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Category Archives: Science

An Electronics Kit

This term, we’ve been working through an electronics kit from Jaycar.com.au.

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It’s a brilliant starters kit as it comes with all of the components you need.

(You can actually buy the book by itself if you choose.

None of the other books in this series comes in a kit format, which is a real shame).

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The projects start out very simply, creating a circuit to light an LED bulb

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and proceed to much more complex projects,

teaching you about the components and how your circuits work as you progress.

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This project was Brayden’s “Heads or Tails” machine.

When he used his ‘probe wire’ to complete a specific circuit, it lit up both LED bulbs.

What you can’t see, because it’s happening so quickly, is that the lights are flashing alternatively.

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When you break that circuit and allow a different circuit to flow, one of the two lights will remain on.

It seems ‘random’ because you have no idea which light was ‘on’ at the time that you broke the circuit,

thus creating a random-like machine for occasions when you need a ‘heads-or-tails’ answer.

Clever, huh?  We thought so.

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Our only complaint with this kit is that the springs that replace the need for soldering,

are actually quite difficult (and painful) to use.

So, wiring up these circuits takes a bit of time and is quite fiddly.

I suppose the good thing about it is that it makes the user very keen to move onto the next kit that does require soldering.

 

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Posted by on August 28, 2017 in Science

 

A Little House Guest

This little fellow flew into our home today.

Isn’t he absolutely exquisite?!

Of course, he could be a she.

How does one tell the difference?

Regardless, we just loved this little critter.

After a bit of googling, we discovered that he’s most likely a cuckoo wasp.

(Here’s some info about him if you are interested).

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The species is a bit of a bully in the insect world.

They lay their eggs in the nests of other insects

so their larvae can feed on the resident larvae.

They usually target hornet nests,

and we aren’t fans of hornets, so we are definitely on Team Cuckoo!

We gave him a little piece of apricot while we took some photos

(which was pretty generous as those apricots cost us $12.90 a kilo!!).

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We could have gazed at his iridescent colouring all day long,

but, we eventually released our little visitor to the outside world.

It just amazes me that even the tiniest creatures are created with such attention to detail.

His little visit reminded us that we need to notice beauty in our world,

even when it’s found in such tiny forms.

🙂

 

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2017 in Science

 

Hadron Collider Exhibition

This weekend we went to the museum’s Hadron Collider Exhibition.

Have you visited yet?  Are you planning on visiting?

Do you have any idea of what the Hardon Collider is or does?

Initially, I didn’t.

I think I have a basic understanding of it now.

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Firstly, a hadron is a particle which is made up of quarks.

Protons and neutrons are hadrons.

So, a Large Hadron Collider collides hadrons.

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The Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, does these collisions within a 27km circular tunnel,

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which is 100 metres below Switzerland and France.

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Within this tunnel are beam pipes.

These pipes contain protons (remember, they are a hadron) in a vacuum.

One pipe send protons in a clockwise direction and the other sends them in an anti-clockwise directions.

These protons are accelerated around the 27km circular path at incredible speeds.

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Most of the LHC ring is made of incredibly powerful magnets.

These magnets steer the protons around the circle.

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Liquid helium flows through these magnets keeping them at an incredible -271.3 degrees Celcius,

which is only 1.9 degrees above the lowest possible temperature, absolute zero.

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When you cool metal it shrinks, and these pipes shrink about 30 metres when they are cooled.

To compensate for these compressions and expansions,

thousands of flexible connectors are positioned throughout the circuit.

Interestingly, when they first turned on the LHC in 2008,

one of these connectors failed to operate properly,

causing a breech in the circuit,

which led to liquid helium violently venting out and damaging 750 metres of the collider.

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This caused massive delays.

It was 2010 before it was ready to begin collisions again.

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Within the collider, there are also magnets that squeeze the proton beams together

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so they can collide inside one of the 4 large detectors.

(There are also 3 smaller detectors).

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The largest detector is over 25 metres tall,

which is huge compared to the size of the objects being collided,

objects we can’t even see because they are so small..

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When they collide, the protons are smashed into their smaller components.

These collisions create temperatures that are much hotter than the sun.

(Recent collisions have created temperatures 100 000 times hotter than the centre of the sun!)

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Physicists then analyse the data to see what the collision has created.

