Tag Archives: TryThisTuesday

#TryThisTuesday: Virtual Treasure Hunt

To celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day we have put together a virtual treasure hunt that you can do from a phone or computer.

For this treasure hunt you will need to solve clues to find co-ordinates to the next stop . The first three people to make it to the end of the hunt will win the treasure of a Street Science Busking Kit which is filled with equipment to make amazing science demonstrations at home!

Using Co-ordinates

Geographic co-ordinates allow every place on Earth to be identified with a set of numbers. The system that we’re using for this treasure hunt gives every point a latitude number and a longitude number.

If you were to draw a line from your point on the globe into the centre of the Earth and another from the centre of the Earth to the Equator, the angle between these two lines gives you the Latitude.

Longitude is measured slightly differently.  There is an invisible line running from the North Pole to the South Pole through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, known as the Prime Meridian.  All points along this line have the longitude 0. The longitude of other points are calculated as the angle east or west from the Prime Meridian.

So Newcastle Upon Tyne, where we’re starting our treasure hunt from, has the co-ordinates 54.97, -1.61 because it is 54.97 degrees from the Equator and 1.61 degrees to the west of the Prime Meridian. Going west of the Prime Meridian or south of the Equator gives the co-ordinate a negative value.

 

The Treasure Hunt

Try to solve the clues to find the co-ordinates for the next place. Once you’ve got co-ordinates type them into Google maps (just like this: 54.97, -1.61 with latitude first) and make a note of where you’ve got to.

This will test your research skills as well as your maths skills, feel free to use Wikipedia and a calculator.

Destination One

The latitude for the first place is 57.14 divided by the number of universities in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

The longitude is  equal to 10 – 90.65.

Where are you?

 

Destination Two

To find the latitude of our second destination, take the last two digits of the year the first man walked on the moon, half this number then add 3.32

The longitude can be found by taking the year Newcastle University became independent from Durham University away from the year that the oldest part of the university (the School of Medicine and Surgery) was established and adding 6.52.

What amazing feat of engineering are you near?

 

Destination Three

For the latitude of our next place, take away 3.1 from the distance that Destination Two stretches in miles.

The longitude can calculated by the number of different countries that students at Newcastle University have come from divided by -2.

Which wondrous forest have we arrived at?

 

Destination Four

The latitude of this place can be uncovered by multiplying the number of countries that share Destination Three by 5 then adding 1.234

The longitude is equal to the number of reptile species that have been discovered in our previous destination divided by 63 then add 0.053

What amazing discoveries were made here?

 

Destination Five

The above place is often known by an abbreviation of four letters. If you convert these letters to numbers (eg. a=1, b=2, c=3 etc.) and square the second number, then add 0.197 you will have the latitude of our next  destination.

To find the longitude, convert the first letter of the abbreviation to a number and take this away from 58.274.

Which incredible man made structure are you looking at now?

 

Destination Six

For the latitude of our final place – where the treasure is buried – you will need to divide the total height of the structure we just saw (in metres) by -46.1.

To find the longitude, simply take away 16 from the number of floors in this structure.

Where is our treasure buried?

If you think you’ve cracked it, either send us an email to stem@ncl.ac.uk or comment below with the six places the co-ordinates led you to!

 

#TryThisTuesday: Rice Bottle

Our #TryThisTuesday this week, is a challenge for you. The task is to fill a dry bottle with rice and lift it up using only a pencil.

Have a go or challenge your friends, once you think you’ve cracked it (or given up) scroll down to see how we did it!

The Solution

Take the lid off the bottle and push the pencil half way into the rice. Take the pencil out again and push it back in, repeat this about 10 times. Eventually, when you pull the pencil to take it out, the bottle will lift up with it!

This occurs due to the force of friction acting on the pencil and holding it in place. When you first pour the rice into the bottle, it will arrange itself with lots of gaps but every time you insert the pencil you push the rice down making it more compact or dense. Some grains may even break or change shape under impact with your pencil. The more you do this, the greater the surface area of rice that comes into contact with the pencil. This gives a greater force of friction. Friction is a force of resistance between two objects when they  move past each other. The force is so strong at this point that it doesn’t allow the pencil to slip past the rice and so the rice (and the bottle) moves with the pencil as you lift it.

In the Real World…

This works in a similar way to quicksand. If you were to step onto quicksand, you would compact the particles, making them move closer together and lock around your foot, pulling you in. The friction makes it difficult for you to pull your foot out. Don’t worry too much though – quicksand is much denser than a human being so you wouldn’t be able to completely sink in it. As we learnt from our ketchup packet submarine and the oil and water experiment – less dense substances float above denser substances so you would stay above the surface of quicksand!

#TryThisTuesday: Cup Drop

For the week’s science demonstration, you will need a metal mug or screw, a pencil and string.

cupdrop

  1. Tie one end of your string onto the handle of the mug and the other to your bolt.
  2. Hold onto the screw and pick up your pencil with your other hand.
  3. Lift up the string with the pencil and hold it about half way along the string, on the same level as the screw, allowing the cup hang down.

