Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Science in Sesame Street

Sometimes you don't really need to look far out into space, or dive deep into textbooks to ask those thought-provoking questions. The truth is there are wonders all around and lots of questions waiting to be asked. Just read the lyrics of Tamar's favorite sesame street song, which has become mine as well.

I wonder - sung by Ernie

Sometimes at night,
When I look up high,
I see a falling star in the sky.
And I wonder how, and I wonder why.
What makes a falling star go by?

Why does it fall?
And where does it go?
And how does it make that glittery glow?
I'm gonna find out 'cause I want to know.
And I wonder. I wonder.

  • For starters, falling stars are not stars, but are meteors traveling through space. As a meteor enter earth's atmosphere, the friction between its surface and of the air incinerates the meteor, leaving a blazing trail of light.
Sometimes I watch
A bumblebee fly
From rose to rose on a day in July.
And I wonder how and I wonder why.
What makes a bumblebee go by?

How does he fly
All covered in fuzz?
And why does he make that buzz that he does?
I'm sure it's more than just because
And I wonder. I wonder.
  • Well, the bumblebee's hair is thick to insulate it during cold weather, and serves a big role in pollinating flowers.  Think about your hair when you rub it with a balloon.  You create a static charge that makes it stand up.  When the bees fly, they build up the same charge that attracts pollens to their body hair, which they carry from flower to flower. As for the buzz, when the bees fly really fast to carry their weight, their wings create the sound.
How does a bunny hop, hop, hop?
And what makes popcorn pop, pop, pop?
Why does the rain fall drop by drop
And the lightning always come before the thunder?
I wonder.
  • The bunnies go hopping since their back legs are built strongly which make them good at escaping their predators.  They can also use their legs for kicking in self-defense when threatened. And the secret to a popcorn's pop is the small amount of water stored in a circle of soft starch inside the hard outer casing of the kernel. When the kernel is heated, the moisture inside creates a pressure build-up causing the casing to give way. Pop goes the popcorn!

  •   There are a couple of reasons why the raindrops don't combine to make a single stream. The main one being that raindrops start falling just as soon as they are too heavy to stay in the air. Second, because of the phenomena called "surface tension" and "air resistance" that prevents the drops from coming together as a stream as they fall downward. In fact, these two phenomena cause the droplets' shape.
  • And we all know about light traveling faster than sound, hence, lightning before thunder.
Do you ever wonder as you walk along
What makes a tiny little ant so strong?
Does every bird have a different song?
Do you wonder why?
Well, so do I. So do I. Hmm, I wonder why?
  •  Ants can lift objects 20 times their own body weight because of their small size. Its strength is related to volume and surface area, cubed and squared respectively. In other words, larger animals have to move the  greater mass of its own body than the tiny ant because of the ration of their surface area to volume. See? The ant is a beast!
  • Individual birds vocalize in complex many ways, using different words and phrases even if they're of the same species. They sing, squawk, chirp, caw, quack, hoot, cackle, screech and whistle. And some of them even bark! I only wish I knew what they're yapping about.

So the next time you find yourself watching Sesame Street where the puppets are singing about the wonders of this world, it's okay to enjoy it with your child, and hum along, and then find the answers. - maybe even together.

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