Challenge Cards and Stimuli Cards
Top Posts & Pages
Challenge Cards and Stimuli Cards
Match the following bird / animal with an object you think is closest to its weight.
Here is some information on the length of the birds / animals that may help you guess better. Crow 16 to 21 inches, Red Tail Hawk 18 to 26 inches, Red Snapper, the fish can be of various lengths but here we are considering it 18 inches, Chihuahua 7 to 12 inches in length, Eastern Gray Squirrel is 9 to 12 inches, and a song sparrow is 4.7 to 6 inches.
Before writing correct answers, let me share a story behind this activity. It all started with Brittany’s idea to have a table top activity demonstrating how amazingly light the birds are. She suggested if we can have bean bags of equivalent weights which the visitors of the Environmental Volunteers Ecocenter can lift and feel the heaviness or lightness of the birds.
I started designing this activity with some research on birds of the bay area and their weights. I was astonished to find that Anna’s Humming Bird which is around 3 to 5 inches in length weighs 4 to 4.5 gm which is less than the weight of a quarter US dollar coin ( 5.67 gm)!
Anna’s Humming Bird weighing less than a quarter US dollar coin.
“How might we showcase such an amazing fact?” was something that made me think and thus came up the idea of using every day objects to represent a bird’s weight. Next question was how do we bring to the notice that the birds are actually very light? It needed a comparison and thus animals and fishes entered the activity.
Here is how the activity looks like.
Activity Kit: How Heavy Are They?
Check your answer
So here are the correct answers:
How the Kit was made?
Using everyday products to represent weight was a good idea but it was also very good to attract insects and ants, especially for food items. So here is how we kept the packing and replaced the inside thing with something else. A list of ‘what is inside’ was made and given to the EV for easy kit maintenance.
Different Inside: A chocolate bar was replaced with an equivalent weighing ceramic tile wrapped with a soft paper towel, butter was replaced with stones and batteries.
Cards were printed on a US letter card paper, each sheet having nine images of birds / animals. Individual cards were cut from the sheet. Each card has a logo of Environmental Volunteers on the back side.
Cards on US letter size paper
The instruction sheet was printed on regular US letter paper and laminated on a foam board.
To use this kit visit Environmental Volunteers Ecocenter.
It is truly amazing how light birds are. Do check out weight of birds around you and how they compare with everyday objects.
Swimming over 11000 miles (~18000 km), Gray Whales make a round trip from their summer feeding grounds in the cold Arctic to warm waters of Mexico, their calving lagoons. Not just these big mammals but also birds and little insects travel far distances for warmer temperatures, food, and breeding. To visualize their fascinating journey, a migration route exhibit was designed and made for the Environmental Volunteers.
Migration Route Exhibit: Press the blue button to know the migration route for the animal / insect / bird.
Gray Whale – mammal, Monarch Butterfly – insect, Cliff Swallow – a small bird, and American White Pelican – a big bird were shortlisted and studied for their travel routes. Also where and when can one see them in and around San Francisco Bay Area were included.
Gray Whale Migration Route
The Gray Whales start their journey from Arctic to the warm waters of Mexico around the month of October and arrive off the coast of Baja California around January where they mate. They start their journey north swimming closer to the California coast as they travel with the young ones and avoid deep waters. One can see them from Point Reyes National Seashore, Farallon Bay, Half Moon Bay, Pigeon Point Light House, and Monterey Bay.
Cliff Swallow Migration Route
The Cliff Swallows generally spend 3 months of summer in North America, travel for 3 months to South America, stay there for 3 months and travel the remaining 3 months of an year to return to North America. They travel extra miles by flying over the land instead of sea. They have an interesting route, they diverge in batches and arrive at various destinations from South California to Seattle. One can see the cliff swallows from May to July at The Environmental Volunteers Ecocenter in Palo Alto, Bayland Nature Preserve in Palo Alto, cliffs along Highway 1, local water bodies like Coyote lake, Almaden Lake, etc.
Monarch Butterfly Migration Route
Each fall (around September) thousands of Monarchs travel from Canada and Northern USA taking different routes to arrive in their overwintering grounds in California, Mexico, and Florida. Here they lay eggs and a new generation starts the journey north as the winter ends. Most fascinating part of their journey is that it takes about 4 to 5 generations to return to their summer grounds. Some of the places in and around bay area to see the Monarchs – Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz; Monarch Grove Sanctuary, Pacific Grove; Ardenwood Regional Preserve, Fremont; Monarch Bay Golf Course and Marina, San Leonard.
