Adding a few touches to their rockets made at the Mad Science event in Tarkio on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, are Jacob Stanton, Riley Sachs, Kale Lekey, Jonas Hurst, and Finn Hurst.

Macy Stepp was all smiles having a rocket to put together at the Mad Science event in Tarkio June 18, 2019. The event was sponsored by the Atchison County Branch Libraries and was led by Mad Scientist Radiant Randy.

Mad Scientist Radiant Randy helps Owen Bruce, Jasper Navin, Raiden Baruth, and Rogan Russell match the colors of their beads to the gases located on their designated planet at the Mad Science event in Tarkio, June 18, 2019. 

Tucker Hurst checks out the barometer he put together at the Mad Science event in Tarkio June 18, 2019. 

Tarkio: Atmosphere and Beyond!

Presenter Radiant Randy of Mad Science of Greater Kansas City expressed the importance of our air and how oxygen is essential to us to a group of excited youngsters at Tarkio Community Building Tuesday, June 18, 2019. He asked the children if they thought air took up space? Some didn’t think so, as it is invisible. He conducted two experiments to show that air does take up space. One experiment utilized bottles and balloons. A balloon attached to the mouth of the bottle could not be blown up inside the bottle, unless the bottle had a hole to allow the trapped air to escape. A second experiment involved a dry, crumpled ball of paper placed into a glass. If the glass is placed upside down into a pitcher of water, would the paper remain dry? Most of the children thought the paper would get wet from the water. Radiant Randy demonstrated that the trapped air inside the inverted glass kept the water from entering the glass, and the paper stayed dry! The children were then allowed to experiment with this by keeping a paper astronaut dry in the inverted glass submerged into a container of water. Not only did they keep the astronaut dry, they noticed that the volume of air in the glass caused the water level of the pitcher to rise, showing that the air in the glass definitely was taking up space.

Radiant Randy talked about the layers of atmosphere: the exosphere (the outer layer farthest away from us), the thermosphere (the hottest layer, much of sun’s heat is trapped here), the mesosphere (the space shuttle flies in this layer), the stratosphere (commercial planes usually fly in the lowest level of this layer), and the troposphere (the lowest layer where humans live, and most all of Earth’s weather occurs in this layer).

Radiant Randy informed the kids that there are several different gases in the atmosphere, including nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and methane. The children built a model of gases in the atmosphere for different planets so they could compare the planets and their ability to support life. They found that our Earth is the only planet in our solar system able to support human life!

Experiments were conducted with light to show how the colors of the rainbow and sunset are produced. The children enjoyed an experiment with a mini barometer. They learned that NASA satellites help to measure weather on Earth.

Radiant Randy was all smiles with the kids who visited the Mad Science Program at the Fairfax Community Room. Pictured above (left to right) are: Mackenzie Oswald, Lela Wright, Alex Wintz, Delaney Oswald, Gabriel Cain, and Ryann Salmond.

Fairfax: Planets and Moons

What planet do you live on in the town of Fairfax, in the state of Missouri, United States of America, North American continent? You live on Planet Earth! Planet Earth is part of a solar system. The system of planets called the solar system all revolve around Sol. That’s another word for sun. The Mad Scientist, Radiant Randy, asked his audience of children ages 6-8 if they could name the planets in our solar system. They knew many of them. 

The children learned many interesting facts about the solar system. There are eight planets that revolve or orbit around the sun. The four planets closest to the sun are Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. This group of four is called the smaller planets, and they all have hard and rocky surfaces. Mercury and Venus are so close to the sun they are very, very hot. Mars is called the Red Planet, because its surface is red. Everyone knows a lot about Earth. It has air and water and people live there! Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are not solid. They are made up of gases, and they are much bigger than the solid planets. They are many millions of miles away from the sun. A few years ago a tiny planet named Pluto, who was farthest from the sun, was officially kicked out of the solar system. Pluto didn’t have the orbit around the sun or the gravitational pull to be called a planet. Pluto is now classified as a dwarf planet, one of several living in a region called the Kuiper Belt. 

