Penny Batteries Part II: A Wee Success

Wait! Is the bulb lighting? I can't tell!
Is the bulb lighting? Hard to tell. This shows a four-cell battery using pennies and zinc washers.

posted by Beret

Remember my penny battery debacle?

I decided to hunker back down in my laboratory (aka, basement) to see if I could get the darn thing to finally work. I approached the project with a new tool:  very, very low expectations. I am beginning to think that may be the secret to success in a variety of situations.      Continue reading “Penny Batteries Part II: A Wee Success”

Dry Ice: Not just for Halloween anymore

©2013 Beret Olsen
Sublimation rocks! A glass of warm water accelerates the process.                                                     (See Bubbles and Fog, below)                                                                          ©2013 Beret Olsen

posted by Beret

Ages: 6 and up. Actually, any age is probably ok, as long as your kid can wear goggles and gloves and responds appropriately to “No!” and “Don’t touch that!”

Included in this post:

Continue reading “Dry Ice: Not just for Halloween anymore”

Ice Cream in a Bag!

©2013 Beret Olsen
©2013 Beret Olsen

posted by Beret

Ages: Any, though the very young will get tired of shaking long before the ice cream is ready.

My kids never took to Sesame Street, or Mickey Mouse, or the Disney Channel; they didn’t care for children’s movies, either. For the most part, I appreciated that, and enjoyed my Dora-free existence. It did become an issue, however, when I desperately needed to make a phone call, or do my homework, or even just have five minutes of unchaperoned time in the bathroom.

As the girls got older, they got better at amusing themselves from time to time, but sick days remained problematic. I would eventually run out of patience with Barbies (for the moderately ill) and with ladling tea and stroking hair (for the flu victims). Unfortunately, my youngest was frequently fighting some bug or another. I heard myself asking: please, please, wouldn’t you like to watch twenty minutes of television? Sadly, no.

But one day last January, my seven-year-old got a glimpse of the Food Network. Now I have that “be careful what you wish for,” kind of feeling. “That’s not how you do a chiffonade,” Josie told me later, as I chopped mint for the top of a fruit salad. “I think there has been a misunderstanding,” she said another time, catching me frosting her fancy ganache-filled mocha birthday cupcakes with a tub of Betty Crocker vanilla.

What can I possibly make for dinner now, when both girls are glued to Iron Chef Morimoto‘s every move?    Continue reading “Ice Cream in a Bag!”

Lemon Batteries!

©2013 Beret Olsen
©2013 Beret Olsen

(A.K.A. Part Two of Operation Rebuilding)

posted by Beret

Ages: 6 and up

After my recent declaration that taking things apart is the best way to learn how they work, I feel a little sheepish announcing that YOU SHOULD NOT TAKE BATTERIES APART. All is not lost, though. Now that we know what is needed to make an electrical circuit–see part one: energy source, energy path, and energy receivers–let’s build our own battery and put it to work.     Continue reading “Lemon Batteries!”