With 40 million collisions every second, the physicists rely on computer analysis to deal with all the data.

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It was the Higgs Boson that the physicists were looking for in their first experiments at the LHC

and, in 2012, they announced that they had found it.

(Watch the dvd “Particle Fever”, if you want to see what excited physicists look like).

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The Higgs Boson was the final piece of the Standard Model puzzle that physicists had been working on.

This is the model physicists currently use to explain all the basic ‘ingredients’ that they believe make up the universe.

(Nope, it’s not the proton, neutron and electron anymore.)

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Oh and don’t worry.

Just because they’ve found the Higgs Boson, doesn’t mean that all their questions are answered.

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So that’s what I learned at the Hadron Collider exhibition.

It’s very well presented.

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The experience starts with a short video

(but make sure you arrive 15 minutes before your time so you have time to look at the exhibits leading up to the auditorium)

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After the video, you begin your walk through the simulated LHC tunnel and offices.

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There are artifacts from the LHC to see

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and plenty of videos and audios to listen to.

(I really appreciated the subtitles and printed texts on all the audio components).

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As you walk through the simulated halls, pay attention to all the little details.

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On the physicists’ noticeboards, we found this treasure…

(If you can’t read the catchline it says, “Fun Fact: Ex-particle-physicists make the worst biologists.)

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Our favourite funny was this Schrodinger’s Cat one.

(You’ll have to look up “Schorodinger’s Cat” if you don’t find it funny.)

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Within the simulated office, you had to take your time and look around properly.

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There were lots of little details that you could miss if you were in a hurry.

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This was the simulated office of one of the people who were analysing the Higgs Boson data.

Make sure you stay to watch her reaction when she realises they have found the Higgs Boson.

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This exhibit was a visually spectacular one,

with lots of details

and stacks of reading.

We highly recommend it… with a couple of restrictions.

Firstly, I wouldn’t bother taking young children or younger students to see this exhibition.

It is not geared towards younger learners who can’t grasp what is happening at the LHC.

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And secondly, to get the most out of the experience, I would prepare your students before going.

My family read this new release book, “Smash:  Exploring the Mysteries of the Universe with the Large Hadron Collider”

(It’s a graphic novel but beggars can’t be choosers when there’s so little written about the LHC and particle physics for younger audiences)

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We also watched “Particle Fever” which was an excellent documentary

and, if you can only do one thing in preparation, I would watch this dvd.

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With the right audience, who is fully prepared to engage with the information, the Hadron Collider exhibition at the Brisbane Museum is well-worth a visit.

 

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2017 in Field Trips, Science

 

An Afternoon at the Beach

During summer, my boys often head to the beach with Daddy.

But, this week, I tagged along with them to snap a few shots.

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We are blessed to live very close to the most beautiful beaches in Australia.

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I mean, just look at this place.

This is why people flock to the Gold Coast for their holidays.

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We’ve been taking our boys to the beach in summer

every since they were small.

They love it.

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When the suggestion is made to head to the beach,

they grab their boogieboards and run to the car.

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This is PE in our homeschool!

No running laps for us.

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We always head to the beach in the late afternoon

and catch just the last couple of lifeguard hours.

It’s nice and quiet at that time of the day.

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So, for two hours, I sat and watched my men catch waves into shore.

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Just look at them go.

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They love it.

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And the waves aren’t always forgiving

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but they still go back for more.

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On this trip, my men didn’t stay in the water for as long as normal.

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They got tired of dodging jellyfish.

(Do you see the Blue Blubber jellyfish on the beach?

They were washing up everywhere.)

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We counted 5 species of jellyfish that day.

Blue Blubber jellyfish,

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Moon Jellies,

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Blue Bottles (not photographed), Blue Buttons (blue thing to the left) and Velellas (blue thing to the right).

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So, they got out of the water,

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and we took a walk along the beach instead.

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We had to walk carefully though.

The beach was covered with jellyfish and every wave washed more onto shore.

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Check out the habitat we found on this cuttlefish bone!

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We think these are gooseneck barnacles.

Whatever they were, they were still alive and poking in and out of their shells.

We popped their little raft back into the ocean.

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I’ve always lived near the water

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and am glad that my boys do too.

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Posted by on December 17, 2016 in Family Life, Field Trips, Physical Education, Science