Friday, October 29, 2010

Interview with Adam and Judy!

Today Adam and Judy came to our classroom at Hillwood Academic Day to talk to us for just over an hour. They are mechanical engineers, and mechanical engineers figure out how things works.

Judy and Adam are part of PBS Kids' DESIGN SQUAD, and they have been working with the television show and the website to highlight some design challenges — challenges that kids can do. Judy’s favorite episode of was working with the fashion designers. She liked it because they had a skill she did not have.
Adam and Judy met all sorts of interesting kids with amazing talents — a pilot, a welder, skate- boarders, and fashion designers.

The fashion designers did a fashion competition. Judy and her teammate made a modern dress. They made it out of paper-like material that has been used in making astronaut outfits. They folded the material to made it very compacted. Adam, on the other hand, made a dress that was an evening gown with motors hidden in the dress. When the model pressed a button it turned in to a short cocktail dress.
Adam's favorite episode was in Nicaragua, where they met kids from a school. At this school, instead of a playground, they had a jungle. The kids wanted a playground in the jungle, so Adam and Judy helped them build one. There were swings and lots of other sets.

In January, their show goes live on PBS television, and you can see them building a skate park in Arizona and custom bikes at Crucible in Oakland.

Judy and Adam's Visit with The Herald

Today, on the celebration of Halloween, Judy and Adam, who have been creating design challenges for PBS Kids' DESIGN SQUAD,  took time out of their day to come and talk to us! Judy and Adam are both mechanical engineers who also have a show for kids where they make experiments and film them to show kids everywhere how to build all of the projects they made on the video. As I've written before on The Herald, these projects have been pretty fun. As reporters for The Herald, we asked  Judy and Adam about their inventions, and we showed them the inventions we made. We also interviewed them to figure out some of their favorite times on the show. (Their actual show on PBS airs in January, with a confetti launcher, but many of their challenges are already online at the DESIGN SQUAD website.)

It was very interesting to hear about all of the projects they made and all the places they got to visit to make the projects. Both Judy and Adam went to New York, where they got to make dresses for a fashion show. The dresses were made with mechanics inside of the dress to make the dress shorter.
They also got to go to Nicaragua to help build a playground for a school that had a jungle in front of it instead of a play structure. They even went to Boston to made a cake that got up and actually walked around! It was seriously mind-blowing.

Judy and Adam

Last Friday Judy and Adam came to Hillwood school and the kids from the Hillwood Herald interviewed them.
Adam and Judy Work in industrial design.They helped Nicaraguans build a playground in a forest. The playground took three days to make. They taught the Nicaraguans and their kids how to use power tools.k Judy and Adam also had a dress contest, Judy made a origami kind of dress with another girl and Adam made a dress with another boy that was very long and when you flip a switch it becomes shorter. Judy and Adam decided  they both won because the dresses where both very good. Go to PBS. com/Design Squad

Adam and Judy's Visit

Today Judy and Adam came to our school. They work with the Design Squad Nation, television show on PBS and a website.

Adam and Judy work together to find children who have dreams. These are kids with a dream to create or build something, and Adam and Judy help them make their dream a reality. Once they worked with two kids from New York who wanted to be fashion designers. They also built a playground for Nicaraguan children and a robotic cake.

The crew on Design Squad Nation comes up with the ideas, while Judy and Adam build them. Judy came to this job after her profile was published on a website highlighting female engineers. Adam found the job when Judy asked him if he was interested in the show. They met each other three years ago.

The hardest episode for them was the one where they had to make the dress because they didn't have much time. If you want to be an engineer you need to study math and science. Sometimes, these subjects can be difficult and it may tough to see why they matter. But, as Judy and Adam, explained, they can also be a lot of fun while making a big difference in the world.

Interviewing Judy and Adam

Today, Judy and Adam visited Hillwood, on their way to Pall Alto. We showed them our projects that we made week by week.

The went to New York and competed in a fashion challenge. They were to make dresses with one fashion designer.
They also made a robotic cake that moved, sat, and made noises. They also stated that it was delicious.

