A Light at the Smithsonian: Notes from a Spectroscopist

Alex Scheelineby Alex Scheeline

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, on the national mall in Washington, D.C., has an exhibit on Thomas Edison that includes the development of electricity and lighting, and, more generally, invention.  One area that I saw in late 2017 had a set of lamps, including a low-pressure sodium vapor lamp, a mercury lamp, an incandescent lamp, and a compact fluorescent lamp.

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The Sun Is Pretty Hot Stuff!

Ted Beyer, Educational Innovations, Inc.by Ted Beyer

The sun is, on average, about 93,000,000 miles (149,668,992 kilometers) away from us.  That’s pretty darn far.  In fact, if the sun went out right now, we would not know about it for about eight minutes.  Not to worry, that’s not going to be a thing to fret about for quite a while—a couple of billion years last time I checked.

That huge (try 109 times as big as Earth) ball of fusion reactor up in our sky is arguably responsible for all of the energy we use on Earth.  Not just solar power, but all of it.  Fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas) were created from ancient plant and animal matter—which all lived because of the sun.

The Sun Is Pretty Hot Stuff! Educational Innovations Blog

  Image source: Stanford Solar Center

Hydropower is only possible because of the water cycle (best look that one up on your own, they won’t let me make these posts too long).  Wind power relies on, well, wind—and that is a byproduct of the warming and cooling of the atmosphere—and that’s the sun doing that warming too.  Atomic power uses heavy elements like Uranium, which was created in the hearts of suns.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

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UV Sensitive Putty: Wonder and Curiosity in a Can

Electricity from Mud?! Educational Innovations Blogby Nancy Foote

It’s always fun to put a new item on the curiosity table to see how my students will react.  The newest addition was Arctic Flare UV Sensitive Putty, a gift from our friends at Educational Innovations.

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EI TV – Summer Science!

Educational Innovations Newsletter - EI TVDuring the summer, we love getting outdoors and soaking up the rays (with sunscreen, of course)!  Before you head outside, take a look at our hand-picked summer science videos.  If you have your own favorite summer science video ideas, please share them with us in the comments section below!

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Summer Science Humor

Educational Innovations Newsletter - Humor

Relax!  School is out and it’s time for some fun. Pour yourself an ice-cold lemonade, get settled into your favorite chair (or hammock) and enjoy our sizzling collection of summer science humor.  You might also get a kick out our UV Light humor page, from a previous issue of our newsletter.

If you have a favorite cartoon or joke, we invite you to share it as a comment below.

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