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Will this new BMW electric car take over the Tesla?


The pictures of the Tesla electric car and the new BMW's electric car i3 aren't exactly electrified teepees, but both teepees and electric cars can be run using an electrical current. The Electric Teepee lesson in our StarChild Science Program is a good beginning lesson on the behavior of electrons and batteries for a young child. I say this because it is clear at this point in time that the probability of your child driving an electric car is the highest it has ever been in our culture. In fact, we have become the 'green seeking-est' nation in the world. Tesla and BMW are just a few of many current examples of 'green-seeking-est' applications. This science site is becoming filled with such examples. Enjoy the Electric lesson. It is very green!

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This is one of the easiest hands-on lessons on electricity for young children. It uses something they all know and trust-- two blown up balloons. We start our electricity lessons in StarChild Science with "static" electricity so the can see that energy, electrical energy, goes from one place to another place and can build up, stay static on an object like a balloon. In this lessons on static electricity the children will see that electrical energy travels through space. When we get to making our own electric car the children will understand that electrical energy moves through something; from a battery through a wire as in an electric car or through air between two balloons.

Give the children in your science class a blown up balloon. See what happens when they rub the balloon on their head. On a warm summer day I did just that. As the children talked amongst themselves I noticed that Serene was rubbing her balloon on Jill's head while telling Jill she was the funniest looking girl she had ever seen. "Tell me everything you see and hear. Remember, use your science eyes. Oh, and don’t forget to use your science ears as well," I told the children

"Are we going to hear something? What are we supposed to hear?" Joshua asked his mother as he rubbed the balloon on his head, all the while listening intently wth his 'science ears' for a new sound.

"Raise your balloon up above your head real slowly off your hair and listen. Use your science ears and listen." Every child raised the balloon ever so slowly while listening for a new sound. "Hear anything?" I asked them.

Nissa rushed into her answer with a whisper that mimicked mine. "My science ears hear a popping. It's a popping sound.""

“No. It sounds like crackling or something." Joshua was trying to identify this new sound he had not heard in the forest before. "Maybe it's like —It sounds like a tiny fire sparking —-something’s happening.”

"Something is happening, Joshua. You are hearing a new sound. You didn't hear this sound with your magnets and compasses did you? Or even with your prisms. You are hearing the sound of exploding tiny bodies called molecules that are in the air. As you rub the balloon on your head, tiny electrons, teeny weeny pieces of information leave your hair and travel really, really fast through the air and land on the balloon. When these traveling small pices of information or energy, if you will, called electrons hit the molecules in the air, the molecules burst. And you hear cracking sounds. Popping sounds. It's as if the balloon and the hair begin to communicate the information. One says," I am loaded with electrons on my surface. The other says "I am loaded with the opposite stuff, protons on my surface." These two surfaces are charged now and can relate to one anotehr as do opposites by pulling toward one another. This is why yuor hair lifts up to the ballooon. It is attracted to the surface of the balloon."

"My balloon is powerful!" Nissa announced to everyone.

"What else can we make powerful?" Chance asked.

"Maybe a silk scarf, or a wool sweater? Rub those on your head." I grabbed at a basket of scarfs and a wool sweater and gave them to the children. As I watched the children, I couldn't help but realize how meaningful a lesson this is for a young child. To create static elecricity is the point of this lessson. Once a child knows he can do this, he feels powerful himself and in control at that moment. Think about this, parents and teachers. How often at home or at school does a child get to really feel powerful? In control of a situation? My answer would be, "Rarely, if at all." After the static electrcity lesson is over, make sure you compliment the children on their ability to make something so powerful that it affects other things. Your compliment may sound something like this: "I am so proud of you children today. You have discovered that you can control how something behaves. Even your own hair. You have discovered how a silly balloon can become so powerful it can lift your hair up off your head. Static Electricity is fun. Congratulations!"

"Wow. Static electricity!" Jill began stroking the surface of her balloon softly as if it was her favorite bunny rabbit.

Joshua wanted to know exactly how to say this. "Is that the energy that is between us now? Ec-tri-tical energy?" he sked his mother while she joined the other mothers and rubbed a balloon on her hair.

"One way to think of it is by envisioning that the flow of electrical energy is between you and your balloon now,” I reminded him.“Your balloon acts just like the animal skins the Indians used to sleep on. Electrical energy traveled from the Indian's hair and onto the animal skin. When the Indian would get up off the skin his hair would be pulled high into the air. He looked very scary in the mornings."

“Sometimes the Indians slept on grizzly bear skins. I knew a veterinarian who slept on the skin of a grizzly bear once. And he wasn’t even scared because the bear was dead,” Chance told us.

"Just what is happening when the children rubbed the balloon on their heads and their hair was pulled up into the air?" Joshua's mother asked.  Is it like gravity or something? Gravity attracts things doesn't it? Everything attracts everything else. Right?"

"Yes. With gravity there is only the force of attraction. But gravity is a very weak force. Much weaker than the electrical force you are seeing between the balloon and Joshua’s hair. The electrical force is enormously more powerful than gravity. And it has two components to it, not just a pull. It has a push and a pull."

