The Tech Behind the XBOX 360 Kinect- Is it Science or Magic? *Hint- It’s Science!*

 

The new XBOX 360 Kinect is a game-changer when it comes to how we play our games. At first glance, Kinect looks like an overly wide webcam and indeed an RGB camera is one of its components. What sets Kinect apart is that it also incorporates a depth sensor and multi-directional microphone array to create a plethora of additional features and functionality. Where a camera can merely track movements in two dimensional space, Kinect can track movement in three dimensions and perform facial and voice recognition. Furthermore, Kinect connects to its base on a motorized pivot which allows for a certain degree of movement

The two stars of the show are the depth sensor and RGB camera. While we all might have an idea of how an ordinary camera works, the idea of a depth sensor is definitely out of the ordinary. The way the depth sensor works is by firing an infrared laser into the room and subsequently using an image sensor to gather information upon the reflection of the infrared beams. Data, including the amount of light reflected back as well as the time it takes the laser to return to Kinect, is compiled to compose a 3D map of the room. It’s very similar to a bat’s use of echolocation in navigating the environment despite having poor eyesight

When the depth sensor and RGB camera work together it allows Kinect to track up to six people passively and two people for actual motion analysis. In simpler terms it means that while it may be able to recognize six people at once it’s really only designed for two people to be playing games through it. When Kinect monitors two people and performs its motion analysis, it’s able to extract detailed information including recognition of up to 20 joints for each player right down to individual fingers in certain instances.

For more on the X-BOX Kinect- check out these stories online:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40077373/ns/technology_and_science-games/

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2010/nov10/11-03kinect.mspx

http://www.npr.org/2010/11/19/131447076/how-the-x-box-kinect-tracks-your-moves

Starry Starry Night: Our Expanding Universe

Image source: Pixabay.com

What are Galaxies?

Did you know that galaxies are the vast islands of stars filling space?  Our own spiral-shaped Milky Way, parts of which can be seen on clear nights streaking across the sky, contain hundreds of billions of stars.

Here Are 3  Fun Facts about Galaxies:

  1. The word ‘galaxy’ is derived from the Greek word galaxias which means “milky”, it is a reference to our own galaxy the Milky Way.
  2. There are potentially more than 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe. Some, called dwarf galaxies, are small with about 10 million stars, while others are huge containing an estimated 100 trillion stars.
  3. Based on shape astronomers have identified various kinds of galaxies including, elliptical galaxies, spiral galaxies, lenticular galaxies, and irregular galaxies.

Can you Identify These Galaxies??

  • Spiral galaxies are rotating flattened disk-shapes with at least two spiral arms of newer stars extending out from a central bulge of older stars. The dense molecular clouds of hydrogen gas and dust in the spiral arms of spiral galaxies are areas of intense star formation.
    See a sample image here: https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap031103.html
  • Barred spiral galaxies (like our Milky Way) contain a long bar in the middle with spiral arms coming off the ends. Around two-thirds of spiral galaxies contain a barred structure in their center.
    See a sample image here: https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap181009.html
  • Elliptical galaxies are a mass of stars bunched together in the shape of an elliptical disk.
    See a sample image here: https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap060520.html
  • lenticular galaxy is a type of galaxyintermediate between an elliptical and a spiral galaxy in classification schemes. It contains a large-scale disc but does not have large-scale spiral arms.
    See a sample image here: https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap020408.html
     
  • Irregular galaxies are any galaxy that has no obvious spiral or elliptical structure. Some irregular galaxies would have just formed that way while others are the result of other galaxy types crashing into each other.
    See a sample image here: https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap180921.html

Join our HTHT @ Home Science Experiment to make your own Expanding Universe:
https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/Space%20Case_EOTD_May%208th.pdf

Making & Recycling Paper At Home

Although thought of as an art, High Touch High Tech of South Florida uses this pulp recipe for paper-making science. You can use this activity not only to teach students how they can make their own recycled paper, but also teach students the value of recycling.

The following recipe & instructions come to us from High Touch High Tech of South Florida. Here’s how you do it!

To Get Started You’ll Need To Gather:

  • Either a blender or hand blender
  • Water source and measuring cup
  • 2 –  Full Sheets of Newspaper- Shredded
  • 1/2 – Cup of Flour
  • 12 –  Sheets of Toilet Paper
  • 2 –  Paper Towels
  • 1 –  Gallon Size Ziploc Bag
  • 1 –  Towel or felt to spread out wet paper for drying

Set up in an area where a wet mess will be easy to clean up. Probably outdoors would be best at first.

