Avoiding a Sticky Situation

The tentacles of an octopus will stick to just about anything—well, almost anything. These suckers usually don’t suction onto to the octopus itself, allowing this brilliant and flexible creature to avoid getting tangled up in its own arms. Researchers are studying this undersea creature’s talent of escaping a twisted situation with hopes that what they find can be strategically used in bio-inspired robot design.

Photo By Joes Parks

Photo By Joes Parks

Scientists observed that the reason why the octopus doesn’t end up in a knotted mess, is because of the animal’s great intelligence that demonstrates “self-avoidance.” This ability is actually a reflex, that can be turned on and off as the cephalopod pleases. A sort of chemical signal in the skin is activated that controls the suckers from grabbing onto their skin.

Researchers aim to support the development of a new kind of “soft robot” in the shape of an octopus arm, perfect for using in human surgeries. These types of robots would be able to reshape their forms, making it easy to maneuver around unfamiliar obstacles inside the human body!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Today is Mother’s Day! How will you be celebrating with your family? If you are fresh out of ideas or would like to spruce up your already made plans, show the very special woman in  your life that you care with some of these stellar Mother’s Day ideas from Math Blaster! From breakfast in bed to helping around the house, your mom will sure feel as radiant as she should, being the star of today’s holiday.

Photo By Paul Wilkinson

Photo By Paul Wilkinson

So be sure to take the time today and show your mom that you truly care by making her feel extra special. And don’t forget about Grandma, after all she is the ultimate mom since she was the one who raised yours! For more inspiration on making your mom feel on top of the world, visit our Pinterest page and share with us your favorite ways to celebrate Mother’s Day below.

 

 

Maracas for Cinco De Mayo

Cinco De Mayo gives us a chance to celebrate Mexican culture, and a part of that culture is music. Maracas are simple percussion instruments that are used instead of the common drum. You can have a set of this rhythmic and rattling sounding pair of your own at home as a result of perfect craft opportunity that will have your little ones shakin’-it to the sounds of your May 5th festivities! Here is how you can make maracas with your kids for Cinco De Mayo.

Photo by Steven Depolo

Photo by Steven Depolo

Decoupage Maracas for Cinco De Mayo

 What you will need:

    • Empty plastic bottles (Empty Salad dressing bottles are perfect since they have a long enough neck for the handle)
    • Modge Podge
    • Brightly colored tissue paper (Try sticking to traditional Cinco De Mayo colors like red, orange, green, and yellow)
    • Paint brush
    • dried beans

Steps:

Start by having your little ones tear the colored tissue paper into pieces while you take an empty plastic bottle and coat it in Modge Podge using the paint brush.

Once the bottle has been generously Modge Podged, have your kids place torn tissue paper all over the bottle. Have them layer the tissue paper to cover the bottle as you go over the pieces with the paint brush and Modge Podge.

Once one bottle is covered in tissue paper, set it aside and repeat the process with your second bottle.

Let both bottles dry completely

Once the bottles are dry, fill them with your dried beans and place glue on the cap of the bottle before you replace it for a tight seal.

Creating a set of your own maracas is a great craft that’s suitable for children to enjoy as you celebrate the Mexican culture in an upbeat way! Challenge your kids to try and keep time with a beat, counting down in between shakes to keep a steady rhythm. Make these maracas and enjoy your Cinco De Mayo fiesta with your kids!

 

Prepare for National Teacher Day!

May 6th is National Teacher Day! How will you be celebrating? Recognize the important roles and contributions that your teacher makes by thanking them for all of their hard work. Here are some ideas to get you started on thinking about how you and your Blaster can thank a teacher.

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From DIY thank you cards to small gifts, your Cadet can show their teacher that they appreciate their dedication to education on National Teacher Day! For more inspiration on gift ideas for teacher, visit our Pinterest page and share your favorite ideas with us below!

Impressive Strength: The Peacock Mantis Shrimp

The ocean dwelling Peacock Mantis Shrimp is tougher than its name implies. Do not let this pretty little guy fool you—this creature’s front appendages can strike with an underwater acceleration that equates to the same velocity of a speeding bullet from 22-calibur rifle! So why are researchers willing to go face to face with such a menacing little crustacean? Researchers have designed a structure for composite materials that can resist impacts tougher than airplane standard materials. All of this is inspired by the stomatopod’s impressive strength that seems out of this world!

Photo by Craig D

Photo by Craig D

With raptorial appendages that fold under its body, similar to that of a Praying Mantis, the Peacock Mantis Shrimp can deliver a hard hitting blow. They can wield their fist-like clubs to strike prey with great force at speeds up to 50 miles per hour in milliseconds—we can blink and miss this shrimp’s punch! Their appendages move so fast that the water that surrounds these limbs start to boil and create cavitation bubbles. When these bubbles collapse, they produce an underwater shock wave that is strong enough to affect their prey even if the Mantis Shrimp misses its target.

What is most impressive about this species is that is can punch up to 50,000 times with out damaging its clubs before molting. This unbelievable strength of such a tiny animal is what makes them one of the more interesting species to scientists in the animal kingdom. Studying the Mantis Shrimp’s fist-like clubs, will allow researchers to identify the key components to its structure and applying that knowledge to creating improvements with everyday objects, including advanced body armor for combat troops.

Bark Beetles and Groundwater Flow

Recent studies have revealed relationship between the common bark beetle and the changing water quality and flow in the Rocky Mountain area of Colorado. As healthy pine trees begin to dry and falter at alarming rates, many look to the local infestation of these powerful beetles as the cause of acres of drying plant life. Affects that have become so damaging that natural groundwater flow is now being diverted, as the areas no longer need water to feed the lush and green pines that were once much more common.

Photo By: Forest Service Northern Region

Photo By: Forest Service Northern Region

So how does the removal of a few trees alter the flow of the surrounding groundwater streams, which have seen little change in recent years? Through the process of transpiration, healthy trees are actually able to take up water from the soil where they grow to transport throughout their plant structure. The excess gathering of water in the soil during this process eventually contributes to local water movement or streams, defining the direction and strength of the flow. Because of the number of trees drying out in the mountainous region, there is now an excess of water flowing through the ground, and feeding into local streams.

Scientists are now finding changes in the make of the quality of water. All of which has been a result of the bark beetles affect of local plant life. For such a small creature, the local population has caused quite the commotion.

Get Inspired for Easter

Family, laughter, and fun—another Easter holiday is around the corner! How will you be celebrating? Many of us gather with family and friends to celebrate this time of the year and also enjoy much of what the spring season has to offer. Make this year a memorable one for your little ones and try new things. Whether it be new crafts to share with your loved ones or bringing the colors of spring indoors with decorating, there are so many ways to that you can set this Easter a part from the previous ones. Your kids will have a blast and so will you with these inspiring Easter ideas from Math Blaster!

Photo By Elana Roussakis

Photo By Elana Roussakis

The best part is that you can turn any simple activity into a mini math lesson teaching basic concepts that your kids will learn through hands on practice. Whether it be counting out treats to place in goodie bags or learning proportions and shapes while folding origami bunnies, your kids can strengthen their math skills and have a stellar time while doing it!