Sunday, January 31, 2010

JJNN: Flying house

Thinking back, I think I have always been interested in science. Maybe it was the fact that when I was young we did not have cable TV at my house so we were left with the local channels on TV. One of the channels had great science shows like NOVA. I loved that show and learned a lot from it. Those shows really started my love for science and, more importantly, critical thinking. When a person learns the scientific method they naturally learn how to think critically. Science may not be something that I actively use every day, but critical thinking is something that I use everyday. If everyone had good critical thinking skills there would be no such thing as fraud because the tricks used in fraud would not be able to fool anyone. And, as a side effect, there probably would be no such thing as infomercials. Well, maybe not, but one could hope.

Any way, I am going to put my soap box away and get into the news. Today I want to talk about this news story. The story is about group of elementary school students that were inspired by the movie "UP." The kids, lead by a teacher named Yamazaki Kazuo, obtained a model of a house that weighed 660 grams (2.1 ounces) and started tying balloons filled with helium to it. The house did finally take off. How many balloons did you think it took? I will give you a hint before I tell you the answer. Take a look at the picture of the house right after takeoff.

Before I tell you the answer, post your guess in the comments for this blog.

The answer is at the bottom of this post. It is a lot of balloons and the house isn't even that heavy. The kids and the teacher calculated that in order to lift a 40 metric ton house it would take 60000 times the number of balloons. That is a lot of balloons and gas.

I guess, the experiment itself does not matter. As long as it finds a way to grab at the hearts of the students and start them on the pat of critical thinking.

Any way, it is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 実験(じっけん). It is pronounced jikken and it means experiment. Another question for you: what was your favorite experiment in school? Post the answer in the comments section.

See you next time at JJNN

(The answer is 245 balloons)

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