What do you think will happen from this position if you let go off the screw?

You may think that the cup will simply fall to the floor due to the pull of gravity and the string will pull the screw along, leaving you holding a pencil mid-air.

In reality, nothing (hopefully) hits the floor. You are right in thinking, gravity wants to pull the cup down, but it also wants to pull the screw down too. As the cup begins to drop it pulls the string, pulling the screw in towards the pencil, as the screw is being pulled from two directions it ends up swinging towards them. As it has a bit of weight behind it, it builds up enough momentum to go around the pencil a few times, wrapping the string around it.

So now the string is wrapped around the pencil and the cup still hasn’t dropped. If you try to pull the screw now, you’ll see why. It’s difficult to move the string. This is due to the force of friction. Friction is a force that occurs between two objects, it is the resistance that occurs when they move over each other. As the string is wrapped around the pencil a few times, there is a larger area of string touching the pencil, so a greater force of friction. This keeps the string in place to stop it sliding off, allowing the cup to hit the floor.

Try this out with your family and friends, see if you they can guess it correctly!

#TryThisTuesday: Rock Candy

This weeks Try This Tuesday takes a while, but you end up with a tasty treat!

You will need:

  • A wooden skewer or chopstick
  • Peg
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2-3 cups of sugar
  • A narrow glass or jar

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Clip the wooden skewer into the peg so that it hangs down inside the glass and is a couple of centimetres off the bottom.

Put the water into a pan and bring it to the boil. Pour about a quarter of a cup of the sugar into the boiling water and stir until it dissolves.

Keep adding more and more sugar, each time stirring it until it dissolves, until no more will dissolve. This might take quite a while!

When no more sugar will dissolve remove it from the heat and leave it to cool for about 20 minutes.

Pour the sugar solution into the glass or jar almost to the top. Then put your skewer back into the glass so it hangs down and doesn’t touch the sides.1st

Leave your glass in somewhere it won’t be disturbed. The sugar crystals will grow over 3-7 days. Once these have grown you can eat them!finished-product

The Science

By mixing the sugar and water together when they were really hot, you have created a super saturated solution. This means that the water contains much more sugar than in could in normal circumstances. As the water cools back down the sugar leaves the solution (mixture) and becomes sugar crystals again, forming on the skewer.

Supersaturated solutions are used in real life. In a sealed fizzy drink the drink is saturated (full) with carbon dioxide, as the carbon dioxide is put in using pressure. When you open the drink, the pressure of the carbon dioxide is decreased, which causes your drink to be supersaturated as there is much more carbon dioxide dissolved than there would be at normal pressure. The excess carbon dioxide is given off as bubbles.

#TryThisTuesday: Exploding Lunch Bag

Today we are going to make an explosive lunch!

You will need

  • One small (sandwich size) zip-lock plastic bag
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Warm water
  • Vinegar
  • A tissue

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Do this experiment outside, or at least in the kitchen sink. Put about a quarter of a cup of warm water in the bag with half a cup of vinegar.

Put three teaspoons of the bicarbonate of soda into the middle of the tissue and fold it up into a little parcel.

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Partially zip the bag closed but leave a little space to add the bicarbonate of soda parcel in. Put the tissue parcel in the bag and quickly zip the bag completely closed.

Put the bag on the ground and step back. The bag will start to expand and hopefully pop!

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The Science

The bicarbonate of soda and the vinegar eventually mix together, the tissue just gives you enough time to get the bag shut. A reaction takes place between the alkaline bicarbonate of soda and the acidic vinegar, this is know as an acid-base reaction. The reaction produces carbon dioxide, which begins to fill the bag. After a while the bag can no longer hold any more gas so it pops!

The reactions between acids and alkalis are used lots in real life too. Farmers can treat acidic soil with alkaline lime fertilisers to neutralise the soil and allow plants to grow. It’s also a good way to treat a wasp sting; wasp stings are alkaline so you can treat them by putting vinegar on the sting.

#TryThisTuesday: Chicken Sounds from a Cup!

This week we are going to make chicken sounds from a cup!

You will need:img_4715

  • plastic cup
  • string
  • paperclip
  • paper towel
  • scissors
  • water
  • pin

 

 

 

First put a hole in the top of your cup. We found it easiest to push a pin through and then make the hole larger with scissors.

Cut a piece of string that is about 20cm long and put it through the hole in the cup.

Tie the top end of string to the side of the paper clip.img_4716

Wet the paper towel. Hold the cup in one hand and wrap the paper towel around the string near the paper cup. Squeeze the string and pull down in sharp jerks to make the chicken noise!

The Science

Sound travels in waves, which cause particles to vibrate and causes the sound. The vibrations from the string would normally be almost silent without the cup.

