Thursday, July 31, 2014

Register to Vote

The 2014 general elections are quickly approaching (Tuesday, November 4, 2014) and now is a great time to talk to your kids about elections and voting.  This is a great opportunity to discuss with them the civic duty that every U.S. citizen has to vote.  Let's set aside the political issues and simply focus on the act of voting.  Although your child isn't eligible to vote until he/she is 18, now is the time to teach them about the voting process and what it means.  The best way to do this is to vote yourself.  If your kids see you voting, they'll register the importance of it and are more likely to vote when they are eligible.

If possible, take your kids with you when you vote.  My wife or I have taken our daughters to vote since they were just a few months old!  It's never to early to start!

Not registered?  This is a great opportunity to go through the voter registration process with your kids!  This is a fantastic teaching opportunity that will make the process less mysterious when they are eligible to vote.  Not sure how to register?  Check out this link:

How Do I Register to Vote?

Not sure if you're already registered to vote?  Then check out this link:

Am I Registered to Vote?

A parent who votes is more likely to raise a child who will vote.  A person who votes is much more in tune with what is going on in the real world.  Don't raise children who are lost to the on goings of the world around them.  Be engaged yourself and you'll raise an engaged child.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Support Your Daughters

Here is a video that everyone, especially dads with daughters need to watch.


It takes the phrase "_________ like a girl" and asks kids of different ages to act out the statement.  It might be "throw" like a girl, "run" like a girl, or "jump" like a girl.  It's amazing how differently older kids act out the phrase compared to younger kids.  The younger kids do everything normal because they don't have the stereotype of what a girl is "supposed" to do.

The video is a great message to parents that being a girl is not a shortcoming or disadvantage.  Being a girl is simply being a girl because the child is a girl!

Please watch the video as it will really open up your eyes to the stereotypes this society places on girls.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bird Eggs and Cheese

The words in the title of this post may seem an odd combination, but hang with me for a moment and it will all be clear in the end.  I mentioned in a previous post last summer about a bird's nest in our backyard.  Another bird's nest this year appeared with a baby bird and 3 other eggs.  The 3 other eggs never hatched, so we took a look at them one day, long after the baby bird and grown and left.  We cracked them open to see what was inside and here's what we found.

Just like a chicken egg, the bird egg contains yolk, which is hardened in this case.  My 3 year old looks at it, smiles, and starts telling everyone that the eggs were filled with cheese!  Looking at the color of the egg's interior, it does have a cheese type color, although it's far from cheese inside!  Every now and then she'll bring it up again and talk about the cheese in the bird's egg.  LOL!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Penny and Empire State Building

You may have heard that dropping a penny (or any other very small object) from the Empire State Building (or any other tall building), that the penny will kill a person if it hits their head.  The idea is that the penny is falling so fast that despite its small size, it will have enough velocity and energy to crack and penetrate a person's skull.  Fortunately for pedestrians near tall buildings, this is simply not true.

Why not?  Air.  The air the penny falls through produces an upward drag force (friction).  As the penny falls, this drag force increases until it matches the force of gravity downward.  When these two forces equal, the penny reaches a terminal velocity and simply can't fall down any faster.  The terminal velocity of a penny is 30-50 mph.  Even at the upper end of that range, given the small mass of the penny, there simply isn't enough energy to crack a person's skull.  A penny strike may sting, but it won't kill a pedestrian on the sidewalk.

Friday, July 25, 2014

This Blog's History: What is a Theory?

This Friday in This Blog's History I bring back to you a discussion on the definition of the word 'theory'.  Too often, the general public thinks a scientific theory is a simple guess by scientists.  No, it is not.  A scientific theory is much, much more than a guess.  It's no different than a scientific law (minus the math) and is backed up by a large amount of observable data.

For full details check out the original post.

What is a Theory?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Kickstarter Campaign - Carbon Dating Comic

Here's another very worthy Kickstarter project that you can donate to if you wish.  Carbon Dating is a web comic for science geeks!  I'm all about anything that gets science into the mainstream and the Carbon Dating comic is one such method.

Carbon Dating Web Comic

The Kickstarter campaign is to raise money to publish comics, in color, on a daily basis.  To do so, the author is hiring another illustrator.

Here's the link to the Kickstarter campaign.

Carbon Dating Kickstarter Campaign

The Kickstarter campaign ends August 9, 2014, so hurry!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Vacation to Iceland

Earlier this month my wife and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary by taking a childless vacation to Iceland!  We dropped the kids off at Grandma's and proceeded to spend 6 days in Iceland.  To be more specific, we stayed in the capital city of Reykjavik, rented a car, and toured the south/southwest part of the island.  Iceland is an amazing place filled with science, much of which I'll discuss in future posts scattered over the next month or so.  Without getting into too much detail right now, I'll say that Iceland is a place that EVERYONE needs to visit at least once in his/her life.  Here are a few pictures.  I'll post more on specific Iceland related topics in future posts.

