Monday, July 9, 2012

A word about safety...

As I was reading my usual science blogs, one really stood out. Here is a word of warning about glow sticks.

I love all things glowing and sparkling - so I always look at the pintrest posts with glow sticks. I do love many of them and have pinned ideas with glow sticks. However, do NOT open up the glow sticks.

Really - they contain chemicals that can be dangerous if swallowed. Yeah, I hear you that you are not going to swallow them, but can you say the same thing about your pets or kids?

If a glow stick cracks, and I've had a few do that, toss it out and wash your hands.

If you really need a glow, and I understand the need, try paint or using a black light. I hear there are many unexpected things that will glow like tonic water.

But if you really want to get your geek on, check this out.This is not a video for preschoolers, but explains how florescent dyes work, the chemical reactions needed to make glow sticks, and why you need certain chemicals for each reaction. It is a cool video to watch where he does some really great science asking questions and then collecting data.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fun Friday Fact

Fireflies are the state insect of Tennessee and Pennsylvania.

Ok so that is really totally fun, so here's another one:

Female fireflies of the Photuris genus mimic other firefly species flash patterns so that when a male from another species responds, she eats him.

Anybody know what the state insect is of Massachusetts?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Book Review: The Very Lonely Firefly

The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle is the story of a firefly searching for other fireflies. Along the way he finds other lights like a lantern and a candle. Once he finds other fireflies, he's happy to be flashing right along with them.

I've always loved this book. Mine was a gift from a dear friend so it has special meaning.I would recommend finding a copy that has the lights at the end. They make for a special surprise.

4/5 stars.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Animal of the Week: Lighting Bugs

The look so plain and uninteresting in the daylight, but come dusk, lighting bugs reveal their special magic.

Lighting bugs, or fireflies, are insects with six legs, three body parts, and wings. They are actually beetles.

Male lighting bugs emit flashes and glows to attract females. In some species the female glows as well. The light is greenish-yellow, yellow, blue or in some species even reddish. The pattern is specific to each species. Lighting bugs like to live near marshes or other wetlands and can usually be found flashing within a few hours of dusk.

Ok the wicked cool thing about lighting bugs is that their light is without heat. It is a chemical process using an enzyme called luciferase. This is the same chemical that causes the organisms in a Red Tide to flash.

Catching lighting bugs is a fun summer ritual. Since they like wet areas, lighting bugs are often found with mosquitoes. If you use bug spray be sure to wash your hands before catching lighting bugs. Handle them with care.

Put the lighting bugs in a jar with a lid that has holes for air circulation. Don't keep them long -  no more than overnight - they are busy and won't live long in a jar.

If you want to participate in Citizen Science, consider Firefly Watch from the Museum of Science in Boston, MA. We have done this in our home for years and it is an excellent introduction to Citizen Science for kids.