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July 08, 2017

Kacey Templin

Summer Learning Series Part 3: Marvel Science

Topics: STEM Education / Play

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What do Iron Man, Captain America, and Spider-Man all have in common? They’re all Marvel superheroes! Since 1939, Marvel Comics has delighted children and adults alike with fantastical stories of good versus evil. It’s evident that superheroes are still captivating the American public, as Marvel is the highest-grossing U.S. franchise today. In honor of Spiderman: Homecoming’s recent release, this Saturday post is all about Marvel science!

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Spider-Man

Bitten by a radioactive spider, the young and studious Peter Parker’s superhuman traits include incredible strength, agility, and speed. Much like a spider, he can cling to nearly any surface, and his web-slinging abilities allow the teen to travel rapidly from place to place.

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Spiders use their sticky webs to trap prey, and you can create your own, human-sized web using this activity provided by Hands on as We Grow. All you need is painter’s tape and balled-up newspaper. Children can help build a web, then throw the newspaper “flies” at the web to see if they can stick. It’s an easy introduction into a lesson on arachnids!  

Thor

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Hailing from the planet Asgard, the mighty Thor is the Norse god of thunder and lightning. He wields the hammer Mjolnir, one of the greatest weapons ever made, and can summon lightning strikes at will. Your child can pretend to be Thor and summon lightening with Learn – Play – Imagine’s two simple static electricity experiments.  The first activity involves sticking a pushpin into a pencil, so make sure an adult is on hand to supervise this step. This lesson helps to de-mystify lightening and electricity, and would be fun for children between the ages of three and five.

Magneto

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Okay, this guy isn’t really a superhero. In fact, he’s a mutant supervillain, who uses his ability to generate and control magnetic fields to try to take over the world. The X-Men are almost always at odds with Magneto, but kids will still get a kick out of studying his powers in this STEM-focused magnetic field activity provided by Left Brain Craft Brain. Using a small, clear bottle, magnetic ink, water, a straw, and small magnets, kids won’t just pretend to create magnetic fields, they’ll actually be creating one! To learn more about magnets and magnetic fields, click here. This activity may be suited for an older audience due to the complexity of the subject.

Iron Man

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While we’re on the subject of magnets and electricity, let’s talk about Iron Man. Tony Stark, a genius with a knack for inventing sophisticated technology, created an advanced suit of armor that allows him to perform superhuman feats. Through an unfortunate turn of events, Stark had to have a miniature arc reactor put into his chest. This reactor powers an electromagnet that keeps him alive and helps to power the Iron Man suit. You child can create his or her own electromagnet using Kiwi Co.’s electromagnetic train activity. Both the battery and the magnets create magnetic fields, which help to push the little battery through the coil of wire. It’s a little more complicated than the other activities, but the end result is totally worth it!

Captain America

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Last, but certainly not least, we have Captain America. Steve Rogers was a patriotic citizen who recieved the Super Soldier Serum, thus turning him into the American icon we know today. He has a superhuman strength, intelligence, and metabolism. He is also equipped with a special shield made of the fictional metal Vibranium, which is able to absorb sound and kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is the energy an object possesses by being in motion, what keeps an object moving. Potential and kinetic energy are both fascinating subjects, and you can learn more about both with PBS's kinetic carousel experiment. Using paper, a plastic straw, a rubber band, and a few other items, you can wind up the carousel (potential energy) and release, watching as is spins and loses its kinetic energy through the force of gravity. In truth, Vibranium defies the laws of physics, but you can use this expirement to figure out what those laws really entail. Maybe someday scientists will unveil the secret to this impressive metal. 

Be sure to come back for next Saturday's post as we focus on the pets of ThinkFun!

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