Art and history at the SDSU Downtown Gallery.

People walk along Broadway near the entrance of the SDSU Downtown Gallery.
People walk along Broadway near the entrance of the SDSU Downtown Gallery.

One of the sites that I visited this weekend during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s OPEN HOUSE 2017 was the SDSU Downtown Gallery. I’d never stepped into the small art gallery before. Rotating exhibits feature the work of faculty and students at SDSU.

The building in which the gallery is housed, located at the corner of Kettner Boulevard and Broadway, served as the 1911 Station B power plant of the San Diego Electric Railway. The historic railway, which served a large area of early San Diego, was established by John D. Spreckels.

According to a short tour and handout I was given, a circa 1900 building at this location served as an earlier San Diego Electric Railway power house, railcar barn and paint shop. Some enormous doors still exist in the building today where train cars would enter and exit. I also learned the extravagant 1897 Los Banos bathhouse stood at the building’s northwest corner–but there remains no trace of that historic old structure.

In 1921, San Diego Consolidated Gas and Electric Company purchased Station B, and two additions to the building were subsequently made. The additions were designed by famed architect William Templeton Johnson.

Today the original Station B power plant contains powerful works of art, and forms a section of the base of the skyscraping Electra Building, a modern residential development built in 2008.

Please enjoy some photos of the gallery and the historic building.

If you love art and find yourself downtown while the gallery is open, swing on by!

I took this photo at another time. Now part of the high-rise Electra Building, this used to be the 1911 Station B power plant of the San Diego Electric Railway.
Now part of the high-rise Electra Building, this originally was the 1911 Station B power plant of the San Diego Electric Railway.
Historical ornamentation above the front entrance of the SDSU Downtown Gallery.
Historical ornamentation above the front entrance of the SDSU Downtown Gallery.
Walk through these beads to enjoy a small but dynamic art gallery in downtown San Diego.
Walk through these beads to enjoy a small but dynamic art gallery in downtown San Diego.
Works on the gallery walls were produced by faculty and students at San Diego State University. Exhibits change every few months.
Works on the gallery walls were produced by faculty and students at San Diego State University. Exhibits change every few months.
Description of current gallery exhibit by faculty and students of San Diego State University. Every Which Way investigates artistic experience and human movement.
Description of current gallery exhibit by faculty and students of San Diego State University. Every Which Way investigates artistic experience and human movement.
Visitor to the gallery checks out thought-provoking artwork.
Visitor to the gallery checks out thought-provoking artwork.
Fear/Less, 2016, by Troy Guard.
Fear/Less, 2016, by Troy Guard.
Works of human imagination along one wall.
Works of human imagination along one wall.
The serigraphs on this wall were made by students in the SDSU Graphic Design program. Imagery depicts ocean and desert ecosystems as migratory environments.
The serigraphs on this wall were made by students in the SDSU Graphic Design program. Imagery depicts ocean and desert ecosystems as migratory environments.
More eye-catching works of art.
More eye-catching works of art.
Some of the pieces are quite unusual and creative.
Some of the pieces are quite unusual and creative.
A short talk begins in the SDSU Downtown Gallery. Just one fascinating tour during the San Diego Architectural Foundation's OPEN HOUSE 2017.
A short tour begins in the SDSU Downtown Gallery–Just one fascinating tour during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s OPEN HOUSE 2017.
We are shown various photos, including Station B behind Santa Fe Depot in the 1960s. The smokestacks were removed in the 1980s.
We are shown various photos, including Station B behind Santa Fe Depot in the 1960s. The smokestacks were removed in the 1980s.
Old photo of Los Banos, a bathhouse which was located just south of Santa Fe Depot. The neo-Moorish structure designed by William S. Hebbard and Irving J. Gill opened in 1897.
Old photo of Los Banos, a bathhouse which was located just south of Santa Fe Depot. The neo-Moorish structure designed by William S. Hebbard and Irving J. Gill opened in 1897.
One of the enormous, heavy doors is opened from inside the historic building. I was told these were used for a railcar barn. Was coal for the power plant unloaded here? I don't know.
One of the enormous, heavy doors is opened from inside the historic building. I was told these were used for a railcar barn.
Our tour walks along Broadway side of the SDSU Downtown Gallery building.
Our small tour group walks down the sidewalk along the Broadway side of the SDSU Downtown Gallery building.
Now we are at the southeast corner of the large Electra Building, which rises above the historic San Diego Gas and Electric building.
Now we are at the southeast corner of the large Electra Building, which rises above the historic San Diego Gas and Electric building.
A symbolic painting inside the SDSU Downtown Gallery. Waves Inside, 2016, by Alison Zuniga.
A symbolic painting inside the SDSU Downtown Gallery. Waves Inside, 2016, by Alison Zuniga.

