DNA

I am enjoying doing a lot of Science Projects these days. I made a long, colorful DNA model. This is how to make it. Collect these things first!

  1. White paper
  2. Ruler
  3. 4 colored highlighter pens
  4. Tape (If you have colored tape, it’s best)
  5. Pencil
  6. Scissors

Put the ruler on the white paper.

Make about 30 strips which should be 1 cm (1/2 in) wide and 3 cm (1+1/4 in) long with the pencil. Cut out the strips with the scissors. Take each strip and pinch a crease halfway across the total length.

Now color the paper rungs on both sides. One half should be one color and the other half another. The colors should always be in pairs – for example orange always goes with green.

Now cut two strips of tape about 70 cm (28 in) long. Lay the strips face up next to each other with a gap of 2 cm (3/4 in) between them. Stick down the ends with small pieces of the same tape. Press the colored rungs onto the two lengths of tape.

Everyone’s DNA is different, so there is no right or wrong combination. When you’ve stuck all the rungs, carefully fold both lengths of sticky tape over them to hold them in place. Tear out the side tapes you put to hold the two sides of DNA out of the tape on the sides. If you are not able to, tear it from the ground. Then cut out the sides. Your DNA model is ready!

About DNA

I found DNA very interesting so I researched more about it. The full form of DNA is Deoxyribonucleic Acid. This is how to pronounce it: Dee-Oxy-Ray-Boh-Nyoo-Klee-Ik Acid.

This twisting multi-colored ladder is a model of a very important part of your body. But it’s about 10 million times bigger than the real thing.

DNA is a tiny molecule. It is the code in our body for how we look, how tall we are and many more. DNA is connected, so if your great-grandfather and great-grandmother are long then you are likely to be long. Here are some other interesting facts about DNA:

  1. There are 3 types of DNA: A-DNA, B-DNA, Z-DNA.
  2. DNA is curled.
  3. DNA is in pairs – for example yellow always goes with green.
  4. DNA is not in a specific order ; everyone’s order of DNA is different.
  5. DNA is in everyone’s body (all living creatures). It is the Blueprint of the body’s protein.

How it works

Flow Chart

Did you know?

• We have more than a trillion DNAs. That’s as much as the Earth to the Sun ~600 times!

• Genes are only 3% of the DNA. Rest of the DNA controls the activity of the genes!

• Human DNA has 3 Billion pairs of bases of DNA.

I hope you found all these facts interesting. If you make a DNA model at home, do post a picture in the comments.

Credits:
1. Google, YouTube videos
2. Craft Activity from Home Lab book by Robert Winston

Icy Orbs : Science

I did a fun, easy, colorful, dazzling, shiny experiment! Here is how I did it:

First, get a few balloons. Put the mouth of the balloon on the tap. On the tap and hold the balloon from the top and bottom. When it has gotten a bit filled (around 1 – 1.5 cups of water), then close the tap. Tie the mouth of the balloon and keep it in the freezer for 1 day.
The next day, the fun begins! Take the balloon out of the freezer, put it in a bowl and cut the mouth and tear off the balloon. Now comes the messy bit. Sprinkle some salt on it and add a few drops of food coloring. Secret tip: Liquid food coloring works better than gel food coloring.

You could take it further by using drinking water to make the icy ball. Then you can use rose or khus sherbet instead of food coloring and enjoy the treat. You will have to use limited salt though!

How it works

The salt melts the ice. The ice becomes water and it starts flowing down. If you add food colors, the beautiful patterns get created.

Imagine that you are sitting quietly and doing your homework. Let’s say your father comes in and interrupts you along with your pet puppy. Your puppy gets really excited on seeing you and goes crazy. Then your pet and you start running around together and having lots of fun. Your father is just standing on the side.
Similarly, Salt is made up of Sodium molecules (your pet puppy) and Chloride molecules (your father). When they interact with Water molecules (you), the Sodium and Water (puppy and you) get attached and start flowing on the ice as if you were playing tag on snow.

Real Life

This same Salt method is used in US to remove ice and snow from the roads. If ice is not removed from the roads, then accidents can happen because the ice is so slippery. I read on Google that 15 billion kilograms of salt is used every year in US and this de-icing keeps the traffic moving. But it also has some disadvantages. Too much salt damages the roads. The salt also gets wasted in de-icing roads. Also, all the water flows into rivers and seas and makes them salty. Two things happen because of this – The drinking water that comes from seas and rivers is salty. So, to make it unsalty, there is a lot of processing that needs to be done by workers. Second, the fishes, underwater creatures and plants can get sick and die. Sometimes there is shortage of salt in US because of this. But there is also no other better way to do de-icing of roads right now. Let us hope scientists discover a solution soon.

