THE SCIENCE BEHIND FIREWORKS

Fourth of July has arrived in the United States, and we are excited to celebrate our nation's independence with some explosives....better known as fireworks! Fireworks are a symbol of the Fourth of July, so we thought it would be fun to cover the science of fireworks and what makes them explode with all that color!

There are a a few different types of fireworks but aerial fireworks are the ones designed to shoot high into the air and give us those amazing, patriotic shows that so many of us look forward to every year.

First, let’s talk about what makes up an aerial firework. A firework is held together by an outer container that is usually made up of paper and string. Pretty basic. Within the container, there are stars which are composed similarly to sparklers. Those are surrounded by black gun powder. Then, at the center, there is a bursting charge that is composed similarly to a firecracker and has a fuse that leads to the top of the aerial firework to allow for lighting.

To launch a firework, it is set on a mortar that normally has black gun powder in the center of it to assist with the lifting action necessary to turn a firework into an aerial firework. The shell design affects the outcome of the firework and some fireworks have multi-break shells to produce different effects, colors, and sounds when the firework explodes in the air. These can be composed by layering the composition detailed above in various ways within a single shell.

Now that we have covered the composition of the firework, let’s talk science!

Different elements are used within the stars to control 2 things: the rate at which the chemical reaction takes place and the final effect of that reaction in regards to color and shape.

To control the rate of the chemical reaction, chemists use larger grains of chemicals and don’t mix together the black powder as thoroughly as you would if you were using it for other purposes to slow down the reaction.

To get the coloring they want, a chemist has to choose the right elements. When an element releases energy, it releases it in the form of light, and each element releases a different color light. This light comes from releasing the energy stored within the atoms of an element. When atoms come in contact with light, their electrons become excited and move to a higher energy level. Electrons can not stay in an excited state forever though, and when the electrons are cooling down, they release a colored light dependent on the element. For an example, copper oxide emits a blue color when ignited, strontium chloride produces red,and magnesium and aluminum produce white. Red, white, and blue!

The shape is dependent on the construction of the shells. Where the stars are placed makes the most impact on how the firework will appear after the explosion!

Hope you learned a bit about fireworks — just in time for the 4th of July!

Technologies That Changed the Game for Mothers

There are some technologies that have without a doubt changed the world for the better, and some that are definitely debatable. However, we wanted to drill into 3 technologies that changes the game for mothers and still to this day

Washing Machines

We are going to throw it back to an invention that truly changed the game for all humans that appreciate a clean pair of underwear, but especially moms with a household full of dirty laundry. The washing machine changed a task that some used to spend multiple days in a week working to complete. From making your own soap, hand scrubbing all items, then wringing, drying, and pressing them, the task of laundry has drastically changed thanks to the glorious washing machine. It goes hand in hand with the dishwasher and the vacuum to change time consuming tasks to tasks that can be done in a fraction of the time. With these types of inventions, moms have the ability to spend their time on other things such as working, furthering their education, or spending more time with their families.

In addition, with the movement of household chores being a shared task among husband and wife, washing machines have been a huge part of sharing that duty across genders and have helped to balance that workload. So, needless to say, we love those beautiful machines.

Wireless Breast Pump

Now, lets take a dive into a newer technology that current day moms seem to be pretty jazzed about: wireless breast pumps. According to Pinterest's Top Trends for 2019, searches for wireless breast pumps was up 118%. And who is shocked? Not us! In comparison traditional design of a breast pump, a mother is tethered to a machine with minimal ability to multitask. With the option of a wireless breast pump, a mother can carry on with her busy schedule while still pumping at the same time. Why didn't someone think about this sooner? We were thinking the same thing! In addition to being able to multitask, these new age breast pumps give moms real time data on how much milk they are producing and their pumping history for each breast. The types of technologies that really stick are the ones that serve a problem that plagues many over time. And with new moms as busy as ever, gaining some more multitasking time in the day is just the ticket.

Video Baby Monitors

We are sure some mothers might disagree, but according to most of the new moms we've met, the technological advances in baby monitors makes a night and day difference. The changes made to baby monitors in the past 20 years have moved the world from monitoring your baby through a traditional walkie talkie to actually being able to take a live video feed of your baby with you on your phone. Now, not that this allows for parents to leave their babies, but new mothers we have talked to have praised the ability to see if their baby is truly awake or just a bit restless before they work themselves back to sleep. The peace of mind that comes with being able to see your baby can do wonders for a new mom, and this technological advance definitely gives moms a bit more insight into what is going on in between cries and gurgles while baby is supposed to be sleeping!

Any thoughts on technologies that have changed your world as a mom? We would love to hear them! Comment below!

5 TIPS TO KEEP YOUR SUMMER STEAM-Y

Keep STEAM in focus! There are 5 categories in STEAM, and they are each important. So, to keep STEAM top of mind, you have to exercise all 5 of them. We suggest doing at least 1 activity for each letter!

