Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I love bats - they are so cool. Bats are a lot like people. Both people and bats eat fruit and other animals, take good care of their babies, and have different colors of hair like red, black, brown and gray. My favorite thing about bats is that they can two and a half times their body weight in insects every NIGHT! Go bats!

Bats have a spooky reputation in part because they are excellent fliers. They can swoop and dive in crazy patterns as they try to get their dinner. Vampire bats don't help the bad bat rep either. Vampire bats live in Central America and lick blood rather than suck it. They have sharp lips that make a small cut on the leg of an animal and they drink the blood.

Bats not only can eat loads of bugs, but many bats pollinate plants that we eat like mangos, peaches, and avocados.

Science words: mammal, insectivore, frugivorous, echolocation, nocturnal

Mammal – animals with fur, live young they nurse
Insectivore – an animal that eats insects
Frugivorous – an animal that only eats fruit
Echolocation – using sound waves to locate objects
Nocturnal – an animal that is active at night

Bat food – Bats pollinate lots of plants we eat. Some of them are figs, avocados, bananas, peaches, and mangos. They also pollinate chocolate! Eat a meal that was brought to you by a bat!

Bat headbands – bats have all sorts of ears. Look at pictures of bats and their ears. Make your own set of bat ears

StellalunaStellaluna gets separated from her mother. This is a good story to talk about a plan for what you might do if you were separated. What would you do if you were separated from your mother? Would you eat bugs if a stranger offered you food?

Bats Are Sleeping
(Tune: Frere Jacques)
Bats are sleeping,
Bats are sleeping,
Upside down,
Upside down.
Sleeping in the morning.
Waiting for the night to come.
To fly around.
To fly around.

Favorite Books on Bats
StellalunaJannell Cannon
Zipping, Zapping, Zooming Bats by Anne Earl

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Color Science

Rainbows and color mixing are lovely messy science and art blended together. Most of the work here is color mixing and this one can get nice and messy. You can use water color paints or bath tub tints to make different colors.

Color Mixing - using color bath tablets, make containers with three primary colors: red, blue and yellow. Primary colors cannot be made by mixing. Watch the tables. What happens when you put them in water? Pour some of the yellow into another container. What will happen if we add a few drops of red? (orange) Pour some of the red into another container. What will happen if we put in a few drops of blue? (purple) Pour some of the blue into another container. What will happen if we add a few drops of yellow? (green - tho this might be easier the other way around - add the drops of blue to yellow)

You can see how we did color last year here.

To take the lesson up to older students, we worked on tertiary colors - colors that blend one primary and one secondary color. While most color wheels have rather flat names for these like yellow orange and blue violet, you can make up lovely names for them like stormy ocean, or Arizona sunset.

Spectrometer - a spectrometer measures the changes in the spectrum and can be used to identify different materials. It is pretty simple to make one. Here are directions to making your own. You can use it to look at different types of light like flashlights and candles or try putting a bit of table salt in to a flame and see how the spectrum changes.

Why are rainbows curved? This is a great question to ask older students. On a sunny day, put a glass of water in a window and move it until you have a rainbow. You can also use a CD. Both of these will produce a straight spectrum -no curve. Why is a rainbow curved?

Light travels in a straight line. As it enters the raindrop (or any drop of water) it splits up into its color components (colors of a rainbow). Most of the light travels right thru the water drop. Some reflects or bounces back thru the drop. The sides of a water drop are curved so the resulting reflection is also curved. The CD and water glass are straight, so the resulting spectrum is also straight. (The light is reflected of the glass vertically so it isn't curved to the light. Knew you'd ask!!)

What have you been doing with color science? Post your thoughts and comments.

Monday, October 4, 2010


With all the rain we've had lately, anything having to do with the sun is especially welcome! Rainbows are such a fun phenomena to play with -there is weather in there, color mixing, and even a bit of physics. On top of all that, it a really beautiful experience. Now if you could only eat them, rainbows would be the most perfect topic of all!

Tuesday we are going to play with rainbows at Messy Fingers in the library starting at 10:30. Sign up at the library at 508 865 1181. There are only a few spots left.

I will make an early elementary science lesson on the same theme available tomorrow afternoon.

Stay tuned...