Until then, you can enjoy a video of how I did the experiment and the dazzling icy orbs I created at home.

Icy Orbs by Yuvika Sharma

Credits:
1. Pictures and Videos – My mom
2. Experiment – Home Lab book by Robert Winston
3. Research – Google about de-icing

Electricity : Physics

I made a LEMON BATTERY today. I used these things:

Ingredients

  1. Six short electrical leads with crocodile clips at each end
  2. Five Lemons
  3. Five galvanized screws
  4. LEDs
  5. Five copper coins (1 cent US coins works)
  6. A sharp knife

First, make a cut in the lemon with the sharp knife. It should be a around 1 cm from the center. Put a copper coin in the hole you made. Do the same with the rest 4 Lemons. After that, put a galvanized screw on each of the 5 Lemons. If you turn the Lemon so that the copper coin is on the side, you should see a galvanized screw about 2 inches above from your work place. Remember that one end of the crocodile clip should be on the coin of a lemon and the other end should be on the screw of a different lemon. Put the Lemons in a circle. Squeeze the crocodile clips on one side of the Lemon – on the galvanized screw. Squeeze the other side on the other Lemon’s Copper coin. Do the same with the rest 4 Lemons. Put the rest 2 sides of crocodile clips on the LED. If it does not work, you can use the LED in the Snap Circuit kit. You will see that the LED lights up!

Doing the experiment
Zoomed in circuit
Lemon Battery Circuit
LED lights up!

I tried another experiment – It is the same, but it is with a POTATO instead of lemons! Do try the experiment out!

Potato Battery Circuit

Guess what? The experiment worked! I wondered how come. I also played by using different color LEDs and by changing the number of lemons and potatoes. It was a lot of fun! Let me share some of the observations I had.

  1. The LED in the Potato experiment glowed more than the LED in the lemon experiment.
  2. With the lemon experiment – if I did 1-3 lemons the LED did not glow. I had to put 4 to get a dim light and 5 lemons to get a little more glowing light.
  3. With the potato experiment – if I did 1 potato there was no light but if I did 2 or more there was a dim light or a glowing light.
  4. When I took out the screws and coins, their color was different! I think that happened because of the chemical reaction.
Experimenting and Playing with the Lemon and Potato Batteries
Lemon Potato Battery

I then joined both the circuits. I put an LED at 1 spot and 1 LED at another spot. I closed all the doors and put the lights OFF and this is a picture of then. I found this very interesting so I decided to do some more research. I researched about how this works and this is what I found out.

How it works

Physics is the study of just 2 things – Matter, and Energy.

Take a spoon. What do you think it is made up of?

That spoon is made up of a combination of different ELEMENTS. There are different types of MOLECULES in each element. Many ATOMS become a molecule.

Inside each ATOM, there are things called ELECTRONS. They circle the Nucleus, which is made up of Protons and Neutrons. Protons are Positive (+) and Electrons are Negative (-). Neutrons are none of these. They, together, in the circle form an Atom.

Electricity is the Electrons flowing and jumping. They get very excited and start moving to wherever they can.

What’s in a Battery?

In a Battery, there is a chemical reaction that happens. This makes the Electrons excited and jumpy and makes them flow. That produces electricity.

There are 3 parts inside a battery – Little cathode, A lot of electrolyte, and little anode. In the middle of electrolyte there is a sheet. When anode and electrolyte react, they produce jumpy electrons. These electrons are negative and so they want to go to a positive place. When cathode and electrolyte mix, they make a positive place to attract the electrons. They go through the wire and light up the bulb.

(Reference Image from Google)

How does it work with Lemons and Potatoes?

The Lemons/potatoes are the Electrolyte.

The anode is the galvanized screws which have Zinc coating.

The cathode is the Copper coins.

There is a chemical reaction inside and that is how the coins’ and screws’ color changes. Lemon has citric acid and Potato has Phosphoric acid. I think it can also work with Oranges because they also have Citric acid. It might work with Apple since it has malic acid. It might also work with tomatoes because it has Citric acid and Malic acid. I will experiment with a Multimeter to measure how much electricity gets produced in each. Stay tuned for my next post on this topic.