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SCIENCE

Go stargazing! Summer nights are the best to get away from the city and stare up at the night sky for awhile. Try to pick a night when it's clear- the sky will not disappoint! Make a list of constellations to try and find, and do some research about our solar system before you go. Don’t forget to grab a comfortable blanket or chair; our solar system is captivating when you get a clear summer night! Check out the link below for tips on how to get the most out of stargazing.

TECHNOLOGY

Our favorite way to exercise the T in STEAM is just keeping up with tech news! At GrowinGEERS, we check it on the daily because it is CONSTANTLY changing. I personally follow The Verge, but I also love to listen to some amazing tech podcasts that cover the gamut on tech. I highly recommend Rocket which is hosted by 3 powerhouse tech women and This Week in Google, which supports my obsession with the behemoth that is GOOGLE. Check them out this summer with your kids! Or even without them..you won’t be disappointed. The link to the Rocket podcast is listed below. Please be aware though that these are media outlets so always screen the content before sharing with your kids as we know how the media likes to take things over the edge sometimes!

ENGINEERING

Do a Growin’GEERS quest! Okay, we are a little biased on this one, but as some of you already know, Growin’GEERS is a super fun way to learn about a new engineering discipline! We recommend throwing a Growin’GEERS party at your house, and inviting a few friends over to see who can build the best engineering solution to help Flynn out! Not only is it fun, but you get to work with your friend to learn something new! I mean, honestly, what could be better than that? To get you started with Growin’GEERS, check out our $5 quest which is the perfect way to see if Growin’GEERS is a good fit for you. Sign up using the link below the video!

ART

Check out some local art! In most cities or towns during the summer, there are a slew of art exhibits, art walks, or markets where local artists can showcase their work. Plan to check a couple of them out and make a point to talk to the artists themselves. One of our favorite things about Art is that there are a slew of mediums, from painting to sculpting to needlework. Ask the artist about the material aspects of their art; what type of paint do they use? Why is it different than other options? Do they know the components in the paint that make the difference? The same questions can apply for the tools that any artist uses, so dig in and ask some questions about what makes their artistic passion different!

MATH

Okay, so I have to be honest on this one; I am not the world's best in the kitchen... I tend to do more of the eating than the baking. But, baking is a GREAT way to exercise your math skills through measurement, time, and more! Get your kids involved, get them working (oh sorry, I meant learning) and make sure they are involved in every aspect of the baking process, especially if it involves numbers. Conversions between different measurements is also a great mathercise (yes, I went there). You know, how many cups in a gallon, how many teaspoons in a tablespoon, etc. Work that "math mind" you crazy bakers! Check out some of our favorite recipes on our Pinterest page which you can access using the link below!
We hope you enjoyed our quick tips on how to fill your summer with STEAM fun. Now get out there and get those GEERS moving!

Links:

Science:
Stargazing Blog Post

Technology:
Rocket Podcast
The Verge Tech Website

Engineering:
First Month of Growin'GEERS Free

Use FIRSTMONTHBLOG as the coupon code

Math:
Yummy Baking Recipes to Practice Math Skills

4 Reasons Music Education Is Important For An Analytical Mind

In any type of STEM related career, there are certain skills that can make you more successful in your analytical endeavors. According to research, learning a musical instrument is a great way to exercise and strengthen some of those skills. By blurring the lines between the arts and STEM, we can better prepare our students to be more well rounded as they encounter the problems of tomorrow's world. Below are 5 skills that we as engineers use on a daily basis that a musical education can help to foster.

Aids in Teaching and Improving Math Skills

While learning a musical instrument and participating in an activity that is traditional viewed as more creative, music is rooted in math. By learning to read notes, understand rhythm, and comprehend beat, children are being exposed to basic addition and subtraction, division, and fractions. 

In addition, music tends to follow patterns as does mathematics. Music helps to hone a students skills to pick out patterns and put them to use.

Teaches Responsibility, Work Ethic, and Perseverance

Being able to master an instrument or even be remotely good at playing one requires a large amount of practice, time, and patience. By understanding that learning an instrument is not a quick feat, students can start to understand the difference between long term and short term goals and create a commitment to a goal that takes time and focus to achieve. In addition, t o be able to maintain this level of practice, a student of music must be diligent and responsible in maintaining a consistent practice schedule. By learning this discipline early, they are building skills that will be useful later in life when they are confronted with an analytical problem that cannot be solved overnight. Failure becomes a part of the learning process instead of something to be avoided.

Learning To Work As A Team

The majority of musicians have at one point played or learned a piece of music in a group setting. Whether a band or an orchestra or even a smaller group like a quartet, there is value in learning to play music in harmony (get it?) with a group of people because it adds depth to the music being played. In order to play in a group, students learn that they are part of a bigger goal and have to play their role in ensuring the piece is played as best it can be. For example, if a cellist decided that they wanted to be the start of the show and play the melody, there would be not backbone to the piece being played. It is a great way to show students the importance of team work early in life while doing a creative and fun activity with their friends.

