Tuesday, June 28, 2011

VBS Air Stuff

I know it's taken a while, but I'm back from vacation and back from youth camp so I can pick up with posting some of our VBS Mad Science topics.  Actually, I was reminded while I was at camp that I needed to do this. 
My small vortex generator is a 16 oz. Styrofoam cup with a nickel-sized hole cut in one end and a membrane made from a sandwich bag rubber-banded to the other end. 

While at camp, I was in the adult seminar and a gentleman walked in with one of these

It's a good thing my daughters weren't there because at the end of the session, I chased the man down and asked if I could check it out!!

Back to VBS:  We studied air on the day that we covered the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Our lessons called it "The Roadside Rescue" and the 'Word on the Street' that day was COMPASSION.  The wounded man felt invisible to the first couple of people who passed him by.  Now they may have actually THOUGHT about helping him, but they didn't actually DO anything.  We picked AIR as the science topic of the day because it's invisible itself, but it is visible by what it can do.

Above you see the picture of our small vortex generator.  When you tap on the plastic membrane, it quickly compresses the air in the cup and it's forced out the hole in the other end.  Just a gentle tap can move your hair around and even blow out a candle.  (Try it on your next birthday cake!!)  We made a larger vortex generator out of a 5 gallon bucket and a piece of shower curtain held in place with a bungee cord.  The hole in the bottom of the bucket was about 3 inches in diameter.  The larger one is good for knocking cups off the heads or out of the hands of your volunteers.

If you are truly ambitious, you can try it with a much larger garbage can.  It needs to be round and you might have to add a shoulder strap for handling it.

Air and curved surfaces are a great combination.  You can make a ping pong ball hover over your hair drier or a beach ball over a box fan.  Balloons are a bit unstable, but if you drop a penny inside the balloon before you blow it up then place it over the fan, it will SOAR.

If you want to see a simple demonstration of lift (how curved airplane wings make the plane fly) do this:  blow over a piece of paper held about chin level.  The faster air moving over the top creates lift.  To see the same principle in fast motion, use a roll of toilet paper and a leaf blower.  Bro. Mark attached a paint roller to the end of his leaf blower with duct tape and put the roll on there, but you can just as effectively put the roll on a broomstick and have someone hold it out in front of the blower.  We discovered that it took about 5 seconds for the entire roll to be dispersed!

Air, even though it's invisible, is capable of doing lots of stuff that we can see.  Our compassion needs to be visible by what we DO with it, just like in "The Roadside Rescue."

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What I Learned at Camp

(Catchy title, huh!)

 So much goes on at at youth camp that, quite often it's hard to boil it down into one concise thought.  This year, however, is different for me.  Several different moments pointed me in the same direction and I wanted to collect my thoughts here.

There are age-graded seminars (or minisaurs, as Will the Trill called them) at SuperWow.  I went to the adult leader seminars.  On Tuesday, we looked at this verse:  Judges 3:31.  Shamgar is mentioned in only 2 verses in the bible:  this one and one a couple of chapters farther on (5:6) where it says that during his time, the highways were abandoned and travelers took to the back roads.  So this guy Shamgar killed 600 Philistines with, essentially, a stick that was used to drive his oxen.  The "Shamgar Principle" then is that you use what God has given you - to do what God has given you to do. The trick is to actually "see" what God has given you: to find your stick.

On Thursday night, we heard (saw actually, because it was done as a wordless drama) Drew Worsham's testimony.  His stick, obviously, was magic.  It was an ability he had been given and he decided to let the Lord use it.

At that moment, I decided to ask our youth pastor if I could lead our late night session.  He told me I could.  I started writing down for each person on our trip what I could see was a "stick" God had given them.  Sometimes your stick might be an obvious talent, but sometimes it's something that others may see as a liability.  Don't you know the Philistines laughed when they saw that all Shamgar had was a stick.  Goliath laughed the same way when David showed up with just a sling and some rocks.

