together.Falling for science Gravity acts on everything.
Using elastic bands. water pours out (as in the cup on the left in the image). Attach an upward facing needle to the sinker. will now pull the sinker up causing the needle to puncture the balloon. It's a good idea to have a bucket under the falling cup to prevent a mess when it hits the ground. the frame and the objects inside become weightless. What to do What a difference a drop makes! 1. However. which are stretched. What you need To do this activity you will need: • • • a styrofoam cup a pen or pencil water. Try dropping the frame from a couple of metres high with someone there to catch it so your construction isn't damaged when it hits the ground. suspend a lead sinker from the top of the inside of the frame so that the rubber bands are stretched. In this case. the elastic bands. 2. Inflate a balloon and stick it to the top of the frame so the needle is suspended below the balloon. Fill a styrofoam cup with water and put a hole in the bottom side of the cup with a pencil. 4. What happens to the balloon? What's happening When an object falls the effects of gravity are cancelled out and an object experiences weightlessness. Now drop the cup full of water. Put together a rectangular wooden frame. . Activity 2: Drop Cup Many strange things happen with falling objects due to the effects of gravity being cancelled out.What to do 1. if the lead sinker becomes weightless. As you'd expect. 3. What's not happening in this experiment that you would expect to happen under normal circumstances? It's best to do this experiment outside as it will make a mess. 2.
it no longer pours out of the hole. For more hands-on activities. . for the duration of the fall. See if you can come up with your own falling demonstrations that might produce other interesting effects.What's happening The water becomes weightless while the cup is falling and. sign up for free Science by Email.
Gently place the glass eyedropper into the small glass. it will not bend or reflect light. When light passes from the oil into the glass (and visa versa) it is only slightly bent. Retrieve the eye-dropper. Make sure you do this over the bowl so it doesn't get everywhere. 2.the refractive indices of air and glass are different. The refractive index of baby oil is very close to that of glass. Note: If you don't want to waste the baby oil.The invisible glass Notice how the submerged glass appears invisible? Follow these instructions to make a glass appear invisible through the science of refractive indices. What you need To do this activity you will need the following items: • • • • a glass bowl a small glass baby oil a glass eye-dropper. 3. The small glass should therefore appear practically invisible. What to do 1. It should appear visible because the eye-dropper contains air . fill it with baby oil and place it back inside the glass. Place the small glass inside the glass bowl. What's happening . use the glass to pour it back into the bottle. The eyedropper should become almost invisible because the air has been removed. • • • What you need What to do What's happening This activity demonstrates that if light passes through two transparent objects with equal refractive indices. Pour baby oil into the bowl until the oil covers the glass.
Harry's body would also need to have the same refractive index as the air. light would not bend as it passes through. For example. If an object doesn't reflect or bend light it becomes invisible! When light travels from one material to another it usually changes speed. Cristy Byrne . This change in speed causes the light to bend. If light didn't bend as it passed through water we wouldn't see raindrops falling. When a straw is placed in a glass of water. We call the amount of bent light the 'refractive index'. The refractive index of water is different to air. and our eyes can detect the difference. Each transparent material bends light by a particular amount depending on the material the light is travelling from. Harry's cloak would not be invisible if he wore it underwater. the same way that you are visible behind a glass window. For the cloak to make Harry invisible. the refractive index of Harry's cloak would have to be the same as air to make it appear invisible. even if Harry's cloak were invisible. They would be invisible! Therefore. it may look 'broken' because the light reflecting off the straw in the water is refracted. would Harry appear invisible too? Harry's body would have a different refractive index compared to the air and his cloak. if the refractive index of water were the same as air. He would therefore appear visible. the light changes its speed in the raindrop. Interestingly. when light moves from the air into a raindrop and back out again. science can begin to explain how Harry's cloak could actually be invisible to the human eye! For Harry's cloak to be invisible it needs to change the way light interacts with it. An object is only visible if it reflects or bends (refracts) light that lands on its surface.making it visible. But. and therefore different to Harry's cloak .Could Harry Potter's invisibility cloak really exist? Well. For example. and bends.
