Wandering and Wondering

Exploring the wonders of Science in everyday life!

Is it a solid?

One of my students came in to my room after school yesterday, and gave me a small cube of Aerogel, one of the world’s lightest solid materials. It is amazing stuff! Even though it is called “gel”, it is actually a dry, translucent solid…feels sort of like styrofoam. http://www.aerogel.org/

The way they make this is by replacing the liquid in gels with gas. It is an ultra-porous, ultra-lightweight solid that can support up to 1000 times its mass, and is also a great insulator! Check out the video below, where a piece of Aerogel protects a Hershey’s kiss from a blowtorch:

You can buy a little bit of this amazing material from Amazon and play around with it: http://www.amazon.com/Educational-Innovations-Aerogel/dp/B008MB1R0Q/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1347998261&sr=8-3&keywords=aerogel

What are some other amazing solids you have heard of? What are some properties of solid matter than you know of?

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It’s Party Time!

Political parties, that is…with all this hubbub about the Presidential nominations and party conventions, I started wondering: How did this whole tradition of having huge conventions get started?

The party conventions started in 1831 when the Anti-Masonic party held a national convention, and it seemed like such a great idea that the other political parties began holding their own. The reason it seemed like such a great idea was because when you have everyone in the same room it is much easier to debate who the nominee should be rather than trying to get everyone on the same page from across the nation (remember, this was in the early 1800’s…no long distance phone calls!).


When the conventions first started out, the delegates from each state genuinely did not know who was going to come out as the presidential nominee! It took 49 ballots to elect Franklin Pierce in 1852! These days, we pretty much know who is going to be nominated way before the convention actually happens but it is still exciting to watch all the speeches in support of your nominee.

Learn more about becoming President (and order a GREAT poster for your Social Studies classroom!) here: http://kids.usa.gov/president/index.shtml

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