Exposure To Different Cultures

By learning a musical instrument, you get the opportunity to explore different countries through the language of song. Music makes it easy to expose kids to rock, jazz, blues, folk, and more which can give them a glimpse into the past to the sounds of the times that were at hand. Music can also be directly connected to certain times in history such as World War II, the French Revolution, and the Civil Rights Movement. By exercising their ability to understand the differences between multiple cultures, they will be more prepared to work with a variety of cultures, religions, mindsets, and beliefs later in life as they solve complex problems related to STEM. Problems related to STEM can drastically affect the general population's daily life, and it is important for engineers to understand the impact they can have and be sensitive to the potential shift they can cause.

10 Reasons Why Every Mom Is a #STEM Expert

In honor of Mother’s Day, we wanted to point out all the amazing ways that mothers truly embody all things #STEM!

  1. Mothers understand the complexity of acoustics and sound travel to be able to hear an accident, fight, or secret across long distances.

  2. Mothers know just the right mixture of laundry detergent, stain remover, and elbow grease to wipe out any clothing stain.

  3. Mothers are the technological super geniuses that somehow figure out how to turn on, program, or setup any new toy, gadget, or appliance.

  4. Mothers are experts at necessary social skills: negotiating any decision to make everyone feel like they have won!

  5. Mothers can remember the exact mathematical measurements to cook a flawless meal or make a mean batch of cookies without being able to hear themselves think. (Fathers too on this one!)

  6. Mothers have sonar embedded within them to be able to locate a lost item in t-minus 30 seconds or less.

  7. Mothers know how to balance any complex equation such as how to pickup 3 kids from 3 different locations at the same time and get them all home in time for a family meal.

  8. Mothers know the exact dimensions that every article of clothing needs to be shaped like to perfectly fit in every family member’s drawers.

  9. Mothers know how to optimize the packing of any suitcase, car, or backpack for maximum capacity and minimal waste.

  10. Mothers are the architects of their children: erecting them to be contributing, thriving members of society that will give back to the world all they have given them.

We hope you enjoyed our fun take on why all moms qualify as #STEM experts. In all seriousness though, Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing mommas out there. Keep rockin’ it!


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Statistics On A Daily Basis

Statistics are a huge part of daily life and can be see in the daily routine of life regularly. Here are 5 examples of where statistics can be seen daily.

The Stock Market

Even though we may not see the stock market on a daily basis, it is a major influencer on the performance and environment of our economy. Stock analysts and financial professionals use statistics regularly to predict, model, and understand how the economy is performing and where there could be potential risks or major rewards. If you watch the news or a show talking about the stock market, you will see a lot of references to statistical analysis and financial data crunching to back the information they are sharing. This is a great example of how statistics affects our overall economy.

Weather Forecasts

Each morning when you wake up and ask Alexa (or Google!) for the weather forecast, she is sharing with you a prediction that was made using detailed weather models and predictive analytics from years of historical data collected on the weather during the season or time of year. Meteorologists are charged with helping to record and analyze this information to make more informed weather predictions. As our ability to create computer programs that can effectively analyze all the data we have on weather quickly, meteorologists are able to make more accurate weather predictions based on the historical outcomes of the past.

Insurance

When an insurance company decides to insure your home, your car, or even your life, they are utilizing a multitude of statistical sources to know what risk you present to them and how much they should charge you for that coverage. Based on your age, gender, location, and a lot of additional factors, they can know the risk of them having to pay a claim regarding your property based on the historical data they have collected on millions of other customers requiring coverage. Insurance is very statistically based and for good reason as they are on the line for paying off large sums of money if anything were to happen to you or your property.

The Medical Field

This one is a bit more broad because statistics comes into play in just about every aspect of medicine. From drug trials to the likelihood of a procedure being successful, healthcare organizations and insurance companies collect tons of data in order to know how to predict the outcome of a medical decision. In addition, statistics provide insight into specific disease states so that physicians and researchers can focus on the right pieces of a disease to help people in the future who are affected by it. Statistics is a great tool to ensure that professionals are focusing their efforts on the diseases that are affecting the most people or a medication that could change millions of lives.

Store Inventory (Supply Chain)

Organizations like Amazon and Walmart use statistics to ensure their supply of products and goods meet the demand of their clients. By collecting detailed data on every item that is bought, shipped, and potentially returned, they know how much inventory they need in a certain city or location of the world to meet the demand. They also know which items are most popular for specific demographics which also supports their marketing efforts to increase their overall sales. So, not only are they saving money by closely watching their supply chain, but they are able to use the same information to bring more revenue in the door. Statistics are on both sides of the supply and demand equation.

We hope you learned a little bit about where statistics can be seen in your daily life! Please share our post on Pinterest or Facebook if you liked it!

