Ask Mr. Science
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Intro

During the 1996-97 school year, I spent an hour every week in Linda Waidler's 3rd-4th grade class at Wood-Gormley Elementary (randomly chosen because my daughter was in it), answering any science question the children might have. The next year, I did the same in Shirley Esquibel's 3rd-grade class (by coincidence, my son was in that class), and I've been doing the Science Hour ever since. Even though my kids have moved up and on, I still go to WG Elementary, in recent years to 6th-grade classes.

As my kids grew up, I found that in middle and high schools, you can go to a science class maybe once or twice a year, but you cannot steal an hour every week from a science teacher - there just is not enough time. Also, in a primary school class you reach all kids, not just the ones in science class.

My activities are part of a larger effort in the Santa Fe school district to match up the talents of active and retired scientists, engineers and mathematicians with the needs of the local schools. The Santa Fe Alliance For Science has about 100 such volunteers. Here is one-page article describing the alliance.

Here I have a growing number of pages with subjects that have come up, and elaborate on some demonstrations I came up with to explain some of the concepts. In addition, I usually find a bunch of web links on the subject, so that children (parents, teachers) can do a bit more reading and learning.

I keep these pages for different audiences:

  • For the children, so can read over some subjects again, and follow the links I found to get more background info, and pictures.
  • For the parents, so they can see what goes on in class during the science hour.
  • For fellow science teachers, that may run across them and might find them useful
  • Having done this for a few years now, these pages are a handy archive for myself. I can quickly look up what I need for a demo.
I'd like to hear from all. Don't be shy. What is special is that I am a scientist, not a teacher, and I do not have a lot of equipment (and neither does the school). The demonstrations therefore use simple materials I find in my kitchen, shop and yard. This is mostly no-tech science, but you'd be surprised what you can do with cardboard, duct tape and paper clips.

I typically update these pages every week during the schoolyear, as questions come in, and rework older paragraphs. These pages are in constant flux, as is everything on the web, of course.

This years' questions
Science fair projects

 
 
Keyword index
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N
O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A air
air pressure
air, making a lens out of
air, speed of sound in warm, cold ~
air, weight of
aliens
am and fm
ants, why are they so strong
astronomy
atmosphere
aurora
B balance (inner ear)
batteries
black holes
blue sky
braking cars
building
buoyancy
C car brakes
carsick
chemical composition of the body
chemistry: periodic table
climate change
clocks, pendulum
clouds, how do they form
comets
composition of the body
computers
construction of buildings
counting (seeds)
cyclotron, making a wooden
D density of air
dna
doghair
dvd, information on a
E earth interior
earth, weight of
earth, what happend if it gets cut in half
earthquakes
eclipse, lunar, solar
electricity
electricity and magnetism
Electricity, static
elements: periodic table
error, margins of
evaporation
evolution
exoplanets
eye, how does it work
F fibers, optical
fibonacci numbers
fly in a car
fruit
fur, why do dogs have
fusion in the sun
G genetics
glaciation\
global warming
gravity
gravity (black holes)
green leaves
H heliostat
helium ,breathing
higgs hunting
how many stars are there
hurricane
I ice ages
ice, slippery
ice, why does it float
inertia
infinity
inner ear (balance)
insects
insects, will they outlive humans
interference of waves
K kuiper belt
L laser wavelength
leap years
leaves, green
lens, making one out of air
lenses
life expectancy
light refraction
liquid nitrogen
liquid surface tension
longevity
M magnetic field of the earth
magnetism, electricity and
mantle
margins of error
mercury, the transit of
meteorites
minor planets
mirages
momentum, conservation of
moon, phases of
movie wheels going backwards
music making
mutations
N neptune and Pluto
nicholas, saint
nitrogen, liquid
O optical fibers
optics
ozone hole
P pendulums
people, what are they made of
periodic table
phases of the moon
planets
plants, green
plate tectonics
pluto and Neptune
pressure, air
Q quarks
R radio fm and am
rainbows
raindrop shapes
records (LP, 78..)
rockets
S sand grains, more than stars
scaling, strength of ants
seeds, how many
shooting stars
shrinking balloons
sinterklaas
size of everything
skin, functions of
sky , blue
slippery ice
soap films
sound
sound recording
sound speed in cold air
sound, speed of
speed of sound
stars, how many
stars, twinkle
static electricity
subatomic particles
sun
sunbeam projector
sunspots
surface tenson
survival, insects and humans
T tectonics, plate
the birds in the truck
tornado
total internal reflection
transit of mercury
twinkling stars
U ufo's
universe, the end of the
V Van de Graaf Generator
Very Large Array
voice: breathing helium
Voltage, High
W warm
water rockets
wavelength of laser pointer
waves, am and fm
waves, interference
weather
web pages, making
weight of the earth
wheels going backwards in movies
Why do tigers have stripes
words
Y y2k
yearm 2000
years, leap


 
Chronological index:

on page 2 which fruit has the most seeds
Does everything have a name?
How do rockets fly?
Why is the sky blue
on page 3 comets
sound
eclipses, and phases of the moon
evolution
on page 4 black holes
electricity and magnetism
aurora
on page 5 observing sunspots
# meta
sunspots
weather
static electricity
wimshurst machine
why are ants so strong
on page 6 what happens if the earth gets cut in half
margins of error
how many stars are there
how come people and dogs live longer now
on page 7 the ozone hole
global warming
meteorites
on page 8 why does ice float
how much does air weigh
why do dogs have fur
balloons and air pressure
on page 9 how does the eye work
how do clouds form
measuring the speed of sound
is the speed of sound the same in warm and cold air
on page 10 lenses and simple optics
waves and interference
am and fm waves
on page 11 gravity
mirages
what happens when you come to the end of the universe
on page 12 why are leaves green
the transit of mercury
what will happen in y2k
earthquakes
on page 13 insects
how do batteries work
why is ice slippery
how do pendulums work
on page 14 how long does it take for a car to stop
measuring the wavelength of your laser pointer
will insects outlive humans
surface tension
on page 15 about building
evaporation
on page 16 fibonacci numbers
the shape of raindrops
on page 17 making web pages
are there more grains of sand than stars
how do rainbows work
on page 18 why do wheels sometimes going backward in movies
how does the sun work
skin
How do they get so much information on a DVD
on page 19 the birds in the truck
a fly in a car
how much does the earth weigh
on page 10 Why does your voice sound funny when you breathe helium?
Why do stars twinkle
Making a lens out of air?
on page 21 Making a woodel cyclotron?
Why do you get carsick?
A Heliostat
on page 22 evolution
on page 23 the size of everything
sinterklaas
genetics and dna
on page 24 what are people made of
do aliens exist
what are quarks
on page 25 will Pluto and Neptune ever collide
why do we have leap years
fun with liquid nitrogen
on page 26 the periodic table
how do computers work
hunting the Higgs
ice ages
on page 27 planets
Fun with a Van de Graaff generator
on page 28 making music
interior of the earth
skin
total internal reflection







Suggestions, comments, greetings are greatly appreciated.
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Last update 15 May 2005 - HvH
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