First, tear up & shred the newspaper into pieces. You will only need a couple sheets to get started, our recipe calls for 2 sheets of newspaper. If you are in the mood to mix it up a bit, you can use any type of papers with different textures, such as construction paper scraps, used computer paper, pages from old magazines etc. Colored paper is fun too! The more newspaper you use, the thicker and lumpier your resulting paper will be. We found construction paper gave us a fine, smooth paper that was flexible. Play around & find the mix you like best.

Add the shredded newspaper scraps into the blender, making sure you don’t over pack the blender.  Next, fill the blender with approximately four cups of water. First, turn the blender on & press the “puree” button for about 30 seconds.  This helps break down the paper quickly & helps eliminate clumps or large pieces.  Now you’re ready to blend on the “liquefy” setting for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until the paper is no longer recognizable and looks “pulpy”. Watch your blender carefully as you don’t want to burn out the motor.

Once the pulp is ready, it is time to press out the excess moisture. Place your cloth towel,  laying flat in the bottom of the sink.  Pour the pulp directly into your cloth towel. Using the towel, squeeze out the excess water. Hint: the more water you remove at this step, the less time it takes to dry!  With all the excess moisture gone from the pulp, you are almost finished!

If you don’t plan to use your pulp right away, seal it in an airtight bag and store it in the freezer. Simply thaw the pulp when you are ready to use it. This recipe makes 1 batch of pulp, enough for one class or 20 kids.  To make paper, place a small amount onto a piece of aluminum foil. Place a piece of wax paper over the top of the pulp and use a small rolling pin to flatten or shape your paper. Use markers or water color paints to decorate your paper. Additonal ideas include: pull off pieces of the pulp (about the size of a walnut) and let the kids press it into small molds or shape it free form and let it dry.  The thicker the form, the longer it will take to dry.

Warning:  never dispose of paper pulp down the drain.

High Touch High Tech of South Florida uses this pulp recipe to teach paper-making science. You can use this activity not only to teach students how they can make their own recycled paper, but also teach students the value of recycling.  If you think up and perform an experiment with recycled paper, be sure to let us know.

For more information check out High Touch High Tech of SFL: http://www.sciencemadefunsfl.net/

 

The Science of Gingerbread- Science In Every Bite!

Image Source: Pixabay.com

 

Are you planning to make a gingerbread house this holiday season? Before you mix up that first batch of dough, think about the wonderful ways that building a house can teach science. Inside the kitchen, much more is going on than pouring and mixing – it’s science at work! How many gumdrops can a frosted cookie hold? Why do some recipes call for baking powder instead of baking soda? All these questions are answered at the yearly Science of Gingerbread exhibition at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana California.

For the last 10+ years, the museum has been working to educate and increase awareness, understanding and appreciation of science, math, and technology. This annual holiday exhibit features hands-on kitchen science activities, decorating demonstrations and has award-winning gingerbread houses on display. Who knew science could be so tasty?

You can find your own gingerbread recipe to experiment with at  http://www.discoverycube.org/programs.aspx?q=56&c=69  or Click on the link below to find out more on The Science of Gingerbread exhibit!

http://www.discoverycube.org/programs.aspx?q=69

A Few Fun Turkey Facts

 

Image Source: Pixabay.com

‘Tis the season for buckled shoes, giant Snoopy balloons and L Tryptophan overload. In honor of the upcoming holiday, here are some Thanksgiving Fun Facts you can share with family over the turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce:

  • The average American eats 17.6 pounds of turkey per year, more than double the figure for 1970, according to the National Turkey Federation. To feed the growing appetite, some 273 million turkeys will be raised in the United States in 2009, and a good number of them will be consumed on Thanksgiving, after which many Americans will loll about, overstuffed, sleepy and in many cases intoxicated.
  • At one time, the turkey and the bald eagle were each considered as the national symbol of America. Benjamin Franklin was one of those who argued passionately on behalf of the turkey. Franklin felt the turkey, although “vain and silly,” was a better choice than the bald eagle, whom he felt was “a coward.”
  • According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten in the U.S. at Thanksgiving – that’s one-sixth of all turkeys sold in the U.S. each year. American per capita consumption of turkeys has soared from 8.3 pounds in 1975 to 18.5 pounds in 1999.
  • In 1999, 2.7 billion pounds of turkey were processed in the United States.
  • In 1995, retail sales of turkey reached approximately $4.4 billion. They were expected to reach $4.7 billion in 2000.
  • Age is a determining factor in taste. Old, large males are preferable to young toms (males) because tom meat is stringy. The opposite is true for females: old hens are tougher birds.
  • A turkey under 16 weeks of age is called a fryer, while a young roaster is five to seven months old.
  • Turkeys are the only breed of poultry native to the Western Hemisphere.
  • Turkeys have great hearing, but no external ears. They can also see in color, and have excellent visual acuity and a wide field of vision (about 270 degrees), which makes sneaking up on them difficult. However, turkeys have a poor sense of smell (what’s cooking?), but an excellent sense of taste.
  • Domesticated turkeys cannot fly. Wild turkeys, however, can fly for short distances at speeds up to 55 miles per hour. They can also reach speeds of 25 miles per hour on the ground.
  • Turkeys sometimes spend the night in trees.
  • Turkeys can drown if they look up when it is raining. They can also have heart attacks: turkeys in fields near the Air Force test areas over which the sound barrier was broken were known to drop dead from the shock of passing jets.
  • The ballroom dance known as the Turkey Trot was named for the short, jerky steps a turkey makes