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How To Host An Epic Nerdy Movie Marathon

A nerd is defined as an socially inept person; especially one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits. 

While we love to exercise our social skills and like to break through those stereotypes, sometimes we need a day to nerd out and embrace our love for intellectual fun! So, what better way to do that then a nerdy movie marathon?!

Here are 5 suggestions to planning a sci-fi movie marathon day that the whole family will love!

1. Space Oriented Snacks and Treats

No movie marathon is complete without a treat to pass the time. We suggest ordering some space ice cream online to enjoy during the movies. In addition, cook a snack or a meal that aligns with the nerdy theme. We love this blog post that lists some old school snacks that really throw it back!

2. Movie Line Up

To host a successful marathon, you must have the right line up of movies. Based on your families preferences, we have put together 3 lists: one that is fully sci-fi, one that is more fantasy focused, and one that is a mix of all. Your choice on what will make your nerdy family snort with joy!

Sci-Fi Focused List

  1. Empire Strikes Back

  2. Back to the Future

  3. ET

  4. The Iron Giant

Fantasy Focused List

  1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

  2. Lord of the Rings (Your Choice!)

  3. The Chronicles of Narnia

The Mix List

  1. ET

  2. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

  3. WALL-E

  4. The Never Ending Story

3. Gear

When we decide to do something here at Growin’GEERS, we go all out. And in our opinion, no movie marathon is complete without nerdy footie pajamas. Yes, they may make your feet sweat, but this is the big leagues. Go big, or go home!

4. Host a Challenge

We love spending time with family and friends that share our nerdy personalities, so be sure to invite some fellow nerds to partake in the marathon day! To ensure that they are aware of the seriousness of this nerdy day, share the fact that they must meet the following requirements to be able to attend:

  1. Bring a fantasy or sci-fi inspired snack. Check out this link for inspiration!

  2. Greet all attendees with a nerd-approved greeting, examples including “May the force be with you”, or “Live long and prosper”.

  3. Arrive in either nerdy footie pajamas or the garb of their favorite sci-fi or fantasy character!


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Creativity In Engineering

Creativity is defined as the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination.

As time progresses, our world is being faced with more and more difficult challenges associated with the environment, energy consumption, transportation, and more. As an engineer, we are stereotypically defined as a group that is introverted, math obsessed, and unable to break away from our analytical strong hold. However, as new problems present themselves (as they have for many years), engineers are needed to apply their analytical skills in creative and unique ways to come up with better solutions for the problem of tomorrow.

Without having the ability to think outside of the box and bring skills that they have to the table in a way that has never been done, we as a society will not have the ability to overcome new challenges as they arise.

In addition, as engineers push through the barriers associated with these new problems using out of the box thinking, they will have to use their communication and leadership skills to convince others that they research or their work is the way to go. Without being a risk-taker, a leader, an innovator, most new engineering ideas would never get off the ground.

So, next time you think of an engineer, think about Albert Einstein. Think about Harry Truman. Think about Sally Ride. Think of all of the people that came before us that pushed the boundaries for what an engineer really is.

For more myths debunked about engineering, check out http://www.thecreativeengineer.com/a-few-engineering-myths/

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4 FANTASTIC ENGINEERING FEATS TO VISIT

The Grand Canyon’s Skywalk

The sky walk is a horseshoe-shaped pedestrian bridge with a glass floor located in Arizona. The structure was commissioned and is currently owned by the Hualapai Indian tribe.

The Grand Canyon's Sky Walk is made of approximately one million pounds of steel and 83,000 pounds of glass. Some people within the tribe and others associated with the Grand Canyon worry that the project could negatively impact the sustainability of the area and the beauty of the canyon.

Shanghai World Financial Center

The Shanghai World Financial Center is a skyscraper that serves as offices, hotels, conference rooms, and observation decks. The structure is highly regarded for its design by architects and designers around the world. The trapezoid is made of structural steel and reinforced concrete and helps to reduce wind pressure on the 1,614.2 ft building.

The Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel is located in central Scotland and helps to connect the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal.

Prior to the wheel, the two canals had been connected by a series of 11 locks. By the 1930s, these locks had fallen into disrepair and were removed in 1933.

In an effort to figure out a better solution to reconnect the canals and improve the connectivity of waterways in the United Kingdom, the Falkirk Wheel began to manifest as an option. Today, the wheel lifts boats 79 ft. It is the only rotating boat lift designed in this fashion and has helped to solve a major problem for that region.

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The Golden Bridge (Cầu Vàng)


This structure is a 490 ft pedestrian walking bridge near Da Nang, Vietnam. It is used to connect the cable car station to the gardens, but it also serves as a major tourist attraction to avoid the steep incline below. The bridge is relatively new and only opened in June of 2018.

It was designed by TA Landscape Architecture, a company headquartered in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

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How Statistics Affect March Madness

Surprisingly, statistics are all around us. Without many of us being aware, we use or are affected by statistics or statistical analysis almost on a daily basis.