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Student posters celebrate United States Constitution.

A young student's very creative poster demonstrates the principal of equal rights for all citizens in the United States Constitution. Equality for all. We the people.
A young student’s colorful poster celebrates equal rights and protections. These are established by the United States Constitution. Equality for all. We the people.

Please enjoy a few photos that I took yesterday as I walked down Broadway past the Edward J. Schwartz United States Courthouse. My eye was attracted by happy, colorful artwork created by children on display in some windows.

These posters were designed by young students last year for 2016 Law Week. They celebrate principles that are enshrined in the United States Constitution.

(I have many blog posts coming up pertaining to this weekend’s San Diego Architectural Foundation OPEN HOUSE 2017 event. A couple of the locations will probably be featured on my Beautiful Balboa Park blog. And it might take me some time to prepare everything. Stay tuned!)

2016 Law Week Poster Contest winners in window of San Diego's downtown Edward J. Schwartz United States Courthouse. Students from a variety of local schools participated.
2016 Law Week Poster Contest winners in a window of San Diego’s downtown Edward J. Schwartz United States Courthouse. Students from a variety of local schools participated.
...insure domestic Tranquility... We get along with each other.
…insure domestic Tranquility… We get along with each other.
...in Order to form a more perfect Union... Make things better for all who live here.
…in Order to form a more perfect Union… Make things better for all who live here.
...Secure the Blessings of Liberty... We have freedom.
…Secure the Blessings of Liberty… We have freedom.
We the People of the United States...
We the People of the United States…

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!

Cool photos of creativity at Maker Faire San Diego!

A huge spider-like working octopod vehicle on display in the Plaza de Panama at 2016 Maker Faire San Diego!
A huge spider-like working octopod vehicle on display in the Plaza de Panama at 2016 Maker Faire San Diego!

Check out some cool photos! I took these this morning at 2016 Maker Faire San Diego which is being held this weekend in Balboa Park!

This now annual event–I believe this is the second year–attracts creative people of every type: engineers, inventors, dreamers, artists, students . . .  If the human imagination can envision it, these folks will build it!

If you are a dreamer and a doer, head down to Balboa Park and be inspired!