We saw quite a few waterfalls, puffins, rock formations, volcanic rock, geysers, hot springs, and hills/mountains.  We also took a ATV tour!  More on that later.  I highly recommend that everyone do some research on Iceland and consider a visit.  You will not be disappointed!  When it comes to kids, there's so much you can do outside that I'd wait until your kids are a bit older.  Taking a newborn or toddler may still be fun, but there's so much more you can do if your kids can walk on their own for several hours without needing to be carried!  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Does it Float? Sink?

Last week my 7 year old and I were home with nothing to do, so we decided to test out which food items float and which sink.  It's a real simple experiment you can do with your kids as long as you have a jar, water, and something in the fridge.  I started out by briefly explaining density to her and said that objects more dense than water sink and those that are less dense float.  I let her grab food items and tell me what she thought would happen.  Then she tested it out.

She started with a cherry tomato, which quickly sank to the bottom.  It looks like an oval shaped egg yolk in this picture due to refraction (bending) of light through the water/glass/air transitions, but trust me, it's a tomato.  Then she tried a piece of bread, which floated, but then changed it to a wadded up piece of bread.  It sunk!  By smashing the bread into a tighter space, the density increases and becomes greater than that of water.  We tried several other food items too, including cheese!  

So try it out.  Let your kids choose what to drop in the water, but have them make a prediction of the outcome first.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

I always stress getting kids outside doing science whenever possible, but sometimes it just isn't possible.  Very hot days and rainy days are not good days to do science outside, but they are good days for inside science.  A great website where your kids can learn some science is  More specifically:

It's a website that has a ton of science videos for kids to watch and gives kids science project ideas when the weather is better or you have the correct supplies.  Check it out!

Friday, July 18, 2014

This Blog's History: Burning a Dollar Bill

This Friday in This Blog's History I bring back to you an awesome science experiment that you can wow your kids with!  Burning a dollar bill without destroying it.  Yes, you can start a dollar bill on fire and still successfully use it in a soda machine later.  For full details, check out the original post below.

How to Burn a Dollar Bill Safely

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Curbing Electricity Use

My electrical company has recently starting sending out monthly energy usage reports, comparing our home to typical homes of the same size.  It reveals something I don't like!

My home is the blue line, which is significantly higher, on a consistent basis, compared the the gray line, which shows the typical energy usage of a home my size.  I'd like my blue line to be much closer to the green line, which represents the energy usage of an energy efficient home.  

I'll admit that I'm lazy on several things, so we had a family discussion about not being lazy when it comes to energy usage and finding ways to cut down.  We already have energy efficient light bulbs, so that's not an issue.  Here's what we came up with.

1.  Shutting down the home computer when finished.  We used to let it go into hibernation, but energy is still being used in this mode.

2.  Turning off the printer and computer monitor instead of letting them sleep.

3.  Unplugging phone chargers.  They use energy while plugged in, even if there is no phone connected.

4.  Using a power strip and turning it off when done with the TV.  Same as phone.  Energy is still drawn when plugged in but off.  

5.  Taking shorter showers.  I think we all take long showers quite frequently and hot water is using energy.

A couple of these we started a month ago and there's a drop in our usage compared to the typical home for June, but more months are needed to see if this is a continuing trend.  Check back in a couple of months for our progress on curbing our energy usage.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Science Magazines

Looking for ways to become more knowledgeable on current events in science?  There are several excellent magazines that parents can read to increase their science knowledge base.  These magazines are also great for older, middle school to high school students.

1.  Discover

2.  Popular Science

3.  National Geographic

4.  Astronomy

5.  Sky & Telescope

6.  Scientific American - A bit higher level than the ones above, but still written for a general, non-science audience.

I subscribe to a few of these and look forward to them every month!  As soon as one arrives, I immediately thumb through it to see what it contains.  It's like Christmas presents every month!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Great Lakes Science Center - Cleveland, OH

If you're ever in the area, make sure to take some time to take your kids to the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio.  We recently visited the museum and had a blast.  My 7 year old was so excited to see the Science Center that once inside we had to have a chat with our kids about running off without telling us!  The first exhibit area was on NASA and space.  There were all kinds of cool hands-on demonstrations and experiments for the kids to try.  There was even an old Apollo capsule for the kids to check out and see how tight of a fit it was for 3 astronauts traveling to the Moon.

There's also a whole floor on several different physics concepts.  I was just as engaged as my daughters were!  So check out the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio.  You won't be disappointed!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Take Your Kids to a Baseball Game

With summer here and fall approaching, a great activity you can do with your kids is to take them to a baseball game.  It can be a Major League game or a Minor League game, whichever works best for you.  Baseball has a complicated set of rules for newcomers and it takes a bit to recognize what all of the rules are.  Plus, there's a ton of physics in baseball.  My wife and I recently took our daughters to a Cleveland Indians game.

Baseball games are great a opportunity to explain the rules to your child.  My 3 year old is too young to understand and she could care less about the rules, but my 7 year old was very interested and attentive while I explained the rules to her and pointed things out during the game.  Just remember, that your kids may get a bit bored during a 3+ hour game.  Later in the game I took my daughters for a walk around the park.  We took a look at the city skyline and checked out the field from different angles.