Yet, during a certain time of year, all college basketball fans around the world go into statistical overdrive with the beginning of March Madness!

March Madness is the Men’s NCAA Division I basketball tournament. The tournament was founded in 1939 and has changed over the years to include more teams and schedule them to play each other based on seeding teams.

In scheduling teams to play each other, the tournament considers statistics from their performance throughout the season in order to “fairly” match teams up.

However, where the real statistics come in are with the fans. Families, offices, communities, and friend groups from around the country try to correctly guess the outcome of the 64 team tournament using statistics. Without using statistics, in the first round of the tournament alone, there could be 2 to the 23 possible brackets…that is 4,294,967,296 different outcomes!

With the use of statistics, fans are able to narrow down their chances of guessing the correct bracket significantly. Lots of fans build upon the foundation of the outcomes of past tournaments and trust the tournament official’s logic when it comes to seeding. For example, the #1 vs. #16 seed; the #1 seed has won 100%of the time against the #16 seed. Not to say there haven’t been close calls!

In addition, there are other historical outcomes that can help to narrow a bracketer’s choices such as the lowest see to win the tournament is a #8 seed.

Yet, past performance is not the only indicator that can be utilized to narrow down the pool. You can also look at the statistics associated with individual team’s performance throughout the year.

Some of those stats could include highest scoring team, fastest team, best free-throw shooting team, best 3-point shooting team, and all of the teams that rank lowest for those metrics.

While for some that is deep enough, others have gone deeper into this analysis to try and figure out the top 15 most important statistics for detecting upsets. The difference between those 15 statistics create a profile of past upsets. That profile is then applied to the current year’s bracket to identify the most likely upsets for this year.

A paper published in the American Statistical Association Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports was written by Sheldon Jacobson, Jason Sauppe, and Shouvik Dutta. The method the found explains a technique to detect potential upsets using a small number of publicly available statistics. This framework was named Balance Optimization Subset Selection or BOSS) and can actually be used in data associated with many areas of social sciences and medicine. To learn more about the collision of statistics, basketball, and this interesting new statistical framework, read more here.

Are you filling out a bracket this year? How do you plan to apply the ideas of statistics to making the right choice?

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Eliminate Waste Like An Engineering Using Lean

Industrial engineers use Lean all the time to systematically eliminate waste from a process. Lean is used by a lot of different engineering disciplines, but it is usually a core piece of the industrial engineering curriculum. It can be used with Six Sigma concepts, but we are just going to focus on Lean for now.

When using Lean to evaluate a process, the focus always remains on the customer value or what the end user sees as being valuable about the process. The focus of Lean is to eliminate all waste that does not help to achieve this customer value; basically “streamlining” the process.

Lean concepts took hold in the manufacturing business but are constantly being revamped and reused in new industries such as retail, food service, and software development.

There is a lot to learning Lean, but we are going to boil it down to 5 main steps. They may sound easy, but it can be difficult to appropriate complete each step of this process as all processes are different.

Step 1: Understand the customer value. It is critical to understand what the customer wants and what they perceive to be valuable at the end of the process.

Step 2: Map out all the steps to achieve the final product. List them or draw them in a diagram. This should include any step that is considered “wasteful”.

Step 3: Work to come up with solutions to eliminate waste within the process. Check out this post on muda to learn about the different types of waste.

Step 4: As the process changes, focus on pulling value from the upstream process step instead of pushing a product down the line.

Step 5: Continue looking in the process for ways to eliminate waste and to pull value from a previous step.

In our personal opinion, the hardest part of this process is creating a true pull system. It makes sense in manufacturing because you only want to create what you need (supply/demand) but when applying these ideas to every day processes, this can be difficult.

We hope you liked learning a little about the Lean methodology. It is a great tool to make a process more efficient.

Be sure to check out our other posts related to Lean tools to help you understand how they can be applied in your every day life!

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Famous Arches and Domes Around The World

Domes have a long presence in architecture and have been as far back as prehistoric times. They have been made of all types of materials and can be seen in many types of buildings from religious to governmental structures.

Arches have also been seen throughout history but especially starting with the Roman empire. They are seen in aqueducts, bridges, and famous structures.

Since arches and domes date back so far into the history of engineering and are such an important part of construction today, we wanted to share 3 awesome structures from around the world that contain arches and domes!


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Great Stupa at Sanchi

The Great Stupa is one of the oldest Buddhist monuments in India. It was built in the 3rd century BCE and many believe it is the final resting place for Buddha’s ashes. The center of the stupa is made of bricks but is now covered in stones. General Henry Taylor found the structure in massive disrepair during the Third Maratha War and restoration began in 1912 where it was restored to its present condition. Sanchi has numerous stupas, but The Great Stupa is one of the most recognizable and well-known in the region.