Maker Faire San Diego has taken over Balboa Park this weekend. The annual event features creations and creators who like building cool stuff!
Maker Faire San Diego has taken over Balboa Park this weekend. The annual event features fantastic creations and the inspired creators who like building cool stuff!
This super cool octopod moves slowly forward and backward using its spider-like feet. I learned that it doesn't steer very well, however.
This super cool octopod moves slowly forward and backward using its spider-like feet. I’d love to sit inside and drive it! I learned that it doesn’t steer very well, however.
In the morning, before the Maker Faire officially opened, I spotted two cupcake cars heading through Balboa Park!
In the morning, before the Maker Faire officially opened, I spotted two cupcake cars heading through Balboa Park!
This guy was flying what appeared to be a huge model of a Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer down Balboa Park's El Prado!
This guy was flying what appeared to be a huge model of a Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer down Balboa Park’s El Prado!
A bunch of Maker Faire exhibitors set up on Saturday morning in front of the San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park.
A bunch of Maker Faire exhibitors set up on Saturday morning in front of the San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park.
This human powered submarine was created by a team of students at UCSD. It competed in the International Submarine Race and was propelled by a 3-D printed fin.
This human powered submarine was created by a team of students at UCSD. It competed in the International Submarine Race and was propelled by a 3-D printed fin.
This cool robot was created by high school students, namely High Tech High's Top Hat Technicians. It competed in an event where a ball had to be shot at a goal.
This cool robot was created by high school students, namely High Tech High’s Top Hat Technicians. It competed in an event where a ball had to be shot at a goal.
Make your own molecule using this cardboard Molecube!
Make your own molecule using this cardboard Molecube!
These awesome guitars were made by students in a special STEM Guitar-Building class at San Diego City College.
These awesome guitars were made by students in a special STEM Guitar-Building class at San Diego City College.
The Ghostbusters ECTO-1 vehicle has arrived for Maker Faire San Diego, as well as a Jeep from Jurassic Park.
The Ghostbusters ECTO-1 vehicle has arrived for Maker Faire San Diego, as well as a Jeep from Jurassic Park.
Commissioner Gordon must be nearby. I spotted his Gotham Police Department vehicle.
Commissioner Gordon must be nearby. I spotted his Gotham Police Department vehicle.
A tiny house would be built here during the Maker Faire weekend. When I first walked by, the floor was being laid down.
A tiny house would be built here during the Maker Faire weekend. When I first walked by, the floor was being laid down.
About an hour later, one wall was already up!
About an hour later, one wall was already up!
The Electric Giraffe returned for 2016 Maker Faire San Diego. It walks, talks, and has become quite a phenomenon. It has even appeared at the White House!
The Electric Giraffe returned for 2016 Maker Faire San Diego. It walks, talks, and has become quite a phenomenon. It has even appeared at the White House!
The Electric Giraffe is 17 feet tall when its neck is fully raised. Its horns (actually ossicones) appear to be lava lamps!
The Electric Giraffe is 17 feet tall when its neck is fully raised. Its “horns” (actually ossicones) appear to be lava lamps!
These creators at Maker Faire San Diego were building the Temple for Youtopia. It's an interlocking plywood parabaloid with a single light source at it's focal point.
These creators at Maker Faire San Diego were building the Temple for Youtopia. It’s an interlocking plywood parabaloid with a single light source at it’s focal point. When finished, light shines out everywhere.
A similar Temple is built each year at Burning Man and set on fire.
A similar Temple is built each year at Burning Man and set on fire.
I noticed a lot of cool Star Wars cosplay at 2016 Maker Faire San Diego.
I noticed a lot of cool Star Wars cosplay at 2016 Maker Faire San Diego.
Star Wars cosplay between Balboa Park's House of Hospitality and the Japanese Friendship Garden.
I caught this Star Wars cosplay between Balboa Park’s House of Hospitality and the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Back in Balboa Park's central Plaza de Panama, the San Diego Sabers engaged in a fast-paced lightsaber battle!
Back in Balboa Park’s central Plaza de Panama, the San Diego Sabers engaged in a fast-paced lightsaber battle!
Enthusiasts in cool costumes engage in lightsaber combat as a crowd watches during 2016 Maker Faire San Diego!
Enthusiasts in cool protective costumes engage in lightsaber combat as a crowd watches during 2016 Maker Faire San Diego!
Anybody passing by was invited to Paint a Prius near the San Diego Automotive Museum!
Anybody passing by was invited to Paint a Prius near the San Diego Automotive Museum!
Kids have a blast in front of the San Diego Air and Space Museum. Air-propelled rockets were flying all over the place.
Kids have a blast in front of the San Diego Air and Space Museum. Air-propelled rockets were flying all over the place.
Kids at Maker Faire San Diego test a carbon dioxide cannon, made from a garbage can!
Kids at Maker Faire San Diego test a carbon dioxide cannon, made from a garbage can!
This remote control robot batter was swinging wildly at beach balls. A rather amusing scene! (Wish I'd taken a better photo.)
This remote control robot batter was swinging wildly at beach balls. A rather amusing scene! (Wish I’d taken a better photo.)
Here comes AR-Duo, the Caloric Rover, a cool steampunk rolling doohickey which is beyond awesome.
Here comes AR-Duo, the Caloric Rover, a cool steampunk rolling doohickey which is beyond awesome.
There's just too much fun at 2016 Maker Faire San Diego! Head over to Balboa Park this weekend!
There’s just too much fun at 2016 Maker Faire San Diego! Head over to Balboa Park this weekend!