Judy and Adam also took a trip to Nicaragua and taught Nicaraguans how to use tools. Then with the help of tools, Judy and Adam, along with about 30 Nicaraguans made a playground for a school.

You can watch their 10 new episodes that will be posted on:, soon.

One new project includes a confetti thrower.

Friday, October 22, 2010

President Obama Hosts the White House Science Fair

At the White House on October 18th, President  Barrack Obama hosted the White House Science Fair, celebrating the winners of science, technology, engineering, and math competitions.

 The White House Science Fair fulfills the president's commitment that he made at the beginning of his Educate to Innovate campaign.

At the White House Science Fair, Mr. Obama viewed all of the winning projects that the champions had created. From basic research breakthrough projects to new inventions, president Obama gave remarks congratulating the students on their projects, and their hard work to brainstorm and create the genius inventions that they were showing Mr. Obama.

The president also announced his upcoming appearance on the December 8th, 2010, episode of Discovery Channel's Mythbusters, for those of you who do not know what the show "MythBusters" is... it is a popular television show that uses science to figure out if the myths that people tell are true or just plain made up.

President Obama's speech to the students who have won past and present science fairs, and he encouraged for students to try and win future science fairs, and to keep pursuing in the kind of science or math that you have put your heart into.

The next video shows Mr. Obama walking through the Science Fair, held in the West Wing. The fair includes a soccer-playing robot and specially geared-up cars (or contraptions that might someday be made into a car.

What You May Want to Know About Judy

Judy and Adam will be coming to The Hillwood Herald next week, so that we can interview them about their lives and work. We're very curious to hear more, but for now, we are writing short biographies about them.

Judy is an inventor in the IDEO Palo Alto office. You can learn how to make cool inventions on the PBS Kids website, where she works on DESIGN SQUAD. Before going to IDEO she worked as an Mechanical Engineer for Underwriters Laboratories. Judy was a student in North Carolina State
University. When she was a graduate, she worked on inventions that might interest children. One invention she designed is a product in IKEA.

Some of the questions we will as Judy next include:
  • When did you meet Adam?
  • Are you good friends with him?
  • When did you get the idea of inventing? Why?
  • Is it a fun job or is it frustrating?
  • Did you enjoy inventing when you were a child?
  • When did you want to become an engineer? How did you know that was the career for you?
  • Are there many female engineers? Why or why not?
  • Is it harder for girls to become engineers?
By Anya and Rubina.

Meet Adam, an Engineer and Designer

Adam is a mechanical engineer at the IDEO's Palo alto office. He has a passion for desiging what he calls "considered products and services" that responsibly address pressing human needs. He has  desingned a suite of groundbreaking spinal surgery instruments.

  • Why did you get the idea of doing this?
  • Is Judy your best friend?
  • How did you meet her and get the idea of working on DESIGN SQUAD together with her?
  • Do you like doing this a lot?
  • What was the hardest design challenge for you?
  • If a student wants to become an engineer, what should they study most?

White House Science Fair!

President Obama is having a middle school high school White House Science Fair ! There are robots, solar cars, and rockets!

There are robots that play soccer, Ninth graders building planes, concoctions that could cure cancer, and electric wheelchairs!

At this fair comes Mythbusters! and Bill Nye the Science Guy!
President Obama Wants America to be number one in science and math not the twenty first.

This is part of his speech:

The importance of tapping this potential is why we’re here. It’s why I wanted to host this fair, which culminates this weekend in a science and engineering festival on the National Mall and across the country where more than a million people are expected to participate. 
So we welcome championship sports teams to the White House to celebrate their victories. I've had the Lakers here. I’ve had the Saints here, the Crimson Tide. I thought we ought to do the same thing for the winners of science fair and robotic contests, and math competitions. Because often we don’t give these victories the attention that they deserve. And when you win first place at a science fair, nobody is rushing the field or dumping Gatorade over your head. But in many ways, our future depends on what happens in those contests -- what happens when a young person is engaged in conducting an experiment, or writing a piece of software, or solving a hard math problem, or designing a new gadget.
It’s in these pursuits that talents are discovered and passions are lit, and the future scientists, engineers, inventors, entrepreneurs are born. That's what’s going to help ensure that we succeed in the next century, that we're leading the world in developing the technologies, businesses and industries of the future. 
You can learn more about his speech at White House!