Pantheon

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The Pantheon is one of the best preserved buildings from ancient Rome. Though its true purpose is unknown, it is believed to have been used as a temple. Some also believe it was used as a place for the emperor to make public appearances. The dome itself is made of concrete and used to be covered in bronze. At the very top of the dome, there is an 8.8 diameter oculus that opens up to the sky above.

Arch of Cinquantenaire, Belgium

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Also known as Jubelpark, the Parc du Cinquantenaire contains the arch which was completed in 1905. The goal of the arch was to make Brussels beautiful. The columns separating the arches once divided three roadways as well, but the area has now been fully converted to a park for tourists and locals to enjoy. The interior mosaic was completed in 1932 to complete the project.

Gateway Arch, St.Louis, United States

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The Gateway Arch is a monument that was completed in 1967. The idea for the project began in 1933, and the final design was chosen through a design competition. There were many engineering challenges included in this project including moving a railroad track to ensure they did not ruin the views of the riverfront from the site of the monument.

Eero Saarinen was the architect behind the Arch, and an interesting component of the design is that the bases of each leg of the arch are triangles instead of squares. The monument is the tallest memorial in the U.S. and the tallest stainless steel monument in the world. The structural load is supported by a stressed-skin design and can sway up to 18 inches in either direction. Some serious mathematical calculations went into this design!


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FREEBIE! - How Engineering Is Related to the Heart

In honor of the pending Valentine’s Day holiday, we wanted to bring a little application to it! Check out these examples of how engineering is related to the heart and get our free Valentine’s Day worksheet to explore it with your students!

Pacemakers

Engineering Discipline: Biomedical Engineers

Pacemakers are devices that are implanted into a human’s body to assist in regulating the beating of the heart. Electrical activity in the heart was discovered in the 1800s, but the pacemaker was not developed until 1932 by Albert Hyman. It was powered by a hand crank motor and only tested on animals as the idea of artificial heart stimulation at the time was thought to be similar to reviving the dead.

Paul Zoll and Earl Bakken were a few of the pioneers that were first in developing smaller pacemakers that could be implanted in the human body. They didn’t last long, and people who received them died shortly after receiving them due to complications.

Once advances were made between 1960 and 1990 in materials used for the pacemakers and the type of battery to support them, pacemakers became a lifesaving tool for many that needed it. The technology is still being improved today to last longer, be smaller, and decrease the rate of rejection within the human body.

Match.com

Engineering Discipline: Computer Engineering

Match.com is one of the world’s leading online dating softwares. What do you think they owe most of their success to? Their highly tuned algorithm of course! It takes into account a person’s many preferences for what they are looking for in a mate as well as evaluating the information the user provides about themselves. In addition, it learns from how the user interacts with the platform to hone in on their perfect match. So, if a woman says she only wants to date men under 30 but is consistently looking at men’s profiles that are over 30, the algorithm will take that into consideration in making suggestions for her.

In addition, the president of Match.com, Mandy Ginsberg, has an in depth technology background and just happened to marry an engineer!

It takes a lot of complex programming and computer engineering knowledge to create a tool like the Match.com algorithm and is a great example of computer engineering impacting the heart!

How can you apply these concepts?

Want to apply this lesson? Get our Valentine’s Day Freebie to learn more ways that engineers contribute to the heart!

What's New in 2019 with Growin'GEERS?

Growin’GEERS is excited to start 2019 with a new foundation and with some exciting plans for this year!

What’s new with us you ask?

New Website

Well, at the end of 2018, we completely revamped our website to be cleaner, faster, and easier to navigate for your users! We hope you are enjoying it so far, and we would love to hear any feedback you have to make it better!

New Quest - Breezing Along

We just released our newest quest, which is one of our most difficult ones to date, called Breezing Along. This quest is focused on teaching the concept of Wind Power. We discuss how wind turbines work, where they are used, and how wind turbine engineers and other engineers contribute to making wind power a functional option for energy production.

2019 Future Quests

We will be releasing another quest in the early part of February focused on the science of acoustics and what acoustical engineers do.

In addition, we have plans to release 6 new quests throughout the year that cover topics such as motor vehicles, erosion, crop rotation/irrigation, and more!

Conventions and Live Events

We are planning on participating in more events in the Jacksonville area which include:

The Jacksonville Science Festival - March 7th & 8th, 2019

FL STEM Expo - February 9th, 2019

In addition, we will be attending two home school conventions this year:

Florida Homeschool Convention - August 8th - 10th, 2019

Southeast Homeschool Expo - July 26th & 27th, 2019

Freebies

We are focusing on creating a lot of STEM focused freebies and printables that you can use to supplement your Growin’GEERS membership that are fun and seasonally focused!

We are looking forward to 2019, and we hope to see you at one of our events or learning from one of our new quests this year!

