Thursday, June 28, 2007

The First Experiment

It takes a village, as you know, to keep a six year old busy during summer break, and we've been lucky enough to have The World's Best Mechanical Engineer entertaining us with his feats of Mechanical Engineering Derring-Dew, and lobbing us a few fabulous experiments to try as well. This is all courtesy of my friend Suttonhoo, who gave so much lovely space on her superworldly, supersmart blog to this process, and took my thinking out loud "I wish I knew The World's Best Mechanical Engineer so I could foist Joe-Henry's questions about the Max Train Doors off on him" and ran with it, in her inimitably generous fashion. I've been feeling a bit guilty that it's taking us so long to get to them, as he was so kind to answer Joe-Henry's questions in the first place, and he's a busy man, he's not just ANY mechanical engineer, for God's sake he's the World's BEST, and I don't think it's wise to keep the muckety mucks waiting!

However, I have a six year old, whose attention span fluctuates between "TOTAL" (when watching television he CANNOT hear my voice) and "NONE" (in the toy store, he hops from thing to thing like a flea), and I've learned that like in most of the rest of life, timing is everything. So today, armed with our list, we headed out in the pouring rain to Radio Shack.

As we walked into the store, we were immediately assaulted with colorful remote controlled vehicles, all of which he wanted, and "Ooooooh, mom look at THIS one! What? Oh, I know, I know, we're not getting a toy. But look at this one!"

We were also assaulted by some loud rap music, which one employee turned up louder the minute we walked in (and yes, TWBME, I do believe it was GANGSTA rap!). Fortunately for us, the manager, a nice, if somewhat bitter middleaged man, came out of the back, asking if he could help us, while immediately turning down the music and telling the twenty-something employee that it wasn't appropriate. UNfortunately, they didn't have even one of the things on our list, this being a specialized MALL Radio Shack (is there another kind?), and so they only carry obnoxious remote control toys and nothing like motor wire or magnets, etc.

We then walked down the mall to Target, to see if we could get a can of Mountain Dew. They'd sell us a gallon, but not a single can. Now, I know TWBME swears by the stuff, but I know my boy, and fizzy stuff just isn't in his repertoire, and I don't want to buy a gallon jug or six pack of stuff that no one in this house is going to drink. I do plan on making him try it though, if only to take a picture of the face he makes, and I'll finish it up and hope against hope that I don't get addicted.

So, strike two, and out of Target we shuffle, heads hanging low. The only thing that could save the day was a trip to Orange Julius, and just as he is about to open his straw, I remember the astonishingly simple experiment we were given. One of the first in the series on pneumatics. Woooooohoooo! We're saved! The only thing is, he doesn't want to wait for me to take pictures.

But I'm the mom, so I MAKE him wait. I also remind him of the cool pneumatics experiment with the straw, and as I tear off the end of the wrapper, he gets it, and his eyes light up.

After getting hit in the eye with a straw wrapper for about five minutes, I tell him it's time to drink his Strawberry Julius so we can head home. To which he replies "Okay, Mom. But pneumatics is SO much fun!"

And that's how we turned a failed shopping expedition into a fabulous experiment on pneumatics!
Thanks TWBME! You SO live up to your name!


English Garden said...

I love it when you post the pics. When are you in LA or CA? We are having a party for Sara's 1st Birthday on the 14th.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh. I love this post! My favorite is that 2nd to last picture - his expression is priceless.

I, Rodius said...

The Orange Julius triptych is awesome. It so capture the movement from boredom to thrilldom. Well done!

Donna said...

I don't know what category it's in (maybe hydrodynamics?), but don't forget the snake trick you can do with a paper straw wrapper--tear off one end and skooch and bunch the wrapper down at the other end. Put the scrunchy short wrapper on the table then use your straw to drop 1 (just ONE) drop of liquid onto the middle of the wrapper. It will wiggle and grow. When it stops moving look for a dry spot and try another drop. And ask TWBME what type of science this is.

Also in the straw category, what science is employed when you wrap the ends of the straw around your two index fingers to create a tiny and highly pressurized strawlet that can be loudly popped with a well-placed flick?

suttonhoo said...

so. much. goodness.

the WBME asked me to pass this along, since Blogger keeps eating his attempts to comment (ya think they would have engineered it better than that):

"Pneumatics are just the appetizer. When Joe Henry gets his hands on hydraulics, he may move the house right off the foundation. (In a good way)."