Jessica(8) asked several great questions about the Solar System

Jessica. I have asked my team to answer the information based questions. I will try to help you with the other questions.

Jessica asked about Dwarf planets, the temperature of the Sun, The Earth’s layers and the size of Jupiter. Here are the comments from my team.

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I was interested in your question about Venus having an opposite spin to that of Earth. Earth has (if you are above the North Pole) a Counter (Anti) Clockwise spin while Venus (if you are above Venus’s North Pole)has a Clockwise spin. Most of the other planets spin in the same direction as the Earth. Here is a little experiment…..

Pick up a pencil and holding it upright begin turning it in a clockwise direction,  now still turning the pencil, turn the pencil through 180 degrees. Which way is the pencil now rotating, clockwise or anti clockwise?  It is thought that close to the beginning of the Solar System a close encounter with another large object caused the axis of Venus to move through 180 degrees. Is that a theory or a hypothesis?

To your question about the position of Mercury – I have no idea why it is the nearest planet to the Sun. At the beginning of the Solar System you have the Sun surrounded by orbiting space dust. This dust slowly collects together and the planets begin to be formed. The closest ring of dust to the Sun formed the closest planet (Which we call Mercury).

“What is the earth made out of” – asks Ruby (8)

Ruby, many thanks for the question. Now let’s think about what it means. Does it mean the ‘earth’, like the soil that we have around us OR does it mean the ‘Earth’, the planet that we are living on. I say on my front page  that science is all about asking questions, but asking them is not always an easy task, so well done you. I shall get my friends to try and answer the ‘earth’ question and I shall then give you an answer to the ‘Earth’ question. We might even find something for you to do!

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So maybe you could find out something about how easy it is to break a rock up? How about making a small collection of some rocks. They are quite easy to find at Garden Centres, or on walks in the country, or on a stony beaches. Collect some and then try to scratch them. Can some rocks scratch other rocks? If they can which is the hardest? try to draw a picture of your hardest rock. It is most likely that it will be the softest rock in your collection that you will find in your ‘earth’.

Now Ruby let us look at the ‘Earth’ and the wonderful structure that you are standing on. This is where your rocks have come from.

I have built this small animated picture to show you the amazing ‘inside’, structure of the Earth.

Alka asked – Where do puddles go to?

Many thanks for the great question Alka. I put it to my friends and as usual they came up with some interesting thoughts.

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Many thanks team. What we need to do is set up some experiments that might help us find a possible answer. If we had a bowl of water how would we protect it from insects, and other animals drinking from it?  How would we prevent leaks into the ground? How would you stop the Sun grabbing it?

This could lead to lots of different experiments.

Try making some small puddles in a some bowls. Keep one bowl in a cupboard and one on a window ledge for a couple of days. Put one bowl outside and another outside with a cover over it to stop animals getting to it.  Maybe leave them both in a shady spot so they cannot see the Sun. Create a puddle on some solid ground and another on some ground with some plastic between the puddle and the ground.  These are some possible investigations that you could carry out to find an answer to your question.

Fair testing is an important part of  investigations, it is difficult but amazingly rewarding. How do you make all those tests fair? does leaving them all for the same length of time make it fair? What about the amount of water? Would that influence the fairness of the test?

It maybe that for all real puddles a bit of everything happens.

Let us know your thoughts/answers by using the ‘Leave a Reply‘ section below. Unsure about something..then ‘Ask a Question‘.

Here is a little video of somebody else with the same problem. It uses a word that you might not understand ‘evaporation’. If you want help Ask a Question.

 

Lake’sha (8) asked “If there’s a new moon every month. Where does the old one go?”

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I feel that the answers my friends have given do not really answer your question.

Your question is about the new Moon and why is it always new?

My question is, is it new? When you see the Moon, with the Sun shining on it look at it’s features. Record in some way what you see. Make a drawing, take a photo. Look at it the following night and see whether more features have been added. Record them. Observation and recording are important features of science investigations. You have a fabulous question which you can answer.

Unsure than ask a question.

Do the above and then read the below.

The Moon is a difficult object to follow. One month it appears every night in the night sky and the next month  … no sign of it.  Now and again you might see it in the sky during the day! it is a very, very confusing ‘animal’. This is because it orbits the Earth every 28 days so for some time each month those who live in the southern part of our planet can see the moon while in those in the northern part see it in the other part of the month.

Floating clouds a further answer for Tate

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Air might be invisible but it is there. It is invisible stuff  but seems to have a lot of push . Scientists have found out that it consists mainly of nitrogen and oxygen particles moving around in the the space between you and everywhere else. The space also contains carbon dioxide and a few other particles (we call the particles molecules).

This is a possible image of a sample of air consisting just of oxygen(blue) and nitrogen molecules (orange)

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Why are they moving? Because they have energy. It make them move. You would move if you were given lots of energy. Remove the energy – reduce the temperature to -200 degrees centigrade and the particles would stop moving.

Is there water in the air around us?

Experiment – Put a saucer of water on a window ledge and watch for a day. What happens? Where has the water gone?

Maybe some of the water has escaped into the air that surrounds it. If this has happened we describe this as water turning into water vapour. The liquid water has turned into a gaseous water.

The water particles or water vapour molecules (blue and red particles)  are being pushed around by the air particles which keep them ‘floating’.

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How much water is in the air that is floating around us?

Experiment. Fill a beaker with crushed ice, cover the top with cling film and observe what happens.

Think about what has happened. Why did the water leave the air?

 

Another important observation that you need to make is what happens to hot air?

Experiment. Create a paper spiral and hang it over a source of heat. You could try a ‘hot water bottle’

DO NOT USE A FLAME – IT WOULD BE VERY DANGEROUS

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What happens? Does anything happen?