Jelly optics Which way does the light bend? Follow these instructions to make your own jelly lenses and have fun with bending light. Pour the jelly into your mould and leave it to set overnight. Use the knife to cut the jelly into the shape of some lenses such as: • wide in the middle and thin at the ends • thin in the middle and wide at the ends . • • • What you need What to do What's happening Let's make some simple lenses and see how they bend light. When the jelly has set. What you need To do this activity you will need: • • • • • • • • • • • • a torch a comb two packets of jelly crystals. You need to make very stiff jelly. 3. Mix up your jelly. such as a lunch box. but only use half as much water as normal. both the same flavour and preferably a light colour or clear. to use as a jelly mould hot water a spoon a fridge a dark room a knife with a straight edge a cutting board a table an adult. Caution: This activity uses hot water and a knife. In some parts of the world. 4. Have an adult assist you with this activity. tip it out onto the cutting board. a rectangular plastic container. 2. What to do 1. jelly is called jello. It is easier to tip out if you run a knife around the edge and then dip the outside of the mould into warm water for about ten seconds.
Shine light from the torch through the lenses and look at how they bend the light. When light goes from air into the jelly. Different materials will bend light by different amounts. it often bends. 5. you will get lines of light. What's happening When light hits a boundary between two substances. you can eat the jelly. When it goes from jelly into the air. After you have finished. like the surface of the jelly. until they cross over and then spread out again.• semicircular. If the jelly makes a concave lens (thick on the ends. If the jelly makes a convex lens (thin on the ends. thin in the middle) the rays of light will be spread out. it bends away from the surface of the jelly. If you are lucky and your lens is just the right shape. When the jelly surface is curved. 6. rays of light hitting at different spots on the surface will either spread out or move together. If you place a comb between the torch and the lenses. you may even find the rays of light all cross over at one spot. . This is called refraction. which can make it easier to see the light bending. it bends towards the surface of the jelly. thick in the middle) the rays of light will bend towards each other. The strength of a lens depends on its shape and the material it is made from.
Blow up the balloon and hold the neck to stop the air escaping. a scientist named Isaac Newton realised that when an object applies a force onto another object. Thread the straw onto the string and tape it to the balloon so that one end of the straw points to the neck of the balloon. Hold the balloon at one end of the string and let go of it. Ask your friends to hold either end of your string so the string is taut. 2.Jet balloon How far will your jet balloon fly? Follow these instructions to make your own jet balloon and learn how aeroplane jets work. . Many years ago. What to do Cartoon of the jet balloon experiment 1. 3. the other object pushes back with an equal force in the opposite direction. 4. What's happening The balloon should fly to the other end of the string as it deflates. • • • What you need What to do What's happening What you need To do this activity you will need • • • • • a balloon (not blown up) a short piece of drinking straw a long piece of string sticky tape two friends.
Since the gases are being pushed in one direction by the rocket. the air pushes on the balloon with equal force in the opposite direction. . the rocket is pushed in the opposite direction with equal force. As it does. As the fuel burns. so the balloon is pushed along the string. it produces hot gases. which is open at one end. All rockets work by using the same principle. fuel is burned in a combustion chamber. The air comes out of the balloon faster than the balloon is pushed along. In a rocket. the air is pushed out of the neck of the balloon.When you let go of the balloon. which rush out the open end of the chamber. because the air is much lighter than the balloon.
confetti or coloured paper. 4. What you need To make your own kaleidoscope you will need to gather: • • • • • • three rectangular pieces of mirror or mirrored cardboard cut to the same size (about 15 cm long and 4 cm wide) some tape greaseproof. sequins or very small pieces of coloured paper onto the outside of the paper. You can experiment with different coloured cellophane filters. 3. 5. While looking through the viewing hole. 6. Stick a piece of clear plastic film or transparency on the very outside over the small coloured pieces to ensure they will not escape. 2. Tape the mirrors together along the long sides to form a triangular tube with the mirrored surfaces on the inside. Place the confetti. You will see beautiful shapes that constantly change. the kaleidoscope bends and distorts light waves. tracing or baking paper. tracing or baking paper plastic kitchen film or an overhead transparency sheet scissors sequins. Through lenses and mirrors. • • • What you need What to do What's happening The word kaleidoscope means 'seeing beautiful shapes'. What to do 1. rotate the kaleidoscope so the confetti or sequins move about.Kaleidoscope The art of reflections. . or increase the number of mirrors used to build the tube. Images of the outside world pass through a kaleidoscope to your eye but they change on the way. Cover one end of the tube with greaseproof. Secure this with tape. Point the kaleidoscope down at a bright light source. It's easiest if you leave a two millimetre gap between each mirror. Follow these instructions to make your own kaleidoscope and have fun with reflections.
