OK, officially summer doesn’t start for 5 more days, and local schools still have 3 more days before summer break kicks in, but still we can talk about some nify items we’ve added for summer fun! Let’s start with a classic toy:
The Aerobie Pro Ring
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The Aeorbie, a nifty variation on the classic flying disc, has been around for a while now but still is a great summer toy. Unlike the more limited Flying discs the Aeorbie can fly the length of several football fields and holds the Guiness record for furthest throw at 1,333ft. Pro-Tip: When playing with an Aerobie at the beach, never throw it at someone with the ocean behind them. You may never see your Aerobie again.
This is the Aerobie Pro Ring with a 13″ diameter and retailing at $9.99.
Also from the Aeorbie company is the Aerobie Squidgy Ball
Squishy and fun, the Aerobie Squidgie ball’s soft, rubber fins make it ideal for children learning to throw and catch, a cool pool toy for kids of all ages, and a favorite for dogs. For ages 3+ and comes in multiple colors. Retails for just $6.99.
T-Bolt Air Rocket Launch Set
If you can’t launch black-powder rockets, then give the T-Bolt a chance! This large (11.5″) durable plastic rocket is pumped up with the included pump and stand. It flies up to 150 feet high. Air power and the durable nose landing means you can use it again and again!
So you got yourself a new telescope and it is a clear night out. Time to grab the new telescope and bring it outside, right? Hold on there; as many new astronomers have discovered, an observing session isn’t as simple as when you go outside in the winter/early spring to put out the trash. There are several things you should probably prepare before you go out for a night of observing.
DRESSING FOR THE NIGHT WEATHER
Far, far too many folks dress for the daytime weather. This can be a problem for you if the daytime was a happy 78 degrees and then drops as the sun goes down into the 60’s. Many an observing session has been ended prematurely because the astronomer forgot to wear a sweater.
For colder weather, it is wise to dress in layers. This way you can adjust your level of warmth as the night goes on. The only trouble with dressing in layers is that you need to get dressed indoors where it is warm and putting on multiple layers is a bit more complex than just tossing on a jacket. I have had sessions where I dressed for warmth and then had something delay my exiting the house, the result being me sweating up a storm before I got outside.
PREPPING THE AREA AROUND THE TELESCOPE
Even if you only have the eyepieces that came with your telescope and a star chart it might not be a bad idea to have somewhere to put these items down. A simply folding aluminum table can help a lot without being too much of a burden. You might also consider some kind of carrying case for the eyepieces. Keeping them in your pocket can be hard on the glass and coatings in the long run.
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO VIEW IN ADVANCE…OR DON’T
Well before you go out, you should decide what you would like to observe that night, or if you just want to aim the telescope around and see what you can find. The latter can be lots of fun, but it can also get old pretty fast if you don’t find anything of interest. The former does require some planning, so be sure to check your planisphere, planetarium program or other astronomical assistant before going out.
Far too many folks turn hobbies into chores – Astronomy is by no means unique in this regard. Doing some work in any hobby to get the most out of it is to be expected, but turning it into a huge burden can make you burn out on astronomy.
A few new products came into the store today. Let’s have a look.
First we have the Rebound Action Game ,a classic old-school game involving bouncing balls just right:
In our last blog post, 10 fun facts about Magnifiers, we mentioned one feature of magnifiers (or any lens, really) but kind of glossed over it.
“5) Your magnifier can act as a little projector of sorts – if you have a bright window you can make an image of what is outside that window by holding the lens a little bit away from a wall on a darker area of the room.”
We kind of glossed over this, and didn’t even post a picture of it. But this is a staple of optics and in fact any positive lens can create a real image on a screen. Its pretty much what every movie projector does, although those are much more complex optical systems. (more…)
Well that’s good, because model rocketry is one of those hobbies that is much enjoyed by parent/child. It is easier to do than ever, is lots of fun, and actually quite safe!
Times were that it was not always so. In the past the major builder of rockets, Estes, was a bit troublesome to deal with. The company had been formed in 1958 when they developed a machine that mass-produced model rocket engines. This revolutionized the hobby since in the past rocketeers had to either make their own rocket engines or buy expensive, unreliable produced ones. Soon Estes were building and selling parts for models rockets and dominated the market. Rocket kits soon followed along with lots of other accessories.
OK, little flat wallet multi-tools have been around for a long time, so why on Earth would we be interested in carrying another one? Well, two reasons: 1) The design of the older tools has not changed in ages, so your multi-tool really hasn’t had anything new added to it in decades and 2) The older models really were not very thin! They were often 2mm or more thick which made them actually kind of hard to put in your wallet.
But now comes the Made in the USA Pocket Monkey!
Paper airplanes are an inevitable result of having loose sheets of paper around. We make them as kids, and we even make them as adults. When we were young, we did always dream of having a paper plane that would fly better than our arms could throw them. Well, now there is a chance to experience just that! Its the Power-Up set and it turns your ordinary paper plane into a electric powered flying machine!
Assembling the Power-Up requires some adult supervision but can be done by any child from age 8+.
Once your put it together it is time to take it outside (unless you have a huge gymnasium to fly it), charge it up and make that plane fly!
A standard charge from the charger will provide about 30 seconds of flight and it only takes 20 seconds to charge. 3 ‘AA’ batteries are required for the charger and are not included.
Oh, and you do have to provide your own paper airplanes. Just sayin’.
this year we added Estes Models Rocket Kits to our product line, and the launch sets have actually done very well! So well in fact that we even decided to add a cool launch set to our product line. The one we chose is the Shuttle Xpress Model Rocket Launch Set:
This launch set includes the launch pad, engine igniter and the rocket & parachutes. The only thing not included are rocket engines and batteries for the launcher.
What makes this model fun is that it caries two flying model ‘shuttles’ on the rocket.
When the rocket at the shuttles reach their maximum height they detach and proceed to glide back down to Earth. The main rocket deploys its parachute and floats gently back to Earth. The gliders can float up to 200 feet. The kit requires minimal assembly and no gluing or painting is needed!
One aspect of life science education that should be covered several times throughout the K-12 syllabus is that of composting – not just for gardening purposes, mind you, but to show how nature is very good at recycling dead material into fresh, useful material.
The problem is, composting is a dirty processes that, let’s face it, smells. Some schools are lucky enough to have large campuses where a section can be used to experiment with composting – but most schools do not. Especially schools in tight urban environments. Even in schools with rural areas composting outdoors might not be the best choice for an educator. Many a teacher has found their composting system to become a nest for opossums,rats, or other unwanted creatures. There’s also the issue that often you don’t see what is happening in the composter – just the starting material and results!
So what to do? Well one excellent solution is to use the Worm Watchers Classroom kits:
Middle/High School Wormwatcher Kit
We’ve got a new toy in stock just in time for trips to the shore or just to the sandbox outside! Its made in the USA and is all kinds of awesome. Its the HandTrux!
What are these HandTrux, you may ask? Well, they are little shovels for kids to put their arms into and play in the sand, snow, dirt, marbles, or piles of aything that can be dug through! Kids put their hands into the HandTrux like so:
With a simple grip and some durable plastic their hands are now powerful steam shovels that kids can use to dig and shovel!
Its not just sand either, snow can be dug through with the Hand Trux as well, making these a year-round toy!
Hand Trux can be used for fun at the beach, in the snow, in sandbox, in the dirt or anywhere kids like to dig! Its an excellent activity toy, made in the USA, and great fun for kids age 5+. Even adults can have fun playing with them (if their arms fit in them, of course).