Later in the game we learned a bit about gravity as a few pigeons sat in the rafters above us.  The people two rows down from us got nailed twice!  Once on the guy's head.  I couldn't help but chuckle a little bit, but if it was me that was hit, I would have been pretty upset.  :-)

Friday, July 11, 2014

This Blog's History: Cleaning a Penny

This Friday in This Blog's History I bring back to you a cool science experiment that shows kids how one can clean a penny with simple, everyday kitchen items.

How to Clean a Penny

Have fun!

Thursday, July 10, 2014


We are officially 5 days into summer and the hot months of July and August are yet to come.  Summer is a great time to get your kids outside and playing, but sometimes it is raining or it's just too hot to be outside.  That's when activities are needed to keep kids busy.  My 7 year old was recently introduced to Sudoku and loves it!  My wife had a book of Sudoku puzzles and explained the rules to my daughter and off my daughter went.  Granted, she's starting with the level 1 puzzles, but it's great to see her using critical thinking skills to work through these puzzles.

If your kids are bored and they need something to do on a hot or rainy day, introduce them to Sudoku.  You may find them occupied for hours!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Egg Drop Time!

Summer is here, meaning it's egg drop time!  I've posted several times on the Egg Drop Experiment, and one of those posts is the most visited post on this blog.  I recently had a group of 4th-6th graders build egg drop ships (for full details and supplies, check the link above).  Kids at this age are very capable of taking given supplies and building their own ships with minimal help.  Sometimes they need help tying things together or holding something while they apply glue, but they are very capable of doing this without constant adult help.  Here's an example of what our lab tables looked like a couple of weeks ago.

The kids did a great job, with one ship surviving a 4 story fall onto rocks!  So if your kids are bored this summer, try an egg drop!  It will easily take a full afternoon to build and watching them drop is a blast!  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Astronaut Food

For a recent summer camp I taught to 4th-6th graders we ended each day by trying out some freeze dried astronaut food.  It serves as a great discussion starter on the food and water difficulties when in space.  Each day we tried a fruit and then followed it up with a dessert.

Some foods tasted better than others.  The strawberries, for example, tasted horrible!  My 7 year old was too young to attend this camp, but once she found out I was taste testing astronaut foods, she made sure to make it very clear to me to bring some home!  As the Dad, I made sure to bring some home for fear of receiving her wrath if I didn't!  LOL!  

You can often find packages of Astronaut Food at science museums, but you can usually get it a bit cheaper by going to:

The food isn't cheap, about $3-4 per small package, it's a neat little science demo you can do with your kids.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Augie and the Green Knight - KickStarter Project

Here's another great book project seeking funding on KickStarter.  It's called Augie and the Green Knight.

Augie and the Green Knight

Funding for this project ended earlier this month, but keep an eye on it if you're interested in a copy.  The plot of the book, as described on KickStarter, is:

"Augie and the Green Knight is an adventure story about a scientifically precocious young girl in a world of fantasy."

 How awesome is that!?!?!?  A book about a scientifically precocious young girl.  Can't wait to get my copy and read it to/with my daughters!

Friday, July 4, 2014

This Blog's History: Stay Safe on July 4th

This Friday in This Blog's History I bring back to you a post on July 4th.  I hope everyone has a great July 4th and has fun launching fireworks.  If you're launching your own fireworks, please be safe!

Fireworks and Safety

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Ice Melt Experiment

The other day, while outside, my 7 year old comes up to me and says "Daddy, I have a science experiment!"  I asked her what it was and she proceeds to tell me that she wants to see how long it takes ice to melt on the driveway outside.  Why not?  She ran inside to get an ice cube and we sat it on the sunny driveway.  It was 79 degrees out and it took 10 minutes and 45 seconds for the ice cube to completely melt.  This led us to expand the experiment and test melting ice times on days of different temperatures.  So throughout the summer, and into the fall, we'll periodically take an ice cube (all same size, made in freezer ice maker), place it on the driveway on a sunny day, record the temperature and ice melt time.  How much longer does it take if it's 10 degrees cooler outside?  10 degrees hotter outside?  We'll find out!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

New #1 Post

I didn't think it would ever happen, but there is a new #1 post on The Cool Science Dad blog, based on page views.  For many months, the #1 post was the Thunder/Lightning Misconception.  This post still gets several page views a day, but it was overtaken by The Egg Drop Experiment post.  The Egg Drop Experiment post has been gaining ground on a daily basis for quite awhile.  It just had some catch up to do.  But it's now the most viewed post and continues to build its lead over the Thunder/Lightning Misconception.

How long will it be before there's a new #1?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Evolution for Preschoolers - Grandmother Fish

If you're not familiar with KickStarter, it's a website that lists various projects that people are seeking funding for.  If the funding goal is met, the project is a go.  The point of KickStarter is to showcase projects in need of funding.  If you like a project, you are free to donate to it and help fund it.

I recently ran across an awesome book idea on KickStarter!  It's a project to write a book for pre-schoolers on the topic of evolution.  It's called "Grandmother Fish:  A Child's First Book of Evolution".  I have a pre-schooler myself so the project hits home and received $25 from me.  A $25 donation gets you a copy of the book when it is published in March 2015 (estimated).

You  have until July 22, 2014 to help fund this project.  I definitely recommend you check it out.