Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Little Hampden - yet again

‘Go for a walk in your neighbourhood and pray about what you see’ says one of the actions this week. Little Hampden looked wonderful today with a blue sky and the trees coming out. I resisted getting out my camera (too busy anyway!) But I did walk down to neighbours - who were out - and walking back spotted the new moon in the evening sky.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Science and posters

Volunteer driving this morning so I had 30 minutes or so waiting in Hospital. I used these to look through the science for children books and to generate a list for the science afternoon at Zone Plus next week. Lots of ideas - I think I have enough. I’ve tried a few out. Yesterday we went to Maplin in Aylesbury for some crocodile clips. I made up some cables today for use with a lemon battery. Two different coins (or two different metals) in a lemon (or other acid) will generate electricity. I tried this with a 2p piece, a 10p piece and an eggcup of vinegar. Not enough to drive anything significant but the meter definitely moved! With 3 lemons the voltage should be measurable and may light up a LED. I’ve also tried out the balloon on bottle experiment to show that air expands and contracts. Half-inflate a balloon and fix it on the top of a plastic bottle. Run the hot tap onto the bottle and the balloon expands. Dip the bottle in iced water and it contracts. Richard has made some heavier weights for the Foucault pendulum so I’ll have to try these out soon.

The lady on the hospital run was a very sprightly 86-year-old so I took advantage of driving past Stoke Mandeville Church to drop off a poster for the Gospel Readings. We diverted a little to Ellesborough for another poster. I think my passenger enjoyed the round trip. I don’t think this aligns with any of the LLLL actions but I feel it’s very much in the spirit!

I also managed to ‘buy something that’s in season in a local shop’ today - potatoes, apples and some wonderful Cornish goat’s cheese. The potatoes are locals, the cheese isn’t from too far away but think the apples were from France - they had ‘le crunch’ stickers.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Birthdays and Foucault’s pendulum

We collected birthdays at Church today - and I checked in case. Two pairs in 34 so with a bit of luck shuffling and selecting a random 22 or so should end up with at last one pair.

We tried the pendulum: swing is OK but the weight wasn’t enough to sustain the swing long enough to see the rotation. At our latitude, the pendulum would completely rotate in about 31 hours so in 1 hour it should move 11 degrees. Richard has now made two heavier weights so we’ll have another try this week. If it won’t swing long enough, we can calculate the acceleration due to gravity using a smaller pendulum then measure the height of the ceiling using the period of the larger one.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Defrost, global warming and April Fool

I “defrosted the freezer” yesterday. I was also prompted to find out how climate change affects poor countries. We only have to look back over the last few months to see a number of global catastrophes: I don’t think the earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand can be linked to the climate but what about the extensive floods in Australia, Philippines, South Africa, Brazil and Sri Lanka? It’s easy to say these are statistical exceptions but isn’t it worth modifying our behaviour to reduce the chance of these appalling disasters. The Christian Aid website has lots of examples of how they are helping poorer countries ameliorate the effects of the changes to the climate.

On a lighter note, I’ve had some fun with a friend over the last couple of days. Last year he paid a particularly clever April fool trick just as we were planning the firs Zone Plus. The suggestion was that there was an alternative route for HS2 in tunnels under the Churchyard and they wanted to drill trial borings during time when the children would be around. We eventually rumbled the scam - and offered new adventures for Zone Plus including driving diggers round the Churchyard. So I invented a new project that Rosie and the Bishop wanted us to pilot: a screen in Church for a live Twitter feed during services. I asked Mike to handle the communications aspects. We exchanged e-mails including a promise from a friend of the loan of equipment from another Church that had tried it out. However, the fun ended with a wonderful mock-up screen - click on it to see full-size:

The slight worry is that when I told Rosie I was planning this she thought a live Twitter feed might be a good idea....