STEM questions and answers with Dr. How’s Science Wows

STEM questions and answers with Dr. How’s Science Wows

We love questions here at the Science Wows HQ; We generate a lot on a daily basis, and we answer many too. I was delighted to try out the new Facebook live tool for a Q & A session and got to answer lots of question sent in on all the STEM topics (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). Many of these questions were sent in by children, and, from the quality of the questions, and the inquisitive minds behind them, I am sure these are the STEM experts of the future.

If you sent in your question – thanks so much! If you want to send one in for another time then leave your question in the comments below or drop me a line.

Here is the video, if you missed it, or want to rewatch, I hope you enjoy and maybe pick up some new facts.

Here are all the questions asked; If you want to find the specific answer to that question in the video I have included how many minutes into the video it was answered. Under each question below is an additional fact, not included in the video… for some extra WOW!

Oran and Oscar wanted to know…

“Why is it blurry when you look underwater with goggles?” (1 min 20 secs)

Did you know that… if you get a really good pair of goggles or a scuba mask, then that extra air between the glass and your eyes will correct for the blurry vision problem and the light entering your eye will be bent correctly, allowing for a nice clear image?  In fact, you may even see things clearer and larger – the mask can make things appear up to 33% larger and 25% closer

and

“Why do crickets make that noise and where do they go during the day?” (5 mins)

Did you know that… crickets need warm weather to chirp, as they are cold blooded creatures. If the weather gets too cold they will not be able to generate enough energy for their normal chirps and their sounds will actually slow down or stop!

Elissa, Nia and Matthew asked …

“What are mosquitos for?” (12 mins)

Did you know that … the annoying buzzing sound we hear when a mosquito is near is the sound of their wings flapping at an amazing speed of 300 to 600 beats a second? That still doesn’t make the sound any more pleasant though, does it? 

mosquito

Photo credit: James Gathany (CDC)

Dermot is obviously an environmental thinker as he wanted to know …

“How do you convert wind power into electricity?” (11 mins)

Did you know that… humans have been harnessing the power of the wind for a very long time? The first windmills date back to 200B.C.

Ruairí had lots of questions, like …

“Why does your skin go brown after the Sun?” (17 mins 40 secs)

“Did you know that… the more sun exposure we get, the more the melanin producing cells move closer to the surface of the skin. We look like we are getting a darker tan but, more importantly, the melanin absorbed the harmful UV rays from the Sun, protecting our skin from damage.” 

“What’s in the centre of the Earth?” (23 mins 30 secs)

Did you know that… scientists estimate that the temerpature of the Earth’s core is 6,000 Celcius? That is about the same temperature as the surface of the Sun.

“What’s inside a leaf?” (27 mins 30 secs)

Did you know that the colour changes we see in leaves in Autumn are due to different pigments inside the leaves? The colour we see depends on which pigments are present. Some pigments are more dominant than other so if they are present in the leaf they dictate what colour the leaf is. Some pigments we find in leaves are choropyl (green), Carotene (orange/yellow), tannin (brown) and anthocyanin (red/purple). 

“What is inside a bird that helps it to fly?” (20 mins 30 secs)

Did you know that… some birds, such as ostriches, penguins and Emus are too heavy to fly? These birds (called ratites) are thought to have started out as flighted birds but have evolved flatter breastbones, shorter wings, weaker pectoral muscles and heavier bodies.

and…

“Why is fruit good for us?” (7 mins 30 secs)

Did you know that… tomatoes are actually considered fruit and that raspberries and strawberries are not true berries, but bananas are? 

Emily asked…

“Why does your skin go wrinkly in the bath?” (4 mins)

Did you know… it takes five minutes of constant exposure to fresh water for the wrinkles to appear on our fingers, palms, toes and soles of our feet? It takes even longer when in sea water.

Amanda, from Spider Working, is a real lover of cats and she wanted to know…

“Why do cats have whiskers?” (24 mins)

Did you know that… cats are longsighted so their super sensitive whiskers allow them work out everything in their close environment with greater detail? This is particularly important when deciding when to pounce on their prey.

		
		Cats whiskers
			
			
		
	
photo credit: Let's Play via photopin (license)

With a child in this house with an allergy to dust mites, I had particular interest in a question sent in from Jack, asking…

“Where does dust come from?” (9 mins)

Did you know that… the Sahara desert is the largest source of dust in the world? It can produce more than 60,000 kg of dust per year.

Harry would fit in well in this house, with all his questions, such as…

“How do aeroplanes fly in the sky?” (19 mins 30 secs)

Did you know that… the first powered aerplane was made in 1903 by the Right brothers? 

