Archive for January 14th, 2011

Google’s Science Fair

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

This April, the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center will have the fun and the honor of coordinating and judging Poudre School District Elementary School Science Fair (read about last year’s here and here). While the event is always interesting, exciting, and I end the day smarter than I began it, sometimes I feel a bit of melancholy, too. None of the schools I went to ever had science fairs, and I often think about all the light bulbs I could have lit using a potato and wonder what might have been.

As a way to connect more students to the process of experiment development, execution, and an audience to see what they’ve done, Google has created the first global, online science competition in which students ages 13-18 anywhere in the world can compete. The deadline to register and submit your project is April 4, 2011.

For complete details, visit the Google Science Fair homepage.

Friday Quick Links

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

The hidden irridescence of a fly's wing

The world has known many vampires. From Dracula to Twilight to the Count on Sesame Street, we’re no stranger to people with fangs. But what about vampire tadpoles? Rhacophorus vampyrus, a new species of flying frog discovered in Vietnam, has tadpoles that have a pair of hard black hooks that look a lot like fangs protruding from the undersides of their mouths.

Have you ever tried to walk in a straight line while blindfolded? Give it a try, and you may be surprised to see where you end up. Here’s a hint, it involves circles.

Do you know the old saying about monkeys, typewriters and Shakespeare? Replace “monkeys” with “mosquitofish” and “Shakespeare” with “counting,” and you have the results of a new study that shows that fish are as smart as college students when it comes to numerical skills.

For years entomologists thought that the iridescent quality of wasp and fly wings was random – changing colors like you see in a soap bubble. But a recent study has shows that the color patterns in fly and wasp wings are deliberate, just like the patterns seen on butterflies and moths.

NASA is auctioning off over 400 “space artifacts,” including a telegram from Werner Von Braun, a Strawberry Cereal Cube, and a quarter that flew on Apollo 13.

Speaking of NASA, one fan of the space program, frustrated at NASA’s recent marketing plans, has created a new video for the organization using Carl Sagan’s narration from Pale Blue Dot.

Plants generating energy from sunlight is nothing new, but insects? The Oriental hornet is able to produce electricity using built-in “solar cells” in its body.

In more glowing news, a parasitic nematode causes its caterpillar host to turn red and glow.

The top-ten engineering designs inspired by insects.

Explore the largest digital color image of the sky.

January 2011

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