I didn't tell Bro. Dusty what I was planning to say, just that I wanted to say something.  When we got back to our rooms, he told me he wanted to say something first, then I could take over.  When he opened his mouth and started talking, I knew it was a God thing!  We had been teasing him all week about his navigational skills, mostly the U-turns.  In fact we had gotten a glass-marker and written on the back windows of his van:  We may be lost. Watch for U-turns.  At first he had felt bad, but then decided to use it as an illustration.  He was the youth pastor.  He was there to show kids how to make U-turns in their lives.  Because when you are lost, it just might be that you are going in the wrong direction and need to make a U-turn.

When he said that, I almost fell off my stool.  That was EXACTLY the message I was going to illustrate.  The U-turn was Dusty's stick on this trip and he was using it!

I told the group about Shamgar and his stick.  I told them we all had sticks and, like Dusty's, our sticks might just be things that people tease us about.  But God made each of us with certain abilities, certain character traits, certain circumstances and experiences that make us unique.  It's up to us to use what God has given us to get things done for His Kingdom.  We can fight who we are OR we can use who we are.  It's up to us.

Friday, June 17, 2011

VBS bubble stuff

I told the kids that I'd post some of the VBS science experiments that we did.  Since they were fascinated by the bubbles, I figured I'd start there.

To get started, you'll need:
* 1 cup of water
* 4 tablespoons of Dawn dishwashing liquid
* 1 tablespoon of glycerin (you can get this at Edwards Pharmacy and at WalMart close to where Calamine lotion is sold)
Distilled water may work better if your water comes from a well.  Mix it together very gently so it doesn't foam.  You can use a regular drinking straw as your bubble wand.  Blow gently.  Cardboard toilet paper centers work, too.  Just about any closed shape will do.  You can try cookie- or biscuit-cutters.  Try bending some out of chenille stems that you get in craft supplies.  (these work very well because the fuzzy stuff holds bubble solution)  If you're having problems getting bubbles, add a bit more Dawn.

Dirt and oil are the enemies of bubbles.  Your skin has both.  Try bouncing the bubbles that you've created off your sleeve.  Some gloves work well to catch bubbles, too.  We found in the Mad Science Lab that fuzzy winter gloves work better over time than smooth cotton gloves.  We think that's because the fuzzy ones don't absorb the dampness as much.

To create a big bubble maker, you'll need 2 wooden dowel rods and some yarn.  Coat 3 to 4 inches of one end of a rod with glue and wrap yarn around the glue.  Do the same with the other rod.  Then take 2 lengths  of yarn, one about 2 1/2 to 3 feet long and the other about 4 feet long.  Now stretch the shorter piece between the wrapped ends of the dowels and tie to each dowel.  Then tie the longer piece of yarn in the same place.  When you pick it up there should be a shape like a side-ways capital D hanging between the sticks.   DO THIS NEXT BIT OUTSIDE!!  Dip the yarn-wrapped ends into the bubble solution and move it through the air or let the breeze do the work.  I found instructions for another giant bubble wand since VBS.

We did this experiment on the day we talked about forgiveness.  Forgiveness is all about letting go.  For a bubble to be a real bubble, it has to let go, too.

To make the square bubble rig, I built a cube out of 12 4-inch pieces of drinking straw hot-glued at the corners.  Then dip it into enough bubble solution to completely submerge it. (see bigger recipe below) When you've got all 6 walls filled with a film of bubble stuff, shake it a bit to make 2 walls stick together in the center.  Now take a straw, dip it in bubble stuff,  place it into the edge the connected wall and blow.  Keep trying and you'll get a cube-shaped bubble in the center of your rig.  Click here to see a square bubble demonstration .

If you need a lot of bubble solution, here you go:
* 2 cups Dawn
* 12 cups water
* 1/2 cup glycerin
You can store this in a gallon jug.

Covered in Prayer

On our recent road trip, I did a lot of praying.  There was no way I could talk to Mr. H since we don't have bike-to-bike communication yet, so I talked to God.

Before we started out, I prayed for general safety.  I really didn't know specifically what I needed.  On the road, I began to see those specifics.

Thank you, Lord, for the trees on the side of the road that are keeping us in the shade.

And for the light being green, so I didn't have to stop on that incline.

And for that nice man at the top of Alabama who asked if we needed any help (and for giving me a husband who was already all the help I needed!)

And for letting us see the rain start while we were on a very straight stretch of road with a very wide bridge, just right for pulling over and putting on rain gear.

And for letting that rain be in the morning before it would have made the day unbearably steamy.