"There are different ways to explain this phenomenon of electricity. I am fond of the way the famous physicist, Richard Feynman, explains it in his book Six Easy Pieces. He asks us to use our imagination for a moment. 'Imagine there are now two kinds of 'things', he says, 'and that this new force, which is the electrical force, has the property that likes repel but unlikes attract. The 'thing' that carries this strong interaction is called 'charge'.

"The childrens' hair has both positive and negative electricity in each of the atoms of the hair before they rubbed their heads with a balloon. And the balloons have both positive and negative electricity in each of their atoms before being rubbed onto the hair. Rubbing the hair with the balloon separates the negatives from the positives. This is because the surface of the balloon has a greater affinity for electrons, the negative electricity, than does the hair. Negatively charged electrons are transferred by friction from the hair to the balloon. This leaves an imbalance of electric charge between the hair and the balloon. The hair has lost electrons and is deficient of negative charge. When this happens we say the hair is positive. The excess negative charge on the balloon makes it negative. This creates an attractive force between the balloon and the hair. The separated charges store the energy that is expended in the rubbing action. This stored energy is evident when the balloon is brought close to the hair and a spark is produced."

Stop here! What have we observed so far? What is the meaning of what we just observed with static electricty and these chidlren? What does a child think of what he just saw?

When a child expresses to you what he sees, you can judge how effective your teaching really is. First of all, the children observed that the hair and the balloon were communicating-- somehow. One day, a five year old boy told me the balloon and the hair were "talking to one another." I count this moment as one of those moments when you are grateful for the first step in the scientific method, observation. This observation stands alone. It is so close to the truth in the physical world. Why? Because in the physical universe there are rules. And one of the rules is that a kind of communication happens when movement of electrons takes place. In the static electricity lesson we moved electrons from the hair and onto the balloon causing a difference in charges on the surfaces of the hair and the balloon.

Whenever you have a difference in the charge on two surfaces, you also have the possibility of new industries being created. Who would have thought that the difference in charges on two surfaces would create such technologies as Xerox machines, electrical plating industry, static and dirt removal in the computer industry? There are many more industries that rely on this one phenomenon.

This one experience with children is an important one to show them nature's ability to detect 'other'. This is the information you want children to understand from such a simple hands-on activity as rubbing a balloon on hair.

"The spark I hear is from the tiny explosions of the air molecules?" one mother asked.

"Yes. The electrical energy travels through the air and hits air molecules. These molecules explode from the incoming energy. And you hear a crackling sound."

"We just manifested what was already there on the balloon and the hair?" Joshua's mother was somewhat surprised how easy it was to produce static electricity. She realized for the first time that there were no batteries, light bulbs or wires with this static electricity lesson. It was created solely by conditions in nature. The more she thought about this the more she was stunned by nature's vivid message that energy really is between her and nature. It was a stunning realization for her; a moment when she realized science is actually understandable afterall!!

"Yes. The electricity was already present. We just created a condition to make it evident." I put the balloons back into my lessons basket. "From this simple production of static electricity we can readily appreciate that electrical energy is everywhere. The entire universe is full of electrical energy, static or non-static. Remember, when I tell you ’between us two there is nothing between but energy and information’. I am telling you that information was transmitted from the hair and on to the balloon through the flow of electronic energy. Now we can really appreciate that this is the way it is in the physical world.

I walked over to a pine tree nearby. On it I had strung two balloons onto a branch of a young pine. "Here are two balloons that have been rubbed onto the heads of two children." I told her. "Notice that they are staying away, pushing away from one another."

."Yes. That's repel right?"

"Right. That is the electrical force of repulsion at work. The electric charge on each balloon is the same. They both have negative electricity on their surface. And since likes repel, the balloons are forced away from one another." I walked over to another tree where I had strung two other balloons onto a branch. "Now, what can you tell me about these two balloons?" I asked her.

"Well, they obviously like one another. They are attracted to one another," she quickly answered. "They are toouching one another. They are communicating a pull force toward one another."

"Yes. Unlikes attract. The force of electricity is unbalanced here. One balloon has negative electricity on its surface and the other balloon has both positive and negative electricity on its surface. The overwhelming amount of negative electricity on the blue balloon is attracted to whatever positive electricity on the red balloon." I told her. "Remember, the thing that carries this strong interaction between the two balloons, whether they are repelled or attracted to one another, is 'charge'."

The children gathered around as I pulled out the pieces to an electrical circuit from my lessons basket. "What do you think we will need to make a circle of electrical energy?"

“We’re going to light up something,” Chance told Joshua, his voice charged with excitement.

“I know. I know what we need. We need lots of things like a ....” Nissa began.

"A light bulb." Chance took the words right out of Nissa’s mouth.

"Yes. What else?" I asked.

"A battery," Joshua wasn't going to be left behind on this point.

"And some wire." Serene watched as I gave her and the other children 2 feet of electrical wire, a battery, a light bulb with its socket, a small screwdriver, a switch and some tape. "My grandpa has electricity in China."