As the tube is rotated. Light bounces off a surface at exactly the same angle at which it hits the surface. When the mirrors are set at 60 degree angles. The viewer looks in one end and light enters the other end. it creates six sets of reflected images. the tumbling coloured objects present the viewer with varying colours and patterns. This light is reflected again and again by the mirrors.What's happening A kaleidoscope is made from mirrors placed at angles to each other. These show up as symmetrical patterns due to the reflections in the mirrors. .
Light water The light bends inside the water. so you may need to use the paper to cover most of the end so only a thin beam of light comes out. What to do There are two parts to this activity. you will need: • • • • • • • • • • a small soft-drink bottle with its label removed (one with straight sides works best) a torch milk correction fluid (such as liquid paper) or paint a very dark room (try to do the experiment when it is dark outside) sink. • • • • What you need What to do What's happening Applications Working with real fibre optics is quite difficult as it requires fairly high tech equipment (including LASER light sources). Follow these instructions to try two activities that will introduce you to the principles behind fibre optics. we will need to make a thin. . For this activity. bucket or jar a thumbtack or safety pin sticky tape scissors paper. Try for a beam with a width of one centimetre or less. Most torches produce a fairly wide beam. here is an activity you can do at home that demonstrates the properties of optical fibres. straight beam of light. What you need For this activity. However. The first part shows how light bounces underwater.
You might find this easier if the bottle is filled with water so the sides don't bend when you push on them. Paint at least one centimetre in each direction. . Empty the bottle. it will look clear until it starts to break up into drops. Keep the beam of light aimed at the same point on the surface. 5. but slowly lift the torch up so the angle between the light and the water becomes smaller and smaller. What's happening Both of these activities rely on an effect called total internal reflection. 5. Fill the bottle with water until the water squirts out the hole in a steady stream. If you look closely. With the thumbtack. make a small hole in the bottle. 2. Add a drop of milk. You should see a spot of light on your finger. As the water comes out of the bottle. This ensures that the beam of light only travels down the stream of water. The next part shows how to trap light in a stream of water. 3. 1. The beam of light stays inside the stream of water. At that point. 6. like it was a mirror. dry off the outside and paint around the hole with correction fluid or paint. you may see some light glittering on the drops. 4. 3. through the surface and into the air. Shine your torch at the hole from the other side of the bottle. to make it easier to see the path of the light through the water. You should find the light travels up through the water. Fill your bottle partway with water. 6. you should find that the point of light is actually below the level of the hole. Hold the torch down fairly low and shine it up through the side of the bottle onto the bottom of the water's surface. 4. When the angle between the water and the beam of light becomes small enough. Hold your finger in the water stream above the point where it breaks up. 1. Place the bottle near the edge of a table in your dark room. 2. Make sure you have a sink or bucket set up to catch the water. and a couple of centimetres downwards.The light beam is reflected back into the water. a couple of centimetres from the bottom. The light has stayed inside the stream of water as it bent down. the light will not go through the surface any more but will bounce off it.
