February’s STEAM at Home program featured Awesome Architecture and fun building activities. We learned that x-bracing (seen here on the John Hancock Center in Chicago) is one way that helps keep buildings straight and tall when wind blows on them. X-braces and shear walls collect wind forces and carry them to the foundation. Build your own braced tower at home with a few simple materials! Idea and images from Building Structures and Towers by Tammy Enz.
mini marshmallows (the book shows gumdrops, but we used marshmallows)
Break 4 noodles in half and make sure they are roughly the same length. Put marshmallows in the corners to connect them into 2 squares.
Break off about 1 inch from 4 more noodles and use these to connect your 2 squares. What happens when you push on the tower?
Add 2 noodles to one side make an X. Repeat on all 4 sides of your tower. Try pushing again. Now what happens?
As the marshmallows harden, your structure will get even stronger. What other structures can you build?
Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Cozbi Cabrera
J B BROOKS, G.
Discover the life and legacy of this famous Chicagoan in a biography that is beautiful to read and look at.
Gwendolyn Brooks grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a family that didn’t have much money, but was rich in love and books. Hearing her father read poems made her want to write her own poetry, and her parents truly believed in her dream to become a great poet. Her first poems were published when she was only 11, but writing poetry didn’t help her make friends or pay bills once she became an adult. But still she wrote and wrote, and before long, she won the greatest prize in poetry, the Pulitzer Prize! Her poems were about her life on the South Side of Chicago, and about the inequalities she and her neighbors faced because they were Black.
I loved learning about Gwendolyn’s life in this quick, award winning read with gorgeous illustrations. I bet you will too!
Beginning in the middle of February and stretching into mid March, the Sugar Maple trees begin to prepare for spring by sending sap up to their branches to fuel the spring growth. This is one of the first signs of spring in the forest and marks maple syrup season. On days where the nights are freezing and the days are in the 40s the sap will flow up the tree. Once it is still above freezing overnight, the sap will turn cloudy and can no longer be used for syrup. At this point the tree will begin spring growth.
Maple syrup is made by collecting the sap from a maple tree, usually a sugar maple, and boiling it to allow the water to evaporate and concentrate the sugar. Once enough water has evaporated, the sap becomes syrup.
Sugar Maple trees are tapped because their sap has the highest concentration of sugar, but even so it takes 40 to 50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. Straight from the tree, the sap looks like water and has a barely noticeable sweet taste.