Introduce your lil one to the wonders of science with a really cool kit that you'll enjoy exploring as much as your child. From learning how volcanoes erupt to the exciting (and tasty!) science of making sweet candy, these toys are perfect for introducing basic science concepts and encouraging inventing and experimentation. These kits are made for budding learners, with easy-to-use instructions and tried and tested materials. Click through for a scientifically cool collection of kits ready for experimenting.
Here's a project that's perfect for your lil science geek. Along with making something really cool, your tot will learn more about the wonders of nature and that the things we eat can also be used in different ways. Even if your child doesn't care for the flavor of mushrooms, he'll totally be a fan of this fungi after doing this crafty experiment. Gather together a few mushrooms and a sheet of paper, and you are ready to get started!
Get ready for school a little early by exploring apps geared toward your favorite subjects. To get in the education frame of mind, here are five science apps to help you discover more about how the world works and act as a guide on science-related subjects — at any level.
- The Elements: A Visual Exploration ($7): With this app, each element in the periodic table is displayed visually. Want to learn more about gold? Tap the gold nugget for an animated screen filled with facts, figures, and a crisp, 360-degree look of each element.
- Monster Anatomy HD ($19): If you're interested in anatomy or studying medicine this Fall, then you'll have to know the ins and outs of the human body. Although it's a little pricier than most apps, Monster Anatomy HD will become an indispensable part of your studies. Designed for health-care professionals and students, the app has high-quality imaging and zoom tools to identify every piece of the human body.
- Star Walk For iPad ($5): Not just for science lovers, this app is ranked among the best of the iTunes Store and is packed with features for anyone looking to surf the stars. You can even explore the night sky in real time.
- Science Glossary (free): Geared toward high-school and undergrad students, this app is an extension of Visionlearning where students (or the curious) can quickly look up science-related terms and biographies on their famous scientists. The learning modules are detailed, ensuring you don't miss a single science factoid.
- WolframAlpha ($2): You may have used this service when posing questions to Siri, but we also recommend downloading the app itself to search answers for all science and math topics. It uses a vast collection of algorithms and data to compute answers and generate reports with clear and comprehensive facts, figures, and maps.
Do you have a favorite app for exploring the sciences?
We've spent the last week glued to the Olympic happenings in London. While the world's best athletes compete for medal glory, we've been hooked on the science of the Games, downloading the best apps to keep us watching the competition from wherever we are and following the athletes themselves on Twitter. In case you missed it, check out the geek side of the Olympic fun.
There's more to Michael Phelps's 19 Olympic gold medals and Missy Franklin's spot on the medal podium than their years of hard training. They also have science on their side. In fact, the best swimmers in the world take advantage of fluid dynamics to reach for gold and beat their competitors. Using their strokes and body positions to minimize drag, top swimmers can increase thrust and reduce resistance. With the help of engineers, NBC Learn produced a 10-part video series leading up to the Games called The Science of the Summer Olympics, which features fascinating details about the more technical side of the sports on display. In this video, they explain how swimmers like Missy Franklin win gold using science, specifically fluid dynamics.
- Thrust and overcoming drag are the two key components of fluid dynamics. Thrust is what pushes a swimmer forward. Drag is the resistance of water to the motion of the body.
- Like any object looking to achieve maximum speed, such as cars or airplanes, engineers study swimmers' movements to help them move faster in the water.
- There are three types of drag: frictional drag, pressure drag, and wave drag.
- Strength and power in a swimmer's catch (the moment after your hand enters the water in front of you) are of utmost importance in order to maximize thrust.
Watch the video below to learn how engineers help explain Missy Franklin's quest for gold:
Kids' birthday party inspiration can come from anywhere, and here's scientific proof. Combining natural elements, ephemera, and lots of lab equipment and specimens, this party makes science look incredibly chic. Created by the mom behind Mini Mocha for her son, Jarrod, the eighth birthday bash is beautifully designed and filled with awesome details. Keep clicking for all the inspiration.
Source: Mini Mocha
A jaguar by any other name would still look as sweet . . . but it wouldn't technically be a jaguar. You see, even though some people call out these species interchangeably, I've zoomed into the photos from our big cats quiz to illustrate the spotty difference between the three.
- Leopard (Scientific name: Panthera pardus): These cats have a pattern that looks flower like — called rosettes — in large numbers with a slightly different color inside.
- Jaguar (Scientific name: Panthera onca): Jaguars' markings also include rosetted dots but they sometimes have spots in the center as well as a darker, thicker outline. Typically, there are larger rosettes in smaller numbers on this species.
- Cheetah (Scientific name: Acinonyx jubatus): No rosettes here, the Cheetahs have solid, evenly-distributed spots.
Go forth, kitty expert, there you have it!
A team of astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics discovered a new earth-sized planet just 40 light-years from earth that is completely covered in water. Though I immediately imagine a web-toed Kevin Costner wandering around looking for dirt to trade, Zachory Berta, who was part of the team that made the discovery, says that the planet isn't just covered by an ocean, but that there's also a "dense atmosphere of water vapor," which could make living conditions rough for humans. Dreaming of new worlds? Learn more about GJ1214b below.
- It's so hot right now — GJ1214b orbits its red-dwarf star every 38 hours at a distance of 1.3 million miles. This means that the planet has a steam temperature of 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Talk about a steam bath! According to researchers, "the high temperatures and high pressures would form exotic materials like 'hot ice' or 'superfluid water,' substances that are completely alien to our everyday experience."
- Size matters — The water planet is bigger than Earth but smaller than Uranus, coming in at about 2.7 times Earth's diameter and weighing almost seven times as much.
- It's well-traveled — Theorists believe that GJ1214b formed "farther out from its star," then traveled inward over the course of its history, landing in the system's "habitable zone."
Along with looking into the mystifying world of science, picking up a freeze-dried astronaut ice cream sandwich is one of our favorite parts of a visit to a space or science museum.
Engineer Ben Krasnow also loved those strange pieces of sweets as a kid, so much that he naturally decided to re-create the food himself in his home workshop. Now Ben's methodology, as seen in the video below, is not intended as a quick afternoon DIY. He shows us how to build our own freeze-dryer with tools easily purchased on the Internet to then transform an ordinary ice cream sandwich into its NASA-approved counterpart. Geek sugar, indeed!
The video itself is a fun lesson in the scientific properties you may have forgotten since high school, as is the rest of his YouTube channel Fun With Applied Science.