"I'm so happy to hear that, Serene," I answered.

"And we have electricity at our house," Jill spoke up.

"Oh, you have electrical energy inside your house too?" I was delighted to hear Jill's settling in with the rest of us.

"Yes. A whole bunch of it," Jill replied. “My mom loves her chandelier above the dining room table. It cost over a thousand dollars. Dad said he would not like to pay that much ever again for electricity. He says a big light bulb would have been just as good as that chandelier. And a lot cheaper too.”

Just by listening to a child express what nature is up to gives this lesson a degree of informed analysis, depth instead of shallowness and understanding instead of attitude. We at StarChild Science are commited to pursuing a vigorous presence of children's explanations and observations in science activities. We can't loose sight of this one critical ingredient... the child's input!

I began arranging the items to the electrical circuit into a circle. "To make a circle of electricity you want to put everything together like this: First, put your battery inside the battery holder so it fits nice and snug. Then, connect one end of a wire up to one end of the battery holder." I waited, making sure all the children were watching. "Then, take the other end of the wire and connect it up to one side of the light socket with the small screwdriver. "Then, take the other wire and hook one end of it to the other side of the light socket. And then take that wire and hook it onto the other side of the light socket." I looked up and saw that Chance was helping Joshua, and Jill had completed Serene's circuit. "You can put a switch in your circle of electricity like this." I removed one wire coming from the light socket and placed a switch into the circle. Then I closed the circle by connecting the wire from the switch to the socket and the wire from the battery to the other terminal of the switch.

I asked the children things like, "What does a battery do? And, what's the switch for?” They looked at the circuit for some time, following the white arrows in the illustration closely with their keen eyes. "Why would we put a battery into our circle of electricity?" I then turned on the switch in my electrical circuit.

"Oh look," several of the children yelled out. "She did it. We have electricity. The lightbulb turned on!"

I walked over to my Electric Teepee Kit and spoke in a loud enough voice so every child could hear, "I wonder what it would look like if we put electrical energy inside a teepee.“ I opened my lessons basket and began handing out Electric Teepee Kits . Each one contained a piece of felt cut into a teepee shape about 12 inches high, some yarn, 3 1- foot long pipe cleaners, a compass, colored marking pens, a paper plate and some tape and modeling clay. “The American Indians painted images of things that were important to them on their teepees. You can draw images on your teepee too before you stand your teepee upright with the pipe cleaners.” The children spent a considerable amount of time decorating their teepees. Images of summer corn, deer, bears and the sun were drawn on the teepees as well as images of triangles and geometric shapes of all kinds. We stood the teepees upright on top of a paper plate and stabilized thepipe cleaners with blobs of clay. Then, we laced the teepees' two front flaps together for a few inches from the top down and then placed an electrical circuit inside the teepees.  

"Electrical energy inside our teepees?" Serene asked in disbelief.

"A balloon won't fit inside my teepee." Jill complained.

"We saw that it is easy to get static electrical energy by rubbing a balloon on our hair. Now, this is a little different. We are going to put electrical energy in our teepees. We aren't rubbing anything on anything this time. This lesson is not about creating conditions for static eletricty. It is all about the flowing of electrons through a circuit that contains a light bulb."

"Oh no! We are going to have a lighted up teepee!" Joshua's squeals of delight spoke for the entire class. "Let's light all the teepees," he demanded, waving his arms out toward the teepees.

“Oh, you want us to make a circle of teepees? A  large circle?" I asked him.

"Yeah, make a big circle. As big as this forest." Chance placed his teepee with his electrical circuit resting on the teepee's base, the paper plate. When he turned the switch on he gazed at his illuminated  teepee, silently wondering if a real Indian boy had ever done this to his big teepee.

“Isn't my teepee lovely?" Serene believed in loveliness just as strongly as she believed she could feel beams of love coming from her great grandfather in China. “This is the prettiest teepee in the whole world. I will keep it forever and ever.” She gazed down at her teepee, somewhat mesmerized by its loveliness. "See what I made? I don't want the light to go out. Ever."

"Lights go out Serene. That's what lights do. They go on and they go off. Or out." Chance reminded her.

"I know but...." Serene looked up at me, her dark eyes bigger than I had ever seen them. "Is it true? Will my light go out someday?"

"Yes. It will go out. The battery will go dead. Someday your pump will run out of its ability to pump out electrons into the copper wires in the circuit."

"Why? My pump run out?" she continued pressing me for more information.

"Yes. The flow of electrons will stop some day. And the lightbulb won't light up anymore. Your teepee will look like the Indian teepees looked hundreds of years ago. It will be dark inside them when night comes."

"How did the children read books at night?" This was the most logical question and Nissa had to ask it.

“They didn't read books.” Chance was quick to answer such silly questions. “They had to go to bed with the birds. You can't read at night without light.”

“I read every night. I love to read stories at bedtime,” Nissa told him in the most serious of tones. After a few moments of silence she confessed, “I want to make a circle of electricity to take home with me. I want to read my stories under my covers after my mom puts me to bed.” Nissa was telling me as if she knew she could tell me anything, anything in the whole world. “She makes me go to bed at eight o’clock every night. I can’t even stay up when company is coming over.”

