Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Bakken Museum--Homeschool Science Series

The April Homeschool Science Series was presented by the Bakken Museum. I admit, we have never been there. It has been on my list of places to go but has been a casualty of the sheer number of opportunities available to us. After seeing the presentation, I am even more inclined to go!

The presentation was on static electricity. Kiddo has been asking me about the shocks he gives Kutey when he helps her unbuckle her seat belt, so the timing was fabulous. Kiddo wasn't sure he wanted to go--until I said that maybe his questions would get answered. Then we were off.


Andre, the presenter, was fabulous. Keep in mind, this is far from a typical "school" group. The age range is infant to probably 13. Not all presenters can handle that range at once. Add to that the fact that he is used to working with the aid of a white board, but this room doesn't have a white board. He did great. He used a lot of volunteers (no shortage of those here!) He explained things very clearly and concisely.

Demonstrations included many things using a Van de Graaff generator. We watched as bits of paper flew out of first one person's hand, then the last person's hand in a string of two people. We watched as hair stood out. We watched as a ball on a rod bounced between two hands. All of these things were explained, quite simply, using the terms attract and repel. By the end, the kids could explain attract and repel, insulator and conductor.


Andre saved the best for last, though. First, we all stood in a circle, creating a circuit, through which a shock was sent. I have seen and heard about this, but I don't remember participating. I made sure the kids participated because, as the presenter noted, it isn't everyday that you get to try this! He noted that he hadn't done it with a group this large, so it might take a couple of tries. It didn't. The first time worked and it was so cool! Kutey's face was priceless. I don't think either kid knew what to expect! The whole room was excited. So he did it again.

The final thing, after that, was an explanation of lightning rods. He had a miniature house with a lightning rod. He placed a bit of Bangsite inside it. First he hit the grounded lightning rod with a shot of electricity taken from the Van de Graaf generator and placed in a Leyden jar. Then he ungrounded it and repeated the process. With a bang of a result. The audience LOVED it. Kiddo LOVED it. You may remember that his favorite Ben Franklin invention was the lightning rod. It was a memorable demonstration.

At the very end, when he took questions, Kiddo raised his hand and asked his question. I was proud of him for remembering his question AND remembering to ask it.

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