There are two electrical boxes near the UCSD Gilman Transit Center that caught my eye last weekend. One features tributes to three early pioneers of computer science. The other is painted to appear like a gigantic boom box. Technology and music are central to the life of many students at UC San Diego.
I always love revisiting the campus of UC San Diego. It’s a very beautiful place, bustling with energy. The university is rated one of the finest in the world. When I see the inventors of tomorrow, walking with smiles in the La Jolla sunshine, I feel hopeful.
I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!
I confess that I love reflections. They often seem magical, like a glowing vision of intermingled dimensions. So I had to take more photos today of windows reflected in glass windows.
Walking down Broadway in downtown San Diego is like moving through a funhouse maze. Left and right, the mirrors rise into the sky. One passes through an otherworldly geometry of reflected forms; light dances like the spinning sun upon bright buildings.
I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!
Many old redundant photos are being purged from my computer this weekend. But I had to definitely share these!
I’ve blogged about San Diego’s relatively new downtown library several times. I’ve posted more than a few pics of its unique lattice dome. You might recall some weirdly halo-like photos I took in the darkness early one night last year.
Well, check these out! The curving lines of steel reflected in the building’s windows look like a lesson in complex geometry. You know, in a strange way the dome reminds me of a graph or diagram demonstrating how time and space can be warped by gravity! Am I crazy? What does it look like to you?
I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!
Here are 14 different simple science and engineering projects that kids are sure to love! I’ve included lots of instructions and photographs–courtesy of many exhibitors at this year’s San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering Expo, held yesterday at Petco Park. I also blogged about the event last year.
Check out this fun stuff! Feel free to share! First up . . . how to make slime!
HOW TO MAKE SLIME
Who doesn’t love slime? Slime is fun! And making it is easy! These instructions are courtesy of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, who had a fascinating exhibit at the big STEM education event held at Petco Park.
Just click the image with easy directions to enlarge it! You can enlarge the other images on my blog in the same way, if you want a closer look. Feel free to share these useful how-to photos on Pinterest or with your friends, if you’d like!
HOW TO MAKE A FUN PAPER ROCKET
Follow the diagram to cut and fold a simple paper rocket with paper clip! These instructions are courtesy of the San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park. Kids love the world-class museum. It’s one of the coolest places in San Diego!
HOW TO FOLD AN ORIGAMI BOAT
Look at these instructions on how to fold your very own origami boat! My friends at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park provided this information! I even once made one! (And if I can succeed, believe me–anyone can do it!)
HOW TO MAKE MATCHBOX ROCKETS THAT REALLY WORK!
Here’s how you can make a tiny rocket that actually works in much the same way as a real solid-fuel rocket. Wrap a single matchstick in a small strip of tin foil, then crimp one end. Look at my photos to get an idea of what to do. Be careful! You know what they say about playing with matches! Have an adult help out!
Oh, I forgot to mention. This cool experiment is courtesy of the Magnolia Science Academy!
HOW TO MAKE AN “AIRZOOKA” THAT SHOOTS CO2 RINGS!
Here’s another cool project I discovered at the Magnolia Science Academy booth. A student had created a simple “Airzooka” that shoots perfect white cloudy rings of carbon dioxide!
The trashcan with a hole part looks easy. To create the membrane that launches the CO2 rings, you’ll need to use a somewhat flexible material, like a plastic sheet. Once the can is filled with gas, just slap it with your hand and out comes a “smoke ring”!
HOW TO CRAFT A FUN PAPER BAG HAT
What can you do with a paper grocery bag? Crumple it up a bit and form a Mad Hatter hat! Use your imagination and maybe a bit of glue!
This crafty idea is provided by the San Diego County Fair. This summer’s fair will have an Alice in Wonderland theme! I can’t wait!
HOW TO MAKE A TINY PARACHUTE
I remember creating one of these when I was a kid. I made my parachute for a toy action figure! Just look at the picture and go to work! Pretty simple!
