Wand of Science Investigates…Hibernation

For this week’s investigation, we’re going to be looking to the weird and wacky world of hibernation.

Here at Wand of Science we all love a good sleep. Sleeping is what gives us the chance to dream and have great new ideas that we can share with all of you.

But, sleeping and hibernation are two very different things; hopefully, with the help of Wanda, we’ll be able to show that difference. What do you reckon, Wanda, should we teach these nice readers about hibernation?

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand: Zzz…zzz…zzz…

Wanda, are you still sleeping? I know it’s been a while since our last lesson but surely you’ve not been sleeping this whole time?

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand: Zzz…zzz…zzz…

WAKE UP WANDA – IT’S TIME TO DO SOME LEARNING.

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand: Aaaahhhh! Where am I? Why do I feel strange? I’m hungry…so hungry

There’s our lady! Asleep for nearly a year, no wonder you’re hungry – it looks like you’ve learnt quite a bit about hibernation already!

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand: Why are my clothes different? I smell weird…what have you done?

Enough silly chat  – now let’s learn about why animals like:

Brown Bears

bear

Mouse Deer

deer mice

Wood Frogs

Epomis-beetle

and silly little Fairies  feel the need to sleep for months and months on end.

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand: Those pictures are scary…what happened to you – you’ve changed?

Hibernation is known as a state of inactivity by scientific types. It occurs in endotherms (that’s animals like me and dirty animals like you who get all hot and bothered all the time) when they need to sleep through the nasty cold winter and wake up for lovely warm summer.

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand: Did you just call me-

You see, sometimes animals live in areas where the winters are just too cold to live through. There’s not enough food around and their fur’s not thick enough to keep them all warm and toasty, so they bury themselves in the ground and just have a lovely old nap.

They sleep and sleep all through the snows and rain. If they’re lucky a big old hand will come and visit them to keep them clean and dressed, maybe even give them a little haircut – in case they’re getting too hot.

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand: My hai-…you didn’t. I thought I was safe. How could you…all my HAAAIIIRRR.

Oh dear…it looks like Wanda’s not much up to learning about hibernation today – maybe she just needs to go back in her hole for a little longer.

Some special brown juice will make her ready for sleep; the bears, mice-deer and wood frogs don’t get this. She’s a very lucky Fairy.

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand: Please don’t, I want to-

Shush now, drink it down. Back to sleep. Where you belong. In your hole.

Wand of Science Investigates… Neon!

This week we’re going to be looking at a quite astonishing miracle of science: Neon! For all of us here at Wand of Science Neon is exactly the kind of thing we love to investigate, because it looks so much like magic and it is not at all obvious how it works and where it comes from. People have been using neon since the 1920’s to illuminate and communicate and we think it is really rather cool! What do you think Wanda?

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand: ‘Neon? I’ve never even heard of it! What on earth is neon?’

What on earth is neon? What on earth is neon!? But you must know what neon is! I’m sure you’ll recognise it, lets have a go shall we? Here you go, heres a pretty cool neon sign:

fun

 

There you go Wanda, that is neon. You will have seen it mostly on neon signs. I’m sure you recognise it from the circus and the carnival! Or at very least from around town!

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand: ‘Oh! Neon! I didn’t know that was what neon was. Yes I love neon! It is so cool!

Yes it is cool Wanda! Phew! I was worried that you weren’t going to be interested in this weeks investigation at all! Well, neon is beautiful and looks really cool, but how does it work? Neon is an inert gas, this means that it does not react chemically under normal circumstances. This means that when we put an electrical charge through neon, it doesn’t blow up! Instead all its little bits, the atoms, ions and electrons that make up the gas just bounce around off each other, and with neon this causes the gas to glow!

4BICYC  A super cool neon bike

Neon on its own only glows a sort of reddish blue colour, but by adding other coloured gasses to neon you can create any colour you like! Any colour looks better in neon! Why don’t you pick a colour Wanda? What is your favourite colour in all the world?

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand: ‘My favourite colour is brown!’

Pink? Great!

images

Pink is a great colour for neon! Unfortunately some colours don’t really work in neon, but only horrible yucky colours like brown. Yuck! We all think that neon is really, really, super cool! We wish we could make everything in our house out of neon, that would be amazing! We are also hoping to save up to get a Wand of Science sign in Neon! What do you think of that Wanda?

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand: ‘Get it in brown!’

Goodbye Wanda.

Wand of Science Investigates… Fans!