“What book is your favorite one?” Jill asked Nissa.

“Aminal. It’s about a animal a little boy caught. I like that story a lot. It’s kind of scary at first,” Nissa answered.

"My favorite one is about horses. It's called the American Horse. I love it. I like the thoroughbreds the best. They are strong and go real fast," Jill announced.

Joshua's mother came over to us and looked down at my illustration of an electrical circuit then into Joshua's teepee. “So, in this circle you can put houses and things like that?"

“Yes. A circuit is a circle of electrical energy. Now, imagine the light bulb is a town. A whole town. And the battery is a generating station. The wires carry the electrical energy from the generating station to the homes and the businesses in the town. That electrical energy is converted into light energy in the light bulbs in the homes and businesses.

“That’s how we get our electricity into our homes? From the generating station way far away in the mountains? And then into the wires...? ”Joshua's mother looked over at me then at the group of teepees. "Those teepees look like Christmas trees. I love this Indian village we have created!”

"I love our lighted up teepee village." Serene's squeals of delight clearly spoke for her. "Light all the teepees," she in a loud voice.

“Oh, you still want our circle to get larger and larger?" I watched Serene's eyes grow larger as she clapped her hands while demanding I create a larger circle of electrical energized teepees.

"Yeah, make a big circle. As big as this forest," Joshua demanded again in his strongest voice yet.

"The teepees aren't dark like caves anymore." Jill joined us, surprised at finding herself expecting to see a teepee village all lit up for the first time ever. The only Indian village she had seen in pictures was dark at night. She remembered thinking the teepees looked as dark as caves and not friendly. She was grateful when she thought of her thoroughbred Quarterbreak. His paddock was lit up at night when she would hug him goodnight. She liked lights. Lights at night were good!

"They look civilized." Chance told us as he stared at the teepee village, satisfied by what he saw. “I want to live in my teepee.” Jill dreamed of clean floors and tidy spaces lit up at night. “So do I,” Chance wished out loud. Serene kept pawing at the flap at the doorway of her teepee, hoping to keep the light inside where it should be.

”In our circuits we added a switch,” I told Joshua's mother. “And that switch permits electrical energy to pass through the copper wire or to be stopped.“ I reached over to my electrical circuit and turned the switch off. “See. It’s like flicking the switch on the wall at home. You can cause the flow of electrical energy to cease. Or you can allow it to continue to flow.”

“I don’t like that part. My mom puts me to bed too early. I don’t want to go to bed early,” Jill told us. “I’m not a baby, for heaven‘s sake.”

“I’ve never seen a Indian with a battery,” Joshua admitted to Chance.

"And I've never seen a Indian with a switch either." Nissa thought about this for the first time ever.

"And I've never seen a Indian with a light bulb." Chance thought about this for the first time ever too.

“But I know they slept on animal skins. I saw that in a picture once. I even saw a picture of a Indian with a animal skin on his head. He was celebrating something. I think it was his birthday.” Serene told Joshua. “And when he took the skin off his head I’ll bet he looked funny." Her laughter traveled around the children filling the air with happy sounds.

As the children told one another about the merits of having electricity, I noticed Chance removing his teepee from the our village and carrying it over to the edge of the meadow because he had some fiddling around to do yet. He began turning the switch in his circuit on and off, on and off, on and off. "What are you doing Chance?" I walked over to him and was stunned.

"Look. I see something. I see something happening." He was the most excited I had ever seen him. "Watch the compass needle when I turn the switch on and off. Watch it," he demanded while he moved the switch to the on and then off position rapidly with his curious fingers. I stood close to him as he told me, "I just used my science eyes and then I saw it."

"Oh, you put the compass in our Electric Teepee Kit close to your electrical circuit didn't you? The compass needle is moving. Children look. Chance used his science eyes again and observed something very important." The children gathered around Chance's teepee and watched the tiny compass needle jerk ever so slightly each time Chance turned the switch in his electrical circuit on and off. I could tell Chance was completely content to stay right here for a hundred years if he had to, turning the switch on and off.

“How is that doing that?“ Nissa was truly perplexed at what she was seeing.

“Well, what is Chance doing to the circle of electricity when he turns the light on and off with the switch? ” I asked.

“Is the electrical energy talking to the magnetic compass needle?” Nissa answered with much more care than usual.

“Yeah." Joshua added. "And maybe that means the circle of electricity is broken somehow."

"And then when he turns the light on that means he puts the circle together again and there's electrical energy going in a circle again. And you get light.” Serene was delighted with herself so far. She moved in closer so she could watch the compass needle more closely. “It looks like the needle is pushed or something. Look at it being pushed a little bit when Chance turns the light on and off.”

