Thursday, January 16, 2014


Kids found two different kinds of salamanders in the park this week.

Arboreal Salamander:

Slender Salamander:
The text of a handout for young salamander collectors:

"These are California Slender Salamanders. They are amphibians. They have no lungs and breathe through their skin. They eat small spiders, beetles, crickets, pill bugs, and snails. They catch their prey by flicking out their sticky tongue. They live in moist places, but NOT in water. Slender Salamanders are common on the coast of California. You can probably find one living in your backyard. Look under logs, rocks, and piles of leaves. They protect themselves by running away or excreting a sticky liquid. If their tail falls off, or is bitten off by a predator, it will grow back."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tortoise Enclosure

Sala wanted a pet reptile. He had $40, a dozen reptile care fact sheets, and an obsession to own a reptile.
Sala's mother would not let him purchase a reptile until he had a viable home for his pet. He spent a week or so searching the workshop in vain for plexiglass sheets to glue together into a makeshift tank for the ball python of his dreams. No luck. He schemed to make a box out of hardboard and hardware cloth for an iguana. He soon realized that he did not have space in his bedroom for a 6 foot lizard.

Then, in a pile of junk dumped on the street near an empty lot he found this:
And carried it, almost exclusively by himself, three quarters of a mile and over a pretty impressive hill to the Center.
Sala's route carrying the table.

There was a pretty heated discussion among some of the kids about what this table had been used for. Sala and I think it is a toy train activity table.

He had seen pictures of tortoise tables on the internet. With the table in the workshop Sala set to work transforming the table into an enclosure for a tortoise.
cleaning the table
 After securing the top to the frame, an 8 inch fence of hardware cloth braced by 2x2s makes a safe place for a small tortoise.
just add a hutch, substrate, and heat lamp

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cork Reindeer Ornaments

Snow Globes

We have been making "snowglobes."
The globe is a pint togo container. The snow is shredded polystyrene foam. The snow is lifted into the air by a propeller spun by a 3 volt motor.
We can post complete directions if anyone is interested.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Real Phone or Fake Phone?

This week some kids wanted to make a "real" phone. One person made a model smart phone out of hardboard, a hobby motor, reflective tape, and phone wiring.

There was much argument about whether this was a "real" phone. It looks real enough for me.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Halloween Automata

This week we worked on Halloween theme automata. Take a look at the instructions for simple automata here.

The star is the "Witch in a Cauldron" by Dawna.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dry Ice Bubbles

This week, in preparation for Halloween. We did some spooky science.

One of the activities was making bubbles with dry ice.

1) Put a chunk of dry ice and a half cup of warm water in a cup.
2) dip a pipe cleaner into bubble solution

3) Slide the pipe cleaner over the mouth of the cup to stretch a film over the opening

4) Watch the escaping CO2 gas fill the bubble with fog

Or just drop a chunk of dry ice directly into the bubble solution. This will make a foggy foam "grow" out of the cup.
We use Exploratorium's home made bubble solution recipe.