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Monday, October 19, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Water cooler: It’s a fair day for science at home

Sundials don’t have to be as elaborate as this one in Hamburg, Germany. All you need to build one is a pencil,  Play-Doh and a rock. (Axel Heimken / AP)
Sundials don’t have to be as elaborate as this one in Hamburg, Germany. All you need to build one is a pencil, Play-Doh and a rock. (Axel Heimken / AP)
From staff reports

Get outside today with these fun outdoor science experiments.

Insect Hotel: Attract bugs that can be beneficial for pollination and keeping away pests. Use a wood or cardboard box. Use smaller pieces of wood or smaller cardboard boxes to create the “rooms” for the bugs. Fill each room with a bug-friendly nesting material. Solitary bees are attracted to wood with deep holes drilled into them, or bundles of wood with holes for them to nestle into. Butterflies are attracted to bundles of leaves. Use burlap, bark, pebbles, dried flowers or newspaper scraps. Glue the materials in place. Place the hotel outside, somewhere away from entrances to your home. Keep a log of what kinds of bugs come to visit your hotel.

Solar S’mores Oven: Harness the heat of the sun for campfire-free s’mores. Line the inside of a pizza box (or a similarly shaped box) with aluminum foil. Open the lid (or cut your own lid). Line the bottom of the box with black paper to attract the most light (heat). Cover the opening of the box with plastic wrap and prop open the lid with a stick so it reflects sunlight down on the s’mores. Now torture yourself by waiting for your delicious chocolate to melt. After that, chow down.

Ice Tower Excavation: The perfect experiment for warm weather. First select a mold for the tower – a plastic cup or vase will do nicely. Gather items from around the house for the excavation. They should fit easily inside the mold – for example, small toys, play jewelry, building blocks. Fill about a quarter of the cup with water and some of the items you will excavate. After this layer is frozen, repeat this process until the cup is full. Once all your layers are frozen, remove the ice tower from its mold. Take your tower outside and start melting. Use squeeze bottles or droppers of salt water to hurry it along. Enjoy your excavating.

Sundial: Use the sun to track time. Put a pencil or a straight stick in a ball of clay or Play-Doh. Sit it outside and place a rock or chalk mark where the stick casts a shadow. Each hour put a new mark at the changed position of the shadow. Repeat this for a few hours. After a while, your marks will start to form a circle. Use the spacing and shape you already have to fill out the rest of the marks. Now you can use it to tell the time when the sun is out.

Float or Sink in Nature: Go for a nature walk and collect items along the way. Put them in a bowl or bucket of water to see what floats and what sinks.

Walking Water: Can water climb? Let’s find out. This can be done inside or out. Get three jars or cups and fill two with water and food coloring of your choice. Leave one empty. Fold a paper towel into a strip for each glass for food coloring. Stick one end of the paper towel in the water and the other end into the empty jar. Watch as the colors travel up the paper towel all the way into the empty jar. This may take a few minutes. The water “walks” up the towel due to what is called capillary action.

Brain train

Test your knowledge with today’s trivia question

Which planet in our solar system weighs the least?

  • Mars
  • Neptune
  • Venus
  • Earth

Tuesday’s answer: The Astoria Legend

Fun in the sun

Celebrate the longer and warmer days with these fun facts about the sun

Why do we get sunburns? The sun not only sends visible light to Earth, but it also sends infrared radiation (heat) and ultraviolet light, which is light that we cannot see but is harmful to our skin after too much exposure.

The sun is always changing. Changes are observed by watching sunspots, which decrease and increase during a regular cycle of 10.8 years.

Sunspots are darker and cooler spots on the surface of the sun. The sun’s regular surface temperature is about 5,800 degrees Kelvin. Sunspots are about 3,800 degrees Kelvin.

The sun is made of layers just like Earth, but the sun’s layers are all made of gas unlike Earth – which is made of solids and liquids. The sun’s outermost layer is called the corona (funny enough) and it cannot be seen by the naked eye except during an eclipse. Below that is the transition region, followed by the chromosphere. This layer is about 250 miles above the solar surface, also called the photosphere, which is the deepest layer of the sun we can observe directly. Below that is the convection zone, followed by the radiative zone and then the core at the center.

The sun makes up 99.8% to 99.9% of the entire mass of our solar system.

It takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds for light to travel from the sun to Earth. It can reach Mars in 12 minutes and 40 seconds.

The sun rotates on its axis once about every 26 days, but because the sun is made of gas different parts rotate faster than others. The fastest rotation is at the sun’s equator, whereas the slowest rotation is at its polar regions which take about 30 days to make a full rotation.

The sun is about 93 million miles from Earth and has been around for approximately 4.6 billion years.

Ready to grow

Spring has definitely sprung – the grass is turning green, flowers are blooming and trees are growing leaves. Here are some great activities for this time of year:

Make a sensory garden: Create a special garden area in which to play. Use a planter or small plot of dirt and fill it with plants and toys. Here are some ideas: Make mud cupcakes with a cupcake tray; plant herbs for low-maintenance plants and great smells; use pebbles in the dirt to make shapes and pictures; and make it themed, such as a fairy or dinosaur theme.

Make a broccoli print of a blossoming tree: Cut broccoli in half, paint the flat side with whatever color you would like for the trunk and branches, then use it as a stamp on some paper. All you have to do is fill in the flowers.

Paint a flower pot: They make great gifts for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. You can either buy seeds and start from scratch, or arrange a pot of already-grown flowers.

Make natural herbal playdough: Mix 1 cup of salt, 2 cups of flour, 1 1/2 cups of boiling water, 2 tablespoons of oil and a few drops of lemon juice in a bowl. Once it becomes cool to the touch, knead it with your hands until pliable. Now add your favorite herbs. The smells and textures of the herbs make for a great sensory experience.

Use your hands to make a sunflower: Paint your hand yellow then use it as a stamp to create the petals of a sunflower. Glue seeds, buttons or even pebbles in the center.

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