Penguins, Antarctica and Climate Change

I read a book, Magic Tree House Merlin Mission #12. It was about how Jack and Annie go to Antarctica, they fall into a crack called crevasse, and then meet an Emperor Penguin who is wearing a crown. There were scientists who were trying to discover and research about many stuff. In school, we were learning about Sharing the planet. I thought I share the planet with Penguins and can find out more about them. I found out that some penguins are endangered. Also, I love animals and I want to help the world. I also like the cold season, so I thought Antarctica would be a good place to research about.

I started by asking the following questions about Penguins and Antarctica:
* What are species of penguins?
* What do they eat?
* How do they hunt for their food?
* How do they breathe underwater?
* Why do penguins waddle and walk?
* Where do they live?
* Why do they need so cold temperature? I saw penguins in Cape Town in South Africa. How did those penguins not need cold weather?
* How cold is Antarctica?

As I was doing research, I found out that climate change is impacting Antarctica! I wanted to find out more. I did research using Google, National Geographic, YouTube Videos, NASA Videos and Magic Tree House Fact Tracker Series about Antarctica. I put my findings into a Rhyming Poem about Penguins, an Acrostic Poem about Antarctica and showcased about Climate Change using an interactive video that I created using Scratch 3.0.

Poem about Penguins

In my research, I also learnt other facts about Penguins that are not in the poem. Penguins have webbed feet and short legs. So they waddle. Also, waddling helps them conserve energy and that is how they walk for 150 miles. I also learnt that Penguins have a thick layer of fat, thick skin and tightly packed feathers that keep them warm. Out of 18 species of Penguins, only 4 need cold weather. The rest 14 species can live in warm weather. The species in South Africa that I saw is called African Penguin. They don’t need cold weather. The ones in Antarctica have high body temperature so that it can keep them warm in cold weather.

Acrostic poem about Antarctica

I made an interactive video about Global Warming in Antarctica and what we can do about it. Click on the link below to check it out.

Interactive Video

I hope you enjoyed reading about it and will do the actions shared above. What other actions can we take? Write in the comments to share your thoughts.

Color Theory

In school, I am learning about color theory. I am also learning about a color wheel. Primary colors are colors that can’t be formed by any other type of color. They are how all other colors are made. There are three (3) primary colors which are Red, Yellow, and Blue. By mixing primary colors you can get a Secondary color. By mixing Red and Yellow you get Orange. Orange is a secondary color. By mixing Yellow and Blue we can get Green. Green is also a secondary color. By mixing Red and Blue we can get Purple. Purple is also a secondary color. By arranging these in a particular order we get the rainbow colors, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. By mixing a primary and secondary color we get a Tertiary color. Color wheel is a way of organizing all these colors. On a color wheel, the opposite color is called a complimentary color. Here is a example of a color wheel that I made.

Color wheel

If you see, the primary colors are equally distanced. So are the secondary. I learnt many interesting things about the color wheel. The first color wheel was formed by Isaac Newton in 1666. A synonym (2 words that have the same meaning) of color is hue. A shade of a color is if you add some black to the color and the tint is when you add some white to the color. An analogous color set is that of 3 sticking hues. A harmonious color palette is a set of colors that looks pleasing to the eye. Complimentary colors (opposite colors on the color wheel) are harmonious colors (looks very pleasing to the eye). The nature colors, Red, and Green are also harmonious colors (because they look pleasing to the eye). Achromatic means there are 0 (zero/no) colors. Monochromatic means it has only 1 (one) color, so it might mean it is a plain sea, or it might mean there are shades and tints. Polychromatic means that the painting has more than 1 (one) color.

Now, let me show you an interesting experiment. Look at these. Are the small rectangles inside the big ones (the ones in light blue) – same color or different color?

Over here the blue rectangle in the pink background looks darker.

But this is actually the same!

Here is another experiment I tried. I took a Henry Matisse painting (see below). It only uses yellow, blue, green colors (with very little red). I colored the same painting in complimentary colors (see below). How does that change the mood of the painting for the viewer? I think in complimentary colors, it looks sadder and darker. What do you think?

Hope you enjoyed learning about Colors with me.

Henry Matisse original painting

My complimentary painting

Learning about Safe Online Behavior

I played an online game, which is conducted by Google. It is called Interland. It teaches kids about safety in the online world, but in a fun way. In it, there are four (4) levels. Each of them teaches about a new skill. If we follow these, we can be digital role models.

Where and how do I play this game?

To play that game click Interland – Be internet Awesome. Then, click on Let’s do this!. Choose the level (1- 4) you want to play! Then, you can play the game and have fun! I strongly recommend this game to every school kid. It is free to play.

What happens in the 4 levels?

