Halloween themed Science for Seniors

September 28th, 2014

Science for Seniors – Halloween
By Gloria Hoffner, BA, ADC, AC-BC, CDP author of Science for Seniors

Science for Seniors, a trademarked company, is based on proven scientific research – we are never too old to learn! Rather, science is proving that the human brain at every age and in varying levels of cognitive strength can continue to grow and add new connections as long as it is fed new information. Some scientists believe learning something new every day can reduce the risk of dementia and/or slow progression of the disease.
Science for Seniors has four parts. Introduction with fun facts and trivia, a short video, safe, fun, real fact based science experiment and closing discussion. This sheet will provide you with the facts, dvd suggestion and list of materials anf process to do Science for Seniors around a spooky theme.

Halloween Fun Facts
1) Halloween traditions in the U.S.A. come from around the world because we are a nation of immigrants. Celebrating the fall equinox and fall harvest pre-dates Christianity. All Hollow Eve is the Christian celebration celebrating the day before All Saint Day.
2) Jack o Lanterns – Come from Ireland. The folk story goes that once there was a mean, stingy farmer named Jack. He was sitting in a bar drinking when the Devil sat down next to him and promised to pay his bar bill if Jack gave the Devil his immortal soul. Jack takes the deal and together they drink until dawn. When it is time to pay, the Devil turns himself into a coin and Jack snatches the coin and puts it in his pocket. The Devil wanting out tells Jack he will pay the bill and also Jack can have his soul back if he lets the Devil out of Jack’s pocket. Jack agrees and thinks he has won, until Jack dies. Jack goes before St. Peter and because he was a mean stringy person, he can’t get into heaven. Jack goes down to hell, but because he tricked the Devil, Jack can’t get into hell. So Jack takes an ember from hell, places it in a carved turnip and can wander the Earth in darkness guided his small lantern only on All Hollows Eve – when myth has it all souls can walk the Earth. When the Irish move to America they discover pumpkins, so they carve pumpkins instead of turnips and place them on the dark step to bring bright light and keep the dark spirit of Jack from entering their homes.
3) What country gives us Frankenstein? England and author Mary Shelley in 1818. Here’s how. During that time period doctors could only see inside the human body when allowed to dissect court approved bodies of those criminals hung for extra horrible crimes. Also at that time, there was a doctor who was trying to understand why a body is alive one minute and then dead the next. He was convinced the problem was a lack of electricity in the body. So he began trying to shock dead animals back to life. When this didn’t work he decided the animal was too dumb to know the electricity was back in the body, so he should try with a human. However, there were no humans willing to give up their body after death. So he was forced to dig up indigents to try his experiments. This was of course against the law and he was discovered and arrested. His arrest made the newspaper and gave Mary Shelley her idea for Frankenstein. The fear of the monster – and the people of the time – was not Frankenstein chasing people down the street. No, it was because the belief of the soul exiting the body upon death meant a body brought back to life would wander the Earth forever, never dying because it has no soul to be judged.
4) Why where masks at Halloween? This myth comes from Ireland and also France. Because it is the night when souls can walk the Earth, everyone, even adults, wore masks so the spirits could not identify them because once known the spirit would move into your house.
5) What is a person made crazy by the moon? A lunatic. This idea comes from the science fact that the moon’s tug of gravity on the Earth causes the ocean tides. Ancient people noticed animal respond to the tides, such as turtle lying eggs at low tide. Since the human body is mostly water, people thought the full moon tugged on the water in human bodies and made their act crazy. Luna is Latin for moon, thus lunatic. This has been shown to be false in numerous science studies. The amount of water in a human is too small to feel the tug of the moon’s gravity.
Video suggestion – Movie The Blob – Here is an Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Blob-Shawnee-Smith/dp/B00005N5RM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1411933456&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Blob+movie+dvd

It Came from Outer Space – http://www.amazon.com/Came-Outer-Space-Richard-Carlson/dp/B000063UR0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1411933526&sr=8-1&keywords=It+Came+from+Outer+Space+dvd
Experiments –
1) Recreate The Blob – Before computer generated special effects this monster flowed out of the dinner in Downingtown, PA. Here’s how to make one.
Materials: 8 once clear empty soda bottle, 6 once hydrogen peroxide, five squirts of dish soap, five drops of red food dye, 3 tablespoons of yeast, spoon, dinner plate and hot water.
Process: Place the bottle on the dinner plate. Fill the bottle with the soap and food dye, then add the hydrogen peroxide and finally mix the yeast and hot water and pour into the bottle. Watch as it slowly morphs into The Blob! Safe – to dispose pour down the drain for a very clean sink!
2) Why don’t spiders stick to their own webs?
Materials: masking tape, paper cup and cooking oil
Process: Pour an inch of oil into the cup. Make a circle of tape with the sticky side out. Ask a volunteer to place a finger on the tape. Feels sticky. Now have the volunteer place a finger in the cup with cooking oil and plave the finger on the tape. Result – the second time the finger will slide on the tape. Spiders catch flies in the web, but don’t stick to their own webs because they emit an oil from the pads of their feet.
3) How do Martian meteors carrying alien germs (only in the It Came from Outer Space movie plot) get to Earth?
Materials: 9 x 11 inch baking pan, four sheets of black construction paper, flour and rocks.
Process: Fill the baking pan ½ full with flour. Place the filled pan on top of the four sheets of black paper spread out so the paper covers an area around the entire pan. Have residents toss rocks into the flour.
Result – the flour that falls onto the black paper represents the surface of an alien planet thrown into space by the impact. These materials then drift through space until captured and pulled into Earth by gravity. They appear as shooting stars and are meteorites when on the ground. So far no real life meteorites have contain any alien life.