What is in the solar system in addition to the planets? The sun is the giant star that all of the eight planets orbit or revolve around. The sun gives our Earth its light and heat. The distance from the sun to the Earth is measured by scientists as one astronomical unit that is 93,000,000 miles. Pluto is 100 astronomical units from the sun! Other elements in the solar system are meteoroids, asteroids and comets. Many planets have moons that orbit around them including the Earth. The children spent some time learning about the one moon that orbits the Earth. The moon is 248,900 miles from Earth. Did you know it would take a human seven months to walk around the Earth with no stops for anything: food, sleep or the bathroom? If you could walk from the Earth to the Moon it would take 77 months. That’s 6 ½ years!

The solar system contains millions of stars and they are millions of miles from Earth. Stars like our sun create light. When a star appears to twinkle, it is because it is a light source. Planets and moons only reflect light so they never appear to twinkle.

The six young children who participated in this program spent most of the hour interacting with the scientist. They did demonstrations and experiments showing the alignment of the planets and the distances between them. They used small replicas of the Earth, the moon, and flashlights to create a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse. They looked at colorful charts that identified planets by their distinctive features, and then they guessed their identity. Each child received a game to take home. The game consisted of a game board, a stack of magnets and a steel ball. The ball was a space probe and the magnets provided the gravity that had to be avoided if you didn’t want your probe to be pulled into a planet’s orbit. 

Rocket Science was the name of the game June 18 during the Mad Science program in Fairfax.

Tarkio and Fairfax: Rocket Science

On Tuesday, June 18, nineteen young people had the good fortune of learning to build a rocket with Scientist Radiant Randy, the Mad Scientist of Kansas City. The scientist began the program with two questions, “Why do you think we need rockets?” and “What is in space now that is helpful to you?”. The young people answered, “To put things in space” and “exploration and satellites.” Scientist Randy spoke about his phone app. for G.P.S. (Global Position Satellite) that guided him from Kansas City to Tarkio and Fairfax. The kids were all aware of G.P.S., but they were surprised that a satellite in outer space provided that information.

The children learned that there are principles of engineering and four forces of flight that are used when scientists build a rocket. The number one engineering principle is: form follows function. More simply, what is it you are trying to do, and what do you need to create (form) to achieve that end (function)? The four forces of flight are gravity (holds you down), drag (friction), thrust (move forward), and lift (move upward). Gravity and drag are called negative forces and thrust and lift are called positive forces. The positive and negative forces work in opposition to each other before a rocket is launched. The positives must overcome the negative to break away from Earth’s hold (gravity) to enter outer space. 

The children learned other interesting data while they were busy following Randy’s lead in building their model rockets: Science takes lots of its ideas from nature. Fins that stabilize and guide the trajectory of a rocket perform much of the same function as the wings of bats and birds. Most of the body of a rocket deals with fuel and a guidance system, only the very top or nose cone of the rocket carries the payload. What is the payload? The payload is what is being transported to space. It could be a space shuttle with astronauts on board, satellites to go into orbit to relay valuable information back to Earth, cameras or telescopes to explore or even equipment to land on and explore Mars.

The young participants in this work shop were given a model rocket kit with lots of tubes, fins, a shot cord, an engine mount system, an engine hook, a nose cone and a parachute. With the careful guidance of Randy, scissors and glue, each child went home with an assembled rocket. They were given instructions on how and where to order a launch pad and “engine” material so they would be able to launch their rocket if they so choose. After the rockets were constructed, the kids played a board game called 4 Forces of Flight to reinforce their understanding of those principles.

Sixteen young people ages 9-12 from Tarkio participated in this enlightening program presented in Tarkio. Three of the same age, one from Fairfax and two from Rock Port, built rockets at the presentation in Fairfax. Atchison County Library sponsored the Mad Science workshops in Tarkio and Fairfax. Workshops will be presented in Rock Port on July 9. Mad Science is a science enrichment program for children.