Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mushroom Update!

Since posting our "Mushrooms in the City" episode back in June, the weather in New York has turned hot and muggy and occasionally, wet. It's gross for most humans. But for mushrooms, it's heaven! Now more than ever you are sure to find fungi all around you when you put your "mushroom eyes" on. Like these, which Ada discovered a couple of weeks ago, about 50 miles north of the city:

They're bird's nest fungi. And one of the things that's so cool about them is that they really do look like teeny, tiny bird's nests! When they first spring out of the ground, they're covered and closed up. (They remind me of bowls full of custard, or some unusual kind of acorn.) As they mature (get older), they open up to reveal their "eggs." These eggs are really packets of spores. And they're waiting for raindrops to hit them and catapult them into the air (according to our favorite mushroom book). They can be propelled as far as 1 yard (that's 3 feet). Then they lie on the ground, waiting to disintegrate, which is when their spores are dispersed, or spread.

Have you seen any mushrooms on your travels this summer? Write in and let us know about them!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Presenting: Hot Air Balloon Over Poughkeepsie!

It doesn’t take much to launch a balloon. Just a powerful fan made from an airplane propeller to blow cold air into the balloon, called an envelope. And propane gas to heat the air up to 225°F, so the envelope becomes buoyant and lifts. So why don’t more people use hot air balloons to get around? Because you can’t fly them in bad weather. And you can’t steer them!

Buoyancy is an upward force that moves against the pull of gravity. In a hot air balloon it works like this: When the balloon is filled with cold air, the air inside the balloon has the same density as the air outside the balloon, so it won't lift. But when the air inside the balloon is heated, its particles begin to move faster than the cold air particles, and fewer of them are needed to fill the balloon. So now the air particles inside the balloon have less density than the air particles outside the balloon, and the balloon will lift off the ground and into the sky.

The balloon in this video cast will fly around upstate New York at a rate of about 25 miles per hour. But where it will end up, nobody knows. It all depends on how the winds are moving. Lance and the Liberty Balloon chase crew will navigate unfamiliar roads to follow it. And they’ll be on the ground—hopefully in a nice, flat, tree-free field—to help when the balloon is ready to land.

For more information on hot air balloons, check out these sites!

Special thanks to Lance of Liberty Balloon for taking the time to talk to us, and to Carlos Canadilla for the extra footage! Can't see this—or any of our videos—on a site that's supported by YouTube? Find our channel on SchoolTube!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

One Last Clue...

...before we air our unscheduled summer video cast. Come on, who's going to take a guess?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Oops! We've Stumbled on...

...an amazing science adventure up here in Poughkeepsie! So in a couple of weeks, City Science Kids will be presenting an unscheduled video cast. Here's your first clue. Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Citrus System

If you've logged on to the new City Science Kids channel on SchoolTube, you are perhaps wondering what the funny eyeball bender in the banner is. Well, it's this:

It's the Solar System rendered by my daughter—some three or four years ago, now—in citrus. Unfortunately, the tech guys at SchoolTube couldn't quite get the dimensions right for the banner. But we'll keep working on it!