January 15, 2011

Blink - Fun Card Game for Learning

My oldest child received "Blink - The World's Fastest Card Game" for his tenth birthday last year. It sat on a shelf for a while, but we recently started playing it and have gotten hooked. Like it says on the box, Blink takes less than two minutes to play, so it's perfect for those in-between times.

From the product description on amazon.com:
This game is a clever variation on the classic card game, Spit. As cards are turned face up on the table, you must try to get rid of the cards in your draw pile by matching at least one characteristic on the card (color, shape, or count). These cards are colorfully designed with stars, moons, triangles, and more. You can only have three cards in your hand at one time, but may continue to pick cards from your draw pile as soon as you discard. Includes 60 Symbol cards and instructions. 
Educational Benefits of Blink Card Game
As a teacher, here's what I like.
  • Children have to think about three attributes of their cards, color, shape, and count.
  • It's great for working memory. Players need to keep in mind the attributes of their cards and the the ones on top of the discard pile.
  • Children learn to make quick decisions under pressure, but the pressure is harmless.
  • Unlike a regular deck of playing cards, if you lose a few it doesn't really matter.
  • It's easy to handicap the faster players to keep the game competitive; just deal them more cards than the slower players.

More Card Games for Learning
Read about how to teach math with UNO.

January 14, 2011

Cloud in a Glass

We found a simple weather experiment online and tried it at home this morning. The idea is to make water condense in a glass to simulate cloud formation. You fill a glass about a quarter full with warm water and place an ice cold metal dish on top. The water vapor in the warm moist air trapped in the glass is supposed to condense as it cools near the cold dish and form a cloud.

Our first attempt didn't work. I think the problem was a combination of the water not being warm enough and a gap where the rim of the glass and the bottom of the bowl met.

First try. No cloud, just some condensation on the bottom of the bowl.
So we tried again. This time we heated the water more and put it in a different cup, one that we hoped wouldn't have a gap. We heated the water too much because the water was steaming even before putting the cold dish on top. The glass immediately fogged up with condensation and we couldn't see whether a cloud was forming inside or not. Steam escaped through the gap again.

Second try. The water was so hot that it immediately fogged up the glass.
So we tried a third time. We let the water cool a little and covered the glass with plastic wrap so no water vapor could escape. We put the ice on the wrap and watched the condensation happen. Again, no visible cloud inside the glass.

Third try. We definitely saw condensation, but no cloud.
 This experiment turned out to be a good one for the kids to learn that whatever the expected outcome, good scientists don't fudge their results. Instead, they learn from what they observe and think about how to structure the experiment better next time. We did observe condensation when hot moist air met cooler air, and the kids could visualize how clouds would form. Here are their write-ups.