Adam and Judy went to meet some of the winners!

Maryann made a smarter toilet. A toilet that has a gallon bottle filled with water so that there toilet thinks it has more water in it then it actually does.

Daniel made a MiBike a bike that can go in rain or shine. It has a shower curtain over the bike so that the bike has protection against blazing sun and pouring rain!

Lilly made a Sibling Soaker, a dunking booth with out the booth! She put a bunch of balloons in a tube with holes at the end when she hits something the balloons burst and pore out the tube on to the victim!

A Brief Look at Adam and His Background

Adam works at IDEO as a mechanical engineer. Adam is an expert on designing medical devices and a expert in biotechnology. He has a passion for building and designing, and he is trying to make clean water avalible to many people. Theranos Inc. is developing a transformative diagnosis device. Adam went to Stanford University and received a BS in mechanical engineering.

This week we build their Moon Roving Challenge, from the DESIGN SQUAD website. It was harder than it looks.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Questions for Adam and Judy

Next Friday, PBS Kids' DESIGN SQUAD's Judy and Adam will be visiting The Hillwood Herald. As news reporters for the blog, we'll be interviewing them about who they are, what they do, and how they came to create all these challenges for PBS We're also going to be able to show them all the projects we have made with their neat ideas.

Here are some questions that I will ask them:
  1. Why did our hidden alarm work with 1 AA battery and none of the others did?
  2. What made you two decide to create this show?
  3. At any point, did you two either get so frustrated or bored that you gave up on the project?
  4. What was the hardest project you two did?
  5. How long has this show been running for?

    Our Magazine Buzzer — Success!

    Today, October 15th, Clara and I did the Hidden Buzzer Challenge (designed by Judy and Adam for PBS Kids' DESIGN SQUAD). We decided to "hide" our buzzer in a magazine so when someone touched the magazine the buzzer would go off.
    Of course we needed a little help with the circuits, and our buzzer had a mind of its own. But on the other hand, it was pretty fun creating our buzzer.

    As some people know Judy and Adam are coming to talk with The Hillwood Herald next Friday, and of course we have questions for them!
    When Judy and Adam come, the first five questions that I will ask them are going to be well thought out. Since I want to make sure I get them down, I'll write them here:

    1. How long does it take for you guys to actually make the experiments?
    2. What made you want to become engineers?
    3. Do you two have fun making the experiments or is it really hard?
    4. Do you two usually get it right the first time, or do you have to keep trying at it?
    5. Do you sometimes want to give up on the experiments you're making?
    I bet it's going to be a great time when Judy and Adam come to talk to us about all the experiments they have made and how they get the ideas and things like that. But until then everyone can go to their site on PBSkids and try all the expirements we've been doing the past few weeks.

    On the Sly: The Hidden Buzzer

    Today Alysen and I made a hidden buzzer. We tried it with one battery and it didn't work. Then we tried it with four batteries and a battery holder. At first it worked, but it had a mind of its own and was unpredictable. We decided to hide it a magazine, so that when someone touched it it would go off.

    We needed a little help to make it work reliably so Graham made some changes and connected the wire with a paper clip of course -- it worked!

    If you want to try the Hidden Alarm Challenge yourself, go to the PBS Kids DESIGN SQUAD web page. You can watch videos of the experiment. Then you can go to this page for instructions and the needed supplies.

    As you know, Judy and Adam are coming to talk to us and see our experiments. Here are some questions I'll ask them:

    1. Do you practice the experiments before you video tape them?
    2. Do you make up the experiments? If not, where do you get the ideas?
    3. Where do you make the experiments?
    4. What did you want to be when you were little? When did you want to become engineers?
    5. Do you ever get frustrated with experiments, or are they all relatively easy for you?

    I can't wait to hear wait Adam and Judy talk to us about there experiments!

    PBS Kids: Get Ready to Interview the DESIGN SQUAD's Adam and Judy

    This week, we had success with our Hidden Alarm Challenge. (For to read more about our failed attempt last week, read this post.) The following video show our alarm working and how we might hide it or play a trick on someone with it.