the angle on the air side would have to be zero. where doctors carry out complicated operations through small holes in the skin. the light eventually hits the surface. Optic fibres are also used to carry information. then instead of going through into the air.When light hits a boundary between two substances. it is possible for a single fibre less than a millimetre wide to carry thousands of phone calls. Applications Doctors can look inside a person's body using a bundle of optic fibres connected to a television camera outside the body.5 degrees. light bends towards the surface of the water when it goes from water into air. Optic fibres are becoming more important as scientists and engineers are developing technology called photonics. This has lead to 'keyhole surgery'. This is called total internal reflection. the light and the water both come out of the hole horizontally. even if the strand curves or goes around in circles. the light bounces off. the light inside it keeps bouncing off the surface. Since the angle between the surface and the light is very slight. until the water starts to break up. As the water keeps bending. As the angle on the water side becomes smaller. the critical angle is 48. In the case of water and air. Can you match this star? . When the angle on the water side is just right. which is the study of ways to generate and harness light and other forms of radiant energy. This is called refraction. the light stayed inside the stream of water because of total internal reflection. it often bends. instead of having to make large incisions. This is called an optic fibre. so the light would be trying to go along the surface. The same effect happens inside other clear materials such as long thin strands of glass or plastic. like the surface of water. the light bounces off the surface of the water. For the surface between water and air. In this activity. As the water curves down. like telephone calls. To start with. the angle on the air side gets smaller even faster. By sending the information as carefully controlled pulses of different coloured light. If the angle on the water side is any smaller.
turning the asterisk into a star. When you bent the matchstick. Watch the matches for a couple of minutes. Be careful not to break them. leaving empty space behind. The matchsticks are made of dry wood. It should look like a five-pointed asterisk. 3. There are also gaps between the wood cells. The first is capillary action. 4. so they pushed against each other to form the star shape. the cells and the gaps between them were squashed at the point where the wood bent. The matchsticks should straighten up a little bit. What's happening There are actually two processes happening here. 2. What to do 1. Most of the water has been dried out from the cells of the wood.Moving matches Follow these instructions for a great party trick that uses capillary action and turgor pressure. Applications . so it is sucked into the wood of the matchsticks. Arrange the matchsticks on the plate so they are all touching. so they tried to expand back to their original shape. it is called turgor pressure. the pressure of the water pushed out on the inside of the gaps. Bend five matchsticks in the middle. What happens? 5. As the water filled the gaps inside and between the cells. When the pressure of a fluid inside an object pushes it into a certain shape. with the bends in the centre. This capillary action leads to the second process. Use the dropper to place three or four drops of water in the centre of the matches. • • • • What you need What to do What's happening Applications What you need For this activity you will need: • • • • matchsticks an eye-dropper water a plate. The turgor pressure was enough to slightly straighten the matchsticks. The surface tension of the water pulls the water into these gaps.
If plants do not receive enough water.Living things use turgor pressure inside their cells to hold the cells in shape .like a balloon blown up hard inside a sock or washing-up glove. they will go limp because there is not enough pressure in the cells to maintain their shape. .
Pirates roaming the high seas navigated using the coastline and the movement of the Sun and stars. Illustration by: Ed Radclyffe Follow these instructions and learn how to harness the Sun's power. navigators would constantly see sunlight reflecting off the sea.Eye Eye. There is no real evidence that pirates wore eye patches more frequently than other people. WARNING: This activity involves fire. Adult supervision is needed. the popular image of the pirate comes from the movies. In this activity. These days. What you need To do this activity you will need the following items: • • • • • • • magnifying glass metal cooking tray piece of paper pencil styrofoam cup crayon sunny day. perhaps even blindness. pirates sailed the high seas. The navigator would spend a great deal of time using a telescope. However. and they tend to look more like Captain Jack Sparrow than 'old-school' pirates such as Peter Pan's Captain Hook. you can see the effect of focusing light from the Sun through a magnifying glass. which is basically a tube with two magnifying lenses in it. and it's a good idea to have a bucket of water nearby. one theory to explain how pirates could have damaged one eye is concerned with constant navigation at sea. What to do . Prolonged exposure to this focused light could cause serious eye damage. The well-known image of a pirate wearing the sinister eye patch and a black hat emblazoned with skull and crossbones probably comes from literature rather than from reality. While staring through the telescope during the day. Captain Armed with science.
