Archive for September, 2014

Halloween themed Science for Seniors

Sunday, 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:

It Came from Outer Space –
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.