November 12, 2010
I’ve taken the kids to “Hubble” at the IMAX twice now. It’s really a thrilling introduction to the shuttle program, from zero gravity training at NASA’s swimming pools, to the thrust of blasting off into space, to the tense moments as the astronauts try to fix the world’s most delicate instrument in space with stubby-fingered gloves.
I also appreciated Leonardo Dicaprio’s humanist-themed narration. The film focused on our home planet’s uniqueness in the universe, and how the Hubble is helping us put Earth into context with the wonders and immensity of the cosmos, much like Carl Sagan did a few decades ago.
I’ve yet to see “Hubble” in 3D as it was intended. I can only imagine how amazing it would be. But even without the love-em-or-hate-em glasses, the film really takes you on a trip through the blackness of space and into the dust of a nearby nebula. It’s spectacular!
Check out this video on how they transformed 2D Hubble images into the third dimension…
August 11, 2008
Every few weeks, I do a regular segment called Science for the Kids, where I list my favorite bits of science and skepticism that parents can use to foster a natural curiousity in their children.
I’ve been downloading the HD vodcasts from the people at Hubble and Spitzer telescopes for a while now. Beyond the information they impart to your children, they also teach adults quite a bit too. The images make you think of a really well done planetarium show, crisp and brilliant in all their high def glory. Each vodcast is hosted by hipster geek astronomer, pros who seem slightly out of their natural element (behind a telescope, I assume). Assuming you have enough memory on your computer to download these massive files, you will find some of the most recent Hubble and Spitzer images and intelligent analysis from astronomy’s top scientists.
A while ago, I wrote about the secular humanist summer camp called Camp Quest. I should also point out that their is a camp for critical inquiry and skepticism in Holland, New York called Camp Inquiry. This camp is sponsered by the Center For Inquiry, an organization that promotes scientific reasoning and critical thought. Here is a good NPR story about the camp.
The ladies at skepchick recommended a children’s book on their blog. It’s called The Ghost on Saturday Night. I haven’t read it, but based on the recommendation, it seems to be about the debunking of a ghost psychic. My daughter’s been talking about ghosts and death lately, so we might just check it out from the library. Also, speaking of skepchick, check out the new teen version of the popular skeptic blog, and if you happen to have a thoughtful rational teen, send them over there.
Are you the science geek father of a science geek teenager? Are you looking for a good home chemistry set to share your love of science with him or her? Well… they don’t exist. Sorry. Chemistry sets are no longer hip (they never really were). In this day and age, it’s wii, T-mobile Sidekick, or nothing. But you don’t have to settle for a peer-to-peer zombie. Just get yourself The Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments by Robert Bruce Thompson, a DIY kit that leads you through step-by-step science projects for kids. This book is admittedly large, but it focuses on the “why” and “how” of the experiments and not on the “magic”.