When light from the Sun travels through the lens of a magnifying glass. In this activity. a hole will form. This point is called the focal point. Repeat the activity twice. Move the magnifying glass back and forth. Direct the bright spot onto the dot you drew on the paper. it is bent towards the centre of the lens and is concentrated. closer and farther away from the paper. generating heat at the focal point. If you hold the magnifying glass in place long enough. you can still be outside in the Sun without being blinded. or focused. Some types of paper may even catch fire – so be ready! By Philippa Rowlands . The paper should have started to smoke a bit and then turn brown. Hold the magnifying glass steady and wait. Use the pencil to make a tiny dot in the middle of the paper. 7. 6. Place the piece of paper on the cooking tray. Sunlight is very strong. intense light energy from the Sun is concentrated through the magnifying glass. 3. Place the cooking tray on the ground or on an outside table. Hold the magnifying glass between the Sun and the paper and adjust the height and angle until you see a bright spot of light on the paper. 4.1. 5. but spread out. using a Styrofoam cup and a crayon instead of a piece of paper. Make sure the area you are using is clear of flammable materials. The lens is shaped like two saucers placed rim to rim – it bulges on both sides in the centre and becomes thinner towards the edges. into a single point some distance from the other side of the lens. This is called the focal point. Although looking directly into the Sun is very dangerous for your eyes. What’s happening A magnifying glass is a single lens with two curved (convex) surfaces. Illustration by: Ed Radclyffe 2. 8. until the bright spot is a single small spot about the size of a pinhead.
with the lid on two clear plastic glasses water two ice cubes a marker pen. Half-fill each glass with water. This represents an island. Mark the level of the water on each glass. For more hands-on activities.Poles apart Does the water rise when ice cubes are added? Image by: Rebecca Kilburn Try this activity to see how melting ice and snow affect sea levels. join CSIRO's Double Helix Science Club. Only the melting of land-based ice and snow (like Antarctica) will increase the sea level. 4. or displaced. What to do 1. Place the film canister upside down into one cup. see whether the water level has risen. making the water level rise. . Once both ice cubes have melted. 3. the water in the glass. so when it melts. Place one ice cube on top of the ‘island’ and the other ice cube in the water in the second glass. What’s happening The ice cube floating in the water has already shifted. the level will barely rise. 2. The melting of floating ice (like the North Pole) will not affect the sea level much. But the ice cube on the land (film canister) will not displace the water until it melts and drips into it. • • • What you need What to do What's happening What you need To do this activity you will need the following: • • • • • a film canister filled with soil.
Stand the glass on the paper with the slit facing towards the Sun. 4. Fill a straight-sided glass with water and tape the card onto the side of the glass. just as Sir Isaac Newton did hundreds of years ago. . The sunlight should pass through the slit and split into its colour components as it enters the glass. The prism bent. 3. or refracted.Splitting light White light is made up of various colors. 2. What you need To do this activity you will need: • • • • sunlight a piece of card with a one millimetre wide slit cut into the middle a straight-sided glass filled with water a sheet of white A4 paper. This technique can also be used to determine the chemicals elements present in a star or planet's atmosphere. The colours should appear on the paper. What to do 1. Discover how to split white light into a rainbow of colours. Sir Isaac Newton proved this more than 300 years ago when he directed a beam of sunlight through a slit and prism in a darkened room in 1666. What's happening? White light is a mixture of many different colours. Place the white sheet of paper close to a window where sunlight is entering. with a technique known as spectroscopy. the white light so that it fanned out into a rainbow (spectrum) of colours. • • • You will need What to do What is happening? Astronomers are able to determine the composition of the the Sun by studying its light.
Astronomers use spectroscopy to determine what planets and stars are made of by examining their light. Each chemical element has a unique signature when its light is split up.Splitting light using prisms is known as spectroscopy. .
The ice only just floats.Backyard bergs How buoyant are icebergs? Photo by: Tanya Patrick/CSIRO/AAD Follow these instructions to make your own icebergs and learn about the buoyancy of ice. and one in a plastic bag. • • • • What you need What to do Colourful bergs Keeping track of icebergs An iceberg is a floating piece of freshwater ice that has broken off the seaward end of a glacier or polar ice sheet. You can make your own backyard bergs to test how much ice floats above the water and how much hides underneath. What you need To do this activity you will need the following items: • • • • • • • a balloon a plastic bag (zip-lock bags work well) a rubber band a large bowl. Only about 11 per cent of an iceberg is visible above the water’s surface because ice is only slightly less dense than water. the larger part of the ice sinks beneath the surface. Fill the balloon with water until it is about the size of a grapefruit. 1. Note: This simplified activity only uses height. bags and containers. The separation or calving of icebergs from glaciers mostly occurs during spring and summer in Greenland and Antarctica. and not volume. Tie off the end of the balloon and place it in the freezer. You could make lots of other different shaped icebergs using a variety of balloons. 2. bucket or fish tank a tray of ice-cubes a ruler a calculator. to demonstrate that usually more of an iceberg is underwater than above water. . What to do This activity involves making two icebergs: one in a balloon.
