Saturday, August 27, 2011

Magnetic slime!

A few months ago I was hell bent on making this magnetic silly putty I had heard about... and couldn't find the ferric iron oxide powder it called for anywhere (the instructions state that it should be easy to find at any reasonably-well-stocked art store, but not in Austin it isn't) so I went ahead and ordered it online.

Jack found it pretty fun but truthfully I found it to be a bit of a bust. Not very easy to massage the powder into silly putty... and I couldn't imagine doing it with a whole group of kids (which is why I ordered 5 pounds of the stuff). So what to do with this huge bag of this bizarre powder.

Some good buds were coming over for a sleep over tonight when I stumbled upon the solution. I was thinking of making slime with them for some cheap laffs when I suddenly wondered what would happen if I chucked some of this powder into the brew. Well it worked like gangbusters, as illustrated by Jack saying, "I'm so lucky to have the coolest mom ever!" and Oliver, the visiting friend, saying, "I'm so lucky to be the friend of the coolest mom ever!" Aw shucks, guys, flattery will get you everywhere!

It was much easier to mix and I was able to add a lot, so that it was ultra magnetic. Here's the recipe:
Solution A (mix well)
1 c. warm water
1 tsp. borax

Solution B (mix well)
1/2 c. white glue
1/2 c. warm water
1/3 c. ferric iron oxide powder

Add Solution B to Solution A and don't mix, but gently swirl the bowl so it sloshes around for a few seconds. Then, voila! You have achieved slimeage. Neodymium magnets are recommended, for their super strong magnetic powers. Just play around with it and have fun, it's mighty strange stuff.

In all honesty we really were bending over backwards to make this the most kick ass sleep over ever (like the mixed metaphors there?), not really for any particular reason but that we often kind of phone it in when having a sleepover and I feel a tad guilty about that, and right now I don't have any classes going on or anything, not 'til mid September, so I actually was not all tired and grumpy and burned out (so sad! but alas, it's true). So anyway, not only did we have magnetic slime and swimming and ice cream sundaes BUT a freakin' transformer exploded out on the street and caused the parched grass of this terribly drought-fried land (77 days in a row of over 100 degrees temperatures here in Austin, TX) to burst into flame! SO it was incredibly exciting with real fire (quickly stomped out and sprayed on with garden hoses) and then fire engines and police cars, and the term "exploding transformers' completely dazzled the five year olds... we could not have planned a more dynamic and memorable evening. Best. Sleepover. EVER!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

More City Museum....

Did you think you'd get off that easy? I intend to go on and on about this place...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

City Museum

Simply the Best!! Mind... completely... blown... can't say much more than that. This place defies any easy definitions.... let's just say that it's rife with secret passageways, miles of labyrinthine tunnels, ladders, and slides (including one that is 10 stories high!) and what's more: it's all made from pieces of St. Louis.... huge hunks of steel from ancient factories and institutions, fighter jets and school buses and carnival rides... all welded together into one giant artistic playground. And nothing is off limits.... that hole in the floor, that secret door, that tunnel that leads up into the ceiling... you're expected to explore it all.... including some tunnels I followed my kids down where my adult body could barely fit. I also absolutely loved how unapologetic they were.... seems like in this day and age the most safe and sanitized children's museum will have anxious employees fluttering about making sure no one gets hurt, but in this place the wristband you receive upon entry states, " City Museum is full of creativity, adventure and learning... Use Care, Caution and Common Sense. City Museum does not take responsibility for accidents or injuries that may occur". I love how they just treat it like, 'We created this amazing place and you get to explore it. Now be responsible for yourself and don't do anything stupid.' There were definitely employees around but the two main rules that they seemed to be enforcing were Don't Run and Keep your Shoes on. And they were wearing shirts that said, "No maps" and "Get Lost". Ahhh! I love it!

I just feel like I want everyone I know to be able to go check out this man-made wonder. I've never seen anything like it. A true masterpiece, and just such a full-body sensory experience.... I wish I could have captured how delighted my kids were there, and it felt so good to not have to walk around policing them like we might have to in other environments. And any other amusement park type place we might have to wait in lines for a few minutes of pleasure, but here... everywhere you turned was some new experience, some new mystery.

After two full days here Jack was still weeping when we had to leave. Maybe in a few years, when Bob Cassily's new project Cementland opens, we'll return.... I can't wait!

Camping in the Ozarks!

Here I am, haven't even finished regaling you with tales of all my tinkering camps and such (I'm sure you're on the edge of your seat), but can't help but jump ahead and crow about a Most Amazing Adventure I had the good fortune to go on last week. A pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming kind of week... City Museum in St. Louis, where I've been DYING to go for years and years and years! And camping in the Ozarks on the way.... So. Much. Fun.

Monday, August 15, 2011

3 kinds of games

Games was our officially unofficial theme for our juniors camp. We thought we'd prime the pump on the first day by having three different pretty compelling (hopefully) games to rotate through on the first day. At my station, I had four puzzles that I flat out stole from Gever Tulley's 'Tinker Your Way Out of This!' project he has brought to the last few Maker Faires. I'm pretty sure he doesn't mind my idea-burglary, and the kids loved them.

At station #2, Rashid challenged the kids to make 'flinkers'.... objects that neither sank nor floated... by combining different objects they scavenged from the outlying area. That was lots of fun, and a good opportunity to get a little wet and refreshed (don't know if you've heard, but it's been mighty hot in Austin, TX this summer).

At station #3, Matt took the kids out into the world for a scavenger hunt. I thought he designed a mind bogglingly cool one.... they had to read signs, get a rubbing off of a fire hydrant, and even go to Mr. MC's, the local convenience store, and write down the price of a few items. They then had to tell the guy behind the counter the secret password ( "Pumpernickel Pickle") to receive the secret clue from him. That Matt is a pretty creative dude sometimes.

The games were really fun. Later on in the week we got so involved in our other building projects that I was worried we had wasted that first day and that it didn't relate as much to the projects as I had thought it would, but then it really did end up flavoring the outcome in a wonderful way. In my humble opinion.