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand: “Wait a minute…. fans?…

Like… fans????!!!!!:                                         bieber-fans-650

No Wanda! Not music fans! Not people who love a certain musician or film star or writer or rapper or something. That’s not the kind of science we’re looking at, and certainly not the kind of fan we’re looking for. We mean fans: 

4251800_R_Z001A_UC332993

That’s right, those things that blow some cool air your way on a hot day. We’ve had quite a few hot days recently so we thought we’d have a little look at our fanny friends that help us get through such times. Fans come in all shapes and sizes, can you think of any particular types of fans???

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand: ‘I like those little ones you hold in your hand, like the ones everyone has at the tennis”

I know the ones you mean, the little hand help ones that run of batteries, they’re very small aren’t they? Very helpful on a hot day you know! On all these hot days we’ve been having they come in pretty helpful. These are some of the smallest fans though, fans can actually get very, very big…

industrial_fan_by_regus_ttef-d6m70qy

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand: “Wow! Now THAT is a big fan!”

You are right Wanda! These are industrial fans, they are very, very big and are not used to cool down peoples faces on a hot day! They are used to spread air around in a big spaces like warehouses and aircraft hangers. A fan is made up of a rotating set of blades, they are the things you see in the middle of the fan swinging round and around. These blades are designed in such a way that when they spin around they pull in air from behind them and throw it out in front of them! They don’t actually make the air cold or anything, they just speed it up and through it at you!

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand: “Like a snowball fight, but with air? But why does that cool you down?”

Well Wanda , the reason that fans cool you down is because of a thing called the ‘Wind Chill Effect‘ this how we feel like we are getting cooler when air is blown onto us. Heat can move from you into the air, so the more air that is thrown at you the more heat comes out! So when a fan keeps throwing more and more air at you more and more heat comes out into that air. This is why it is cooler when it is hot but windy than when it is just hot.

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand: “Ok…Is that why Dad always blows on his soup?”

That is exactly why your Dad blows on his soup! He throws air at the hot soup and more and more of the heat leaves into the air! This is also why when you’re cold wind makes you even colder!

So there you go, that’s how fans work Wanda!

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand

“Great! Thank you so much! See you all next time!”

Wand of Science Investigates… Microwaves!

This week we here at Wand of Science have decided to have a little look at the chefs best friend: The Microwave!

nostalgia-electrics-microwaves-500

 

Wanda is pretty fascinated by the Microwave, especially when we told her that it is actually a very new thing! It may be surprising to a kid who has always seen the microwave lurking in the corner of the kitchen, but they really haven’t been there for very long. Your parents will remember a time before the microwave, when the only way to heat your food up was to burn it on top of a massive fire and eat it out of the ashes.

Bagamati_cremation

 

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand : “Yuck! That doesn’t sound very nice! So when did we get Microwaving?

Well Wanda, the first time you could go out and buy a microwave was way back in 1947, but you most likely were not going to be getting one in your house as they used three times as much electricity as the ones you know, and were about the size of a modern fridge freezer! It was also incredibly expensive, chiming in at about £30,000 by modern standards, which is probably more than everything in your entire kitchen, including your family! It was a long time before microwaves were finding their way into your average house, even by 1986 only about 1 quarter of houses had a microwave inside. But that has gone up a lot since then as microwaves have become much, much cheaper. Now above 90% of houses have a microwave, that is a lot of microwaves!

Microwave_Ovens

A lot of microwaves.

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand : “Ok I get it! But how do they work? Are they just a quick oven?”

No they are not just a quick oven Wanda!  An oven heats your food by getting very hot itself, it has a little fire inside it and the oven fills up with heat which cooks your food. Microwaves however don’t produce heat, but do cook your food!

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand : “I DON’T UNDERSTAND!!!”

Woa there Wanda, don’t you wave that wand at me! I’m getting there… Microwaves are so much quicker than ovens because instead of heating food from the outside they channel heat energy directly to the tiny molecules inside the food. It is like they send a little man into the food who reprograms all the little tiny bits of the food to turn from cold to hot! It is like they send a little Meercat in to the food to ask the food to be hot rather than cold. It is like they send a elephant stampeding into the centre of your single fathers ready meal and ask it to be hot (if only they could stampede into him and ask him to stop being so sad!)! Just like tv and radio microwaves work through electromagnetic waves that pass through the air and our bodies and out minds, controlling us and telling us what to think. These little waves go into the food and flick the switch inside the food from ‘cold’ to ‘hot’.

stock-illustration-8345440-nice-witch-with-wand: “Amazing! I think I could build my own Microwave now!”

Great! That is a fantastic idea! Go and start taking apart all the electric appliances in your house and try and build a microwave! But remember to stay safe! Always plug your creation in and test it on your own hand before anyone else gets involved.

Have fun!