Most of the activities that I reviewed in this exercise were from the exploratorium site. I was generally pleased by the activities that were available, and I can definitely see my self using many of these activities in the future.

Exploratorium: Tuning Video

I really enjoyed the tuning video. During my last deployment in the Navy, I learned how to play the guitar, and the technique that I would use to tune the guitar was very similar to the technique that the orchestra would use. Once I had a single string tuned (typically the low E string), I could quickly tune the rest of the guitar.

I recently heard a discussion on public radio about the transitive property of equality in mathematics, and how it can be taught. The exact explanation says the following.

If a=b, and b=c, then a=c.

One way to explain this property is through musical tuning.

a=b: The tuner(a) is used to tune the oboe(b).
b=c: The oboe (b) is used to tune the orchestra(c).

a=c: WHen this is done properly, we can rely on the fact that the orchestra (c) is in tune with the tuner (a).

Exploratorium: Cup Speakers

As a subscriber to Make Magazine and Kip Kay’s YouTube channel, I love little weekend projects, especially those that allow you to use things that you have around the house.

I would use this activity to demonstrate the effects of induction, generator action, and motor action in an advanced electronics course. As the current passes through the coil, it creates an expanding and contracting magnetic field (induction), which interacts with the current carrying conducto to produce vibration (motor action) on the end of the cup. This is aimplified and directed by the cup.

I always like demonstrations that give real-world explanations for technical/scientific phenomena.

Exploratorium: Rain Stick

This is an activity that I will likely complete with my children after the class is done. As a child, I was enamored of the nature of rain sticks. After seeing them at nature stores, I remember racking my brain trying to figure out the internal mechanism that would make that sound. After thinking about it for a long time, the mechanism that I came up with was similar to the one provided in the demonstration.

I think this activity would be useful in exploring science in general. Children could be given a rain stick, and asked to come up with an explanation of how it works. After they work through the problem, the teacher could have them build the rainstick in the manner shown on the site.

Exploratorium: Sad Music

Generally, the scale that they used to produce sad music has the 3rd note in its chromatic scale dropped by a half-step. This is called a minor scale, and the slight dissonance that it creates can make for a very saddening effect.

There is an excellent discussion from the 2009 World Science Festival on the difference between eastern and western scales, and the neurological programming that occurs early in our lives that make us recognize one over the other. The first video of can be found here:

Exploratorium: Audio Pong

The last activity that I participated in was the audio pong game. This one brought a smile to my face as I played it. As I closed my eyes< I could almost feel the ball moving in my head as I moved the paddle. This was an amazing exercise, and I think there’s a lot of potential to integrate this type of sound-based control into commercial games.