“You all have such wonderful ideas.“ I pulled out more wire from my lessons basket and began to wrap it around a very large compass. Then I hooked the wire up to a 9 volt battery and added a switch of my own into the circuit. ”If I make enough turns around this big compass with this wire we can really see the movement of the needle then.“ After I wound the wire around and around the compass I set it on to a table and hooked both ends of the wire to the battery terminals.Then I added a switch into the circuit so the children could turn the circuit on and off at will. "Now Chance, you can turn the switch on and off, on and off, for us,” I instructed him. “Let's imagine the electrical energy flowing then stopping, flowing then stopping as Chance turns the switch on and off. Let’s watch the needle of the compass very carefully and see if we can figure out what is happening."

Chance reached over and began playing with the switch as he had before with his own circuit. He turned the switch on and off rapidly as if it belonged to him and him only while the other children patiently looked on. "The needle moves a little tiny bit. That's all," Nissa told us, clearly disappointed

"Yeah, but it moves. And that means it is important." Chance thought a moment then added, "Something made it move. See?" He continued to switch the circuit on and off so we could watch the compass needle jerk then sway back to where it was before.

Nissa knelt down closer to the compass and began to tell us her thoughts. ”I know. I know what is happening. There is something in this circle of electrical energy that is invisible. A invisible energy maybe. It pushes the compass needle. I know because I can see it moving a little bit.“ She looked up and reminded me, “Like when I was holding the two magnets down by the creek. One magnet pushed the other one away. Remember?”

“Yes, I remember how you looked. You looked like your hands were sliding all over the place.” I looked around at the other children and asked, “What could be in the electrical circle that makes the magnetic needle move? Oh, why do nature’s ways always give us just hints of how she works?”

“Well,” Joshua looked up at his mother as if to tell her he had waited long enough. ”I think it is like this. Energy. Energy and information. The energy of the electi, electrical circuit and the energy of the compass needle somehow touch one another. Maybe they bump into one another, or something like that.“

Serene sat staring at the jerking needle as Chance continued to turn the switch on and off rapidly. She stretched her neck towards the large compass a little more and announced, “It looks like a tiny wind is blowing the needle when Chance does that. It’s a very tiny wind. You can't really see it but I know it's there."

”There must be a magnet somewhere in the circle to make the needle move because the needle is a magnet. And you know what magnets do when they get close to each other.” Jill felt this was as good an idea as anything else she had heard so far.

“Wind? There’s no wind.” Chance looked over at Serene with disgust. “This is real science stuff Serene.” He looked up at me for approval then looked back at Serene. “Wind,” he said again, only this time with much more disgust than a moment ago.

“So now we can see that the magnetic needle moves only when Chance causes the flow of electrical energy to stop and go. So, you children are on the right track. There must be a connection between the magnetic needle moving and the flow of electrical energy in the wire,“ I suggested in a whisper. ”So far, this is the information nature has given us."

“Yeah. Maybe nature is saying that electrical energy makes magnetic energy come alive.” Chance interpreted what he was seeing as best he could.

“What’s happening?”Joshua's mother came over and joined us. "Are you making something big? Like a big circuit?” She watched the compass needle as Chance turned the switch on and off. "Why is the needle jerking like that?” she asked

“I can't tell you why,” I began. “Science is the area of inquiry where you describe the how of things, not the why of things." I reached into my lessons basket and brought out an illustration for her to look at. "See the flow of electricity in this illustration? Notice the magnetic field, the yellow color, wraps around the wire, perpendicular to the flow of electrons. The yellow color depicts the sheath of magnetic energy that the flow of electrical energy creates. When that energy stops flowing the sheath of magnetic energy vanishes."

"That's why the compass needle jerked then returned to its original position and became still." Joshua's mother was following closely. I bought out another drawing for her to examine "Look at this drawing. It's cartoon-ish, I know, but it shows children watching the creation of magnetic energy from electrical energy in their circuit they built."

”I see light from a light bulb near the bottom of the drawing," Serene was looking at the illustration more closely than the other children. "And there are two wires at the bottom of the light bulb."

"And I see a blue compass near the two boys in the picture. And the wire is laying down on top of the compass." Joshua's mother leaned closer in to the cartoon. "Hey, that's what the children just did."

"And there is a battery close to the girl in the picture. I like that hat." Serene spoke softly as if she was speaking directly to the girl in the picture.

"What are these children saying? Jill, What is the boy on the right saying? The one who has his hands in the air?"

"He is asking, 'Which way is this circuit going?’'"

"I know the answer to that one. I know." Nissa had too many words at the tip of her tongue and had to take a deep breath before continuing. "The answer is easy. Electrical energy always comes out of the battery at the minus sign and goes through the wire and comes back into the battery at the plus sign." She hit the minus sign and then the plus sign on the drawing of the battery with her forefinger. "Comes out here and goes back in there. This one then that one," she repeated over and over.

"Look at the boy at the back, the one with the hat on. He is asking, ''What is happening to my compass?''" Jill giggled into the picture. "Boy, that circuit is a mess. Everyone has their hands all over the wire."

"And the next boy? Joshua, what is he saying?" I asked.

"He is really mixed up I think. He is saying that he has it figured out. But I don't think he has anything figured out."

