October 22, 2007
October 03, 2007
Our stall presented some simple ice experiments, focusing on the increasing meltdown of the Arctic icecap. And kids and adult alike could make their own UV critter for free. Luckily it was two sunny days, and the kids were running around outside the tent after visiting us, to test their UV beads.
SciencePub, a collaborative Polar Year science project between geologists, archeologists and science centers, shared the second place with us. Being a member of the SciencePub project, it was a tribute to us as well. They had a sandbox where kids could excavate real archeological items found in Northern Norway.
The winner was Medical Faculty, bringing a infrared camera to the Faire. I want one for our Science center! It is an excellent way to display the difference in temperature between the body core and the limbs. I am one of those with constant cold hands and feet, and this cam clearly visualize that I have cold feet and a warm heart.
The week after we visited another faire at Finnsnes, with the same topics as in Tromsø. We also visited a TechFest at Skjervøy the same week, where all 4th and 10th graders in five counties were offered a variety of science activities in one day.
September 09, 2007
The main topic this year is Melting ice - climate change. We are focusing on Melting ice, doing ice-related experiments with the kids. And we are focusing on pollution, the ozone layer and UV radiation. Everyone visiting us at the Faire in Tromsø and in Finnsnes, can build and keep their own UV critter. The University of Tromsø and Nysgjerrigper/The Norwegian Research Counsil are sponsors of the UV beads. Thanks!
To prepare our contribution to the Faires, I have been busy today preparing some decorations and large scale instructional critters. It was much more laborous to complete than the normal size UV animals, but I had fun doing it. And I think the giant critters (named UVar and Åmund) turned out rather well, and quite alike the original instructional drawing made by Anne. The bigger ones have "bead" size 5 cm, the smaller ones 3 cm. In the middle you see the original UV critter, made by UV sensitive ponybeads, and the material pack we will offer at the Fair.
September 05, 2007
August 29, 2007
At Jay Leno a couple of months ago, Josh Duhamel demonstrated the behaviour of a different gas heavier than the components of air. He described it as "anti-helium", the correct name is SF 6 (Sulfur Hexafluoride). This is a nice demonstration at science shows. The gas is harmless to people (in moderate doses), but harms the ozone layer. So please consider the risks for the environment if you wish to use this demo.
August 26, 2007
August 12, 2007
July 05, 2007
June 26, 2007
Last week the big ones started peeping out the hole, clinging onto the wall, flapping their wings or simply standing on eachothers heads. And Friday the two bold ones were gone, leaving the two minors to guard the nest. Next morning they too had flown the nest, and fortunately we got takes of these two nestlings trials and successful escapes. The last three days (22/6, 21/7) of film is now finally up at our website, but we still have hours of raw footage to edit of the days prior to the 21st.
The webshops suggests making a simple bracelet of the beads, and that works well with small kids. For kids aged 7 and up (and boys who don't want to use bracelets), a colleague of mine, Anne Bruvold, has made a different product of the pony beads. She has called it "The UV Animal" (UVdyret), and here is a description of how to make it:
June 14, 2007
What has happened to the dead ones has been an enigma. I saw one chicken being carried out by a parent, and the day after I was able to catch on film an even more bizarre episode. As the day before, one of the parents tried to bring a dead chicken outside, but was unable to get it out. After a long fight to succeed, it gave up and tilted the dead one back into the nest. And apparently it then started eating from it. If you want to see this for yourself, you can find the movie here.
Warning; may not be suitable for sensitive adults - kids seem to cope with this in a more natural way! (According to my 7 year old son who was with me when this happened, calling me a sissy!)
June 11, 2007
And sad to say, my worries were justified. When I came to work this morning, I could only count six chicken. It was rainy today, and rather poor light conditions inside the box, so I could only count their open beaks when the parents brought them food. So I concluded that one of the chicken had died. And at two o'clock this was confirmed. I could not get it on tape, but one of the parents suddenly grabbed the dead chicken (which was still inside the nestbox) in its beak and carried it outside. It was a tough battle for the adult, it seemed almost to heavy and to bulky to bring through the drilled hole, and it had to try several times before it succeded.
It was sad and rather weird to be an eye witness to this, which probably happens each year in most nests. Being human I've got at weak spot for this small family, even if I know they are simple creatures which don't have feelings the way people do. And I hope the rest of them survives, at least long enough to leave the nest and see the world outside their small closure.