American White Pelican Migration Route
American White Pelicans segregate in two geographic groups – population breeding east of the Rocky Mountains migrate to south and east to winter along the Gulf of Mexico, and those on the west of Rocky Mountains migrating to the Pacific coast. Some of the places to see them in and around the bay area – Bayland Nature Preserve in Palo Alto, Don Edwards Wild Life Preserve, Fremont, Moss Landing Monterey, San Antonio Lake, Monterey.
How it was made?
I ordered a map of North America from Amazon and got it pasted and laminated on a foam board from Staples. Meantime I tried making holes on a piece of waste foam board with a 2 mm drill but the best finish was achieved with a simple nail and hammer.
Trial on a scrap foam board with drill, nail and hammer.
I then searched for LEDs and found a good option in party lighting section in one of the near by stores. Got blue lights for Whales and yellow for the remaining. I tried installing the LEDs on my trial foam board with a simple masking tape.
LED trial back and front
Then all the wholes were punched on the map depending on different routes and the routes were linked with black marker to avoid confusion.
Backside of the map with holes punched and route marked.
LEDs installed at the back of the map.
Cardboard housing for the map
Trial with the cards
Final exhibit with blue switches
The exhibit is in display at the Environmental Volunteers Ecocenter in Palo Alto.
For EcoCenter visitng hours please refer: https://www.evols.org/visit-the-ecocenter/
They visit us exactly around ‘that’ particular time of the year. Some of them pass by, some stay for weeks and others for months and have babies here. They all are delight to watch, however only some of us know who is visiting us?
A variety of birds, animals and insects visit the San Francisco Bay Area each year. The question was how do we put up this information in a simple, interesting and fun way to make a table top activity for the EcoCenter of Environmental Volunteers (EV)? Some neurons in my brain fired and an idea emerged – Migration Dial.
The Migration Dial
Instructions for using the dial
How was it made?
As soon as the idea struck, like always I scribbled it on a piece of paper not to mention the shapes I drew hardly resembled the actual creatures. The diameter of this paper circle was 8 inches or 200 mm.
First sketch of the dial
This was backed with a research and compilation of data on the migration of birds, animals and insects. Around 25 creatures were shortlisted.
Data for making the dial
From the first sketch it was clear we needed something substantially big, so the search for 20 inch diameter wooden circles began. Another challenge was funds. To make a digital model and then printing would have been way too costly. So we gave a shout to all the volunteers of the EV calling for artists for painting the dial and calligraphy. Toby and Marilyn joined the wagon, and Larry helped us to refine the data for birds. Total 10 creatures were painted on the dial.
Toby sketched the birds on a 22 inch paper circle to verify the scale.
Sketch 2: on 22 inch paper circle
As we rummaged different corners of hardware and plywood stores for our wooden circles, yet another challenge stood in front of us – weight of the circles and cutting the circles from a ply. This time we used technology, not to cut the circles but to search for ready made wooden circles and found them on Amazon. Ordered two circles of 24 inch and 20 inch diameter with 1/8th inch thickness, weighing less than a pound. Marilyn marked the twelve months on the 24 inch circle – the outer dial and Toby painted the 20 inch inner dial. Toby would fondly call it ‘The Sistine Chapel’.
The outer dial
The inner dial, Toby’s Sistine Chapel
The dials were ready and it was assembly time. Never in my life was I afraid to drill a hole in a piece of wood as this time. The ides was to give it a central shaft and nylon bushings for the dials to rotate. The fact that there would be a bolt head or shaft head on the dial was not encouraging. Discussing this over lunch with our friend Timo, rescued us from this disaster. Timo suggested we use rotating table mechanism and here we had one which we simply glued to the wood using a high strength epoxy adhesive.
Two dials and the rotating mechanism (the third dial is an extra;))
The Migration Dial at the EV EcoCenter
Thanks to Toby and Marilyn this project was completed in less than $50!
For EcoCenter visitng hours please refer: https://www.evols.org/visit-the-ecocenter/
Some fun facts:
Monarch butterflies can be seen in the bay area from October to almost February!
Chinook Salmons migrate from the Pacific Ocean under the Golden Gate to Sacramento river upto Redding and back. They change their color from river to ocean and from ocean to river.
