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Technology in Fashion

 “Science & Art were never meant to be separated, they must intermingle.” – Monica & Elaine, Groovy Lab in a Box co-founders 

Technology in Fashion

Better Fabrics for Better Living

STEMists have done some amazing things with textiles (fabric) and clothing.  Today we have clothing that changes color in sunlight, socks with aloe to soothe the feet, and fleece fabric made from recycled plastic bottles–just for starters!  There are fabrics to protect people from water, germs, acid, bullets, and ultraviolet light.   Textile engineers often work with artists and designers to make sure their discoveries can be turned into clothing that looks nice enough for people to wear.

Technology, Science, Art, and Music Together

Fergie of The Black-Eyed Peas

Fergie: Kevin Mazur/WireImag

When STEMists team up with fashion designers and musical performers, some really amazing things can be created.  At the Billboard Music Awards in 2011, singer Fergie of The Black-Eyed Peas wore what looked like a little black dress–until the music began!  Philips Lighting designers had worked with fashion stylist and designer B. Akerlund to make a dress with lighting built into the fabric.  The lights on the dress even changed to the rhythm of the music.  Art and engineering worked together.

Faraday Cage Dress

Faraday cage dress

Cage dress: Kyle Cothern/Anouk Wipprecht

More recently, Anouk Wipprecht, a Dutch fashion designer, worked with the music group Arcattack to build a Faraday cage dress.  A Faraday cage, named for nineteenth-century British physicist Michael Faraday, is a mesh made of material that conducts electricity. People or things inside the cage are protected from static electrical charges because the cage safely channels the electricity.

Faraday cages are used to protect sensitive equipment from lightning strikes and other static electrical discharges.  The Faraday dress was made of metal plates and chain mail, with a helmet that had a mesh face guard.  Anouk Wipprecht demonstrated the dress by wearing it herself as it protected her from a million volts of electricity at a demonstration in 2014 at Maker Faire Bay Area.  This same science is used in the Faraday suits worn by some electrical linemen to protect them from accidental electrocution while they work on high-voltage power lines.

A Special Suit for Movie Production

Another sort of high-tech suit is the motion-capture suit used in movie productions that mix real actors with computer-generated ones.  For example, Gollum in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit is a computer-generated character.  His movements are made to look realistic because a live actor, Andy Serkis, performed the part during the filming of the moving.

Gollum in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit is a computer-generated character

Gollum photo credit: Illustration by Heather Jones for Time; Everett (3); Gollum: Warner Bros.

Serkis was wearing a suit with sensors all over it that created a computer record of his movements.  CGI (computer-generated imagery) specialists then took the computer record of Andy’s movements and added Gollum, making Gollum’s movements look lifelike.

 You Can Use Technology in Fashion

STEMists can see that art and science work well together.  Why not create your own technology and fashion mix?  Using LEDs and thread that conducts electricity is one way to make fashion items that light up safely and beautifully.  Maybe you will have a career in the textile industry.  There are still discoveries to made and amazing works of art to be created.

3 STEM Activities To Light Up Your Summer Nights

Dark and eerie nights can be turned into cool summertime memories for your STEMists with glow-in-the-dark activities.  To add an educational spark and light up their summer nights, check out these 3 glow-in-the-dark activities that you and your STEMists can create at home:

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Blazing Bubbles

Bubbles are fun for everyone, especially when they glow in the dark!

Materials you will need:

  • Bubble solution (store-bought, or make your own solution by mixing ½ cup dishwashing liquid, with 4 ½ cups of water and two tablespoons of glycerin).
  • Washable glow paint (can be found at any craft store)

To make your glow-in-the-dark bubbles, mix the bubble solution with the glow solution.  Start with a 50/50 mix; you may have to adjust this measure depending on the strength of your solutions to obtain the glow you desire.  Also note the glow-in-the-dark solution requires exposure to bright light before your bubbles will glow.  Groovy Lab in a Box recommends planning as an outdoor activity for easy clean-up.  STEMists will have fun chasing and dancing amongst the luminescent bubbles under a dark summer star-studded night sky.

Fun with Duct Tape

STEMists can experience triboluminescence, which is light triggered by mechanical energy or a mechanical action, such as friction with duct tape. This luminating experiment is perfect for a summertime sleepover. Press two pieces of duct tape, sticky sides together, and then turn out the lights. Wait until your eyes have adjusted to the darkness of the room before you quickly pull apart the two pieces of tape.  What will your STEMists witness?  They should see a streak of blue when the tapes separate.  Transparent Scotch™ tape works as well.  Results may vary with different brands and types of tape used.

At-home Cosmic Bowling

STEMists compete to see who can knock down the most pins in this nighttime cosmic-colored activity.  You can make the bowling pins yourself with water bottles and glow-sticks.