June 08, 2007
Since then we've monitored them closely, and taken films and photographs daily. They change remarkably from day to day, and now being one week old they have huge problems cramming into the tiny nest. The last egg never hatched, and it was probably the one that was laid last. Shortly after the hatching this last egg disappeared, and we don't know if it was removed from the nest or simply eaten. I've read elsewhere that the female adult eat the egg shells after hatching, probably to refill her calcium reserves.
May 30, 2007
May 22, 2007
May 21, 2007
May 09, 2007
May 08, 2007
Svalbard has had some news coverage lately. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, nicknamed the "Doomsday Vault" by the media, is being built as we speak, outside Longyearbyen at an abandoned mine. The Arctic Seed Vault will rescue and store 95% of the biological diversity of the world's food crops, and will function as a backup for many of the international gene banks around the world. Several gene banks are vulnerable because of inadequate maintenance capacity, natural disasters or conflicts.
The Seed Vault is organized and run by the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which has recieved £ 16.8 million from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and £ 4.2 million in matching funds from the Minestry of Foreign Affairs. This is sufficient to deposit 450 000 distinct seed samples in the Svalbard Vault, securing 21 of the world's most important food crops. The Trust was founded by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation and Biodiversity International, aiming to conserve the biological diversity of food crops in developing countries.
May 01, 2007
April 27, 2007
- learning the history and technology of toys
- learning and doing the design process
- making, testing and improving the toys
As you can see on the photo to the right, the mechanichs is a set of wheels with a small piece of wood glued between them. The wheels are attached to the monstershell via rubberbands, glued to the wheels as well. To make sure the rubberbands are firmly attached to the wheels, put a matchstick with glue on in between the two rubber ends. After the glue has dried and hardened, cut off the part of the matchstick sticking out of the wheel hole.
April 22, 2007
April 18, 2007
April 17, 2007
April 15, 2007
Considering that 70 % of the earth surface is covered with oceans, it might not come as a surprise that you will find it hard to hit land wherever you start digging. Only small parts of the landmasses are placed opposite land, like the southern part of South America and South-East Asia. If you start digging from Tromsø, where I live, you would end up midsea between South America, Australia and Antarctica. Very far from China! So who started this myth, anyway?
April 12, 2007
They are a part of the Lego generation, just as I am. I must admit, I still play with it. I play with my son, and I play at work. There are many like me out there. This winter we have been amused by an elderly man working at the University and sharing office space with us. He has bought two Lego NXT robots, to play with his grandson, and he enjoys it so much he keeps chatting about it all the time, with great enthusiasm. He makes us smile, and wish for many playful years ahead.
The Science Center organize the local First Lego League contest each year. Over the years we have observed the participating teams and seen a trend across the teams. They were all mixed teams with both girls and boys, and all collaborated in the same manner. The girls wrote the log and prepared the presentation, while the boys built and programmed the robot. Does it sound familiar?
I have had success with the ingredients mentioned below, and the procedure (in Norwegian) can be found at Nysgjerrigper.no (written by Hanne Finstad).
a sample of something living
detergent (soap of some sort, containing sodium lauryl sulphate)
There are plenty of good resources on this in english too, the research language above all. I have probably only seen a small percentage of them, but here are a few excellent sites:
How to extract DNA from anything living The University of Utah (with a funny twist)
DNA extraction The Gene School (good explanations)
How to extract DNA from fruits Fun Science Gallery (descriptive photos)
April 11, 2007
It turned out to be one of our most popular events ever, based upon the feedback we got from the kids and their parents. The parents were very impressed of what the kids had managed to build.
The games we made required cutting and shaping plastics, assemblying and soldering the electronics, and shaping and mounting the wire. With some help from the adults, even the youngest ones at 9 managed to make stylish looking, fully functioning toys. The games we made were based upon the instructions from a Norwegian book called "Trigger - teknologi og designboka" (2006) written by Eva Celine Jørgensen, Svein Briså and Rolf Ingebrigtsen.
If you want to make one of your own, and have problems with my native tongue Norwegian, do not worry! There are plenty of kits available at various internet stores; just google buzz wire game or steady hand game.
And if you want to do as we did; make it from scratch, there are options out there for you too. Here are a few, varying in difficulty level:
April 10, 2007
April 05, 2007
Here is what you do: Inflate lots of balloons to the same size. Turn a table upside down and place it on top of the balloons. One by one, step carefully onto the table, make sure to keep the table in balance. How many can you cram onto the table before the first balloon pops? Let me know!
It is a nice demonstration of the strength of air and it can be compared to the tires of cars, filled with air and withstanding the weight of several tonns.