Monday, December 31, 2012

Chuck the Chicken: A rubber chicken team-building game!

Chuck the Chicken

This is our most fun Rubber Chicken game of all! We can’t find the original source of this game. We’ve heard it is very old – maybe the original rubber chicken game. 

You’ll need one Rubber Chicken. 

Spilt players into two teams of equal size.  Teams line up.

Team #1 starts off with possession of the rubber chicken.  The first player in line shouts, “Chuck the Chicken” and throws the chicken as far from Team #2 as possible.

Team #2 runs after the chicken, while Team #1 forms themselves into a tight cluster and the player who chucked the chicken runs laps around the cluster. Each lap earns the team one point. Count off laps!

Meanwhile, when the first player on Team #2 reaches the chicken, that player picks up the chicken and the rest of the teammates line up single file behind that player. Players then pass the chicken from the front to the end of the line by passing “over & under.” (The first player passes back over head, the next player passes back under through the legs; the next over head, etc) .

As soon as the chicken reaches the last player in line, that player shouts, “Chuck the Chicken!” and throws the chicken as far from Team #1 as possible. Team #1 stops running laps and scoring points and chases the chicken. The teams swap roles and play continues until each team has had an equal number of scoring rounds and everyone is too pooped to continue! The team with the most points wins!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Science of Christmas

This is a a collaborative post that my daughter and I wrote together in our after-school science club.

We have provided links to the books we used to sneak in some literacy. We learned most of the science activities from Steve Spangler (awesome speaker and science guy extraordinaire). We have included links to his science supplies, experiments, and videos. These links take you away from the blog and to external websites.

This week’s theme was Madison’s idea – linking science activities to ideas associated with Christmas – making science more FUN!

Science Standards Addressed:
  • Describe what happens when substances are mixed (instant snow and dissected glow stick).
  • Know how energy can be converted into different forms and describe how energy produces changes (dissected glow stick and bounce no bounce balls).
  • Identify human organs and their function (ear - reindeer calls and sound).
  • Know how electricity flows through a simple circuit (Rudolph’s nose).
Plus we snuck in some speaking and listening standards like asking questions, expressing ideas, following multi-step directions, and participating in discussions.

5 minutes
As the children arrived we played the songs I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas and Let it Snow, by Andy Williams; and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, by Burl Ives. Hints about the theme of the day! We drew the line with the one about how “Grandma got run over” even though it fit so well with the reindeer calls and reindeer nose activity we planned.

Next we had a snack that once again was a hint of the science to follow. Not too subtle today!
10 Minutes
To sneak in some literacy standards, while they ate snack we read them 
Froggy’s Best Christmas, by Jonathan London

The Night Before Christmas, by Clement Moore
5 minutes
Santa’s Secret Supernatural Scientific Solution: Dissected Glow Stick
You know those glow sticks that are popular at Halloween? You crack them and shake them and they glow.

They are made of a plastic casing with a liquid and a little glass vial of another liquid sealed up inside.
Before the kids arrived, Dad carefully cut open a glow stick, poured out the liquid (typically something like a phenyl oxalate ester and a fluorescent dye) into a glass container, and removed the glass vial (typically contains an activator like hydrogen peroxide).

If your kids play (roughly) with glow sticks, you might have experienced one that breaks and leaks glowing liquid all over your house. It is funky stuff that you don’t want to spill, so if possible get a mature adult (more mature than my dad) to help with this.

To engage their thoughts and emotions, we created an “Imaginary Situation.” Christmas is a magical time – toys made by elves, flying reindeer, a trip around the world in one night, peace on earth, ...EGGNOG!

We told the kids that reindeer fly because of Santa’s Secret Supernatural Scientific Solution, and because we have been so NICE… he gave us some (the little glass vial). Dad carefully broke the glass vial with a tool, letting the hydrogen peroxide flow into the glass jar - to release the glowing magic!

“Woa!” “That’s Awesome!” “Is that real!?”

