Saturday, December 20, 2014

Winter break activity: Build a geodesic dome from plastic straws

  • Straws ( got mine at a grocery store)
  • Mini brads
  • Paper punch (about 1/16" diameter)
  • Ruler
  • Scissors

  • How to calculate a triangle if you know the angle and one of the length? If your students are high school, you can use trigonometry. 
  • Triangle is the strongest and more economical shape. Talk about angles in a triangle
  • Constraints. My straw length is about 7". The longest straw should be no longer than the material.

Cut straws to 2 sizes:
Green: 5.5" ( about 35 pieces)
Blue: 4.6" ( about 30 pieces )
Hole punch both ends and connects it with brads.

Starts by making a big circle using 10 green straws

Connect them with blue straws. Add vertical blue straws on the middle of the blue pentagon. Connect the top of the blue straws with green straws to make this shape

 Then connect horizontal lines using green straws. Then add the vertical blue straws as pictured.

Connect the last brad.
You made a model from straw. Want to be more creative? Instead of straw, try using rolled newspaper... See how big it can get. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

IDEA It Lab: Hands-on activities for little engineers - Fibonacci numbers

Topic: Applying math - Fibonacci numbers can be found in daily life.
Architects use Fibonacci numbers and Golden Ratio as tools to measure beauty. When they design a building, they would consider the proportion and measurements according to Golden Ratio, 1.618
It is amazing to find this ratio in nature.

Video to view: Nature By Numbers
Video link:

Activities: Observe the world around you. See if there is any proportion or shape even color that caught your eyes. See if you can find a certain ratio on the object you are observing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Object from my childhood that interested and influenced me

I remember my dad gave me wooden blocks toys. It's somewhat similar to the picture attached where I can build and make something. I think I can still "feel" the shape and the texture in my hand. I enjoy the process of building something. It's probably not always come up as I was planning but it's still interesting.
Today, I got my bachelor degree in architectural engineering but never really practice it. As a mom, I enjoy going to art fairs, museums and travel to new places. Sometimes, I have a burst of ideas ( need to write it down quickly). I enjoy putting together creative programs and I still play with wooden blocks I bought for my daughter. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hand made Holiday decor

Yes you can be creative and make your own Holiday decor. How?

Find a piece of metal sheet, add some creativity and " Voila...."

I love going to hard ware store where I could find a piece of copper sheet and some tools. 

I have a Christmas tree stencil at home that I slightly modify. I added a rectangle on the bottom that would work as the base.
 Using carbon paper, I copy it to the metal piece and cut the outline and leaving the bottom part un cut. I use engraving tool to scar the bottom part of the three where I plan to do a  90 degree fold
 After filing and decorating the item with letter stamping, the item is ready to fold
As for the green patina, I add soak the piece for 30 in a solution of  3 tbs vinegar and 3 tsp salt. Then, I take it out and let it air dry. I add some salt to make the process faster. It takes couple hours to develop the green patina. You can use this to decorate your dining table for your Holiday dinner, or you can put it in your mantle or any place that needs decorating. A simple but impressive project. Wouldn't you agree?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wire and beads, yes middle school (you) can make an interesting jewelry for $10 or less.

You only have wire and some of your favorite beads. Can you make a jewelry with it? If you ask me, the blog writer, the answer is YES. It is nice to have store bought toggle or lobster clasp. But if you are on a budget to make a gift for your loved ones, you are in luck because if you take one of IDEA It Lab jewelry program, they will teach you how

Here's how.
1. Buy some quality beads from local bead store like Ju Ju Beads for $6.
2. Black copper wire a spool for $2.
3. Borrow chain nose, flat nose, round nose and cutting pliers from your dad, uncle or anyone you know for free.
4. Your time to read make it.

If you don't know how to do a simple wire loop, you can check out this video. In this bracelet, I added something unique which is squiggly wire. Last but not least is to make a closure. The basic idea is to make an "S" shape or "skinny number 8" where both wire loop connects. You can slightly modify to make an interesting shape. One end needs to have a gap enough for the wire to slip. If you need a step by step instructions, please leave a comment on this blog.

Total cost for this bracelet, $10. The personal value of making it yourself, priceless.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Harry Potter inspired lighted wand for Halloween

How many engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
Three. One to hold the ladder, one to hold the light bulb, and the third to interpret the Japanese text.

It is funny to think about that joke. I probably could do one myself. "How may engineers does it take to make a pretend Harry Potter inspired wand? Two and an artist. One is an electrical engineer who is figuring out the circuitry, one is an architectural engineer who is figuring out how to make a right sized "wand' for a 12 years old using dowel and plastic container and one emerging artist who decides on the color."

We follow the instructions as in this link.
I takes few hours to work on it. First, we went shopping to Radio Shack. Then, we cut the dowel to the size, drill a hole for the LED light, connect the light, run the cable around the dowel and connect the circuitry. It didn't work. Dad came to the rescue with circuitry and I helped with other part.

Finally, it all come together a couple hours before Halloween party starts. Can you guess what is the character in Harry Potter is she?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

How to make a prism bottle shape? ( not quite but I use this as learning opportunity)

Yes, we do have one.... an almost perfect prism bottle shape... ! How did we do it?
We'll it's a secret.

We went to Mt. Evans last week with a guest. The view was spectacular. Despite  having hard time with altitude sickness, I decided to the short hike to the top of the mountain and so did our daughters. As usual, we would bring extra drinks including a bottled water for every one.

After we got home and cleaned up the car, my younger
daughter found this odd shape bottled water. She was very curios and wondering how did it happen. I have a light bulb moment to use this opportunity to teach her about air density.

As we go to a higher altitude ( Mt Evens is about 14265 ft while Denver is 5280 ft), the air is less dense because the gravity pull the air downward towards the earth. When we opened the bottle at 14265 ft, the air density inside the bottle is the same with the air density at 14265 ft. When we go to a lower altitude where the air density is more, the higher density air pushes the lower density air. But why prism shape? This one I wasn't so sure as we only have one type of bottle water,  but I am guessing because triangle is the very stable shape of other shapes.
And of course, I have to do a little drawings when I talked to my daughter so she could understand easier ( I hope :) I seemed that my answer satisfy her curiosity. What do you think?