I don't remember everything that I prayed about, but all were thanksgiving prayers.  I read something this week asking what would you do if all you had was what you had thanked God for today.  That really is something to think about.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Road Trip on the Fizzer

Tuesday morning when I woke up, I was ready to do something that I've never done before:  ride my own bike on a long distance road trip.  When something big is on the horizon, I usually don't sleep well the night before.  I've learned that I can completely ignore the upcoming event and manage to catch some Zzzz.

Here are the bikes as we're loading them up.

Notice that my bike has MY STUFF packed on it.  I don't have any side bags so all my clothes were in a nifty dry sack that Mr. H got at Bass Pro several months back.  The cargo net is a wonderful thing.

We got started about 8:30, a full half hour earlier than Mr. H's planned departure :)

Since it was my first REAL outing, we planned for no interstate highways between George County and Birmingham.  I wasn't ready for I-65!!  We traveled up US 43 until as few miles north of Thomasville, AL.  Then turned right onto what I think is now one of my favorite roads:  Alabama Highway 5.  It's a great road for new riders: not much twisty stuff, nice scenery, trees close enough to the roadway to make shade, not much traffic. . .  just about perfect.

At some point Hwy 5 joins with AL Hwy 25 and then 25 splits off.  We followed 25 all the way up to Leeds, which is east of Birmingham.  Yes, it was out of the way, but it kept me off interstates and introduced me to some twisty roads, too.

From Leeds, we took Hwy 78 to Hwy 280 and that's where we stayed.  There's a Joe's Crab Shack just next door to the hotel and an IHOP across the highway.  We were hot and tired, but we got there safely and that's the main thing.

The next morning, we set off for the Skyway Motorway in the Talladega National Forest.  It runs by the Cheaha State Park.  We stopped at the first overlook and Mr. H took this photo.

We rode to the end and then came back and went into the state park.  Inside the park, you can have access to the highest point in Alabama.  I will never forget it!

Making the left turn into the driveway, I thought I was going wide and stopped.  That was a mistake as the driveway was on a steep uphill grade.  After stalling the motor 4 times in an attempt to get going uphill, on the 5th try, the bike assumed it natural posture (horizontal on its side!)  On its way over, the last inch of the clutch lever snapped off as well as the entire foot peg on that side.  I was not happy with myself for several reasons, but the most maddening of all was that I couldn't stand my bike up without assistance from Mr. H.   He came back down the hill and we got her upright again.  Then he rode up to the lookout tower without a foot peg on the shifter side. 

Let me just say right now that I am married to a most amazing man.  He is my hero, my knight in shining armor, my genius roadside engineer/mechanic.  He didn't fuss at me or laugh at me as some men might do.  He touched the pillion foot peg (the one for the passenger) and calculated that it would probably be transplantable.  There is a small bag of tools under the seat of my bike from which he pulled a pair of pliers and set to work.  (Soon that pair of pliers will be replaced with a better pair, but it got the job done!) 

We sat in the breezy shade at the top of Alabama and I waited for myself to calm down a bit.  I wasn't scared, but I was angry with myself on several counts.  After a bit, we went up in the lookout tower and enjoyed the view.  The picture below is of the repaired Fizzer, waiting to be ridden back down from the top of Alabama!

I am so thankful that I didn't do more damage than I did.  The foot peg is easily replaceable (as the spot fix that Mr. H so ably performed shows) as is the clutch lever.  I think everything can be remedied for less than $50.

Now I need to plug 2 pieces of gear that made the trip much more enjoyable.  One is called a Cramp Buster. It's a piece of plastic that wraps around the throttle and allows you to relax your grip while still keeping the throttle twisted.  It's not really a cruise control device because you don't set it and remove your hand.  You are still completely in control of the throttle, just more with your wrist instead of your fingers.

The next is something called Frogg Toggs.  I own the pink set.  It is very light and packs compactly, but is easy to put on when the rain starts (like it did this morning).  Mr. H has something called the Bull Frogg signature suit  in bright yellow which is a bit more waterproof and is made for biking.  When it stopped raining, we pulled off into a parking lot, rolled and stowed the rain gear, and were back on the road in no time.

And that's just about it for my first road trip!