Monthly Archives: March 2014

SpikanunkCatapultLg

Homeschooler Catapult Exhibition, June 2014

The kids & I thought it would be fun to revive the catapult exhibitions we attended a few years ago, when they were too little to build any themselves.  So, here we go:

Catapult Exhibition
June 11, 2014 11AM
Location: TBA green space near North York Centre
Participants: Children educated at home in and around the Greater Toronto Area
Comment here or send me a message (iam at this domain) and I’ll build a roster of participants

Catapults go by many names: ballistae, trebuchets, onagers, hsuan feng, mangonels, petraries, scorpions, tormenta, and others.  What we’re looking for here is a ballistic device used to launch a projectile a great distance without the aid of explosive devices.  Put your thinking caps on, get your tools out, work out the maths and angles, and build away.

We are thinking of setting up a system to measure the distance the objects are thrown, and also an accuracy/target course.  Two categories: kid made only, and then the models which the adults helped with.  Ammo wise, plan to use something similar to an orange — we’ll update this after we’ve had a chance to test a few things out.   Depending on numbers we will either give everyone a chance to talk about their build in front of the group, or a set time where spectators can go from build to build and ask questions about it.

Ideally the space we pick in addition to the missile range will have some playground equipment for families with younger siblings, area to picnic for lunch, and generally hang out to make a day of it for those so inclined.  I have a great spot in mind, I just want to test out the range of our builds to get a sense of how much space we’ll need before I settle on it.  Don’t want any windows broken or near by roadways interfered with.

catapult-DIY-easy-kid-actvity-marshmallowNot everyone is as handy with tools and building as they once were, so I hope to see some collaborations between different groups, maybe even some teaming up to share resources and expertise, or some grandparents pitching in.  It could be just the opportunity you’ve been looking for to try a maker project?  Alternatively you might want to start small and build a simple one out of craft sticks, or marshmallows.

Toronto Tool Library logoA place you might want to check out in the course of your project is the Toronto Tool Library, they have a variety of tools available, and at their East End location a makerspace.  Another makerspace in town that has woodworking capability is Site3 co-laboratory.  Let me know if you are aware of others.  Maybe we’ll see some 3D printed designs, in which case maybe check out the Digital Innovation Hub at the Toronto Reference Library?

A site we like is DIY.org, and they have a Catapult or Trebuchet challenge you can submit your project to, or review some of the devices other kids have made.

Some books we’ve found at the library that have designs and plans and ideas on how to get started are:

Toronto_Public_Library_logoSpeaking of the library, maybe you’ll join us at our Wednesday afternoon homeschooler group at North York Central library (1:30-3pm in the storyroom).  We plan to cover a few topics in the next couple of months applicable to catapults (levers & fulcrums for example is set for April 9th’s session for example).

Michael Albert's Pi collage

Happy Pi Day (3.14, March 14)

We’ve been celebrating Pi (π) Day for half a decade or so now, but some of you may be new to the idea.  At the very least, it is an excuse to eat pie, and on the other end of the spectrum it is  a great day to celebrate math and the beauty of nature in numbers.

For those looking to eat pie, why not try to bake your own?  It could be sweet or savory.  Wikipedia has a list of pies to get you started, and AllRecipes has a lot of recipes on making pies available.  Perhaps you want to aim for a Steak & Kidney pie and combine two pseudo-holidays into one?

If you’re musical, there are many pi songs and raps out there you can try to learn.  My favourite is Dr. Arthur Benjamin‘s version of “American Pi”, captured here during a presentation he did at The Archimedeans (Cambridge University Mathematical Society).  We were lucky enough to participate in Dr. Benjamin’s show last year (thanks Ontario Science Centre) and the kids still sing his song (and we have a signed copy of his pi to 60 digits that he wrote out).   We will probably also watch at least one of his lectures from his Great Courses where he focuses on pi too.

There are many crafts and activities to do for those with kids.  Drawing and cutting out and measure circles with paper and string is all it takes to get started.   Don’t be shy about working in some physical activity too — maybe do a 3.14km hike?

A new discovery for me this year is the Pi Search Page which instantaneously finds a series of digits in the first 200 million digits of pi.  My 8 digit birthday occurs three times in those first 200 digits, while my wife’s only occurs once.  Try it out with any other ‘special’ numbers to you and see what you find.  Irrational.

In your pi studies, don’t forget what many mathies consider the epitome of numbers, Euler's Identity (e^π*i = -1) aka Euler’s Identity.

Numberphile has a great playlist for all their pi related videos (1h25m worth of content).  Last year the kids enjoyed watching Calculating Pi with Real Pies.  And let’s not forget ViHart’s pi playlist either.

And for the whimsical here is FlippyCat’s contribution to pi day in dominoes.

Please share how you ended up celebrating this special day, and get ready for next year when in 2015 3/14/15 will be the Longest Pi Day of our lives when it goes to 10 digits at 9:26:53am/pm.

Here are a few additional links to drive your research and insatiable curiosity.