Yearly Archives: 2014
As the planet’s newest inhabitants, discovery, play, and learning is every kid’s job. Encourage this with a fun science activity for kids! Without knowing it, children follow the scientific method in their everyday activities:
- First they make an observation: “Whenever I drop my sippy cup on the ground, mom picks it up.”
- Then they formulate a hypothesis: “Mom thinks it’s fun to pick stuff up off the ground.”
- Now for the prediction: “If I drop my plate of spaghetti on the ground, mom will pick that up too.”
- To test the hypothesis: “let’s give that plate of spaghetti a little shove!”
- Finally, observations are made and the hypothesis is revised: “Oh, mom howled and the dog ate my spaghetti. Not exactly what I expected – but that was fun for me!”
Try the “The Prediction Game” to stimulate your kid’s sense of discovery and train them to follow the scientific method. It’s pretty simple – Ask a question about the world that is immediately testable. Then each person in the room formulates their own prediction about the potential outcome. Test it and see whose prediction is closest to correct. Some example questions are:
- What color will we get if we mix red, yellow, and blue together? (Try various color combos)
- Will that fridge magnet stick to the kitchen wall? (Magnets are awesome)
- Do peas float or sink in water? (This is a fun test for lots of different objects!)
- Hold a yo-yo at the end of its string and let it swing back and forth. If you shorten the yo-yo’s string, will it swing faster or slower than before?
- Will the ice melt faster on the sink or in the fridge? (or in your mouth)
- How many licks does it take to get to the center of that tootsie pop? (Three of course)
It’s really interesting to ask why they are predicting a certain outcome. The answer to the “why” question is essentially their working hypothesis. “Dad, the peas will sink because all green things sink in water.” Interesting. Further testing is needed.
Please, comment below and leave your ideas for cool questions to ask kids when playing The Prediction Game!
We recently got a new car seat, after way too many hours of frustrating research, and I’m pretty sure we found the easiest-to-use car seat ever made. My initial plan was to find a car seat that would let us use the LATCH lower anchors for our 5 year old, 40-lb girl, because I thought that would be the most convenient and safe method. For those who aren’t familiar, LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, and it’s a set of metal anchors in your vehicle seats. You can attach your car seat to these anchors instead of using the vehicle seat belt to strap in the car seat.
The LATCH anchors are nice and convenient, but unfortunately most have a child weight limit substantially lower than today’s car seats. To make matters worse, it’s not very easy to find out what that limit is. Different vehicle and car seat manufacturers have different limits (or no published limits), and it can be confusing to figure out which limit applies to your combination of vehicle and car seat.
Here are the main things that I learned while researching my car seat:
- It is always safe to install a car seat using the vehicle seat belt, provided you follow both car seat and vehicle manuals and can get a secure fit. LATCH lower anchors don’t make the installation safer, just easier to get a good fit.
- If your child weighs 40 pounds or more, you need to check if you can still use LATCH lower anchors to install the car seat. This post at Car Seats for the Littles explains it all and has handy tables summarizing the limits for different vehicle and car seat manufacturers.
- The Britax Frontier 90 and Pinnacle 90 car seats have an innovative method of installation using the vehicle seat belt that I found to be even easier than LATCH. This 30-second video shows just how simple it is. (We did not receive any compensation for this post, I’m just excited about our new car seat and the innovation behind the product.)
- Don’t forget about the top tether when you’re installing a forward-facing car seat. There is some confusion about when to use it, so check your vehicle and car seat manuals.
- To ensure safety for your particular situation, you should have your car seat installation checked by a certified inspector (often free of charge). Here is a link to find one near you: http://www.nhtsa.gov/apps/cps/index.htm
I’m very happy with my Britax car seat purchase. I had no idea how easy they could make a vehicle seat belt installation. There is no kneeling on car seats or tugging at seat belts – it’s actually easier than installing a typical car seat with the LATCH lower anchors. They recognized all the confusion over these LATCH weight limits, and developed a seat that bypasses all of it by making it so simple and secure to install without LATCH. It’s a groundbreaking product with some great engineering.
Kids remind us that the world is a pretty interesting place—so many things to learn, explore and experience. It doesn’t take much to join in the fun, especially when you are learning along with them. Sometimes the simplest things can teach us a lot about how the world works.
As engineers, we love figuring out how to use our understanding of the world and make things that works for us. The concept of the Sip & SpinTM came from the desire to create a product that performs better and is more fun than any other cup in the world. Let’s talk about how it works.
Did you know that every square inch of your body is experiencing about 15 pounds of force right now! That’s literally tons of force acting on you from head to toe. Gravity is pulling all of the air in the sky above you and trying to squish you with it. So, why don’t you feel squished? Our bodies are used to the air pressure – the pressure inside our ears, stomach, and lungs is the same as the air pressure outside, so we don’t feel crushed.
We can truthfully say that the Sip & SpinTM is jet powered! As the water moves up the straw and into the disc area, it passes through a specially sized hole that creates a fast moving water jet.
That fast moving stream of water (the jet) pushes and pulls on the disc, using friction to drag the disc along with it, causing the disc to spin. You may have thought that friction is always bad, but it can be harnessed for good, too.
Are you surprised that a slippery liquid generates friction? The water molecules in the jet (and everywhere) can be thought of as tiny magnets. As the water molecules pass by one another, they push at each other with their inertia and pull at each other with their “magnetic” (inter-molecular) forces. They also push and pull at the disc surface too.
So your kiddo is utilizing the forces of nature to develop jet power, forcing the disc to spin! That’s pretty cool, and she gets a refreshingly fun drink of water in the process. If you are like us, the joy of learning about how stuff works is equaled only by the joy of teaching what we know to our little ones.
Stay tuned as we tool up and start producing the first real Sip & SpinTM cups in the next few months.
Good. Healthy. Fun.