Postcards from Sequoia National Park, Giant Forest, and Kings Canyon National Park (June 2018)
In the land of the giants: Crescent Meadow, Giant Forest
Largest tree in the world: ~2500 year old General Sherman Tree (center), Photo: Sagar Behere
General Sherman Tree, Photo: Sagar Behere
Life story of a Sequoia tree: A part of the trunk of a Sequoia tree displaying its life, climate and forest fires from 1100 A.D. to 1510 A.D. at The Giant Grove Visitor Center. Photo : Sagar Behere
A conference room at the Giant Grove Visitor Center
Tunnel Log on the way to Crescent Meadow
Hike to Crystal Caves, Sequoia National Park
Crystal Cave entrance
Formations in the cave
View of the high Sierras
Road to Cedar Grove Village in Kings Canyon
Kings river and the winding road to Cedar Grove Village : View from Junction Point
A Stellar’s Jay relaxing in Zumwalt Meadow Photo:Sagar Behere
A little about logistics: We booked a hotel room in Three Rivers thinking it was just 6 miles from the park entrance and around 30 miles from most of the must see points in the park. However it takes over an hour and some sharp hair pin turns along the 30 mile winding road. We were lucky to get a last minute reservation at the Stony Creek Resort up in the park and that was a big relief. We strongly recommend staying in the lodges or resort inside the park for best experience.
Every time I go out in the sun, and get some sun burn, I wonder why we (I) don’t use the solar energy? and this lead me to a frugal way to harness this energy and get some ‘ Do It Yourself’ satisfaction. So here is a solar cooker that I made and cooked ..err..under cooked some rice and veggies. Along with the making of the cooker, sharing some fun troubleshooting methods.
My solar cooker at work
Material for making the cooker: a big cardboard box (1no.), scissors, cardboard cutter, aluminium foil, black color, brush, masking tape, acrylic sheet, scale, and pencil.
Material for troubleshooting: a sock (washed and cleaned), a shampoo bottle, a broom with long handle, clothes drying rack.
Material for making a solar cooker
I had a big movers box 2ft x2ft x 1.5ft (600x600x450mm) that I opened for making a prototype for one of my design projects.
reusing cardboard from my previous design project
I reused that piece of cardboard to make two boxes that would fit into one another such that there is at least 1 inch (25.4mm) gap between the walls of the two boxes. In this gap an insulating material is added, polystyrene (Styrofoam or Thermocol) are used but I wanted the cooker to be eco-friendly, so I used left over cardboard pieces and inserted them in the gap. To make sure the insulation stays in place I used masking tape to stick them to the walls of the larger box. The larger box has a flap that can close the box.
Dimensions of the large box came out to be 23 inch x 13 inch x 6 inch and for the smaller one 18 inch x 9 inch x 6.5 inch(for mm multiply by 25.4, that’s lot of math;))
Large box with a flap and insulation.
I glued the aluminium foil to the vertical walls of the small box and painted its base with black color. The foil will help reflect the sunlight on to the cooking pan and the black base to help heat absorption.
Small box with black painted base and aluminium foil vertical walls
I then glued aluminium foil to the flap of the large box which will be the main reflector and then placed the smaller box in the larger one. I then glued aluminium foil over the gap between the two boxes. However as height of my inside box was 0.5 inch more than the outer one, the foil had a slope. Ideally it should be flat or slope inwards. Mine sloped outwards and I suspected that it won’t be good for reflection or insulation.
The cooker is ready without the acrylic sheet.
With all enthusiasm I wanted to test if it works and hence I placed a steel pan to cook some rice in it but had no glass or acrylic sheet to use as a cover. I rummaged through my book shelf and found an acrylic certificate holder which I split into two and placed over the box. This transparent cover would help to trap the heat inside and that will cook the food!
Rice being cooked.
I placed the rice in the cooker, covered with an acrylic sheet, adjusted the angle of the reflector flap (flap of the large box) and set it in the sun at 1:30 p.m…..came back at 2:30 p.m. to find that the flap has covered the box, thanks to the wind. At 2:30 I again adjusted the flap angle, this time supported it with a shampoo bottle in front and the building wall at the back. At 5:30 hoping to see a nice steaming rice I checked the cooker and nothing was visible as the water vapor gathered on the acrylic sheet. To my disappointment the rice was as it is, however hot water was the saving grace.