Materials you will need:

  • 10 glow sticks
  • 10 water bottles
  • 1 small-sized basketball

Your STEMists might have as much fun creating the game as they do playing it!  First, peel the labels from the water bottles and then remove enough water to leave approximately one inch of space from the top.  Next, open the glow-stick packaging and crack your glow-sticks (follow packaging instructions for cracking).  Then, add one glowing stick (the thicker the diameter, the better) to each water bottle and recap.  Set-up your glow-in-the-dark bowling game in a clear indoor hallway, or on a patio, driveway or clear patch of low-cut grass.  Cosmic bowling also works well at a nighttime beach or pool party. Don’t forget the pencil and paper to keep score (although, the true winner of this game is you for providing a unique night-to-remember idea for your STEMists)!

If you are looking for more ways to keep your STEMists entertained this summer, check out Groovy Lab in a Box There is no better way to educate your STEMist than to keep their minds working to create, design and solve, through the engineering design process and STEM-related activities.

5 STEM-Related Ways to Celebrate the 4th of July

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Fourth of July is one of the best holidays for STEMists to get engaged in celebration preparation and super groovy activities.  From yummy recipes and STEM-related activities, to watching the night sky light up with fireworks, the STEMist in you and your children is bound to show up for America’s big celebration!  Here are 5 ideas to get you started:

Layered Patriotic Drinks

It’s all about the density of sugar in this celebratory drink.  The trick to the layering is to remember that the more sugar content, the heavier the liquid. First, pour Hawaiian Punch, Fruit Juicy Red flavor to fill your glass ¼ full.  Then, carefully add ice cubes to just below the rim.  Now add a white beverage to your drink, pouring slowly over one of the ice cubes, or tip the glass and pour along the inside wall of the glass—SoBe Piña Colada flavor works well for this task.  Gatorades’ G2 Blueberry-Pomegranate flavor is the perfect topper to complete your patriotic-layered drink.  Add a red, white, and blue straw or favor, and your guests will be thrilled to sip this festive beverage.

Pop-Rock Sprinkle-frosted Cupcakes

Everyone loves a cupcake.  Add an explosion of taste and texture to any cupcake with this Pop-Rock sprinkle frosting. Homemade or store-bought, frost your cupcakes, and add colorful red, white and blue sprinkles, then top it off with a dash of red or blue Pop-Rock candies. Your cakes are sure to add zing to your celebration!  While making these delicious cupcakes, explain to your STEMists the science behind their favorite candy.  Pop-Rocks is hard candy that has been gasified with carbon dioxide under super-atmospheric pressure.  When these gasified sugar granules come in contact with moisture, in someone’s mouth or in a drink, the candy dissolves, and the gas retained inside the carbon dioxide bubbles is released, causing the characteristic crackling and fizzing sounds.

Rocket Launch

Most STEMists are anxious to launch their own fireworks during Fourth of July celebrations.  Groovy Lab in a Box recommends a safer way to launch objects into the sky—launching rockets!  Decorate and launch your own rocket by using the Parents’ Choice® award-winning Lunar Launch Groovy Lab in a Box. Your STEMists can add red, white and blue streamers, or glitter to their rocket to commemorate the Fourth of July.  Or, inflate a white balloon, and use a red and blue Sharpie to decorate it. Then, tie the balloon to your rocket with double thread, fishing line, or light-weight string, and launch it high in the sky. Note the difference in speed with the added weight of a balloon.

Patriotic Getaway

Capture the patriotic pride that comes from being American with a visit to our Nation’s Capitol during the Fourth of July holiday.  This is one of the best times to visit Washington D.C. , and your STEMists will learn all about the great leaders in history who helped shape our country.  Don’t miss the Independence Day Parade along Constitution Avenue and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Plus, listen to a Capitol Fourth Concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building.  End your visit with a viewing of the fabulous fireworks display at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, illuminating the sky behind the Washington Monument!

Whether you host your own small gathering or hit the road for a patriotic family weekend getaway, Groovy Lab in a Box hopes you have a chance to celebrate Independence Day in a big STEMist way!

Groovy Lab in a Box Wins Prestigious Parents’ Choice® Award

The ‘Lunar Launch’ box wins silver in the Spring 2014 Toys list

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May 21, 2014: Anaheim, CA: Academics in a Box today announced that its Lunar Launch box has won the silver award from the Parents’ Choice® Foundation, the U.S.’s oldest nonprofit guide to quality children’s media and toys. The silver award is the second highest distinction given by the Parents’ Choice Foundation. Only about 20 percent of all entries get listed on the foundation’s six award levels.

“Being selected as a silver award winner by the Parents’ Choice Foundation is a remarkable honor,” said Monica Canavan, co-founder of Groovy Lab in a Box. “It validates our hard work, dedication and overall mission: to provide fun, hands-on STEM learning to children to enrich their lives.”