“Why do people have hearts?” (21 mins 50 secs)

Did you know that the heart pumps more than five litres of blood around the body in one minute?

and…

“Why is there no dinosaurs?” (15 mins 40 secs)

Did you know that… birds are considered to be modern day descendants of dinosaurs? 

I loved this question in from Meabh…

“Why do monkeys like bananas?” (26 mins 25 secs)

Did you know that… although monkeys like the sweet taste of bananas, they do not actually eat many in each day? Monkeys kept in captivity usually get no more than one banana a day, their diet is balanced with lots of other fruit, vegetables, seeds and nuts.

Cathal sent in a question while on holidays; he wanted to know…

“Why do you always feel cold when you get out of the pool, even though it is hot out?” (30 mins 10 secs)

Did you know that… the water that stays on our skin after the pool, or a shower, eventually evapourates into gas? To do this it need some heat energy, and some of this heat energy is taken from out bodies, making us feel extra chilly. 

And finally, A question in from four brothers… Brendan, Liam, Iarla and Conor; these boys rescued a dying bumble bee by feeding it a sugar solution. They wanted to know…

“If the sugar thing really worked and why was the bee so shaky afterwards?” (28 mins 35 secs)

Did you know… to make a sugar solution to revive a tired bee, mix about two tablespoons of white, granulated sugar, with one tablespoon of water.

A big thank you to The Busy Mama’s, Awfully Chipper, Office Mum, Wonderful Wagon, Dairy Free Kids, Bumbles of Rice, Learner Mama, Simply Homemade Blog and Get Crafty for sending in some of these questions!

I really hope you enjoyed this, I’d love to do it again so please do share your questions for the next round and let me know what you think! Just pop your questions or feedback in the comments below.

The Ada Lovelace Initiative – a fantastic mentoring and outreach program in STEM

The Ada Lovelace Initiative – a fantastic mentoring and outreach program in STEM

Positive role models are always a great way to inspire the next generation. Ada Lovelace, the amazing programmer and mathematician is one such role model. The Ada Lovelace Initiative (A.L.I), named in her honor, is a community initiative set up to provide such positive role models, to highlight just how important, and able, women are in Tech and STEM.

Ada Lovelace – the original inspiration

Ada was born Augusta Ada Byron in 1815. Her father was the famous poet, Lord Byron and her mother was Lady Anne Isabella Milbanke Byron. It was her mother that would ultimately influence Ada’s academic advancement. After separating from Lord Byron she felt that an education was important for her daughter, to keep her mind engage and free from the mood swings she experienced in her estranged husband. Lady Anne arranged a series of tutors to teach her young daughter in the areas of language, mathematics and science.

AdaLovelace

 

From an early age Ada showed a flair for mathematics and languages. A meeting with the inventor Charles Babbage lead to a lifelong friendship and further access to academic teachings and theories and the time.  It was while Ada was commissioned to translate an article on Babbages’ analytical engines that she added her own notes and theories and expanded the application of the machine into the realm of a real computer. Her works were published at the time but it was not until more than 100 years later that they were republished at the dawning of the modern computer. That is certainly a woman ahead of her time.

Ada is considered by many to have been the first computer programmers and a brilliant mathematician. She referred to herself as an analyst and metaphysician. Whatever title she held it cannot be denied that she is a wonderful  role model in any era.

The Ada Lovelace Initiative – the modern day inspiration

The Ada Lovelace Initiative (A.L.I.) was set up in 2015 by Verify Recruitment. They responded to the startlingly low representation of women in the tech sector (only 25% of the STEM workforce is comprised of female professionals) in an inspiring way. They saw the strong and significant contribution made by the small number of women that do work in technology and realised what a valuable link they can be to the next generation. They set up A.L.I. in 2015 to bring these female role models right to the girls that need to hear their story.

A.L.I. connects female professionals working in technology with Transition Year secondary school students to present to students an insight into working in technology by telling their story. Women from the technology sector tell students about their educational background, their role type how they chose their career path.

In less than a year A.L.I. has reached approximately 3000 students in 14 counties in Ireland. The goal for 2016/2017 is to reach at least 5000 students in schools across the country.

By improving the information channels available to directly inspire girls to consider careers in this field, we believe that the role models can deliver invaluable advice and give the students a taste of the real-world of technology. Cathal Grogan, Director of Verify Recruitment.

There are already over 100 role models from 75 technology companies in Ireland registered as volunteers for The Ada Lovelace Initiative. Volunteers have registered from companies such as TripAdvisor, Udemy, Citi and Concern Worldwide to encourage young women to choose a career in technology.