How Math Is the Foundation of Football

The Super bowl, the Game of Games, the Battle of the Pigskin is fast approaching, and we know you will likely be watching, even if it is only for the Puppy Bowl or the commercials in between play. So, in honor of this fun and exciting American sports day in February, we wanted to share with you some educational insights on how football is actually a very mathematical and calculated game.

The Rules

The objective of the game of football is to gain possession of the ball and advance the ball down the field towards the opponent’s goal line or goal posts. Each team has 4 plays to move the ball 10 yards or more before the ball is turned over to the other team. Each time the team succeeds in moving the ball 10 yards or more, they either get a first down which starts their 4 chances over again, or they score!

The Field

Mathematical concept: Geometry

The field is an example of a rectangle; 120 yards long and 53 and 1/3 yards wide. The field has two end zones at either end where points can be scored. When moving from one end of the field to another, the yardage count goes up to 50 and then back down to 10. This can make for some interesting addition and subtraction challenges once the offense and defense start moving up and down the field!

General Game Play

Mathematical concept: Basic Addition and Subtraction

In football, each play is made up of either yardage gain or yardage loss which is a calculation of a negative or positive number.

With each pass or run that the offense attempts, you must add the yardage that they made together to understand where they have advanced to on the field.

However, at the same time, the defense is working to stop the offense from scoring. So, if the defense pushes the ball back past the line of scrimmage which is where ever a set of 4 downs began, the offense loses those yards, and they are subtracted from the offenses’ yardage.

Don’t forget about penalties! They can affect the yardage count for both the offense and the defense. Sounds like a lot of addition and subtraction practice in the works!

Last but not least, what we mentioned about the field affects how this addition and subtract goes. If a team is moving towards their opponents end zone and is at the 20 yard line, they need to move 20 yards to score. But what if they only gain 10 yards? Where are they at on the field?

At the 10 yard line! So gains and losses in the game can actually be subtraction and addition respectively!

Play Calling/Routes

Mathematical Concept: Angles

Since the goal of the game of football is to get 10 or more yards, teams have to be very strategic on how they plan to outplay the defense. Teams practice plays which include a variety of routes for the wide receivers, running backs, and corner backs to run in order to get the ball down the field. All of these routes make up different angles to maximize the chances of getting the ball and taking it down the field. In most plays, these angles compliment each other to utilize the full field while trying to outsmart the defense.

In addition, the defense also has to think about angles. In an effort to slow down or stop the movement of the offense, the defense has to constantly be thinking about intercepting the ball from their opponent. This requires an understanding of the best angles to ensure they can beat their opponent to the spot and still have the ball in a place where they can advance the other way down the field.

Individual Player Stats

Mathematical Concept: Statistics

In football, statistics are used to understand how a player is performing and how to compare one player to another. Without statistics, this can be difficult in a team sport like football.

Using one of the main positions as an example, quarterbacks on evaluated on the following statistics:

  1. Pass completion percentage

  2. Yards per pass attempt

  3. Quarterbacks efficiency rating

  4. Yards per game

  5. Touchdown to interception ratio

When calculating a quarterback’s pass completion percentage, all you have to know is how many passes they attempted and how many passes they completed. Let’s say a quarterback attempted 30 passes in a game but only completed 20 passes. We would calculate 20/30 = .666 X 100 = 66.6% as their pass completion percentage.

All of these statistics can be calculated using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Applying This Knowledge

Now that you know how math plays a part in the game of football, use these facts to mathematically track the progress of the Super Bowl yourself! Block the portion of the TV during the game they gives the yardage and score, and check in with your progress every now in then to see if you are on track with your calculations!

We recommend only doing this if there is not an avid football fan in the room!

Another way to practice your math during the Super Bowl is to try and calculate the yardage and score before it appears on the screen. This can be tough though as they are fast so be ready for some speed math!

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!


Interested in giving a Growin’GEERS quest a try and helping your elementary engineer excel at learning about the different engineering disciplines?

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When Is It Best To Introduce Technology To Your Child?

There has been a lot of buzz around what is the right age to give your child full access to technology. Based on developmental experts and even technology moguls, some agree that it is best to wait until the prefrontal cortex of their brain has developed further in order to reduce the risk of “addiction” to their devices. The prefrontal cortex, once fully developed, helps with impulse control.

As in any debate, there are pros and cons to the argument. Smartphones and tablets are a great way to expose kids to educational content and learning more about the world around them. However, the internet can also be a gateway to less than ideal content that in many ways can be too mature for younger audiences.

Bill Gates has set the age limit for his household at 14 to be able to have your own smartphone. Even with those limits, there are screen time limits in his house for everyone that is of age as well and no cellphones are allowed at the table.

As with every parenting decision, the person best suited to make the decision is the parent of the child in question. Some great questions to gauge the readiness of your child are provided in this article.

As an organization that believes in teaching technology at an early age, learning about technology and what benefits it brings to society and the massive improvements it has made does not necessarily need to be learned while using technology. Talking to your kids about technology and understanding how it is used beyond your typical smartphone is an important part of the learning process.