and information about iceberg size and position is relayed to ships. 7. Icebergs can also be blue. Thanks to this early warning system. 9.3. blue light is reflected and the other wavelengths of light are absorbed. In blue icebergs. green. this happens when crevasses in the parent glacier fill up with meltwater that refreezes so fast. that no bubbles form. Dust. Brown or black icebergs are just dirty. Take your icebergs from the freezer and remove the balloon or bag. Wait for 12 to 24 hours to fully freeze your icebergs. When an iceberg breaks off the glacier. only height is taken into account and not the volume of ice or water. Repeat steps 1 and 2 using the plastic bag. The unusual and vivid green of some icebergs is a result of algae growing in the ice. All wavelengths of visible light are reflected off the bubbles in the ice in equal amounts. Place the icebergs in the bowl. 6. except this time. rocks and dirt can accumulate in the glacier as it travels over the land. The answer should fall somewhere between 11 per cent (1/9 of the height) and about 12. Colourful bergs Most icebergs look white. 4. Fill the bowl. Keeping track of icebergs The US National Ice Centre monitors all icebergs and ice conditions in the Antarctic. When you see a green iceberg. (Note: to make this calculation easy. The data is collected by polar orbiting satellites. which makes the iceberg look white. Place the icebergs on the sink and measure the height of each one. Add the tray of ice-cubes and stir until they have melted. because they are full of tiny bubbles. By Philippa Rowlands . Arctic.5 per cent (1/8 of the height) of your iceberg floating above the water. brown or black. Put your results into this easy calculation: (height above water) divided by (total height) multiplied by 100 = percentage of ice above the water. which is more complicated). 10. 8. the ice is compressed so much that the air bubbles are pushed out. bucket or fish tank and measure how much of your iceberg is floating above the water. bucket or fish tank with cool water. collisions with icebergs have become a very unusual occurrence. Without air bubbles. it can have dirt layers deep within the ice giving it a brown or black appearance. you are actually looking at what was once the underwater side of the iceberg. exposing the previously underwater sections to view. seal the top using the rubber band. Be careful not to overfill the bag. Sometimes icebergs can appear striped blue and white. It has rolled over. Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay regions. 5.
This means that the egg will float in the sugary water and sink in the fresh water. Very sugary water is denser than an egg. You're given an egg and asked to determine which glass contains the sugar water without tasting the water. • • • What you need What to do What's happening Someone puts two glasses of water in front of you and tells you one is fresh water.Sugar and eggs Which is the sugary water? Use an egg to find out which glass of water contains sugar using the science of density. Carefully lower the egg into each jar. such as glass jars. Can you figure out a way of creating a solution which is sugary at the bottom and fresh at the top? The egg would then 'float' midway . Add a tablespoon of sugar to the water in one jar then stir until it has dissolved. the other is very sugary water. Does it float or sink? What's happening By adding sugar to water you increase the density of the water. What to do Pour about seven centimetres of water into each jar. Try it yourself with a range of sugary solutions. How would you do it? What you need To do this activity you will need to gather: • • • • an egg (uncooked) sugar hot water two containers. while fresh water is less dense than an egg. This is called a saturated solution. Repeat this until no more sugar will dissolve into the water.