5 minutes
Bounce No Bounce Balls
I told the kids that when the elves make bouncy balls, at first they don’t bounce (Dad demonstrated by dropping a black ball and it didn’t bounce) but when they add Christmas magic it bounces high. After a quick slight of hand, Dad waved the ball over the Christmas glowing magic liquid, and dropped the ball that NOW bounced high! We paused for the “Wow’s” and then we told them the science behind the bounce no bounce balls. We made them THINK there was only one ball, but there were two, a high-bounce ball and an seemingly identical, no-bounce ball.

Bounce No Bounce Balls

Objects store energy in many ways. If you roll a rock up a hill it gains potential energy (from gravity) – as it rolls down the other side, it gains kinetic energy of motion. When a rubber band is stretched it has a lot of potential energy. When you release the rubber band, potential energy is converted to kinetic energy and it goes flying across the room.

When it hits your little sister in the arm, it releases its kinetic energy into her, which is transformed into sound waves as the energy travels out of her mouth in the form of a scream.

My dad wrote that! I would never!

When the bounce ball hits the floor, the kinetic energy is converted to elastic potential energy as the ball compresses like it is made of tiny springs. When the ball springs back – it bounces. But the no-bounce ball is made of material that causes it to absorb the potential energy slowly – resulting in almost no bounce. This material is great for car bumpers, but not so fun for bouncy balls.

30 minutes
Reindeer Calls
Imaginary Situation: We told the kids that Santa’s elves use these noise-making reindeer calls to steer reindeer around planes and helicopters. We demonstrated the noise potential by wetting our fingers and letting them stick and slide over the string causing vibrations up the string, into the cup, and then amplified by the cup.

We made Reindeer Calls by first decorating brown cups - gluing on googly eyes, foam antlers, and a red pompom, as a nose. 
Then we poked a hole in the bottom of the cup just large enough to thread the piece of string. We threaded the string through the hole and tied a knot or two at the end of the string to hold the string in place. Next we wet our fingers with water and slightly moistened the string. Then by holding the cup in one hand, we pinched the string between our thumbs and forefingers and slid, our pinched fingers down the string.

With some practice and patience, we created loud honking sounds that reindeer could easily hear. We imagined being elves positioned all around the world like airline traffic controllers sending navigation instructions to the reindeer.

We’ve experimented with many different types of string (nylon doesn’t work very well) plastic cups, paper cups, and different-sized cups – all create different sounds!

20 minutes
Instant Snow

We secretly, poured a spoonful of Insta-Snow powder into an empty mixing cup.

We talked about how much Christmas makes us think of snow - the moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, dashing through the snow, and dreaming of a white Christmas. We told the kids that we can’t have a proper Christmas theme without snow! We didn’t have any real snow, but we do have Santa’s magic. We waved Santa’s magic glowing solution over the mixing cup (with the Insta-Snow powder) and poured some water into the cup.

We got lots of “Oohs” and “Aahs” as the kids couldn’t take their eyes off the erupting snow. NOTE: if you want the “Oohs” and “Aahs” – make sure and get the Insta-Snow with the little trademark sign and the Steve Spangler logo. The knock-off versions don’t ERUPT!

Insta Snow

What’s the science of this? This stuff is made from the superabsorbent polymer found in baby diapers – except they don’t just absorb water. The long chains of molecules swell to an enormous size. The polymers act like little tiny sponges. Eventually they dry out and you can repeat the experiment.

10 minutes
Rudolph’s Nose

Energy Ball
The energy ball has two small metal electrodes. When they are both touched the ball glows red and makes a funny sound. We told the kids that in case Rudolph ever got sick and couldn’t do his Christmas Eve job, this little contraption would help a substitute reindeer complete the mission. We touched the electrodes and it glowed red.

Then we got into a circle. Two people touched the electrodes, and the rest of us held hands. When everybody was touching hands Rudolph’s Nose glowed. We explained how electricity was flowing through our simple human circuit and we had them all take turns letting go of hands and being the “switch.” We got all warm and mushy as we talked about how as a community we have energy we can give to each other, how if we stick together we have power, and how if any of us doesn’t participate then the group has no power.

Then, as we prepared to depart for the Christmas Break we held hands and sang, I’ll Have a Blue Christmas Without You.

Dad! We did not sing anything!

Nice way to end the semester!
Follow mikeafterschool on Twitter