Saturday, July 22, 2006

Freaks of Nature

Joshua has started working through his crystal experiment set (that he got for Christmas!).

His first experiment was to make stalagtites and stalagmites.

Note for future reference: trying to conduct an experiment that involves the slow evaporation of water, is not a good idea on the hottest July day on record.

Needless to say, the experiment at first looked like it wasn't working. We had a large puddle of water on the top of the kit, and no sign of a drip lasting long enough to make any deposits! All the salty water kept filling up the holes that the wooden sticks were in - and you can see from the photo that the sticks soaked up that water..

However, by day two we were beginning to see some crystalisation.

The heat had reduced slightly and the kitchen was cooler than the day before. Note that the string is beginning to be weighted down by the salt crystals forming along it. You can also see that the water that has soaked up the wooden sticks is drying out and salt crystals are forming on the sticks. Ok, so not in the original plans for the experiment, but we were still learning. Like all home ed really.

This is how it is looking today, on day 3.

Rather unorthodox results, but fascinating nevertheless! The sticks and the string are coated in salt crystals and we even have a stalagtite!

I think the adults (as always with HE!) have enjoyed watching the experiment as much as the boys did. Talking of science, courtesy of Planet Science, here is the thought for the day:

Prof Dwight Barkley of Warwick University has apparently calculated a mathematical formula for exactly when a child in a car will ask this question.

The formula is:

One plus The number of activities to do in the car divided by the number of children squared, and then add that number to the time it took to get in the car and set off. We are assuming in hours & decimals of hours.
As you know, the UK has been suffering under unusually high temperatures (for us). The boys had taken advantage of the hot and dry days to take me up on a suggestion: they took their four railway track sets (brio, happy tracks, ertl and tomy) and built a rail network. Each boy built their own "branch line" and then the tomy track (the blue one) was used to create an intercity loop which connected to each "town"! They had a fabulous time and the game has lasted for several days.

However, last night they begged not to have to put it away (its been left out 3 days/nights running) even when I pointed out that it was due to rain. I capitulated.

It rained. Well, we had a thunderstorm in the early hours of the morning and several hours of reasonable rain.

So, this morning I went out with the boxes and a towel to dismantle the tracks and dry them off to put away.

To our amazement, despite all the rain, when we picked up the track there were clear marks in the grass that were bone dry! Another HE science lesson followed!


stef_n_dawniy said...

that's really cool !!

Lucy said...

Love seeing that amazing network they built - architects of the future obviously!! Amazing marks left in the grass too - dread to think what it's going to be like when we take the tent down in our garden :)

Alice said...

Mmm - beats crop circles!
What super crystals, too. I love the little 'crystal gardens' or trees which often find their way into Christmas stockings here - though sadly they have created a few family rifts when accidentally knocked over.
Sounds like you're having a good summer :-)
Alice (yes, me again - somewhat back in circulation!)