Discussion – I use to ask for ideas for the next Science for Seniors program and to offer books such as these for those who want to learn more.

Gloria Hoffner Profile Article

July 5th, 2013

Guitar with Gloria & Science for Seniors covention schedule

May 3rd, 2013

Guitar with Gloria & Science for Seniors at conventions

May 1st, 2013

Science for Seniors – the workshop and online 8 CEU Course raronline.org

April 14th, 2013

Science for Seniors is now being offered as a one day in person seminar and also as an online course. The course will provide activity directors and CTRS professionals with 8 CEUs and cover the following topics: 1) the research behind the benefits of new learning experiences for seniors2) How to select, research and create a science program3) 12 ready to go science program ideas, trivia and easy experiments for a year’s worth of programing.I can come to your location and teach you and your staff with hands-on instruction of each experiment. Or you can enroll in the online course and learn at your own pace with any questions or concerns answered by me by email.

Earth Day is coming prepare with pollution experiment

February 18th, 2013

You Are What You Eat

February 8th, 2013

Did you know your body needs iron? Iron is in many foods including cereal. Here’s a fun way to prove it.

Materials: ziplock bag, 1/2 cup of cereal high in iron, 1/4 cup of milk, magnet

Process: Place 1/2 cup of cereal in plastic bag. Crush and add milk. Zip the bag and run magnet along the bag. The magnet will attract the bits of iron in the cereal.

Ground Hog Day Science Program

January 13th, 2013

If you celebrate Ground Hog Day, did you ever wonder why?

On February 2, according to a Pennsylvania German legend dating back to the 18th century, if a ground hog leaves his hollow and sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter. However, if he does not see his shadow, Spring is around the corner.

The PA Ground Hog, Punxsutawny Phil, has correctly predicted the coming weather 39 percent of the time since 1887 according to StormFax Weather Almanac. The National Climate Data Center says the combined record for all ground hogs throughout the country is the furry guys and gals are right about 61 percent.

Experiment: How do shadows work?

Materials: dark room, flashlight, two subjects and white wall

Process: Have one person stand close to the wall and the other away from the wall. Turn out the lights and shine the flashlight on the subjects. Which is the larger shadow?

Result: The closer the person is to the light the larger their shadow because shadows are formed when light does not pass through the object.

How Rocks Become Sand

November 1st, 2011

Topic – Where does sand come from?

 If you live in the north you may already have experienced winter conditions prior to Halloween! Here is a way to explain something that happens in nature in winter to your residents.

Materials needed: sandsstone (ask a local stone dealer for scraps),

plastic ziplock bags, water and freezer.

Process: Show the residents the sandstone.  (If possible take photos for before and after images.) Soak sandstone in water for 24 hours. Remove from water and place the sandstone in plastic ziplock bags. Freeze for 48 hours. Remove and let residents examine the rocks.

What happened: The sandstone absorbed some water in the air spaces between the sand particles. When the water froze it expanded. This expansion forces the sandstone to break apart where the cracks formed.

In nature, this is the process that breaks rocks into pebbles and eventually into sand.

Solar System Ends

October 6th, 2011

Nothing lasts forever, including our solar system. But how to demonstrate the end of our sun? This is a simple way to show what scientists think will end our planet in about 4 billion years.

Our sun is a medium sized star.  Millions of years from today as the sun ages it will grow into a red giant and as a result destory Mercury and Venus by causing them to explode. As for the Earth, the growing sun is predicted to rip away our atmosphere. As the sun dies, it will burn out leaving a cold small mass.

Why doesn’t our sun explode like a supernova? The answer is: our sun is too small. If our sun were 100 times larger, as a supernova, the intense pressure of gravity and burning fuels would bring about an end as an explosion seen many light years away and would create a black hole.

Materials: white, yellow and red balloons, straight pin, globe, and painted black golf ball.

Process: Blow up the yellow and white balloons and tie off. Blow up the red balloon and hold shut with your fingers. The yellow represents our present day sun. The red represents our sun at the end of its life. Have one volunteer hold the globe and another the red balloon. Now release the air from the red balloon across the globe, to represent the dying sun blowing the atmosphere off our planet.

The white balloon represents the supernova. One volunteer holds the balloon and a second volunteer the pin and the golf ball. Pop the balloon and hold up the golf ball to show what remains when a large star dies.