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If hot air rises then the water particles that are ‘trapped’ in the hot air will rise as well. The air gets cooler as it rises. The water vapour becomes very small water droplets. Small enough to still be ‘trapped’ by the energetic moving air molecules. A floating cloud is formed.

How is smoke made in a fire? – is a question from Tate (8)

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Tate Please look at Chemical and Heat Energy. It might help explain some of the terms above.

What happens in a fire is that the chemicals (in the wood or coal structure) begin to break up. This gives the fire more energy and the break up gets worse. The initial particles break up into their parts (atoms) and then some combine with the oxygen in the air and give of more energy and form a fantastic gas called Carbon Dioxide which trees breathe.(another story). BUT some don’t get that far and become your smoke (maybe more oxygen was needed). IF your adult could put a cold spoon in the flame of a candle you would see an example of the smoke of a candle.

Never ever play with fire yourself it is very, very dangerous.

Clara (8) asked -“Does sound only travel in air”

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A great question and some interesting comments from my team. I think we need to carry out some experiments to test the ideas that my friends have.

Firstly we know that air can carry sound. To consider the radiator pipe idea we need to get a tube of metal and see if, on it’s own, it carries sound. tap one end of the tube and put your ear on the other end. record what you hear. Now fill the tube with water and repeat the experiment. You could also get a rod of metal, with no air, no water and test that. If you had a sound sensor(your school might have one) you could measure the amount of sound that a solid rod, water filled rod and air filled rod carry. Which was best? How did you make the test fair?

The string telephone could be another example of sound travelling from one place to another without using the air. Try to make ‘telephones’ that are ‘sound proof’. For example make sure that when somebody is speaking into the mouthpiece they cannot be heard speaking by those standing around. No ‘air’ sounds. to do this you might have to modify the mouthpiece. 

Try this video for further information. If after watching it you have any further questions  ….THEN

Jessica (8) asks – How do the planets orbit the Sun? How many moons does Mars have?

Jessica. A great question. You also asked a question about the Moons of Mars so I will try to answer them both here. Firstly I asked my friends about the orbits of the planets.

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Sometimes I think they tackle the easy bits and give me the hard bits.

Lets look at what we mean by a force. A force is a push or pull on something that you are interacting with. You are applying a force on somebody when you push them away or you are applying a force on something when you pull them to you. When you let go of them the force ends. When you are throwing a ball you are only applying a force in the throwing process. When you let go of the ball the force that you were applying ends.

Simple, but

Some of the forces can be applied without touching the thing you are forcing. Magnetism is an example one magnet will apply a force to another magnet without touching and  Newton realised that when objects fall towards the ground they fall because the Earth is applying a force on those objects. He called that force Gravity.

Now what is happening to the planets. Here is a little experiment. Tie a ball to a piece of string (a polystyrene ball would be the best). Now holding the end of the string spin the ball around your head (probably best to do this in the garden). Can you feel the tug(force) being applied on your hand. Now let it go. What happens? Does it just drop to the ground. Now think about this. The ball is a planet and your hand is the Sun. Not only gravity but another force linked to the speed of the flying ball and it’s mass is in action. Maybe it is the application of these two forces that make planets orbit the Sun?

Sorry long answer. Please comment if you want to by going to the Leave a Reply Button ….guidelines are available.

Mars has two small moons Phobos and Deimos.

A video that may help –

Ruby (8) asks “How does the Sun heat the Earth”

Ruby, I thought I would ask my friends about this question.

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My friends were not as helpful as they usually are. More questions for me. Let’s look at ‘energy’ first. An explanation I like is – Something has energy when it has the capability of doing something to something else.

Heat is a form of energy because it has the ability to make things warmer. Light is a form of energy because it helps us see things by reflecting off them. Maybe you could continue this list. I think there are about 8 different forms of energy.

One of them is radiant energy. The energy made by the Sun is radiant energy. Radiate means to spread out from a point – this is what happens to the energy of the Sun. This radiant energy has the special ability of being able to travel through a vacuum and as the Space between the Sun and the Earth is a vacuum the Sun’s radiant energy can reach the Earth. Some of that radiant energy is light energy other bits of it become heat energy which on some Summer days keeps us nice and warm.

Ruby. It was a good question. I have tried to reply to it as best as I can. If there are further questions go to Ask Another Question or leave a reply in the Leave a Reply box below … you do not need an email address.(revised 20/7/16)

Ellie (8) asked a question about boiled eggs

Ellie … a very interesting question “We heard hard boiled eggs stand up when you roll them. Is that correct and is there a good way to make it work. We have been unsuccessful.”

I think, if it is possible, it could be something to do with the position of the hard boiled yolk.

I think you have the opportunity of completing a little investigation here with the help of  your parents. Usually an egg will hard boil in a horizontal position. We might therefore need to try to hard boil the eggs in different positions. This may be possible by creating a cradle, suspended from the top of the saucepan, which holds the egg, while it is being boiled. The position of the cradle can then be adjusted to get a range of hard boiled eggs that have been boiled sideways, top down, and bottom down.

To make it a fair test ..very important in science .. you will have to be sure that the egg is fully immersed during the boiling process and that all eggs are boiled for the same time and that all the eggs are about the same. Have I missed anything?

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY YOU MUST GET AN ADULT TO DO THIS AS DEALING WITH BOILING WATER IS VERY DANGEROUS.

All the eggs must then be allowed to cool for the same time before you test them. Again make sure that you roll them fairly. Create a slope using some cardboard and make sure that you start them on the slope at the same place…they will then have the same roll. Also, of course, use the same surface to roll them on.

Finally please let me know what happened. Science is about questions and trying to find answers. You can Leave a Reply in the box below.