For a complete introduction and to get to know each Fuddlebrook story/concept, work your way across the main menu bar above. Have fun exploring, and please contact us with any questions you may have!
But that's not all. Check out the introductory video that explains why we created the Fuddlebrook School Science Series.
While this book is about beautiful cave crystals, it seems appropriate in December to think about lovely snow crystals instead. Make your own in this fun activity with a few simple supplies!
After the walk to burn up some of the 4000-plus Thanksgiving meal calories the average American consumes on Thanksgiving, but before you clean up all the dishes, save your butter knife for this fun demonstration that teaches about friction.
It's a dark December night. Nature is quiet. Bears, rodents, ground squirrels, and many other animals sleep day and night in hibernation. And it’s time for snow (at least in cooler weather, northern hemisphere locations). And snow leads to fun science activities. This month we make “snow” crystals, drawing from an activity in our book from the Fuddlebrook series, In Search of Hidden Treasure. We call it “Herman Tweed’s Crystals.” Check out the activity and video provided.
But before doing so, take a couple of minutes to brush up on your snow trivia.
*The probability that two snow crystals (a single ice crystal) or flakes (a snow crystal or multiple snow crystals stuck together) will be exactly alike in molecular structure and in appearance, is very minute. And to prove otherwise would not be easy. Each winter there are about 1 septillion (1, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000 or a trillion trillion) snow crystals that drop from the sky!
*The beautiful six-sided structure of snowflakes comes from the hexagonal lattice structure of ice. When water freezes, the molecules connect together and always form hexagons. As more molecules are added, they form branches on each of the six sides.
*Snow is classified as a mineral.
*A man nicknamed Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley photographed 5,000 snowflakes before he died of pneumonia. He literally devoted his entire life to showing us the diversity and beauty of snowflakes (February 9, 1865 – December 23, 1931). He was the first man to capture snow crystals on film. He received international acclaim in the 19th century for his pioneering work in the field of photomicrography.
* 80% of all the freshwater on Earth is frozen as ice or snow. This accounts for twelve percent of the Earth's surface
*People who are afraid of snow have chionophobia.
*A snow storm becomes a blizzard when winds reach 35 miles per hour and visibility is less than a quarter of a mile. The storm must last at least three hours to be classified as a blizzard.
There you have it. Bundle up and run to the grocery store to grab a box of Borax (for the crystals you are going to make in this month’s activity), before the weather gets bad. Then heat up that pot of your favorite soup, and get ready to enjoy science fun by reading a Quirkles or Fuddlebrook story and doing all the fun science experiments with your kids.
At Thanksgiving time, we’re pretty sure the Fuddlebrook gang, like many of us, will gather round the table for their Thanksgiving feast. To help you prepare your dinner for friends and family we offer some Thanksgiving food science food facts, some lesser known Thanksgiving trivia, and some science entertainment too!
Want your turkey to be nice and golden? The golden brown color and roasted flavor of a turkey are from sugars and proteins reacting together, according to Sara Risch, an expert in food science. A turkey browns faster when its surface is exposed to dry air. To reduce the amount of browning, limit the amount of sugar and protein — or cover food with foil, which slows down the rate of browning by keeping the air moist.
Perfect gravy? Although both flour and cornstarch owe their thickening powers to starch, cornstarch is pure starch, while flour contains starch plus protein. Protein takes up volume but contributes little to the thickening power of flour. Because of this, you need about twice as much flour as cornstarch to thicken a sauce.
That means flour could be more likely to add an undesirable pasty flavor. While pure starch becomes transparent as it swells with liquid, the protein in flour reflects light, making a sauce look cloudy. Cloudy, velvet-textured gravy can be delicious, but cornstarch is used more often to thicken fruit pie fillings, creating transparency around the fruit.
Healthy pies? Consider filling your holiday pies with fresh berries, which can significantly reduce the buildup of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, a culprit that contributes to heart disease and stroke. According to research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, blackberries have the highest LDL inhibitory effect, followed by red raspberries, sweet cherries, blueberries, and strawberries.
And now for the mashed potatoes. There are more than 200 species of potatoes, but for cooking purposes they can be split into two general categories. The more delicate "floury" or "mealy" potatoes, such as Idaho or russet, have more starch granules in their cells. When heated, they combine with water molecules, and the cells expand and separate, making for fluffier spuds. "Waxy" varieties, such as new potatoes, have cells that stick together and stay firm and dense when cooked. They make a creamier mash.
The fluffy but fragile granules of the floury type of potato are best separated using a food mill or gentle mashing, and their surface area can absorb a good amount of cream, butter, or milk. The waxy type can take more of a beating, and less add-ins. They work best for rough-mashed, country-style potatoes.
So now that dinner is on the table, turn your attention to fun conversation. Watch our video of fun and perhaps lesser known Thanksgiving facts. And for the grand finale? After the table is cleared, hold on to your butter knife and spoon for some science activities that teach friction and Newton’s First Law of Motion. The Fuddlebrook Magic Money Stack from the book, The Sled Race, is our experiment feature this month and provides a lot of entertainment using just nickels and your butter knife. Finally borrow our activity from our sister series The Quirkles, Friction Fred’s Magic Spoon, using a spoon and your nose to demonstrate friction in an unusual way.
So there you have it. Enjoy a great meal, conversation, and a little science too. And from the whole Fuddlebrook gang, Happy Thanksgiving!
This new series marvelously succeeds in introducing young students to inquiry-based, experiential learning of scientific concepts that are age-appropriate. Moreover, students have the opportunity to explore story-based scientific concepts further through hands-on investigations.
--Teresa, Biology Ph.D; former elementary teacher, Springfield, MO
The thing I love most about the Fuddlebrook series is the connection aspect. Not only have the creators connected literacy and science, they have also provided opportunity for exploration of all areas of life. The dispositions and traits of the characters are consistent throughout the books and lead to discussions about friendship, bullying, loyalty, honesty, and humility. Fuddlebrook is "teaching the whole child by connecting to life."
--Carolyn, First Grade Teacher, Ozark, MO