In the First level, you have to make the crying kids happy. You also have to remember to destroy the bullies! To destroy the bullies, you have to find and collect a speaker, and come in front of the bully and click the space bar. Then the bully will be destroyed for once, and for all! Use the arrow keys to move. If you wan’t to jump, hold the up arrow key, and click the side you wan’t to go. To make someone happy, give some hearts. Click the space bar if you wan’t to give a good vibe to someone. The big, yellow people are the bullies. On a scale of my liking of this among all of the levels is 2nd. I learnt to be alert about bullies on the internet and that if I see an internet bully, I should speak up and report them to an adult. I also learnt that it is a good idea to be kind to the people who are being bullied because then it makes them happy.

In the second level, you have to answer some questions. There are some rocks that appear. On each rock, there is one option. You have to point towards the correct rock and click the space bar if you think it is the correct option. If you do it correct, you jump on the next rock, and if you do it wrong you fall into the river. Some questions also have timers, so you also need to have speed and do it fast! On a scale of my liking of this among all of the levels is 4th. I learnt about phishing and how there can be bad people who can trick you to get your information and steal money from you. So, we must be careful and think about whether it is true or not.

In the third level, you learn about who to send what information to. There are many mirrors and you have to make the laser go and reflect on the mirror so that it gets reflected on another mirror. You also can’t let the other people know about your information. The blue colored people are your family, the green colored people are your friends, the yellow colored people are any random people, and the red people are bad people. Click the space bar to share the information. Use the arrow keys to find a spot to shoot. On a scale of my liking of this among all of the levels is 3rd. I learnt to give information to only those people who I know should get it. Also we must be careful about who we share information with.

In the fourth level, there are four (4) sections. First, you have to secure you Emails and messages from hackers. You have to collect 6 messages and 6 Emails. If you bang into a rock, the hacker will steal some of your Emails and messages and the number of messages and emails will be decreased. When you get 6 of both, you have to secure your phone information and credit card information. It works similarly as the 1st section. Once you put all this in the castle, next, you have to protect the five (5) doors of the castle. The hacker wants to get in the castle to steal all your information. So, they try to come in your castle by breaking the doors. You have to save the doors by using the arrow keys to hop from one to another. Then, click the space bar if you wan’t to choose a good and strong password. I will ask you the strongest password. Click the correct one. When one tower is very secure, and not a single person can come in, it will show a lock. You have to try to have a lock on each of the 5 doors. In the next section, you will have lots of signs, and letters. It will ask you some questions. As you answer them, you will keep making a password. Finally, you will make a very strong password. On a scale of my liking of this among all of the levels is 1st. I learnt about not sharing any personal information with anyone and about which can be my strongest password. It should be 8 characters long, have uppercase and lowercase and numbers and special characters.

Key points I learnt in each level of the game
My certificates

Which materials can houses be made of?

What material are houses made of?

In my class, I am learning about materials. In my class we discussed different materials that houses can be made of. I have explored more about which material can houses be made of. My research showed that a house can be made of the materials sticks, straw, bricks, wood, metal, ice (igloo), glass (greenhouse), plastic or canvas (tents), mud or clay, stones. Now that made me interested. I wanted to make a few of these with the materials I had in my house. Then I learned about construction. Then, I made the houses that are very common and used by many people. I made a house with straw, sticks, and I got a Teifoc set of making a brick house. It was a fun experience and I learnt a lot while making these houses!

Can I build a house at home?

Yes! You can build your own pretend house with many different materials. I made a house with straws, sticks, and bricks. I took straws and stuck it on a outline of a square made from playdoh. The same way I made the other sides of the straw house. But this house was not very strong. It fell down and broke on its own after 1 hour. I also had to make it 2 times to make it stand. In villages, houses are made from hay, which is natural straw.
For the stick house, I took a few sticks (12 sticks) and stuck them together with tape. Then, I took glue gun and pasted all the sides. It was stronger than the straw house because it did not break. But, if I blow it down like the big bad wolf in the story of the Three Little Pigs, I could make it fall. I had to huff and puff to bring it down!
For the brick house, I took some bricks and I took some cement made of cornstarch, sugar, sand, and a few other chemicals and mixed it with water. On each brick, I put some cement (cornstarch, sugar, sand, and a few other chemicals) and placed it on the base. Then I put the next layer of bricks to cover half of one brick in the below layer and half of another brick. This is what makes the structure stronger. I tried to huff and I tried to puff but I couldn’t bring the house down!

Straw House
Sticks House
Bricks House

What else can houses be made of?