This parachute was put together by to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. The Fleet, located in Balboa Park, is a super cool place with loads and loads of fun hands-on science exhibits for kids, plus an awesome IMAX theater and planetarium!
HOW TO MAKE A SUPER COOL STAR WARS COSTUME!
Okay. No instructions here. Just imagination. That cool costume is actually made of all sorts of Star Wars toys! Incredible. I’m guessing that wicked-looking dude is on the Dark Side.
I believe this guy was part of the STAR WARS Steampunk Recycled Fashion and Engineering Challenge.
HOW TO USE YOUR IMAGINATION TO BUILD ANYTHING!
What are we building here? Absolutely anything! It just takes some imagination!
Just look at some of the common household items one can use to invent cool things. I’ll bet you have some of this stuff in your own home.
I took this pic at a fun table display in the Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab tent.
HOW TO MIX UP SOME SNAIL GOOP
Slime…snail goop…boogers…it’s all the same good stuff. At least it’s the same mixture of borax powder, water and white glue. A truly yucky and wonderful substance. Science rocks!
Thanks (maybe) to the Steam Maker Workshop for this gloppy sight.
HOW TO CREATE A 3-D OPTICAL ILLUSION WITH STRING
Here’s a cool experiment that demonstrates concepts in math and spatial geometry. Perhaps imagine that the string is a ray of light. From the “tower”, stretch the string so that it touches each of the four top corners of your cube, and plot where the string finally reaches your piece of paper. Connect those points with lines the way my photographs show, then look at the image from the end of the string! It looks like some sort of weird optical illusion, but you’ll see the result actually makes sense!
This exhibit was provided by San Diego State University’s InforMath Collaborative.
HOW TO ASSEMBLE A COOL TENSEGRITY CONSTRUCT
Oh, man! I think you could construct most of this cool stuff with Tinkertoys. Look at the diagrams and go wild! You’ll need lots of rubber bands!
Tensegrity is another science concept that was being demonstrated at the STEM education event. A friendly gentleman explained that the sticks are like bones and the rubber bands are like muscles. So human beings and other critters are examples of tensegrity!
Oops. I apologize for not knowing who put on this exhibit.
HOW TO MAKE A VORTEX CANNON
Here’s a pic that has exact instructions on how to build a vortex air cannon. Looks really easy! (As usual, click the image to enlarge it.)
Uh, oh. I don’t know who created this exhibit, either. I forgot to take a picture with their name. My research got a bit sloppy. Sorry about that. Whoever had this table–very cool!
HOW TO STIR UP LAVA IN A CUP
Finally, I’ve heard of java in a cup. But lava in a cup? Why not?
Adding salt to the floating oil makes the blob sink. It has become more dense than water. When the salt dissolves, the oil rises again!
Those instructions look super simple!
That’s it! You now have a whole bunch of cool and creative science projects to try out! Have a blast!
Hey! Are you a kid? (Or even a boring old adult?) Try starting a blog like Cool San Diego Sights! You can blog about anything in the whole wide world. It’s lots of fun! And it’s pretty easy, too!
I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy more Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!
Every few years, it seems, an unexpected sunflower springs up near the place where I live. So I decided to write a short story…
AN UNEXPECTED SUNFLOWER
(a small story)
Lucy was surprised to see that an unexpected sunflower had sprouted in a corner of her backyard. Where it came from, she didn’t know. Every day she carefully watered the plant. It quickly grew.
When the bud opened the bloom was just glorious. Large, yellow and beautiful, like a cheerful sun in a small green world.
Gazing at the sunflower, Lucy felt that life was indeed good.
Every person on Earth, she thought, deserved the feeling that life is good. Why not? Suddenly she had an absurd impulse: to give that one magical flower to the entire world.
Every person should see it. Smell it. Touch it.
At last Lucy settled on her best idea. She’d give the sunflower to a friend, who would then pass the flower to another friend, who’d pass it to another friend… And so on.