 

One such mentor, Louise Bernstein, Senior Product Manager at ALTIFY had this to say:

“Today, no matter the career path girls choose – from chemical engineering to organising  music festivals – tech will be in the background automating, speeding up, integrating, and uncovering new ways to achieve goals. Yet, less than 30% of women are involved in how that technology shapes their lives. I want to encourage more women to sit at the tech table, and be part of that future. By improving the information channels available to directly inspire girls to consider careers in this field, the voluntary role models of The Ada Lovelace Initiative deliver authentic career advice and give the students an insight into the real-world of working in technology.”

Louise Bernstein Rathdown School ALI

Photo: Louise Bernstein, A.L.I. Role Model with the 2016 Transition Year pupils of Rathdown School, Glenageary, County Dublin

For more information about the Ada Lovelace Initiative, to register your interest as a technology role model here or to register your school – please visit www.verifyrecruitment.com/ali

#AliMyStory is a voluntary initiative and the visits are provided free of charge to schools who would like to introduce a role model to their students.

Fun Friday – Exploring Bubbles!

Fun Friday – Exploring Bubbles!

WHAT IS A BUBBLE?

A bubble is a thin film of liquid filled with air or another gas. Most bubble are made up of soapy water and air.

LET’S LEARN MORE…

No matter what shape a bubble starts off as, it will always try to form a round shape (called a sphere). A sphere is the shape that allows the least amount of surface area – and therefore the least amount of energy is needed to maintain this shape.

If one or more bubbles touch they will loose their sphere shape – the walls of the touching bubbles will merge. If both bubbles are the same size the shared wall will be flat!

The walls of joined-up bubbles always meet at an angle of 120 degrees

photo credit: kaibara87 via photopin cc
photo credit: Jeff Kubina via photopin cc

 

WHAT COLOUR IS A BUBBLE?

Bubbles reflect colours from their surroundings so at first they may appear rainbow coloured.

As time goes on the colour of the bubble changes until finally the bubble appears colourless – and then it bursts

 

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The sphere of a bubble is made up of two layers – an inner wall and an outer wall. As light waves hit the bubble they are reflect off both walls. The walls of the bubble gradually weaken and the distance between the two walls reduces until the reflected light waves cancel each other out and the colour disappears.

 Did you know… The skin of a bubble is less than one thousandth of a millimetre thick!

 

EXPERIMENTS TO TRY AT HOME

Make your own bubble solution!

 Commercial bubble solutions are great but they can be expensive, so why not make your own? There are lots of good recipes that work really well but this is the one I usually use! 
You will need… a clean, dry empty plastic bottle (1 litre), 4 tblsp (60ml) washing-up liquid, 2 cups (480mls) clean water, 2 tblsp (30ml) glycerine
What to do: Before you start make sure the bottle, your hands and any measuring utensils are clean and dry. Carefully measure out each ingredient and add, one by one to the bottle, trying not to make the mixture get too bubbly. Once everything has been added stir slowly and carefully. Cap the bottle and leave it in a safe place overnight. The bubble solution is ready to use the next day.
Some tips: When making your bubble solution make sure you use “original” washing-up liquid and not any of the scented varieties! If possible, use bottled or filtered water rather than tap water.

 

So now what?… Now start making bubbles!! If you don‛t have any bubble wands you can make your own using some pipe cleaners. Try shaping the pipe cleaners into different shapes and see how the bubble will still always end up as a sphere shape.

 Did you know… The biggest free- floating soap bubble ever blown was 105.4 cubic feet. It could have held 788 gallons of water!

 

If you really want to scale it up make extra bubble solution and us a small paddling pool and a hoola hoop to make some mega bubbles!

 

This is a photo of my son in a big bubble made using a commercial bubble ring


Did you know… The world record for the most people inside a bubble was set in 2006 by Sam Heath; His bubble contained 19 girls and boys over five feet tall!!

 

BUBBLE ART:

You will need.. bubble solution, food colouring, plastic cup, a straw, paper.

 

What to do: Pour bubble solution into the plastic cup until the cup is about one third full. Add two tablespoons of food colouring to the bubble solution and mix it well. Place the straw into the bubble solution and keep blowing until the bubbles are coming out of the pot.

Lower the piece of paper onto the bubbles to make an imprint (do not let the paper touch the plastic cup).  Lift off the paper and allow your bubble art to dry.

You can repeat the process using different colours of food colouring!

 

ENJOY!