"And the girl? Serene, what is she saying?" I asked.

"She is asking all the boys if the electrical energy comes out of the positive end of the battery."

"Yeah. She doesn't even know which direction the electrical energy moves inside the wire," Jill spoke loudly.

"Stop a minute. Where does the electrical energy come from?" I asked the children.

"From the chemical energy inside the battery. There's some juice or something like that inside the battery that makes chemical energy." Nissa’s quick manner always seemed to make it look like she knew what she was talking about. “I wish I could see inside of a battery and see it it is juice or not.”

"The chemical energy somehow turns into electrical energy. And then the electrical energy leaves the battery. The battery is basically a pump though. It pumps electrical energy around and around through the wire," I told them as Chance placed his finger onto the cartoon. "I want to trace the electrical energy going through the wire with my fingers." He placed his finger on the negative end of the battery in the illustration and traced the flow of electrical energy all along the wire until he got to the boy holding a brightly lit light bulb in the forefront of the drawing. He looked up at me and said in all seriousness, " I'll bet his fingers are going to get real, real hot. I can't touch a light bulb in our house. My dad says it will burn my fingers." He looked back to the illustration and continued, "Down here the energy goes into the light bulb. And the light bulb lights up." He continued as he moved his finger across the bottom of the light bulb to the other wire and traced the flow of electricity along the other wire to the boy holding the wire high in the air. "He is holding the wire high so everyone can see the wire is not broken I guess." He continued moving his finger along the wire, past the next boy with the hat on, and stopped at the compass.

"Why did you stop, Chance?" Nissa asked him. "There is no switch in the circuit so why did your finger stop at the compass?"

"Well, this is the compass. And you know what happens to the compass when the electrical energy goes over the compass. Remember what our compass did over there on the table?" He looked at Nissa and decided to speak directly to her. "In this picture the compass is not real, Nissa. It's just a picture. But if it was real, the needle of the compass would move then stop, move then stop, if someone was turning the switch on and off, on and off," he told her. "Remember?"

"Yeah," Jill shot a look over to Nissa. "And then the boy in the picture would see that the electrical energy and magnetic energy are connected somehow."

"And all the kids in the picture would see that there's a tiny wind blowing on the compass needle and making it move. They would see that there's a whole bunch of energy between them and nature. There's electrical energy and magnetic energy, all at the same time." Serene added after a quick breath. "And chemical energy inside the battery."

Chance could not see why he couldn’t continue because it was really his story. After all, it was him who made the big discovery of the day. And that meant he was the closest to being a scientist. "The electrical energy keeps flowing past the compass and the girl with the hat on and over to the plus sign of the battery."

"Then it goes into the battery super super fast," Joshua added what he thought was a very important point. Didn’t energy travel? When we were experiencing the flashlight ilight in the light cave, didn’t light go into his jar so fast he couldn’t see it travel through the air?.

"Yeah", Chance agreed. "It makes a circle real, real, fast. Circuit means circle. Remember?" He was speaking to someone. Just me, perhaps, or maybe all of us. It was difficult to be sure.

"Very good. Whenever you get a little confused about the direction of the flow of electrical energy always refer to your 'Circuit Circuit' picture," I told them.

This new electric buzzer is now available on our products page. Click on images to see kit.

This kit is small. It measures 4 1/2 in. X 5 in. It is perfect for taking along on a vacation. Click on image to go to catalog.

Morse code is facinating to a child. With practice a child can spell out his/her name and even short messages to a friend. Click on image to go to catalog.

This simple motor shows the connection of magnetism and electricity in a very clear way. A child can have the opportunity to play witih it and realize the connection. This toy is a bargain at around $5.00. Click on image to go to catalog.

"Where did that girl in the picture get that hat? I want one of those hats. I just love it." Serene wanted the hat so bad she knew she was going to have to ask her mother to buy one for her. "I'm going to put electricity inside my new hat when I buy one," she told Nissa and Jill. "I'm going to make a circuit inside my new hat so people can see me at night and not run into me."

"Where would you put the light bulb?" Nissa asked her.

"On the front. Above my eyes," Serene replied confidently because it was all figured out.

"And why would you need a compass in your hat circuit?" Chance asked her. "Don't you know where you are going at night?"

"I won't need a compass. I just want to put a electrical circuit together and light up my head. My hat, I mean." Serene was sure she had defended herself successfully.

"You would look really funny. You would look like a firefly to me." Joshua giggled. "Walking in the dark. A firefly walking in the dark." He giggled so much his whole chest rocked back and forth. "Maybe if you put a green light bulb in your circuit or a red light bulb in your circuit you would look like a zebra fish. Or something like that." His chest continued to rock back and forth.

"I think I would look beautiful." Serene defended herself again only in a stronger voice than before.

"My mom said I can make a circuit so I don't have to read under my covers at night with a flashlight," Joshua told Chance in a hushed tone.

"What do zebra fish look like anyway? "Jill asked Chance. "Are they striped or something?"

"Zebra fish are beautiful fish. Some are striped but some are just plain bright colors." Chance remembered seeing some of these fish at a friend's house once.

