This week's class involves experiments with string and its relations - silk, thread, rope, and other types of cordage. Silk from spiders and from silkworms is nowadays often touted as a natural alternative to synthetic fiber cordage. It is stronger than plastic polymers, stronger (pound per pound) than steel! We're testing the tensile strength of string and other cordage, and trying our hand at making twisted fiber cordage, which can be made from many types of natural sources like leaves, grass or green bark.
Class Project: Silkworms
Your silkworm should spin a silk cocoon within several days, if it is kept clean, warm (80 degrees) and well fed.
Silkworms are very sensitive to mold and bacteria so always wash your hands well before handling, cleaning and feeding. Keep the container lid on to prevent mold spores from settling in, and to stop the food from drying out too quickly.
If you run out of food, call us as we may be able to provide you with more. You can also feed your silkworm grated carrots in an emergency, though it may turn orange.
You can learn more about your silkworm at this link to Mulberry Farms.
This week we explore the world of citizen science! We are working on three projects:
1. Whale Song Project. Online, we are helping scientists identify the songs of pilot whales and killer whales. The whales have names and their current locations can be tracked on the project website. By matching spectrographs (visual images) of the whale songs and comparing the sounds, we can help the scientists create a large data pool.
You can try your hand at this yourself by logging in to the Whale Song Project website at http://whale.fm/
2. Urban Wildlife at Prairie Ridge Ecostation. Prairie Ridge Ecostation is managed by the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. Currently, the station has several camera traps set up on the property. We can help them identify the animals that come and go, both day and night, by sorting through the images from the traps and identifying the animals we see in them....deer, grey fox, red fox, coyote, rabbit....all sorts of critters are around!
You can contact Chris Goforth at Prairie Ridge for more information, other opportunities to help sort image data or move camera traps.
E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: (919) 707-8882
3. School of Ants.
Scientists at University of Florida and at NC State University are trying to collect as much information as possible on all the ant species in the country, and maybe even in the world! We can help by collecting ant samples and sending them in to the scientists. Our take-home project today is a kit for doing just this. Instructions are included with the kit. Wait for a warm day!
Note: you can mail the samples directly to the address included in the kit, or you can bring them back in to us and we will send them in.
Visit the School of Ants website at http://schoolofants.org/ for more information on the project. Once you have entered your ant data, you will be able to see your collection information online!
What you'll need to build a Balloon Chord Zither:
2x4 or 1x4 board, approximately 2 feet long
7 inch rubber bands (available at Staples)
Wrap the rubber bands lengthwise around the board.
Blow up the balloon. Big is OK!
Pull up on the rubber bands and push the balloon underneath them so it is trapped between them and the board. It can be in the center or towards one end.
Slide a pencil between the balloon and the rubber bands, one pencil on each side. The rubber bands should only touch the balloon on its top, not after the go over the pencil.
Pluck the "strings"gently.
You can tune the zither by pulling the rubber bands more tightly to the bottom of the board.
You can increase the sound (amplification) by leaning a styrofoam cooler or cardboard box against the strings.