When you add the cup it amplifies the sound and makes it much louder. This is because the cup is a solid object, and there are lots of closely squashed together particles in a solid object for the sound waves to hit and vibrate. The more vibrations the LOUDER the sound.

 

#TryThisTuesday: Milky Fireworks

For this week’s experiment you will need to raid your fridge and kitchen cupboards to get some milk, food colouring and washing up liquid.

Pour some milk into a dish or bowl, this works better with full fat milk (we’ll tell you why later!). Add small drops of your food colouring wherever you like in the milk.

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Get some washing up liquid on the end of a spoon or cotton bud and gently tap the spots of food colouring with it. 20170509_143248

The food colouring should burst out into colourful stars and wavy shapes. This happens because the washing up liquid molecules have a hydrophobic tail, these means that they don’t like water so try to get away from it by seeking fat molecules. The milk (especially if it is full fat milk) contains lots of fat molecules. So the washing up liquid moves around in the milk seeking out this fat and takes the food colouring along with it, creating these funky patterns.

This is why we use washing up liquid to clean our dishes. The hydrophobic, fat-loving parts cling to grease and fat. The head of the washing up molecules are hydrophilic, meaning they love water. The heads cling to the water and the tails cling to the grease, this pulls the grease and dirt from your plates and washes them away with the water, giving you sparkly clean dishes.

 

#TryThisTuesday: Cork Balancing

Today we’re challenging you to balance a cork on its round side, on the very end of your finger, whilst keeping your finger straight. 20161018_163129_resized

Could you manage it?

It’s quite tricky, but here’s a hint: two forks could help you out.

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Have you figured it out yet? Remember the cork must be balanced on your finger not the forks.

The solution is to stick the forks into either side of the cork. You should then be able to easily balance it on the end of your finger.

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There are two reasons this works. Firstly the forks add weight to the object you’re trying to balance. Because the ends of the forks hang below your finger, it lowers the centre of mass so that it sits underneath your finger, increasing the stability.

Secondly, adding the forks extends the object. By making it longer, the centre point is also stretched making it easier to locate so easier to balance the object. This is why tight-rope walkers often have long poles to help them balance.

Image result for tight rope walker

#TryThisTuesday: Skipping Stones

During our time as STEM Ambassadors, we’ve visited several beaches together. From Newcastle in Northern Ireland to Clear Water Bay in Hong Kong and even beaches closer to home in Whitley Bay and Tynemouth, we always ended up skipping rocks somewhere!

But how do we do it!? Why don’t the rocks just fall into the water?

Skipping rocks in Whitley Bay

The key is to get a nice flat rock and throw it quickly at the right angle. The large surface area allows the stone to bounce off the water’s surface.

You need to throw it fairly hard to give it enough speed to gain momentum before it hits the water. When the rock hits the surface of the water it pushes the water down whilst the water pushes the rock up. If the force pushing the stone up from the water is greater than or balances the weight of the stone then it will bounce on for another skip rather than sinking. This is why it helps to have a nice small stone.

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It is also important to get the right velocity. Velocity is the speed of something in a give direction. So we have the speed covered, now for the direction. Scientists have discovered that the optimal angle at which the stone should hit the water should be around 20 degrees. As you probably won’t be able to measure this on a causal day trip to the beach, just aim to throw the stone sideways rather than up or down.

Hopefully you’ll manage more than my measly two skips. Try beating the world record of 88 skips in a row!

Will skipping rocks in Northern Ireland
Will skipping rocks in Northern Ireland

#TryThisTuesday: Curly Fries!

Today we are looking at the science behind curly potato fries. First, let’s talk about how we make them.

  1. Carefully chop up a potato into straight thick chips.
  2. Boil around 250ml of water and stir salt into this water until no more salt will dissolve.
  3. Fill a bowl with tap water and place half of your chips into this bowl.
  4. When the salty water has cooled pour it into another bowl and add the rest of your chips to this.p1020750
  5. Leave both bowls of chips out overnight.
  6. The next day you should have one bowl of chips that are still hard and straight and the other bowl (with salty water in) will be full of chips that are more flexible, that you can shape into curls.

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The Science

The addition of salt to the water allows you to make curly fries due to osmosis. Osmosis is the movement of water from an area that has few molecules in the water to an area that has more molecules in it to try to even things out and create a balance.

waterin

Plants like our potato here are made up of millions of cells that have a cell membrane around its edge which allows some things in and not others. Water can easily flow through this but the salt we dissolved in it can’t. Cells are filled with lots of little molecules so water usually flows into the cells and fills them to dilute the liquid. But when we have lots of salt in the water, there are more particles in the water outside of the potato cells than inside so the water leaves the cells.

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bendyWhen cells are filled with water they are quite rigid and packed closely together making a fairly sturdy chip. When the cells are dehydrated, they are smaller leaving space between cells, allowing the chip to bend without snapping.

Osmosis is used in all plants – not just when you cut them up and put them in a bowl of water! Plants use osmosis in their roots to allow water to move from the soil into their roots.