Posted by: Danny | September 23, 2009

Rainbow Candles and the Scientific Method

We played with fire today!  If people want to buy their own rainbow candles, you can probably find them at most party stores—just ask for candles with coloured flames.  I had a hard time trying to find them online, and would have preferred tea candles which you can get from ThinkGeek, but they’re expensive and you only get one colour per package, so good luck.  (Birthday candles here.)

When burning things, please don’t be stupid.  Make sure that they’re non-toxic, and that you’re not in a dusty attic.

We never wound up actually talking about how the chemicals that fuel fire affect the colour of the flames.  If you want to know more from an authority source rather than experimentation, start at the Wikipedia article.  There are all sorts of cool, big terms like blackbody radiation that should not discourage you (actually, Andrew was talking about how the amount of heat does have an effect on the colour of the light emitted and was totally right—this has to do with blackbody radiation and is worth a look), but if you want a simpler answer, look here.  Also, there’s a really neat YouTube video showing different chemicals burning in a lab.  Remember, for crying out loud, that a lot of this is toxic, dangerous, and should be done with an expert in the room.  I am only enough of an expert to do this with non-toxic birthday candles.

I’ll be posting our question for debate and consideration as soon as Jenny and I have agreed on it, so please check back here, those of you who’ve found your way.  In the meantime, that guy in the video we showed at the end of class is Richard Feynman.  Look him up if you want to know more about him (he was ridiculously cool), and if you want to see the whole video, I’ve linked to it here.  He explains the beauty of science a lot better than I did.

Finally: when you’ve set up your blog, please email me the address so I can link to it.  My email address is in the handout we gave you.


Posted by: Danny | September 14, 2009

Welcome to Exploring Our World at St. Clements

Hello, St. Clements youth!

This is my blog for Exploring Our World, where I’ll be posting recaps of what we did during our weekly meetings, discussion questions we’ve agreed on (and my responses to them), neat things I find, and lots of other stuff.

I’ll also be posting copies if any handouts we get in the Handouts and Resources section above, so if you miss a meeting, you can still get the resources and join in.  If you go there right now, you can find a tutorial on how to sign up for and decorate your blog.

Once you have your blog ready, make sure to send me a link to it so I can add it to my blogroll.  Once everyone’s linked up, it’ll be really easy to visit eachother and comment on posts.  (It won’t be as easy as using Facebook, unfortunately, but in exchange, we’ll get a lot more control over how our blogs are displayed and what we want to include in them.)  Have fun, and if you get stuck, post a comment and ask for help!