    The following are the questions we plan to ask Adam and Judy, when they visit The Herald next week. We will be interviewing them either in person or via iChat.
    • How did you make the mars rover work?
    • How did you make the paper table hold a heavy object?
    • How did you make the buzzer work with a double AA battery?
    • Did you use a buzzer from radio shack?
    • Is the mars rover really hard to make?

    Hidden Alarm Success (Finally!)

    Anya and I, Rubina, made a hidden alarm in a pizza box. We connected the alarm to the pizza box opener "tab" that is used to open the box. And when we tried opening the box, the buzzer started buzzing. You can watch the video below to see our hidden alarm in action.

    When Judy and Adam come to Hillwood to be interviewed, we will ask them these questions:

    • Did you guys think of doing these experiments?
    • How did you get the buzzer to work with the AA batteries?
    • Do you guys have fun when you do those videos with all of those experiments?
    • How long does it take to invent these experiments?
    • What inspired you to start inventing?
    Written by Rubina H. and Anya J.

    The Failing Buzzer Worked With 9 Volt

    Erion and I made a buzzer that didn't work last week. However, I took the buzzer home and it worked with a 9 volt battery. Yay!

    So, the question is, Why did the battery size matter so much. Also, Zack and Nikita managed to get their alarm to work with a less powerful battery last week.

    This week, Erion and I also make the Pop Fly Challenge (you can find directions to do this experiment here). You can see the video of work below. You can also see Judy and Adam's video on the PBS Kids DESIGN SQUAD website.

    Pop Fly Challenge — One, Two, Three Catch!

    A Challenge from Judy and Adam

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    Our Visit to City Hall

    The whole upper-grade class went to City Hall to protest about putting toys in unhealthy Happy Meals from McDonald's. We helped to try and replace the unhealthy choices with healthy choices in Happy Meals, so that kids could be rewarded with toys when they choose healthy things, so that they'll eat healthier.

    When we went to City Hall, there were plenty of people who wanted, and did, protest against putting toys in unhealthy meals. I think it helped since we were so cute... We stood in front of City Hall for about three minutes with our signs, getting interviewed. We also got interviewed inside.

    I believe by all of us going to City Hall to protest, we really made a point that not only do adults care, but so do kids. From that day to this one I, and probably everybody else, am still wondering when it will pass. We hope that it will so that when parents are in a rush and need a quick meal, it can also be a healthy meal for their kids.

    Pop Fly Challenge — More PBS Kids DESIGN SQUAD Experiments

    DESIGN SQUAD is made up of Judy and Adam who create challenges and see how they work out. They have challenges like the Kick Stick Challenge and the Roving the Moon Challenge.

    They show more challenges on the website PBS that are fun, but challenging. Judy and Adam are going to actually take some time out of their day to come to Hillwood, so we can interview them! We're going to be able to show them all the projects we have made with their neat ideas.

    Today, Clara and I did something called a "Pop Fly Challenge." We created a device to launch ping-pong balls into the air, using: cups, duct tape, and paint stirrers. When we launched our ping-pong into the air we caught it usually every time.

    For our project, we had to make a cage out of a part of one of the cups to keeps the ball in place.
    Our project resembles a see-saw because when we hit one end, the ball flies up on the other. We also were able to catch our ball in a cup, much like basketball.

    On PBS Kids Go there are plenty of challenges, including the Pop Fly Challenge, which we were doing this week.

    Design Squad Pop Fly, Another PBS Kids Challenge

    Today, Angela and I made a pop flier. The pop fliers materials include:

    • Duck Tape
    • 1 wooden block/spool
    • 3-oz paper cups
    • Ping pong ball(s)
    • 3-5 paint stirrers

    Assemble your Pop Flier and try to fly the ping pong ball so that it flies high enough for one to catch it. Now ask yourself:

    Did it fly high enough for you to catch it? Was it worth building it?
    Now go find your tallest friend and have them try to catch it!

