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!

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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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.

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Are you a blogger? Do you want to make the world a better place? Please join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.

Life in 1865 at Old Town’s Mason Street School.

Gentleman in period attire tells visitors at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park about the history of the Mason Street School.
Gentleman in period attire tells visitors at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park about the history of the Mason Street School.

The Mason Street School was San Diego’s very first schoolhouse. It was built in 1865. In 2015, 150 years later, it’s one of the most interesting sights in Old Town San Diego Historic State Park.

The one room schoolhouse museum isn’t always open to the public. So whenever I walk through Old Town, I eagerly wander past to see if the front door is swung wide. If it is, I amble inside and look about, trying to absorb what life was like in the early days of San Diego.

I remember how the Mason Street School used to contain numerous desks. But they’ve been replaced by plain benches, to more accurately portray where a small number of students from Spanish, American and other diverse backgrounds, grade one to eight, sat together and learned how to read, write and do arithmetic.

Back in the early years of San Diego, school was held twelve months a year. Hours were 9 to 4, but many students would skip school to watch bull fights, fiestas and other exciting town doings. Many children were held out of school by their parents to help on a ranch or farm, or to work in a family store.

San Diego in 1865 was a small, isolated, somewhat ramshackle town. Mary Chase Walker, Mason Street School’s first teacher, wrote when she arrived in San Diego by steamship: “I arrived in the bay of San Diego on the morning of July 5, 1865. It was a most desolate looking landscape. The hills were brown and barren; not a tree or green thing was to be seen. Of all the dilapidated, miserable looking places I had ever seen, this was the worst. The buildings were nearly all of adobe, one story in height, with no chimneys. Some of the roofs were covered with tile and some with earth…”

Mary Chase Walker originally traveled from Massachusetts to California, in search of greater opportunity. While in San Francisco, she learned of a teaching opening in San Diego. After less than a year at the Mason Street School, however, she became embroiled in a local controversy. One day she made a kind gesture to a lady who was part African-American, but many early San Diegans had arrived from the Confederate South and voiced their disapproval. A number of students were removed from the small school in anger. To allow the scandal to pass over, Mary quit teaching and married the president of the school board, early San Diego settler and prominent merchant Ephraim Morse.

It’s hard in modern times to imagine the life and culture of San Diego long ago. But one can get a flavor of that fascinating history by stepping inside the old Mason Street School.

The Mason Street School was built in 1865, to provide education for the children of a sparsely populated San Diego.
The Mason Street School was built in 1865, to provide education for the children of a sparsely populated San Diego.
The first schoolhouse in San Diego County, the Mason Street School stands in historic Old Town.
The first schoolhouse in San Diego County, the Mason Street School stands in historic Old Town.

The nearby plaque reads:

MASON STREET SCHOOL

FIRST PUBLIC SCHOOLHOUSE IN THIS COUNTY.
ERECTED AT THIS SITE IN 1865 AND KNOWN AS
“MASON STREET SCHOOL – – DISTRICT NO. 1”
WHEN SAN DIEGO COUNTY COVERED AN AREA
LARGER THAN THREE NEW ENGLAND STATES.
RESTORED BY POPULAR SUBSCRIPTION IN 1955.

STATE REGISTERED LANDMARK NO. 538
MARKER PLACED BY SAN DIEGO COUNTY BOARD OF
SUPERVISORS AND THE HISTORICAL MARKERS COMMITTEE
ERECTED 1955

The Mason Street School museum is occasionally open to the public. If you're lucky and it is, make sure to step inside!
The Mason Street School museum is occasionally open to the public. If you’re lucky and it is, make sure to step inside!
Years ago, the museum contained individual student desks. But these benches are a faithful reproduction of actual history. Fancy desks were rare in this remote outpost of civilization!
Years ago, the museum contained individual student desks. But these benches are a more faithful representation of actual history. Fancy desks were rare in this remote outpost of civilization!
Children attending the Mason Street School used slates and chalk, as paper was also scarce and expensive. A wood stove provided heat.
Children attending the Mason Street School used slates and chalk, as paper was also scarce and expensive. A wood stove provided heat.
Some old Primers and Readers on a wooden table. A water bucket and dipper were used for drink.
Some old Primers and Readers on a wooden table. A water bucket and dipper were used for drink.
A ball, broom and doll.
A ball, broom and doll.
Public School Teacher's State Certificate from the mid 19th century. San Diego's first teacher was Mary Chase Walker.
Public School Teacher’s State Certificate from the mid 19th century. San Diego’s first teacher was Mary Chase Walker.
Old map of California from an era when many immigrants arrived by ship.
Old map of California from an era when many immigrants arrived by ship.
Rock used as ballast in a ship that sailed from San Diego to Boston. Stones gathered on Ballast Point in Point Loma paved Boston's cobblestone streets, 3000 miles away!
Rock used as ballast in a ship that sailed from San Diego to Boston. Stones gathered on Ballast Point in Point Loma paved many of Boston’s cobblestone streets, 3000 miles away!
Photographic portrait of President Abraham Lincoln on a primitive wall. Mason Street School was San Diego's first schoolhouse, built in 1865 at the end of the Civil War.
Photographic portrait of President Abraham Lincoln on a primitive wall. Mason Street School was San Diego’s first schoolhouse, built in 1865 at the end of the Civil War.
Water for washing and drinking was brought in from a well near the schoolhouse.
Water for washing and drinking was brought in from a well near the schoolhouse.
The old well in the schoolhouse yard, beside a clump of prickly pear.
The old well in the schoolhouse yard, beside a clump of prickly pear.
The Mason Street School provides visitors to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park a fascinating look at our city's unique past.
The Mason Street School provides visitors to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park a fascinating look at our city’s very unique past.

