UV Radiation Activity

Tami O'Connorby: Tami O’Connor

The sun is our primary source of ultraviolet radiation, however, there are a number of artificial sources of UV light including black lights, tanning beds and mercury vapor lamps. Ultraviolet radiation is usually considered to be a bad thing for very good reasons.

Generally speaking, there are three types of UV radiation here on Earth: UVA, UVB and UVC. Though the most destructive, UVC is almost never seen in nature because the earth’s atmosphere absorbs all of it. Though less destructive, overexposure to UVB can lead to all kinds of maladies including sunburn, some forms of skin cancer and cataracts. Read the rest of this entry »

Teaching Newton’s Laws Easily

Misstamiile-aneous Scientific Principles | Teaching Newton’s Laws Easily

by: Tami O’Connor

One of the things I enjoy most about my job at Educational Innovations is conducting teacher workshops.  It’s not quite the same as being in the classroom in front of twenty-plus students, but it’s fun nonetheless.  My favorite presentation is titled, 3-2-1 Blastoff!  In it, we deal with energy, forces, and motion.  I use the Mighty Missile Launcher to demonstrate these topics.

It is exactly that…  a missile launcher.  The good news is this missile launcher can be used safely in a classroom with children from kindergarten to High School. Participants need safety glasses or goggles.

The launcher is primarily constructed of a film canister, a straw, and a balloon. The balloon has a sponge-like material inside that functions to re-inflate the balloon quickly.  The balloon is attached to the film canister so little air is able to escape.  The film canister pivots, allowing you to aim it at differing angles.  The four missiles are simply straws, sealed on one end, with foam fins that stabilize them as they fly through the air.teaching newtown's laws

I first demonstrate how the missile is launched.  The missile is loaded onto the launcher by sliding it onto the straw that is slightly less narrow than the missile.  Since the balloon is connected to the film canister, air can flow easily between the two.  Depressing the balloon forces air into the film canister and out through the attached straw.  When a missile is loaded onto the straw, the forced air propels it into the air.  The harder and more quickly the balloon is squeezed, the faster the air flows into the missile.Newton's Laws 1

Next, I make groups of three or four individuals, and I challenge my teachers to consistently land three out of four missiles inside a target area 1 meter away.  Seems like a cinch, right?  Not so fast…  As with every good science activity, there are several variables that must be controlled.  The first is the force at which the missile is launched.  The harder and faster the balloon is squeezed, the faster the air is compressed and the farther the missile travels.  The second is the angle at which the film canister points.  The greater the angle, the higher and shorter (in horizontal distance) the missile travels.


Read the rest of this entry »

Film Canister Capacitors

6769_100121036671012_100000193470961_521_4265928_nby: Norm Barstow

This is a guide on how to make a Leyden Jar that makes awesome sparks with materials you may even find in your house. It’s inexpensive, basically harmless and fun.

Here is the list of materials you will need:

  • An empty film canister with lid.  These are available at Educational Innovations.
  • Multistrand insulated wire; eg. type HPN Heater Cord
  • Single conductor/solid un-insulated wire, about 1.5 mm in diameter (16 gauge copper wire).
  • Some aluminum or copper foil. (NOTE: Any conductive foil will work. Copper foil is thicker and easier to work with than aluminum foil, but aluminum foil works. Heavy duty aluminum foil works best.
  • A bolt (10/24) with a round head that is shorter than the film canister’s height. Two nuts that fit the screw.  Washer is optional.
  • Scotch tape.

Film canister Capacitors

Read the rest of this entry »