In their review of the Lunar Launch box, Parents’ Choice remarked that “Lunar Launch models science processes, and teaches kids how to track and record in a scientific manner.” The review also stated how they looked forward to seeing kids brainstorm, refine and test their rockets.

“We designed the Lunar Launch box to teach children about Newton’s Laws of Inertia,” explained Elaine Hansen, co-founder of Groovy Lab in a Box. “The children build balloon rockets, paper rockets and foam rockets to understand how the different laws apply to their investigations.”

The investigations culminate into an engineering design challenge, where children must create their own canister rocket, applying what they have learned from the investigations. The Lunar Launch box contains all of the materials needed for the investigations and engineering design challenge, including a lab notebook, which guides the children through the investigations.

The Lunar Launch box, along with several other STEM-related boxes, is available for order as a single-box option. Additionally, parents can subscribe to Groovy Lab in a Box to receive monthly boxes in the mail.

For more information about the Parents’ Choice Foundation, visit www.parents-choice.org.

About Groovy Lab in a Box

Groovy Lab in a Box, a product of Academics in a Box, is a comprehensive monthly STEM subscription service available for children, ages eight and up. Groovy Lab in a Box is the brainchild of scientists, parents, educators and business owners who have worked in the private sector of the science community.  Our purpose is to provide children with an opportunity to apply his/her imagination, determination and innately inquisitive nature by offering a monthly STEM project using the Engineering Design Process. Each Groovy Lab in a Box gives children the opportunity to engage their imaginations, apply critical thinking, and most importantly, have fun while learning. For more information, visit us at www.GroovyLabinaBox.com.

4 Activities To Beat Summertime Boredom

The academic year is coming to an end.  Some children will head to summer camp; others will stay at home.  Whatever your STEMists are scheduled to do this summer, you should be well prepared for the time when you hear, “Mom, I’m bored!”  Here are four go-to activities when you hear these words.

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Make a Lava Bottle

Kids of all ages will love to watch the mixing of colors and the reaction caused by an Alka-Seltzer effervescent tablet.  And, this is a great time to explain why oil and water don’t mix.

You can discuss with your STEMists that the force of attraction between similar versus different molecules will create a different reaction.  Other concepts to define include mass, density and volume.

Lava bottle ingredients:

  • Baby oil
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Alka Seltzer or other effervescent tablet
  • Clear plastic or glass bottle

Fill 1/8 of bottle with water and the remainder with oil. Watch as the oil and water separate. Slowly add several drops of food coloring.  The drops pool together where the water and oil meet.  Ball bursts will form and gradually mix with water.  Add pieces of one Alka Seltzer tablet and enjoy the show!  Your STEMists can enjoy this for days—adding the Alka Seltzer anytime they wish to watch the magic in the bottle.  And, place the bottle in front of a small night light to get the full lava lamp experience!

Fun with a Balloon Hovercraft

Items you will need:

  • Balloon, any color
  • CD
  • Push-up water bottle top
  • Superglue

First, superglue the push-up water bottle top to the center of the CD. Let the glue dry.  Then, blow up a balloon and place it over the bottle top, which should be in the closed position.  Release the balloon and open the bottle top valve to watch the escaped air push your creation, causing it to hover over the floor (does not work on carpet). This activity will keep competitive siblings or neighborhood friends busy for hours while they race their homemade hover crafts.

TheTouchTomorrow Event

Jump in the car and head over to the TouchTomorrow – A Festival of Science, Technology & Robots for family fun! The TouchTomorrow event is held in Worcester Massachusetts from June 9-14.  This free event is hosted by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in partnership with NASA.   TouchTomorrow – A Festival of Science, Technology & Robots is a celebration of the NASA Sample Return Robot Challenge.  The family-friendly event offers demonstrations, performances, hands-on activities and interactive exhibits for all ages.  The festival, held on the WPI campus, promises to be the highlight of your STEMists’ summer.

Be sure to check the TouchTomorrow website for an event schedule.  Spectators can watch teams compete through the various levels of the robot challenge.  The objective of the Sample Return Robot Challenge is to develop new technologies or apply existing technologies in unique ways to create robots that can autonomously seek out samples and return to a designated point in a set time period.  Your STEMists will be delighted to see team robots navigate over unknown terrain, around obstacles, and in varied lighting conditions to identify, retrieve, and return samples. Remember, all TouchTomorrow exhibits are free and open to the public – rain or shine.

Don’t Forget Groovy Lab in a Box

Another way to keep your young STEMists busy is to break out Groovy Lab in a Box.  You can order a subscription or single boxes anytime during the summer. Each box can accommodate up to four children for fun learning. Your STEMists can build an electric dance pad, launch a rocket, grow plants and much more.

Summertime does not have to equal boredom. With these STEM-related activites, your STEMists will have a blast being entertained my math, technology, engineering and science this summer!

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