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Free books for teachers, schools, hospitals and prisons.

San Diego Book Project promotes literacy both locally and worldwide. They were present at TwainFest in Old Town.
San Diego Book Project promotes literacy both locally and worldwide. They were present at TwainFest in Old Town.

The San Diego Book Project promotes literacy both locally and worldwide. It’s an effort I strongly support. So when I happened to see these folks with a table full of books at TwainFest this weekend, I instantly decided to provide a hand with my blog.

The San Diego Book Project has given away nearly a million donated books! They’re sent to teachers, schools, classrooms and students who might not have the resources to buy their own material. Beyond San Diego’s more disadvantaged neighborhoods, schools in South Africa, India, Peru and the Philippines have also received free books. Life-changing books are also sent to hospitals and prisons, and any not-for-profit organization that actively encourages literacy.

Do you need some free books? Would you like to donate or volunteer? Check out their website.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a work of classic literature sure to interest new readers.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a work of classic literature sure to interest new readers.
Good books open minds, promote education. An exciting journey with the written word makes life richer and more meaningful.
Good books open minds, promote education. An exciting journey with the written word makes life richer and more meaningful.

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Ocean Beach Public Library needs activism and help!

The Ocean Beach Public Library needs your activism and help!
The Ocean Beach Public Library needs your activism and help!

I wasn’t expecting to write this blog. But I have to.

During this morning’s Ocean Beach Street Fair, I took a few photos of a smiling lady in a Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat hat. My senses were so dazzled by all the cool sights and activity round about me that I didn’t really notice the important purpose of her booth.

As I left the festival, I popped into the local library to use the restroom. And there, standing behind the front counter, was the Cat in the Hat hat lady!  She greeted me–she was a librarian! She had noticed me taking photos.

They’re for a blog, I said. Help us raise a million dollars, she said. I laughed, promised I’d try!

It wasn’t until this afternoon, as I looked closely at my photographs, that I realized she wasn’t kidding! The Ocean Beach branch of the San Diego Public Library really does need to raise money! Check out the poster which I enlarged!

So now I have to keep a promise.

Please help the Ocean Beach public library raise funds for much needed improvements!

Here is their Facebook page. It contains contact info.

Is this a cause you’d like to support? You might like to help them out! The OB Library is overdue for expansion. Spread the word! Let’s get it done!

Why expand the library? The children's area is crowded and too small! No space for teen and adult activities. The computer area is crowded, unpleasant and outdated!
Why expand the library? The children’s area is crowded and too small! No space for teen and adult activities. The computer area is crowded, unpleasant and outdated!
The library is the creative heart of Ocean Beach.
The library is the creative heart of Ocean Beach!

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San Diego school students do amazing things!

This Italian chalk art will be admired by tens of thousands on Sunday.

While wandering about San Diego taking photos for my blog, I’ve often been privileged to see school students doing really amazing things. From the very young to the college-aged, youth in San Diego are accomplishing more than just learning. They’re creating public art, publishing amazing work, beautifying the community, becoming champions, serving neighbors and people around the world, and working to build a brighter future.

Here are some past blog posts that provide inspiration.

To read click:

Students interview veterans for USS Midway exhibit.

High School students create cool graphic novel!

San Diego museum honors Little League Champs!

School students create amazing chalk art at Festa!

Urban Corps mural shows an optimistic future.

Help Westview High School Music Outreach succeed!

Kids explore science, engineering at STEM event.

Murals of San Diego history in an Old Town alley.

San Diego kids paint beautiful tile benches.

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