Can a house be made of Ice?
Yes! Can make a house with ice and snow. It is called an igloo. It is found in Arctic region and it keeps people warm during winter months in that area.

Can a house be made of Wood?
Yes! In USA, houses are made of wood. It started because it was faster to make a wood house than to made a bricks and cement house. Then everyone started doing it. Wood helps you stay warm and it is lightweight and less expensive to work with.

Can a house be made of Plastic?
No! Because ordinary plastics are not stiff enough to make good structures. The house will sag under its own weight. But, there is a company in Colombia called Conceptos Plásticos, which is making houses from recycled plastic waste. I saw a Youtube video about it. They take discarded plastic and rubber and crush it to create bricks with them. These bricks snap together to create housing. There is 650 Tons of waste produced everyday. It takes 5 days by 4 people to make 1 small home.

Can a house be made of Metal?
Yes! It is more durable in bad weather. Many buildings are made of metal.

Can a house be made of Glass?
Yes! A house can be made of Glass. Natural light comes through the glass, but it is very hot if you sit or go in the house. It is also very expensive.

Can a house be made of Mud and Clay?
Yes! Houses can be made of stone, bamboo, clay, mud. But, they are not very strong, so in bad weather they fall. You also have to find the right kind of soil for it. This kind of house stays cool during summers and warm during winters. They are usually found in villages. There are also some houses made of cow dung. In jungles, people live in caves that are made of stone.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my research. Below is a video of the 3 types of houses that I tried to make at home to experiment. It was like the Three Little Pigs story.

Hydraulic Crane (Smartivity)

My Hydraulic Crane

This is a Hydraulic Crane. I made it with a Smartivity toy. It is for 8+ year old kids, but I was still able to do it. This was very, very, very fun!

It took me 6-7 hours over 2 days to do it. I spent 2 afternoons doing it. I totally love doing Smartivity kits!

How does it work?

This works with water. When you push the plunger of a syringe inwards, water in that syringe is pushed out. The pushed water forces water in the connecting tube to move into the connected syringe. This moves the connected syringe outwards. The plunger is connected to tubes. So pushing or pulling of plunger moves the Hydraulic Crane forward, backward, up, and down.

How to use my Hydraulic Crane?

There are 3 main features in this Hydraulic Crane:

  1. Grab it.
  2. Lift it.
  3. Rotate it.
  1. Grab it.

To use this, we need to push the plunger connected to the grabber (it is the one that has nothing at the end of it). The grabber will close it’s two hands. Then, the block will be held. That gives the control of the block to the grabber. Same thing to pull it out. Just pull the plunger back.

2. Lift it.

Push the medium size plunger. That will make the grabber lift. So, first grab the block (see step above) and then, lift it from the ground.

3. Rotate it.

To rotate it, take the large plunger (which is put as a single one), and push that in. That is a bit hard to push, so it might make your hands pain. That will make the Hydraulic crane rotate. Those are the features of this hydraulic crane (see video below).

What can be better?

  1. The packets in which each wooden sheet is put, is made of plastic. It can be made of cloth (like Flintobox ones). This will be better for the environment and cloth is easier to open.
  2. The rotating feature is hard to press. Can be made simpler like other features.
  3. I needed adult help in some parts: Gears alignment (for rotating feature) and Buttons for holding the arms together (needs energy to open at the start)

I have not explored some of the other suggested experiments as yet. When I do, I will update my findings here.

Me telling how to use (video)

Independence Day and World Humanitarian Day

India independence day is on August 15, 1947. It was the day when India got freedom from Britishers to rule their own country. Many freedom freedom fighters were fighting and risking their own lives to save other lives of many, many, many other people. The main freedom fighter was Gandhi ji. My uncle (bade papa) is in the army and has fought in the 1999 Kargil war and has protected India many times. I have fun with him (pictures below).

World Humanitarian Day is on August 19 every year. It is celebrated to pay tribute to all workers who help others. Such days help raise awareness about global problems and tells us to take a moment and think about what others are doing for us and to appreciate them. This year it is extra special because of Corona Virus. So many doctors are risking their lives to save other people. Scientists are also working very hard to develop a vaccine for the virus. In April, Modiji had told all Indians to come to our balconies and clap for these humanitarians. In 2020, this day will celebrate every individual who is helping underprivileged people.

I volunteer with Pratham organization to teach kids. My good friend, Naira, supports the Vishalakshi Foundation, which is distributing dry ration to slum areas in Gurgaon. I am donating 80% of the profits of my 3rd book to Naira’s foundation. See our video below for more information. Drop me an email if you want to buy my 3rd book.