Ok. Admit it. We tend to think of scientists as people who talk in big words about stuff we don’t understand. How does astrophysics or molecular biology really apply to my life? The truth is science is all around us every day in every way. It covers the mundane to the magnificent in our lives.
In late April, top executives gathered in New York City at the Edison Awards to celebrate and honor those goods and services of 2012 deemed most innovative. The Edison Awards™ have recognized and honored some of the most innovative products and business leaders in America. This award symbolizes the persistence and excellence personified by Thomas Alva Edison. Being recognized with an Edison Award has become one of the highest accolades a company can receive.
Ranging from child-centric healthcare imaging systems, to exoskeletons that help patients with spinal cord injuries walk, to popcorn that makes its own bowl in the microwave, award winning products and services came in all types and all levels of complexity. While maybe not quite up there with the Quirkles Gilbert Gas (just kidding), here are but a few of the ones we deemed most interesting. In all seriousness, we are incredibly thankful for scientists and companies that innovate to make our lives better and our economy strong. (2012 Edison Awards for Innovation)
Is Your Brain “Full?”
Ever feel like your brain is on overload and just too full? We all probably do—particularly at the end of a school year if you are a teacher! (Maybe you feel that way at the end of the summer as a parent!) However, here’s the real science skinny on our brain’s capacity, according to Paul Reber, professor of Psychology at Northwestern University.
The human brain consists of about one billion neurons. Each neuron forms about 1,000 connections to other neurons, amounting to more than a trillion connections. If each neuron could only help store a single memory, running out of space might be a problem. You could end up with only a few gigabytes of storage space, similar to the space in an iPod or a USB flash drive.
Yet neurons combine so that each one helps with many memories at a time, exponentially increasing the brain’s memory storage capacity to something closer to around 2.5 petabytes (or a million gigabytes). For comparison, if your brain worked like a digital video recorder in a television, 2.5 petabytes would be enough to hold three million hours of TV shows. You would have to leave the TV running continuously for more than 300 years to use up all that storage.
So don’t worry! Take a deep breath, catch up on your rest and then just keep on learning, experiencing new things and making great memories. Your brain can handle it!
Make a Balloon Greenhouse
Here’s another activity we found on Pinterest that will “grow” on you. Make a greenhouse out of a balloon! All you need is a clear balloon, a funnel, a half cup of potting soil, some radish seeds and a string. Here’s the link with full instructions. Enjoy!
Humans share 60% of DNA with a banana. On that encouraging note, keep up with fun science trivia and facts on a regular basis by following our social networking pages. Also check out our science boards (Sherry Cook and Terri Johnson) on Pinterest.
Get More Fun Science Facts
Get all sorts of interesting facts and keep up with the Quirkles® via our Facebook page and other social media.
Studies have shown that during an extended summer vacation, kids can lose an average of 2.6 months worth of knowledge. There are apparently many factors that affect that learning loss percentage—grade level, subject matter (mathematical computation is particularly at risk) and family income, to name a few. We also know that teachers typically spend between four to six weeks re-teaching materials that students have forgotten during summer break.
Of course it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact summer is a time, whether at school or at home, that can offer enrichment opportunities often not available during the more structured, time-constrained school year. Pull out the Quirkles books and have fun while learning lots too. Combine science with math and throw in some related reading materials. (Additional reading suggestions are offered for each Quirkles character/activities in the Quirkles teacher guide.) In fact, whether a parent or teacher, the Quirkles Teacher Guide and More Quirkles Experiments books offer a myriad of extended activities to make every Quirkles story and science concept come alive—even beyond the story and experiments in the books.
With the bounty of summer produce and flowers from this time of year, the Quirkles Botanist Bert seems like a good place to begin a Quirkles summer read-fest. Grow broccoli (like in the Botanist Bert story) and determine the importance of light by placing one plant in sunlight and one in a darker space after the seedlings have begun to come up. Graph the results. Research the impact of music on plants. Learn about hydroponics, the technique by which plants are grown in water without soil. Have a tasting party of new and interesting fruits and vegetables available from a farmer’s market in your area. Then to top it off, make Botanist Bert’s Hairy Potato. Children can make a crazy face on their potato creature too! (Get this fun hairy potato science experiment here.)
If you haven’t tried the Mentos and Diet Coke activity, make it a patriotic event! It’s guaranteed to create plenty of oohs and ahhs from the kiddos. Get three two liter bottles of clear colored soda. (No it doesn’t really have to be Diet Coke. We prefer diet drinks though because they are less sticky.) Put red food coloring in one bottle, blue in another and leave one bottle “white” or clear. There’s a ton of science to teach with this over-the-top activity. (Read the Quirkles Gilbert Gas for a science refresher. Our smaller scaled Gilbert’s Pop Top offers basically the same science concept and can be done inside.) However, if you can be outside, by all means do this on a grand scale. Watch the KOLR video below for more instructions.
Want Free Stuff?
Download the free Quirkles coloring page and activity sheets featured in June.