We have plans to program a string of lights with an arduino board before the end of the summer and make a couple of the recipes for game night snacks out the the GeekDad book. Our second attempt at rootbeer went MUCH better with champagne yeast. The GeekDad books are the perfect way to avoid summer boredom.
June 27, 2011
GeekMoms are no stranger to the GeekDad books. Most recently, Ken Denmead’s book The Geek Dad’s Guide to Weekend Fun: Cool Hacks, Cutting-Edge Games, and More Awesome Projects for the Whole Family was put to the test in our house. GeekMom Julia has already reviewed the book. So I am offering the outcomes – success and failure – of several attempted projects. Please keep in mind, I am doing projects with primarily early elementary aged children, so less than perfect results were due to our own mistakes.
Pokemon Bingo: This project was just done with my daughter. She loves Pokémon. The research involved with making the cards was good for her because she started separating the factual parts of Pokémon (Pikachu is an electric mouse), from the fictional character part. Since my daughter is learning how to play the card game, we incorporated the type of Pokémon (water, electric, grass, etc.) into the game as well in an effort to learn about animals and elements. Of all the projects we did out of the book, this was her favorite. She likes cutting, gluing, and crafting. The bonus of getting to watch Pokémon and go through Mom’s Guide to Pokémon was a complete bonus. Playing the game was the cherry on top.
Shaving cream art is on three different summer curriculum lists for my daughter’s age. It promotes sensory learning and hand eye skills. Plus, the shaving cream cleans up really easily. We started with toothpicks to draw our designs. My daughter wanted to do a Star Wars design, so we dipped Star Wars cookie cutters in the food coloring to create what we titled, “Abstract in Dark Side.”
Homemade Root Beer: The first time it was made by three kids aged 13, 7, and 5. The second time it was just the 5-year-old (with help from mom). The root beer was made on a out of town family trip. We had to leave before it was ready to drink. But it has been reported that it was very fizzy and had an odd aftertaste. I have a feeling this has something to do with the climate we live in, so I am going scientific this summer to find out recipe tweaks work best for the cool and wet Pacific Northwest.
Measuring speed of light with chocolate: This was a very cool experiment even though we were really far off in our measurements. The two younger kids layered the chocolate into a dish (and ate the chocolate), while the older kid worked the microwave and did the math problems. Due to an old microwave with no sticker, we used the frequency given in the book. The speed we came up with averaged out to 240.5. After we had cleaned up the project my husband posed the following: Given the constant of “C” (as in E=MC^2) “C” is measured in a vacuum. Doesn’t light travel slower through air than it would through chocolate? (We don’t know for sure.) This experiment prompted a compelling discussion about how different things move through air. I felt a little rushed doing the experiment and math is not my strong suit. Those two variables probably also contributed to the skewed outcome.
My kids and I will be attempting other projects throughout the summer from The Geek Dad’s Guide to Weekend Fun. It doesn’t matter to us if the projects go perfectly the first time or not, it’s the science and learning from successes and failures that matters – just like in life. Though the root beer and chocolate experiments didn’t work out the first time, I would do them again. The hidden scientist in me wants to experiment with variables (different microwave, different storage for root beer, etc.) to see if my results come out closer to what is expected. I have a feeling the kids will enjoy helping…if I let them 🙂
Try The Geek Dad’s Guide to Weekend Fun for yourself. It is available in stores and on Amazon for $12.24 and can also be found at a bookstore near you.
*I received The Geek Dad’s Guide to Weekend Fun for review purposes.*