Click on picture to go to zebra fish article in BBC News


Zebra fish are used by researchers do find out many things. It's a laboratory organism popular because its transparent embryos allow easy observation of living cells as they develop over time.


Healthy Choices Posters

When children experience how it 'feels' to begin to control their own lifestyle factors that affect their health, this is the beginning of their own medical destiny. Making healthy choices is the master lever for passing over major chronic disease epidemics. "What I want for my children is for them to understand they can have control over the quality of their food and the characteristics of different foods. I want them to yearn to taste the earthiness in a mushroom, the sweeetness in a beet. This poster image has given my children an opportunity to become more aware of what they are putting in their mouths," one mother recently wrote us. We are hearing from many parents now and they are all telling us the same thing: This poster image makes the whole effort toward good health so much easier than without this image. Michael Pollan's eater's manual entitled Food Rules includes images with every Food Rule. StarChild Science's Healthy Living Initiative includes our Healthy Choices poster and flyer image in its animations for families and teachers as well as in its products. Businesses are telling us that when they put their logo on our Healthy Choices poster or flyer, families always remember their efforts to keep children focused on making healthy choices.

Read More


The $2.2 Billion Bird-Scorching Solar Project

The $2.2 Billion Bird-Scorching Solar Project
Photo Courtesy of:

Added: Feb 13, 2014

"When you have new technologies, you don't know what the impacts are going to be." For some reason,


Loudspeaker Is First-Ever 3-D-Printed Consumer Electronic

Loudspeaker Is First-Ever 3-D-Printed Consumer Electronic
Photo Courtesy of:
Jason Koski/Cornell

Added: Dec 30, 2013

Cornell University researchers have 3D printed a working loudspeaker, seamlessly integrating the


Iron Melt Network Helped Grow Earth's Core, Study Suggests

Iron Melt Network Helped Grow Earth's Core, Study Suggests
Photo Courtesy of:

Added: Oct 9, 2013

The same process that allows water to trickle through coffee grinds to create your morning espresso


Functioning 'Mechanical Gears' Seen in Nature for First Time

Functioning 'Mechanical Gears' Seen in Nature for First Time
Photo Courtesy of:

Added: Sep 15, 2013

The gears in the Issus hind-leg bear remarkable engineering resemblance to those found on every


Going electric? Hybrid and electric cars set sales records in August

Going electric? Hybrid and electric cars set sales records in August
Photo Courtesy of:

Added: Sep 13, 2013

Inch by inch, hybrids and electric cars are gaining ground in the U.S. auto market. What's causing


University of Maryland students go back to the land

University of Maryland students go back to the land
Photo Courtesy of:
Astrid Riecken/FOR

Added: Aug 7, 2013

Wallis is part of a group of students at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the


Yo La Tengo

Added: Jul 14, 2013

"The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller" by filmmaker Sam Green features a live soundtrack by the


To Spark Buyers for Electric Cars, Drop the Price to Nearly $0

To Spark Buyers for Electric Cars, Drop the Price to Nearly $0
Photo Courtesy of:

Added: May 22, 2013

Auto makers are under mounting state regulatory pressure in about a dozen states to accelerate


Trees Used to Create Recyclable, Efficient Solar Cell

Trees Used to Create Recyclable, Efficient Solar Cell
Photo Courtesy of:

Added: Mar 27, 2013

Solar cells are just like leaves, capturing the sunlight and turning it into energy. It's fitting


Rubber 'Snake' Could Help Wave Power Get A Bite Of The Energy Market

Rubber 'Snake' Could Help Wave Power Get A Bite Of The Energy Market
Photo Courtesy of:
Image courtesy of

Added: Dec 10, 2012

...the 'Anaconda' is a totally innovative wave energy concept. Its ultra-simple design means it


The 50-Year Farm Bill

The 50-Year Farm Bill
Photo Courtesy of:
John Sommers

Added: Nov 14, 2012

"You can't run a landscape, any more than you can run your life, indefinitely in a state of


Organic Tomatoes Contain Higher Levels of Antioxidants Than Conventional Tomatoes

Organic Tomatoes Contain Higher Levels of Antioxidants Than Conventional Tomatoes
Photo Courtesy of:
dbj65 /

Added: Jul 6, 2012

A study conducted at the University of Barcelona shows that organic tomatoes contain higher levels


Like curry?

Like curry?
Photo Courtesy of:
sommai /

Added: May 27, 2012

New research has discovered that curcumin, a compound found in the cooking spice turmeric, can


Cheaper Color Printing By Harnessing Ben Franklin's Electrostatic Forces

Cheaper Color Printing By Harnessing Ben Franklin's Electrostatic Forces
Photo Courtesy of:

Added: May 2, 2012

It's these begining activities in science that are so important in preparing your child to


Moo North: Cows Sense Earth's Magnetism

Moo North: Cows Sense Earth's Magnetism
Photo Courtesy of:

Added: May 2, 2012

How would you test to see if a cow has a magnetic


'Electric' Fish Shed Light On How Brain Directs Movement

'Electric' Fish Shed Light On How Brain Directs Movement
Photo Courtesy of:

Added: May 2, 2012

We call this fish the "glass knifefish" because of its almost transparent, blade-shaped body. This


First, there were portable digital music players. Now, there's wellness cards?