squeeze the nut inside the balloon. 3. Stop spinning and listen. What to do 1. swirl it around and around. You will need To do this activity you will need the following items: • • Balloon Hex nut .spinning around and around. What's happening The spooky sound is made when the sides of the hex nut scrape quickly around the inside of the balloon. Before you blow the balloon up. This makes the balloon and hex nut vibrate. With your whole hand firmly holding the top of the balloon. Then blow up the balloon and tie off the end. as it wants to keep doing what it is doing .Spooky screaming balloon Can you make the balloon scream? Illustration by: Ed Radclyffe Follow these instructions to make your own screaming balloon and learn about inertia. The hex nut keeps spinning inside the balloon even when you have stopped spinning it. This is called inertia. Make a seriously spooky sound. Feel the hairs stand up on your neck.this is a metal nut with six sides. and this vibration is sound that travels through the air to your ears. 2. The nut should start to spin around inside of the balloon. The hex nut will keep moving at the same speed and in the same direction until the force of friction slows it down and it falls back to the bottom of the balloon. .
Using the pencil. Cut out a triangular notch at the back of the boat with the triangle pointing towards the back of the boat. 3. with bubble power! Photo by: David McClenaghan Make a boat that uses detergent to move through the water and learn about surface tension. Gently place the boat on the water in the dish. This attraction makes the surface of the liquid act like a stretched-out balloon skin. but in fact it is being pulled by the water in front of it. 2. 5. the tension is only very slight and it is fairly easy to break through the . Carefully cut out a boat shape from the cardboard (around 8 centimetres long by 6 centimetres wide). In water.The soap-propelled boat Watch it go. the molecules of the liquid are attracted to each other. pencil or eye dropper. What to do 1. 4. In many liquids. Any point on the surface of a liquid is under tension. toothpick or dropper. Watch your boat zip across the water! What's happening? It looks like the boat is being pushed along by the detergent. • • • What you need What to do What's happening What you need To do this activity you will need the following: • • • • • thick cardboard or thin plastic (like the lid of a margarine container) scissors a large shallow bowl or a baking dish full of water dishwashing liquid a toothpick. place a drop of detergent into the notch at the back of the boat.
but if you have ever done a 'belly-flop' into a swimming pool. surface tension pulls the boat in every direction. The tension at the front pulls the boat forward. You may find the boat only works once or twice. you have felt the effect of surface tension. When you add the detergent.surface. This is just because the water mixes with the detergent you have dropped in. . so the surface tension of the water in the container is reduced and it can't pull the boat as well. Different liquids have different amounts of surface tension. the surface tension at the back is reduced. Normally. so it travels further. The triangular notch helps the boat drag a little bit of the detergent with it. A mixture of water and detergent (or soap) has much less surface tension than water.
Follow these instructions for a static electricity activity that demonstrates positive and negative charges. On the other hand.Static electricity It's an attractive activity. Spread out the torn-up pieces of paper. Hold the balloon near the things on the table. small pieces of Styrofoam and salt on a table. What to do 1. What you need To do this activity you will need: • • • • • a balloon a woollen jumper or clean hair torn up paper pieces of Styrofoam salt. some electrons rub off onto the other object – this creates an electric charge. When you rub things together. the jumper becomes ‘positively charged’ because it has lost some electrons. What happens? What’s happening Everything around us is made of tiny particles called atoms. 3. 2. • • • • What you need What to do What's happening Applications Make small objects fly up and stick to your balloon like magic. Blow up the balloon and rub it on a woollen jumper or on your hair (your hair needs to be clean and dry). Circling around atoms are even smaller particles called electrons. and find out about static electricity with this activity. electrons from the jumper move onto balloon. When you rub the balloon. . The balloon becomes ‘negatively charged’ because it has extra electrons.
picking up the toner. and the objects drop off. So when you rub the balloon with the jumper. Dark areas on the paper don’t reflect light back onto the drum.The more you rub the balloon. it neutralises the positive charge. After a while the balloon loses its charge. Negatively charged black particles called toner are spread over the drum and stick to the positively charged areas of the drum. Static electricity is different to the electricity used to power your lights at home – static electricity has no currents running through it and doesn’t use wires. . The light reflects off the white areas of the paper and hits the drum below. creating a copy of the original image. Applications Photocopiers work by using static electricity. When you copy an image. Heating and pressing the paper fuses the toner to the paper. Have you ever heard the phrase ‘opposites attract’? Things that have opposite charges attract each other better than a charged object attracting a neutral object (one with no charge). Inside a photocopier is a special drum that has a positive charge that can be affected by light. there is a stronger attraction between the (positive) jumper and the (negative) balloon than between the (neutral) paper and the (negative) balloon. The objects on the table react to the charge by becoming attracted to the balloon. so these areas of the drum remain positively charged. Where light hits the drum. a light beam moves across the page. Positively charged paper is then passed across the drum. the more static electricity you build up.