    Step by step, our pop flier was a success. First, we got two paint stirrers and taped them together. Then we taped quarter of a cup to the paint stirrers. From there, we taped two full cups below the quarter cups. We added another cup below the paint stirrers about an inch from the other cups. Then we placed two ping ball balls in the quarter cups and at the end of the paint stirrers, we hit it and our ping ball balls shot off.

    We tried to catch them but it's hard because there is two of the ping pong balls. Now you try to catch your ping pong balls.

    By Camryn and Angela

    Failing Buzzer — Ack!

    The buzzer failed. Yes, building a working hidden buzzer is more difficult than it looks. Nikita and Zack's buzzer worked well and earlier on in our Hillwood Herald blog session, but the rest of us could not get our buzzers to work. The question now is, Why?

    The tape? The batteries or the alarm? Too much aluminum or not enough. We're not sure, and we did compare our alarm set up to that of Nikita and Zack's. They looked pretty much the same, but clearly they did not work the same. Jay will be discussing the project with his dad for advice, and next Friday, we will try again.

    Picnik Photos

    Picnik is a cool photo-changing website that I tried out today. Picnik is where you can upload a photo and change it to make it appear better for Halloween, (muahahaha) or just to look better or to look funny.

    Like my picture here, you can do a demo picture, or upload your own picture. You can do special effects like sepia, or add a spiderweb or an eyeball or blood...

    I am the first, and proud to say it, to try out Picnik.
    It is probably the most fun I've had creating photos out of photos.

    Picnik is cool for all ages, I guarantee you'll have fun with this really cool photo maker.

    Design Squad Hidden Buzzer Failed

    Jennifer and I tried to make the DESIGN SQUAD Hidden Buzzer by getting a piece of cardboard, tin foil, double A battery, masking tape, scissors, buzzers.

    We took the wires from the buzzer  and put the wires up against the sides of the battery. It didn't WORK! It vibrated, like you could feel the energy. But it didn't make any noise. Making noise is what it was supposed to do.

    Jen is trying to see if the wires from the buzzer need to be more exposed. We learned that masking tape works better than duct tape.

    I hope it will make noise next week — we'll try it again.

    Pop Fly Challenge

    Today Alysen and I did something called the Pop Fly Challenge, from PBS Kids DESIGN SQUAD that features science and technology based projects that Judy and Adam put together.

    The Pop Fly Challenge is a thing where you build a design to launch ping pong balls high enough to catch.We even caught the launched ping-pong ball in a cup.

    Our launcher was a paint stirrer on top of a paper cup.The paint stirrer had a ping-pong ball on one end and nothing on the other so it looked sort of like a see-saw. At one end of the paint stirrer there was a little piece of paper. We would lean the ping pong ball on the paper then hit the other end of the paint stirrer and the ping pong ball would go flying.

    At first the paint stirrer was laying on the cup when we launched it and Alysen caught it. Then we pushed the paint stirrer up a little more, it went even higher. When we finally pushed it to the highest point, the ping pong ball whacked the ceiling and I caught it.

    You could try the pop fly challenge and tons of other cool experiments at the PBS Kids DESIGN SQUAD website.

    On October 22nd, Adam and Judy from the Design Squad are coming in to Hillwood to talk to us and see our experiments! We will be interviewing them about their work and their experiments.

    The picture above to the left is Adam and Judy's launcher. The picture to the right is mine and Alysen's launcher.

    The above is a video of the Pop Fly Challenge.

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    Congress Approves $19 billion for NASA

    Late Wednesday, Congress approved that $19 billion would go to NASA so NASA could develop a heavy-lift vehicle. NASA passed by the Senate's agreement. Because of the Senate's approval, NASA could progress on President Barack Obama's plan of strategy, including space commercial development for space transportation. Congress and Obama are supposed to sign the check. The money is expected to be given to NASA after the November election.

    NASA is proud to announce that another rocket is expected to be launched from NASA, between February 2011 and June 2011.

    Unfortunately, when the program for the shuttle ends, 9,000 people that took a big part in the ship functioning and production, are expected to loose their jobs. Today, 1,200 people were laid off from shuttle working. Many people departing, have worked with the shuttle from the beginning of the production.