Monday, December 1, 2014

Getting Shot For Science

While on a recent trip to the Fort Worth Science Museum where they had a special Myth Busters Exhibit, I was experimented on.  In the first test, three of us (my wife and another) were used to see if there was a difference in reaction time between light and sound.  Our results indicated that light yielded the slightly quicker response time.  We were told most people have a quicker response to sound.  I had the quickest response overall, thus I was "selected" for the next part of the experiment which involved being shot at with a paint gun.  Yes that is me all dressed up!

Video 1) 0.1 second response, simulates being shot from 25 feet.

Video 2) 0.4 second response, simulates being shot from 100 feet.

Video 3) 0.7 second response, simulates being shot from 17 feet.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Two Crescents

Two Crescents: 5-Days Apart

     Waning Crescent (11/19/14)                      Waxing Crescent (11/24/14)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Waning Crescent

The Moon over Seymour High School on Cold Wednesday Morning (6:15, 11/19/14)

Waning Crescent:


Camera: Nikon D3000
Lens: 300 mm (210 mm)
ISO: 200

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Altair - is the brightest star in the constellation Aquila and the twelfth brightest star in the night sky.  This image was a 20 sec exposure with a Nikon D3000 attached to an Orion Sirius 8 EQ-G Mount.  An Astro-Tech coma corrector and field flattener was also used.

Caph - on the upper right-hand corner of the chair of the constellation Cassiopeia.

Andromeda - The Andromeda Galaxy is a spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years (2.4×1019 km) from Earth. This and the following photo were not focused as well as they could have been  as the object were too dim to see through my camera eye viewer.  This image was a 30 sec exposure.

Andromeda - The Andromeda Galaxy is a spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years (2.4×1019 km) from Earth.  This first image was a 60 sec exposure.

Hummingbird coming in for a landing...

Hummingbird coming in for a landing...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Happy Equinox

Happy Equinox: Monday, September 22, 2014 at 10:29 PM EDT (Seymour, CT)

Illustration image

6:40 AM – 6:49 PM
12 hours, 9 minutes

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Crabby Day

It turned into a Crabby Day for the Short Hike at Ash Creek Open Space in Fairfield which is home to Aspetuck Land Trust’s Great Salt Marsh Island Preserve.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Treefort Lift (or Pulley)

The following is a list of steps I used in building a lift for the treefort I built last summer.  And yes it was my son's request or wish.  This was a work in progress type of endeavor as the plan kept changing as I kept getting further along.

Step 1
Secure a 2x6 pressure treated beam to a tree and 4x4 support post.

Use a 6 in long 1/2 in diameter galvanized lag screw to mount the beam to the tree.  Cut an oval hole in the beam to allow for tree movement.  

Step 2
Secure the beam to the 4x4 using wood brackets and 5/16 bolts.  Brace the 4x4 with clamps at this point.

Step 3
Secure the 4x4 to the deck using wood brackets and 1 5/8 in deck screws or 2 1/2 in deck screws depending on location.  Also, use metal elbow clamps for extra support and to mount the brackets to the deck.

Also, a wood block was attached to the 4x4 as a holder for the rope.

Step 4
Add a support from the 4x4 to the beam.  Use metal brackets and screws for mounting.

Time to add the main pulley (rated 440 lbs.) to the support beam.  Use two angle clamps and 3/8 in bolts.

Step 5
At this point you could be done and just add a bucket to the pulley.  Of course that wasn't good enough.  Construct a platform using 2x4s and deck planks.  Next, add guides so the platform does not spin when you raise or lower the platform.  The guides are 10 ft 1/2 galvanized pipes mounted to the deck railing.  The platform is attached to the guides with 3/4 in pipe clamps.

Note: more pulleys increase the mechanical advantage.  I purchased the ones shown above from The Home Depot, however, I have a double wheel system on order which should make it easier to lift little boys and such.

Good luck for your own project. Below is list of tools used during the construction.

Tool List
Table saw
Compound saw
Two cordless drills/screw drivers

Friday, April 4, 2014

shscatchem: And The 2014 Winners Are...

What happened to my room?

Each year the students make a molecular and brochure of their favorite molecule.  We then have a voting period over two days where current and former students as well as teachers vote on the models.  The votes are entered on a Google form accessed using any internet device.  Congratulations go out to all my students for producing these wonderful representations. 

Click to the link below for the full winners...

shscatchem: And The 2014 Winners Are...: What happened to my room? Each year the students make a molecular and brochure of their favorite molecule.  We then have a voting p...

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Bugs in the Snow

Look carefully, you never know what you are walking over!

While hiking on a trail after sampling some fresh maple syrup at Flanders Nature Center in Woodbury I looked down at what I thought were specs of dirt on the snow.  However, on closer examination I noticed 'they' were jumping (must not be dirt).  Quite a shock to me as I have never seen this phenomena before.  I recorded a video (above) although it is hard to see the critters jumping.

Back home I did some internet searching and discovered they are a type of insect known as a Springtail (they are nicknamed snow fleas although they are not fleas at all). I also discovered they very helpful for soil and are found on every continent.

I have attached a close-up from science perspective website of what they look like.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Does Putting Baking Soda and Vinegar on Your Face Make Your Head Burn Up?

This was the question my son asked me yesterday when picked him up from daycare to which I replied, “I don’t know!  We should do some experiments.”  It’s a good question and questions are what science is all about.  I suggested that we DO NOT start with the original question but do some preliminary tests.

We first added a tablespoon (15 mL) of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3) to a cup.  Next, we added a quarter cup (~60 mL) of vinegar (dilute acetic acid, CH3COOH) to a second cup   and measured its temperature with a digital meat thermometer (Thermoworks).  Finally, we mixed the two compounds together while continually monitoring the temperature.  Of course we repeated this experiment to make sure our results were repeatable.

They were as follows:
Initial Temp (F)
(before mixing)
Final Temp (F)
(after mixing)

These results were surprising to me as the reaction caused a lowering of the temperature.  We found out that putting baking soda and vinegar on your face would not cause your face to burn up although I still WOULD ADVISE AGAINST this as excess vinegar could get into your eyes and inflict pain while causing damage.  As a safer backup demonstration I put some baking soda into the palm of my hand and added vinegar (over the sink).  It did cool off as fizzed.  Of course Julian needed to feel this for himself...

The other thing we discovered was that the reaction absorbs heat from the surroundings which means that it is endothermic.  We could have looked all this up but it was more fun doing the actual experiment...

Also, for those who care:
The fizzing is the carbon dioxide gas that is produced during the reaction.

Note: it produces carbonic acid (H2CO3) first which quickly breaks down into water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2)