What do you see? What's happening Modern movies use technology to produce an optical illusion and fool our brains. This is called persistence of vision. draw an arrow (or pick two other related pictures like a fish and a fishbowl). On the other side of the cardboard. 4. The brightness of an image also affects the length of time the image will remain in your brain. your brain will merge the separate images into a series of moving images. Follow these instructions to make your own thaumatrope. 5. Roll the straw back and forth between the palms of your hands. If you are shown more than ten pictures a second. . • • What to do What's happening What to do 1. Use sticky tape to attach the circle onto a straw. while you look at the cardboard. 2.Make a thaumatrope Merge two pictures into one. 3. When you look at a picture. Cut a circle from a piece of cardboard. Use the thaumatrope to explore persistence of vision and learn how movies work. Motion pictures show 24 still frames per second that give the illusion of smooth motion. On one side draw a head with an apple on it. your eye and brain retain the image for a fraction of a second after it has gone.
The top of the straw should be sitting well above the mouth of the bottle.sxc. 3. Blow a little air through the straw into the bottle so that the coloured water to rises up into the straw above the stopper. wire.Home made thermometers What happens when it warms up? Photo from www. Holding the straw in place. You may need to add more water depending on the size of your bottle and length of your straw. • • • What you need What to do What's happening What you need To do this activity you will need to gather: • • • • • • • • a tomato sauce or mayonnaise squeeze bottle* plasticine or adhesive putty a clear. tightly seal around the straw and the top of the bottle with plasticine. 2. What to do 1. Be careful when you blow into the straw. Place the bottom of a straw in the bottle so it touches the water. *You can also use a plastic container or bottle with a water-tight lid but you will need to make a hole in the lid. 4. . Half fill the bottle with water and add a few drops of food colouring. narrow drinking straw food colouring a waterproof marking pen water a wooden skewer. Be careful not to crush the straw. If you blow too much air into the bottle a jet of water will squirt back at you.hu Follow these instructions to make your own thermometer and learn about expansion and contraction. or pipe cleaner (optional) an eye-dropper (optional).
. When the air inside the bottle expands.5. The coloured water will then be pushed back down the straw by the pressure of the air outside. the particles that make up the gas absorb heat energy and begin to move faster. Standard thermometers use alcohol. 10. so it will measure temperature below freezing. Mark the level of the water in the straw with a pen. If the water level in the straw drops. 6. You need to make sure you have no leaks in your seal. 9. Adults might have noticed that when some alcohols are stored in the freezer at home they remain a liquid. What happens to the water level in the straw? 7. This causes the gas to expand. A bulb thermometer uses a very small amount of liquid so that it changes temperature quite easily and the tube is extremely small. If you raise the temperature of a gas. What's happening The thermometer uses the fact that most things expand as they warm up and contract when they cool down. it means air is escaping through the seal. You may need to use an eye-dropper to add water to the straw so the water level is about five centimetres above the top of the bottle. Place the bottle in the fridge and after about ten minutes take it out and look at the water level in the straw. Be careful not to place plastic too close to a heat source or it will melt. What do you notice about the water level in the straw? 11. When you cool the air again. Liquid alcohol contracts upon cooling and expands upon heating. A simple bulb thermometer works on a similar principle involving the expansion of liquids. When there is water in the straw you may need to remove any air bubbles inside the straw by moving a skewer up and down in the straw. so slight changes are easily noticed. it loses energy and decreases the pressure. pushing down on the liquid inside the bottle and pushing more liquid up the straw. Cup your hands around the bottle or place it near something warm in the room. 8. You have now calibrated your thermometer to room temperature. the pressure inside the bottle increases. Alcohol has a lower freezing point than water.
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