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego!  Are you curious?  There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Take a San Diego Eco Tour . . . and benefit local students!

You can go kayaking on a cool Eco Tour and try to spot green sea turtles in San Diego's South Bay! Image courtesy of Ocean Connectors. Photograph by Harry Orgovan.
You can go kayaking on a cool Eco Tour and try to spot green sea turtles in San Diego’s South Bay! Image courtesy of Ocean Connectors. Photograph by Harry Orgovan.

If you’d like to take a cool San Diego Eco Tour, check this out!

At last weekend’s Earth Day on the Bay, I learned about some awesome Eco Tours on San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Experienced guides take you by kayak around the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge to search for green sea turtles, or by bicycle around San Diego Bay to view all sorts of migratory birds, or by boat off our coast to spot gray whales and other marine life! These tours are provided by Ocean Connectors.

Why am I blogging about this? What makes these tours so amazingly cool? Ocean Connectors uses the money they make from their San Diego Eco Tours to directly benefit local students! Every year, Ocean Connectors introduces hundreds of kids in the National City School District to the beautiful natural world along San Diego’s coast, educating them about migratory wildlife and stewardship of the environment–all at no cost!

That’s right! Thousands of students in Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Grades have had an experience of a lifetime thanks to Ocean Connectors. In their formative years, these young people, many from low-income situations, have ventured out from the city and have experienced profound wonders they otherwise might have missed. They are taken on fun and inspiring educational field trips that are sometimes described as the best day of their lives!

Thanks to Ocean Connectors, local school students can learn about marine wildlife during a whale watching tour off the San Diego coast. Image courtesy of Ocean Connectors. Photograph by Ralph Pace.
Thanks to Ocean Connectors, local school students can learn about marine wildlife during a whale watching tour off the San Diego coast. Image courtesy of Ocean Connectors. Photograph by Ralph Pace.

Seeing green sea turtles, wild birds taking flight, and majestic gray whales out on the wide blue water deeply affects a young person’s view of the world, teaches one about the web of life, helps one to grow into a thoughtful, responsible adult. I know this is true. Because I had a similar experience when I was growing up.

Back in junior high school, I went on a sea adventure with some classmates along Alaska’s Inland Passage. I saw breaching humpback whales, bald eagles, even an orca. That memory is still vivid in my mind. That unforgettable experience broadened my horizons, made me appreciate the wonders of nature, gave me a sense of belonging to a larger world, a world that should be carefully preserved. I’ve been an avid hiker and lover of the outdoors during my adult life, and I have no doubt my own personal adventure those many years ago is one big reason why.

So . . . have you been considering having your own unforgettable adventure in ecotourism? Would you like to possibly spot one of the 60 green sea turtles that spend part of their lives feeding on eel grass in San Diego’s South Bay? Would you like to bike around the Bayshore Bikeway and see hundreds, even thousands of wild birds? (And some are quite rare!) Would you like to head out onto the ocean with trained, knowledgeable naturalists, and see gray whales, dolphins, and a huge variety of other sea mammals and coastal wildlife?

Ocean Connectors’ mission is to educate, inspire and connect people to the outdoors. And one of those people could be YOU!

Click here to have your own unique Eco Tour in San Diego. Book a tour, and you’ll benefit kids in San Diego’s South Bay! It’s a win-win!

Someone learns about the amazing Eco Tours and the educational programs provided by Ocean Connectors during Earth Bay on the Bay at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.
Someone learns about the amazing Eco Tours and the educational programs provided by Ocean Connectors during Earth Bay on the Bay at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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Taking a lesson from the Great Kindness Challenge!

A challenge for every person, both young and old. Very simply: be kind. (Click this image to enlarge!)
A challenge for every person, both young and old. It is very simply: Be kind!  (Click this image to read the poster!)

