Monthly Archives: July 2011

Hacking Neil Downie: Day 5

Editor’s Note: Hacking Neil Downie is a week of experiments with the ideas and designs from Neil Downie’s brilliant and playful books on Saturday Science. When the kids in the group discovered that Neil is a real person who lives and works in England (and sometimes in Pennsylvania), they wondered why they couldn’t ask him their questions directly. In this blog, they did.

All week we have forwarded him their thoughts and questions. He very graciously answered  every day. See Comments.

Here are our thank you’s for the week. We hope the convesation can continue.

Dear Neil Downie,

Rubberbands on a Rotarope are amazing! We  have 1/4″ elastic we use  for aeromodelling. The  waves are larger and more visible. Thank you, Sophia.

Sophia's rotarope with rubber band.

with rubber going slower

rotarope with rubber and flash

Dear Neil Downie

We have worked on the Leonardo Bridge before. Bill says your design is especially brilliant  in that there is a safe simple way to make the pieces on the table saw.

Our Leonardo Bridge

About 3 of us made it across the bridge before we broke a piece!

Thank you, Angus

Dear Neil Downie,

Turns out it was easier to make Motor Dice than it was to teach my group to play dice. Now look what I’ve started.

Thank you, Alex L.

Dear Neil Downie,

Maybe wire sizes (or stiffness) are different in England. We had to double up the AWG wire to get the worm to stretch. Our worms  moved a lot, but not far.

Thank you, Alex T.

Dear Neil Downie,

Noah A., Omar, Ehsen, Quentin, Parker, Michael, Joshua, Joaquin, Karl, Sophia, Andrei, Nick, DAmir, Evan, Ariel, Jacob, Jason, Jonathan, Eva, Winston, Ben, Clara, Andy, Jenna, Anna, Duncan, Wesley, Remy, Isha, Siavash, Alex, Evan, Charlie, Linnea, Robin, Noah S., Yasin, Steven, Apple, Angus, Alex L., Alex, T. Monika, Annika, Sophia, Hillary, Tyler, Mark, Parker join us in thanking you for your inspiration and hard work.

thank you,

Bill Brown


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Neil Downie: In Pictures

 

Neil Downie sent our class some pictures of his travels and recent projects:

“Me with a project which will be in my new book, based on Leonardo’s portable bridge – it’s a bridge without nails, screws, or glue -just a bunch of thick sticks.”

“In Jardin, the coffee-growing area of Colombia, South America, this January – I’m reading Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle, which is all about his visit to South America.”

“My colleague Ben Inman and I, showcasing the Pneumomagical Clock in a show at the Newcastle Life Centre (UK) where we demonstrated 20 different sorts of clock mechanisms to visitors using pendulums, pistons, bubbles, neon tubes, airbags, Kleenex… all the way down to the atoms of an atomic clock.”

 

 

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Hacking Neil Downie – Day 4

Editor’s Note: Hacking Neil Downie is a week of experiments with the ideas and designs from Neil Downie’s brilliant and playful books on Saturday Science. When the kids in the group discovered that Neil is a real person who lives and works in England (and sometimes in Pennsylvania), they wondered why they couldn’t ask him their questions directly. In this blog, they will.

All week we will forward him their thoughts and questions.

Dear Neil Downie,

Finally, a picture of the tornado transistor.

Linnea's transistor

 

Nick's Transistor

Is it cheating that I simplified it for my group?    Angus

Dear Neil Downie,

Doing the Wave! The Rotorope is beautiful.

Without the flash

Yale lent us a stroboscope. Cool to cooler.

With the flash

Can you show us how to build a stroboscope too?      Anna

 

Dear Neil Downie,

I figure it took my group and me 5 hours to work out the Slimemobile. It was worth it. And fun all the way. Am I slow? Should it take that long? I’m glad you rated it more than a little difficult.   Monika

 

Dear Neil Downie,

Here’s my confession. My dad is an engineer. He helped make the Segway work. I have been working on Gravity Reversal. He says easy: just an inverted pendulum. First day, I got it: a 6mm dowel, 30 cm long, swung right up. Then everybody said try this or that.  nothing but trouble.  I have gone back to my basics. But I  am unsure how  to make it  easy  for little kids. What am I missing?         Annika

 

 

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