Monday, December 5, 2011


Extreme FUN.
Electricity--a subject I somehow avoided during my entire education.  Thank goodness for Vardell, a homeschoolin' daddy we are fortunate to know.   His know-how plus my...ok--I brought snack.  Snack is important!  Together we reserved a room at the local library for a small group of girls and this is what we did.

Week 1-we learned the basics of electricity (and I include myself in that "we") including the basic terms and concepts of conductivity, insulation, and resistance.  Power lines right outside the windows gave a nice illustration of current electricity and its delivery mode.  The girls were given segments of an electric cord to dissect.  We had fun playing with a volt meter.  Cassidy and Amey were pros at this.  We hooked it up to a variety of batteries (and the wall outlet!) and then used those batteries to run a motor.  Nobody got zapped, even a little.  Streaming video and a neato electricty kit to explore rounded up this first day.

Week 2-Vardell visited a 2nd-hand store last week and scooped up some junked electronics for the kids to disassemble.  They started with a motherboard.  Discovered ribbon cable, dissected (and played with) it.  Ellison thought the designs on the board itself reminded her of a map.  It was neat seeing how the electricity is delivered to all parts of the computer.  Then we moved on to an alarm clock, whose giblets included some rather interesting bits, including an internal antenna.  I know Ava really got a kick out of unscrewing the body of the alarm clock.   Now she knows she can get into the innards of a whole lotta stuff with just a screwdriver.  Mental note: hide all the screwdrivers.

Next up--and this was the pièce de résistance--a dead, remote-controlled stunt car sans remote and batteries.  We named him Sparky and opened him right up with the screwdrivers, and found WIRES!  We know what to do with these wires, now.  Gator clips connect them right up to the batteries.  Lights flash.  The girls think this is pretty cool.  But when we get the motor running, the real fun begins.  Vardell taped on the SIX VOLT battery and turned Sparky loose in our little conference room.  Who needs steering?  The girls chased Sparky around until we feared eviction.  We downgraded Sparky to a more sedate 3 volts. That worked, too, but the girls much preferred the raw POWER of six volts.  I think that spells trouble, don't you?