Next day I was determined to complete my testing but probably sun god didn’t want to ruin my faith in my design so soon and hence for the next 12 days he didn’t show up :(.
Finally it was a clear sky on Tuesday 29th May temperature was 24 degree Celsius (75 deg F) and I set out the cooker at 2:00 p.m. This time wanted to steam some guar (cluster beans).
Guar (cluster beans) being cooked, this time with all trouble shooting in place. The cooking pan covered with a glass lid to avoid water vapor collection on the acrylic sheet, a sock to block a gap between the acrylic sheet and the box, shampoo bottle to maintain the flap angle in front, a long broom stick at the back of the flap (see the green stick) to prevent the flap from falling behind.
I also placed a thermometer inside the box to see the temperature rise, in case the beans don’t cook.
Thermometer in the box: Humidity 42% temperature 30 deg Celsius at 3:00 p.m.
At around 5:00 p.m. the thermometer was stuck at 88 degree Celsius (190 deg F)and intensity of the sun was going down.
The under cooked beans 😦
Finally at 5:30 with no change in temperature I took of the beans. The beans were under cooked but the water was hot enough to dip a tea bag.
Still waiting for the Sun to be intense as my cooker looks promising. It raised the temperature from 24 to 88 deg Celsius, though not enough for cooking the cluster beans but good enough to make a guar flavored tea 😉
Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar was introduced to me by my little niece and the book has been one of my favorites. Translating the book in Sanskrit was lot of fun and learning opportunity.
Without the guidance of Shri. S.L. Abhyankar Mahoday, I would not have even thought of attempting the translation. He has been kind to correct my innumerable errors and answer all my queries.
एरिक् कार्ल महोदयस्य बुभुक्षु: कीट:
चन्द्र्प्रकाशे एकस्य पर्णस्य उपरि एकंलघुम् अण्डं स्थापितम् आसीत्।
एके भानुवासरे प्रभाते सुर्यस्य उष्णेन अण्डम् अरुजत्। अण्डात् एक: लघु: बुभुक्षु: च कीट: बहि: आगतवान् ।
भोजनस्य अन्वेषणम् आरभितवान्। मम् बुभुक्षा अस्ति इति चिन्तयति।
सोमवासरे / इन्दुवासरे स: कीट: सेवफलस्य एकं भागं छिन्नं कृत्वा खादितवान्। तथापि स: बुभुक्षु: आसीत्।
मङ्गलवासरे / भौमवासरे स: द्वे अमृतफले खदितवान्। तथापि स: बुभुक्षु: आसीत् एव।
बुधवासरे / सौम्यवासरे स: त्रीणि आम्रफालानि खादितवान्। तथापि स: बुभुक्षु: आसीत् एव। (Here I have written mangoes instead of plums used in the original text).
गुरुवासरे स: चत्वारि तृणबदराणि खादितवान्। तथापि स: बुभुक्षु: आसीत् एव।
शुक्रवासरे स: पञ्च नारङ्गफलानि खादितवान्। तथापि स: बुभुक्षु: आसीत् एव।
शनिवासरे स: केकमिष्टान्नस्य एकं भागम् एकं पयोहिमम् एकां कर्कटीम् एकां रोटिकाम् एकं चकलेहम् एकम् आलुकं खदितवान्। रात्रौ स: कीट: उदरे पीडाम् अन्वभवत् ।
अनन्तरं स: बुभुक्षु: कीट: एकं पर्णम् अखादत्। किञ्चित् स्वास्थ्यमन्वभवत् ।
इदानीं स: कीट: लघु: नासीत् । स: गुरु: संजातः च आसीत् ।
स: स्वं परित: एकं गृहं निर्मितवान्। तत् गृहं कृमिकोषं इति। स:कृमिकोषे सप्ताह्द्वयं स्थितवान्।
अनन्तरं कृमिकोषे रन्ध्रं कृत्वा बहि: आगत: – एक: सुन्दर: पुष्पपतङ्ग:।
Thank you Ms. Rachel Hass from Mr. Eric Carle’s office for the permission to put a few pictures of the book with the translation on my blog.
For Sanskrit studies, Shri. Abhyankar Mahoday’s blog – https://simplesanskrit.wordpress.com/ is a very useful resource. His scientific explanation makes the study of the language very interesting and enjoyable.