For More Fun & Interesting Thanksgiving Facts check out http://www.theholidayspot.com/thanksgiving/trivia.htm

Smarty Plants at The Lab

If you are looking for a place where you can experience some FUN, edu-taining science programs, look no further than The Lab in Wellington, Florida. The Lab offers afterschool enrichments, birthday parties, elementary workshops, mommy & me programs and much more! We recently participated in an afterschool program where we learned about plants and how they grow! We observed seeds and even dissected some sprouts too. The best part was when we got to eat our experiment – the sprouted seeds, that is! To learn more about The Lab, visit http://www.sciencemadefunsfl.net/ . To learn where you can find similar programs near you, visit http://www.sciencemadefun.net/.
 

Science At Sea with Royal Caribbean

On December 1, 2010, Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas will embark on her maiden voyage. The ship boasts many incredible experiences including rock climbing, a zip line, the flow rider surf simulator and much more. Even the youngest cruisers will have a great vacation as they enjoy the Adventure Ocean program! In addition to the many fun activities offered onboard, these young cruisers will also get to experience the FUN, hands-on science experiences provided by High Touch High Tech in the Adventure Science program. Allure of the Seas, along with her sister ship, Oasis of the Seas both hold the first Science Labs at Sea! Children participating in the Adventure Science program will enjoy making Space Mud, erupting volcanoes, exploring space, learning about the environment and making edible DNA all within their very own Science Lab. Over the past decade, children sailing onboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships have enjoyed the exciting and edu-taining hands-on science programs of High Touch High Tech. We look forward to another 10 years of fun on the high seas! Congratulations to Royal Caribbean for the launch of their newest and most innovative ship, Allure of the Seas! To learn more about High Touch High Tech, visit our website at http://www.sciencemadefun.net/. To learn more about the Adventure Science program onboard Royal Caribbean, visit http://www.rccl.com
  

Beach Science with High Touch High Tech

Recently, our very own “Dinosaur” Dan hit the beaches of Negril, Jamaica as part of the Beach Science program.  Since 2000, HTHT and Sandal’s Beaches Resorts have been partners with one goal in mind…to provide entertaining and educational activities for children right on the beach! 

For nearly 10 years, children participating in Beaches Kids Kamp have enjoyed FUN, hands-on science experiments with programs such as Buccaneer’s Bounty, Beach Ball, Rocket Launches and more.  So if you are looking for a fun, adventurous, and luxurious vacation on some of the Caribbean’s best beaches, be sure to visit Sandal’s Beaches Resort in Jamaica and don’t miss out on the fun-fueled science experiments provided by High Touch High Tech right on the sandy beach mon! 

Be sure to check out the pictures below!

To learn more about High Touch High Tech programs in your area, visit www.ScienceMadeFun.net.

The Science Of Football

For those of you who are fans of the gridiron, football involves more than touchdowns, field-goals, and interceptions.  Believe it or not, there is actual, real science behind the punts, passes, and tackles made out on the field.  Expand your science vocabulary and learn about “parabolas” and “vectors” with the NFL & NBC “Science of Football” series in cooperation with the National Science Foundation. Click on the link for the full story!

http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2010/09/09/the-science-of-football/

Happy 115th Birthday X-Ray!

German physics professor Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen accidentally invented the X-Ray exactly 115 years ago today, but what a fortunate accident it was!

X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation that is basically able to penetrate solid matter and are used to make the inside contents of objects visible.  The first “medical” X-Ray ever taken (and shown below) was of Röntgen’s wife’s hand.  This technology led to tremendous advances in medical practice and makes it possible for doctors and dentists to properly diagnose an array of different conditions.

Let’s take a minute to thank professor Röntgen and wish X-Ray technology a happy 115th birthday!

Also, take a peak at Google’s homepage today and you will notice their logo is dedicated to the invention of the X-Ray. http://newsfeed.time.com/2010/11/08/x-ray-google-doodle-celebrates-x-rays-115th-birthday/