Seven billion people on an impossibly big planet wouldn’t see her flower, but a few would. That’s the best she could do.
Several days later she carefully harvested the sunflower and placed it in a tall vase. She brought the flower across town and gave it to her Uncle Carl, who was under blankets with a bad case of the flu. A note was tied to the sunflower’s stem: Once this small bit of sunshine has been enjoyed, please give to a friend.
“Thank you,” he said, sincerely.
The next day Uncle Carl was visited by Alfonso, one of his war buddies. “Now you have to give this to one of your friends,” he said. “And add a little water.”
The sunflower descended like a beam of golden sunshine when Alfonso handed it to his daughter, Maria. She rose from her dining room chair, stunned. “That’s for me?” she asked, with absolute disbelief. “Seriously?”
“Yes,” he smiled. “You’re my friend, right? But read the note. You now have to give it to someone that you think is special.”
Maria gave the flower to William.
William gave the flower to Jerry.
Jerry gave the flower to Daniella.
Before class, Daniella handed the sunflower to her Geometry teacher. Mr. Harrow didn’t know how to react. “Read the note,” she explained.
“But the flower is drying out,” he said. “It won’t last much longer.”
“You’re the best math teacher I ever had. So take it.”
Mr. Harrow took the vase containing the sunflower home. He read the note attached to the stem: Once this small bit of sunshine has been enjoyed, please give to a friend. He wondered who the blue vase belonged to. He placed the vase by the television and thought of his late wife.
Next morning the flower had entirely wilted. The crumpled petals had lost their brilliant color and several had fallen off.
Mr. Harrow removed the note from the stem and put it in a drawer. He carried the vase out to his compost pile, and quickly tossed the flower onto the heap. The vase he carefully cleaned and placed in a corner of his quiet house.
The following spring Mr. Harrow took a slow stroll through the backyard on a gloomy, gray day. As he came around the garage he was taken by complete surprise. Two sunflowers were rising from the dead compost.
The small miracle caused Mr. Harrow to wipe away a few tears.
Perhaps, he thought, being a teacher of math wasn’t such a useless thing. Because he appreciated the revealed meaning of the sunflowers. And it was: simple multiplication can quickly encompass the world.
If seeds were carefully harvested from a dying bloom–and just two seeds sprouted–one sunflower might become two. Then, repeated, two sunflowers might become four. Four sunflowers might become eight. Eight sunflowers might become sixteen. And in 33 generations–33 years–one seed might produce well over seven billion sunflowers. Enough sunflowers for everybody. Everybody in the world.
Mr. Harrow found the old note in the back of the drawer. It still read: Once this small bit of sunshine has been enjoyed, please give to a friend. He then added in his own writing: When the bloom finally fades, harvest the seeds and grow more sunflowers. He made two photocopies of the note, one for each of his miracle sunflowers.
In math, even the smallest fraction contains world-changing power. One in seven billion seems like nothing, until it is turned upside down.
. . .
Lucy lay in a dark hospital.
The memory of her miracle garden had long vanished. She had become very old.
Judy, her granddaughter, came to visit one late Thursday afternoon. She was holding a surprise behind her back. She presented a sunflower, like sunshine, in a tall, new vase.
“Can you believe it? Out of the blue my best friend gave me this! Isn’t it amazing? And it has a strange note. I’m supposed to give this flower to someone I love. I would like you to have this.”
Attached to the stem of the sunflower was a small photocopied note. The first half of the handwriting Lucy recognized. It was her own.
Today I checked out a truly amazing event! Expo Day capped off the week-long San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering (formerly known as the San Diego Science Festival), and brought out thousands of families and kids, eager to learn about science. STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education, was Expo Day’s principal focus. The seventh annual event nearly burst the seams of downtown’s big Petco Park stadium. There were so many cool exhibits, so much stuff to see, I only managed to experience about half of it! My poor old brain nearly exploded!
Here is a bit of what I saw!
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