Have you heard of the Great Kindness Challenge? I hadn’t, until today.

The Great Kindness Challenge is put on by Kids For Peace, and I learned about it while I walked this morning through the International Non-Profits Fair in Balboa Park. (I’ll blog a little about this inspiring event shortly.) I was really struck by a thoughtful Kids For Peace poster challenging school students to engage in acts of kindness.

What an excellent idea! It seems this reminder to be compassionate, helpful and polite might apply to people of all ages. Sometimes we adults, during our hectic, numbing day-to-day routines, might benefit from a little lesson about the importance of having a warm heart and positive outlook!

Here are just a few of the 50 challenges. These are appropriate for both young and old…

Smile at 25 people.

Compliment 5 people.

Pick up 10 pieces of trash.

Make a new friend.

Tell a joke and make someone laugh.

Hug your friend.

Entertain someone with a happy dance.

Say “Good Morning” to 15 people.

Step up for someone in need.

Hold the door open for someone.

Learn to say “Hello” in a new language.

Create your own kind deed.

How to make fun, simple science stuff for kids!

A mad scientist at the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering shows a kid how to have some fun with magnets!
A mad scientist at the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering shows a kid how to have some fun with magnets!

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 slime. You need borax powder, water, white glue and food coloring. Click each image to enlarge instructions.
How to make slime. You need borax powder, water, white glue and food coloring. Click each image to enlarge instructions.

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 make a cool paper rocket, using a rectangular piece of paper, scissors and a paper clip.
How to make a cool paper rocket, using a rectangular piece of paper, scissors and a paper clip.

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 fold an easy origami boat that really floats!
How to fold an easy origami boat that really floats!

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 matchbox rockets and why it works. This is for older, supervised kids. Fire can be dangerous.
How to make matchbox rockets and why they work. This is for older, supervised kids. Fire can be dangerous.
Wrap a match in a small strip of aluminum foil.
Wrap a match in a small strip of aluminum foil.
Crimp the match head end of the tube (the rocket's nose) so exhaust pressure doesn't escape in that direction.
Crimp the match head end of the tube (the rocket’s nose) so exhaust pressure doesn’t escape in that direction.
Prepare for lift-off from a clever, fireproof launching platform! Safely apply flame and let fly!
Prepare for lift-off from a clever, fireproof launching platform! Safely apply flame and let fly!

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 make an "airzooka" using a plastic trashcan with a hole at one end and a pliable membrane on the other. Fill with carbon dioxide and shoot rings by hitting the membrane!
How to make an “airzooka” using a plastic trashcan with a hole at one end and a pliable membrane on the other. Fill with carbon dioxide gas and shoot white rings by hitting the membrane!
The "airzooka" is loaded with carbon dioxide gas, using either dry ice (be careful) or a fog machine.
The “airzooka” is loaded with carbon dioxide gas, using either dry ice (be extremely careful) or a fog machine.

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 Mad Hatter hat with crumpled paper bags and lots of fun stuff tied and glued on!
How to make a Mad Hatter hat with crumpled paper bags and lots of fun stuff tied and glued on!
You can apply ribbons, glitter, feathers, playing cards, whatever you like to fashion your crazy Mad Hatter hat! Okay, I don't suppose this really is science, but who cares!
You can apply ribbons, glitter, feathers, playing cards, whatever you like to fashion your crazy Mad Hatter hat! Okay, I don’t suppose this really is science, but who cares!

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 simple small parachute with a Dixie cup or object providing weight, string (or similar material) and coffee filter.
How to make a simple small parachute with a Dixie cup or object providing weight, string (or similar material) and coffee filter.

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.

Yeah, making a cool costume out of Star Wars toys might take a bit of glue. But all you really need is determination and imagination! (And maybe a credit card.)
Yeah, making a cool costume out of Star Wars toys might take a bit of glue. But all you really need is determination and imagination! (And maybe a credit card.)

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.