With all major society shifts, we have to understand new barriers we need to set for ourselves and for our families to ensure that new technology is moving us forward instead of taking us back.

What are your thoughts on exposing children to technology? What boundaries have you set up in your household?

We would love to hear from you as we do believe this is an important dialog to have due to the ever changing technological environment!

Check out the links below for additional information!

Article About Bill Gates Household Choices Surrounding Technology

New York Times Article about the Right Time for Tech

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THE HISTORY & ENGINEERING BEHIND THE NYE BALL DROP

With the passing of another year and beginning of a fresh year, we wanted to look back at the history of one of the most cherished New Year’s Eve traditions: the ball drop in New York City!

The History

The first year of the New York NYE Ball Drop was 1907, and the first ball was made of iron, wood and 100 25-watt light bulbs. It weighed 500 pounds!

The ball has been dropped every year since then except for 1942 and 1943 due to WWII. People still gathered to celebrate, but the ball was not part of the celebration.

In 1920, they replaced the original ball with a 400 pound wrought iron ball. Then, in 1955, they replaced it with a ball that weighed only 150 pounds due to it being made of aluminum.

This ball remained unchanged other than a lighting change to support the “I Love New York” campaign from 1981 to 1987.

For the year 2000, the ball was completely redesigned by Waterford Crystal and Philips Lighting. They implemented the latest lighting technology but used traditional materials to represent both the old and the new.

In 2007, Waterford Crystal and Philips Lighting struck again, and created a spectacular new LED crystal Ball. The energy-efficiency and brightness are the best they have ever been. With this change, the owners of One Times Square decided to build the permanent Big Ball that hangs over Times Square all year around.

Now that you have the low down on the actual ball, how about the mechanism to make it move?

The Mechanism

In 1995, the ball was dropped via a control system that ran wire down to the street and uptown 4-5 blocks. They used computers to boost the signal as well since it was an impermanent structure.

Now, since the ball is always in place, there is a winch under the mast which guides cables to go to the top of the mast and then those cables come back down to lift the ball. Sounds a lot like a pulley system huh?

The lighting is controlled by a software called “e:cue”, and the timing of the ball drop is timestamped through a GPS system. There is a “black box” that receives time from the GPS to ensure 100% accuracy!

The New York NYE Ball is not the only thing that is dropped on New Years. Check out what other parts of the country do!

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Other Drops

Miami, Florida - The city of Miami is home to the Big Orange Drop and is done at the Hotel Intercontinental Miami each year.

Atlanta, Georgia - The city of Atlanta does the Peach Drop which is broadcast worldwide and is done at the Underground Atlanta.

Dillsburg, Pennsylvania - The city of Dillsburg drops “Lil’ Pickle” at 7 PM which aligns with midnight in Ireland to honor their Irish founders, and they drop “Mr. Pickle” at midnight to celebrate the new year!

Mobile, Alabama - The city of Mobile drops a 600 pound Moon Pie from the RSA Tower. The festivities are sponsored by Chattanooga Bakery.

Boise, Idaho - The city of Boise has dropped a giant potato since 2014 from the US Bank building.

FREEBIE! - Start the Day with STEM: Get Your Daily STEM Facts Calendar!

One of our favorite mottos is “Practice Makes Perfect”. To become an expert or learn anything, you must consistently be present in learning, practicing, and absorbing that subject or skill.

So, in order to keep STEM top of mind and to immerse yourself in STEM learning, we have created a monthly STEM facts calendar for you! Each month, you will receive a full month of fun STEM facts to keep you learning all year long!

How can you use these STEM facts? Below are a couple suggestions for our STEM loving mommas and killer STEM educators!

Momma Tips

  1. Read our STEM fact of the day at breakfast with the kiddos to get a fun, STEM focused dialog started over your Cheerios! If it is something that sparks an interest for your family, do a bit of extra research on that fact during the day.

  2. Read the STEM fact at lunch time to add some fun to the middle of the day!

  3. Discuss the STEM fact over dinner with the whole family and gather each family member’s take on the fact. Were they surprised? Did they already know that? Have fun with it and make it a nightly game!

Teacher Tips

  1. Use our STEM fun fact to be a consistent check point to start the day. By creating routine in your classroom, your students will have an idea of what to expect and will look forward to the fun and sometimes surprising fact!

  2. If you review the facts on a regular basis, let your students pick a fact from the year and do a research project on it. Get them to dive into something that they didn’t know before!

  3. Close the day with our STEM fun fact and ask the students to come back the next day with some research on the subject. This will take their learning out of the classroom and will be a consistent and enjoyable way for them to bring their education home to their parents!

All around, these fun facts are a quick and easy way to integrate STEM into your family’s routine or your classroom’s routine.

Click below to make STEM a part of your day to day routine with Growin’GEERS!