First, there were portable digital music players. Now, there's wellness cards?
Photo Courtesy of:
American Chemical

Added: May 2, 2012

A new electronic "reader" could provide disease diagnosis from a small amount of a patient's saliva


Analyzing Food and Beverages With Magnetic Levitation

Analyzing Food and Beverages With Magnetic Levitation
Photo Courtesy of:

Added: May 2, 2012


Researchers Develop Nano-Sized 'Cargo Ships' to Target and Destroy Tumors

Researchers Develop Nano-Sized 'Cargo Ships' to Target and Destroy Tumors
Photo Courtesy of:
Luo Gu,

Added: May 2, 2012

So, why are we putting magnetic iron oxide, inside of these cargo


Magnetic Molecular Machines Deliver Drugs to Unhealthy Cells

Magnetic Molecular Machines Deliver Drugs to Unhealthy Cells
Photo Courtesy of:

Added: May 2, 2012

...nanomachines to release drugs inside living cancer cells when activated remotely by an


Using Electrons To Treat Organic Seeds

Using Electrons To Treat Organic Seeds

Added: May 2, 2012

"Sales of organic products are booming: Consumers want their food to be untainted. To avoid the use


The great electric car race of 2010

The great electric car race of 2010
Photo Courtesy of:

Added: May 2, 2012

"It will really be 2011 before the rest of the country starts seeing these and many other types of


Migrating Sea Turtles Have Magnetic Sense for Longitude

Migrating Sea Turtles Have Magnetic Sense for Longitude
Photo Courtesy of:

Added: May 2, 2012

..subjecting hatchlings to magnetic fields replicating those found at two locations, both along the


Mindful Eating: Researchers Are Making Every Bite Count

Mindful Eating: Researchers Are Making Every Bite Count
Photo Courtesy of:

Added: May 2, 2012

Are you a mindless eater? You need a pedometer for


Leaping Lizards and Dinosaurs Inspire Robot Design

Leaping Lizards and Dinosaurs Inspire Robot Design
Photo Courtesy of:

Added: May 2, 2012

"This research-based lab course … showed me how biologists and engineers can work together to


Smart Skin: Electronics That Stick and Stretch Like a Temporary Tattoo

Smart Skin: Electronics That Stick and Stretch Like a Temporary Tattoo
Photo Courtesy of:

Added: May 2, 2012 ultrathin skin-like patch that mounts directly onto the skin with the ease, flexibility and

No book resources available.

Healthy Living Initiative Posters

Healthy Living Initiative Posters

Added: Sep 4, 2012

There's evidence all over the place, at schools, hospitals, pediatric clinics, natural food stores,


Healthy Choices Flyers

Healthy Choices Flyers

Added: May 31, 2012

To read about our Teacher Contest go to: Get the word


Simple Motor

Simple Motor

Added: Apr 30, 2012

This motor allows you to use an electric current to create the push and pull forces of magnetism



All Saints' Day School
Carmel, California

Mini Heirlooms, Eggplant, Cantaloupe & More!


Palumbi Lab

Monterey Bay Farmers Markets

425 Washington Street
Monterey, CA 93940

"The best French Country cuisine around."
Carmel, California

Sand City of Monterey Bay celebrate their diversity as they open their community to art, music, dance and great delicious favorites. West End Celebration features local artists, world famous musicians, and commerce. in August of each year. It brings happiness, love and peace into a community while opening lines of communication between artists, merchants and musicians.

Lower School,
Carmel California 831-626-5200

Chef Ann Cooper of The Lunch Box

The Gifting Earth is a free online system that enables its members to help each other through gifting and sharing.

Home Furnishings/Art Gallery

S/W corner San Carlos & Sixth


Egret Series by Mary Kay King


Contra Costa Certified Farmers Markets

Take a break, sit in our garden, you’ll understand why it’s magical! – Suzka

Read how to make fruit and vegetable gardening more fun and productive.

Want to know more about solutions? Visit

For an excellent paper on community see Dee Hock's paper on community. Dr. Wilken has presented Hock's thoughts in his Community of Minds web site.

Wed. April 16, Thurs. April 17, 6-8 pm

Cooking with Nuts
Well, guess that could also be Cooking for Nuts, with so many meanings! I will be featuring a variety of nuts, seeds, dried fruits and more for your cooking and eating pleasure. These staple foods have been available for centuries, and now they are in the nutrition news daily as a Must Have Food. Gogi berries, lingonberries, almonds, walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds and more will be featured for springtime appetizers, main dishes, salads, vegetables and dessert! Come have some fun with nuts, berries, and seeds! Wine pairings also included.

All about good food, good cooking, good company, and good health.

Roxanne B Sukol MD MS

StarChild Science
Carmel, CA

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