What can a person make with this stuff? Anything!
What can a person make with this stuff? Anything!
Objects you can use creatively include popsicle sticks, plastic spoons, straws, tubes, tape and buttons.
Objects you can use creatively include popsicle sticks, plastic spoons, straws, tubes, tape and buttons.

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.

Okay, snail goop is pretty much the same stuff as slime. But I like the name!
Okay, snail goop is pretty much the same stuff as slime. But I like the name!
If a snail made that much goop, it would be a monster. Fortunately, that monstrous snail would be slow.
If a snail made that much goop, it would be a monster. Fortunately, that monstrous snail would be slow.
Kids and curious adults were learning all sorts of cool concepts at the 2016 San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering at Petco Park.
Kids and curious adults were learning all sorts of cool concepts at the 2016 San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering at Petco Park.

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.

By using a string attached to this tower, you can plot the projected corners of a cube or other three dimensional object onto a flat two dimensional surface.
By using a string attached to this tower, you can plot the projected corners of a cube or other three dimensional object onto a flat two dimensional surface.
After drawing the cube's base and drawing lines to connect the square with the projected corners, I ended up with this cool figure.
After drawing the cube’s base and drawing lines to connect the square with the projected corners, I ended up with this cool figure.
When I peered at the image through a hole near the end of the string, I saw a perfect cube! Cool!
When I peered at the image through a hole near the end of the string, I saw a perfect cube! Cool!

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.

What the heck is tensegrity? A funny word created by Buckminster Fuller. You can use rubber bands to add tension to popsicle sticks and create cool stuff.
What the heck is tensegrity? A funny word created by Buckminster Fuller. You can use rubber bands to add tension to popsicle sticks and create cool stuff.
Check it out! Tensegrity is also sometimes called tensional integrity or floating compression.
Check it out! Tensegrity is also sometimes called tensional integrity or floating compression.
These guys formed a huge tensegrity thingamajig using pipes and big rubber bands. I suppose one could use bungee cords, too.
These guys formed a huge tensegrity thingamajig using pipes and big rubber bands. I suppose one could use bungee cords, too.
Look at all the tensegrity objects you can make!
Look at all the tensegrity objects you can make!

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!

The vortex cannon shoots air in--you guessed it--a vortex.
The vortex cannon shoots air in–you guessed it–a vortex.
To make a vortex cannon, insert a cut water bottle into a plastic Solo cup.
To make a vortex cannon, insert a cut narrow water bottle into a larger plastic Solo cup, just like the photo.
Then cut off the nozzle of a balloon, and stretch the balloon over the open end of the cup.
Then cut off the nozzle of a balloon, and stretch the balloon over the open end of the cup.

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!

To make "lava in a cup", use food coloring, vegetable oil and salt! It's easy!
To make “lava in a cup”, use food coloring, vegetable oil and salt! It’s easy!
You can then use that colorful lava in the cup to make some colorful art! Awesome!
You can then use that colorful lava in the cup to make some colorful art! Awesome!

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 free and fun! And it’s pretty easy, too!

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Help high school students Build a Miracle!

Members of the Helping Hand Club of Mt. Carmel High School raise funds in Balboa Park for Build a Miracle.
Members of the Helping Hand Club at Mt. Carmel High School are raising funds for Build a Miracle.

Students belonging to Mt. Carmel High School’s very cool Helping Hand Club would like you to help Build a Miracle!

Today I came across a bake sale in Balboa Park. Two very generous MCHS students had a table full of brownies and other treats; they were raising donations for Build a Miracle, a charity that constructs and furnishes homes for needy families in Mexico. Between 1999 and 2014, Build a Miracle has built 185 homes and 3 community centers. They have touched literally thousands of lives, offering hope and a pathway to a brighter future.

Should you wander through Balboa Park and see smiling members of the Helping Hand Club, perhaps you could offer your own hand! Or check out the Build a Miracle website and see if you’d like to help!

Two awesome students are working to make the world a much better place.
Two awesome students are working to make our world a better place.
Donations welcome. Help us reach our goal to build and furnish a house in Mexico.
Donations welcome. Help us reach our goal to build and furnish a house in Mexico.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy more Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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