Friday, September 22, 2017

Victorian Era ... Central Park, NY

In 1857 Central Park was establsihed with a design by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux.  The park was created as a respite for families from the poor city living conditions and long work hours of the industrial revolution.  It was a way for families to come together in nature to generate health and happiness.

While I have walked through Central Park hundreds of times, I had never looked at it with the eyes of a person coming for a day of natural enjoyment. It was really amazing how at every turn there was something to explore or enjoy.  Everything placed at just the right point to draw you further in or to make you stop and take notice.

A fairytale landscape of huge boulders, ponds, rolling green hills and hidden bridges leads you in to the park from the Scholars Gate.

After the rustic landscape, you quickly come upon the dairy that provided milk to the children (now a visitor center), a building dedicated to chess and checkers (and lots of board games too!), the old mineral spring (which used to serve 15 kinds of spring water and now has lunch) and a carousel.

Leaving the children's area,  you come to the more formal mall which leads you to the bandshell and then through a beautiful arcade to Bethesda Terrace with the famous fountain and a view of the lake.

Over the bridge and you enter an entirely new world, the Rambles.  It is like hiking in the Adirondacks!  We wandered for an hour along the beautiful paths and almost forgot where we were!

While there was so much more to explore, we definitely got a feel for what a wonder this park would have been back in the late 1800s.. and still is today.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Victorian Era ... Rollercoasters

In 1884, LaMarcus Adna Thompson began work on the first roller coaster in the US, the Switchback Railroad in Coney Island.
Image result for switchback railroad coney island

We learned about the law of conservation of energy when it comes to roller coasters.  Then set out building our own.

First, we made a roller coaster online.  We had to make adjustments to our designs to make the coaster both fun and safe.

Then we built one using 1/2 inch pipe insulation, some packing tape and a marble.  The kids had to make adjustments to their hills and loops to keep the marble moving but still in the track.  They saw first hand that by creating a really high first hill they put the most energy into their equation, they discovered that a certain amount of energy is needed to make it back uphill or around a loop and they witnessed how some of the energy is transferred due to friction and wind resistance.   After some adjustments, and a lot of sisterly teamwork,  we had a successful roller coaster!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Victorian Era ... Math

This year I decided to incorporate math into our topic for the month.  This month we are working on charts and graphs and the Victorian Era.   Who knew there were so many great charts of information about the Victorian Era?  Mostly about death.  But, a little morbid math keeps it interesting!  I took a different chart for each day and came up with the questions and exercises to help the kids learn how to read them and how to create them.   

Victorian Era ... Fingerprinting

In 1892 Juan Vucetich, an Argentine police official, had recently begun keeping the first fingerprint files based on Galton's Details. History was made that year when Vucetich made the first criminal fingerprint identification.

We learned about the science of fingerprints and how to use them in forensic science using a great presentation on fingerprinting.

Then we used what we learned to make fingerprint files on each family member using an ink pad and paper.  We all decided that the Vucetich was amazing that he could tell the difference between prints!  It is really hard!  But with some study, we were able to identify which of our prints were arches, whorls and loops.

Next, we lifted latent fingerprints from a collection of glasses that had been used by various family members.  (I snuck them out after dinner the night before and put a code on the bottom of each one so that I would know who it belonged to.)  

We brushed the glasses with fingerprint powder and then used tape to remove the latent prints we found.  

Ummm, we would be poor forensic scientists because we could not even figure out what type of print we lifted let alone who it belonged to!

But we moved on with determination to match a latent fingerprint to one on file! The girls decided to put a clean print on a glass, lifted it and compared it to the print we had on file of the same finger.   The prints came out better but, boy, it is still hard to match them.  

While we were not successful in matching fingerprints, we did learn what makes our fingerprint unique!  Oh, and then we tested to see if cats make fingerprints.