Braiden (9) asks “What makes a diamond so hard?.

Braiden, my question (before I turn you over to my team) is how do you detect ‘hardness’? Can you create an order of hardness with some common materials?
Lets say:

wood (balsa)
wood (oak)
plastic object
bath sponge
china(cups and saucers)
glass
concrete pathway
cardboard
metal fork
coin
rock (sandstone)
piece of coal
pencil rubber 
I think that would be an interesting experiment to carry out. You will have to make sure it is a fair test (science is all about fair tests …and questions …and hypotheses and experiment). How will you carry out the experiment? ( a hypothesis is an idea – “I think soft things will float, hard things will sink”)

Now over to my team.

Graphite has a layered structure with weak forces between the layers, This is a weaker structure than the close bonding of the diamond. The carbon atoms like the tetrahedral arrangement of the bonds with other carbon atoms. It is a very strong force.

Hope that makes some sense. If you have questions about the explanation please ask them. If you want to see my ‘hardness’ list go to Science Master Special-Hardness Results

“How does sound travel in things other than air?” asks Lilly(12)

Hello Molly, Science Master here. Lets’ check that we understand how sound is produced and what it is. Sound is a form of Energy ( see Science Master Special).  It is transmitted by particles hitting each other.

So what do you think? Could you hear the sound underwater?  Could you hear the sound further along the metal tube?

Lets improve the experiment by making it fairer. How could we do this?

Let us look at the particle arrangement in the air, water and metal.

The average distance between particles for a gas is 4 nanometers (1 nanometer = 10-9 meters), for a liquid it is 0.2 of a nanometer and for the solid 0.0002 of a nanometer.

So. If the first line of particles in the gas starts moving it has to travel 4 nanometers before it hits the second row. For the liquid this would be a smaller distance and for the metal it would be hardly any distance. What does that tell you about the speed of travel of sound?

Does your experiments support your thoughts? Maybe it needs to be modified? How could you modify it to really test your thoughts.

Just a thought of my own. The sound source (drum, spoon tapping, violin) gives the particles around it ENERGY. Those particles in air have to travel a long distance before they hit another particle and pass the sound on. All this time they are losing ENERGY. For the metal the particles only have to travel a little way before passing on the vibration.

(added 27/10/16)

Not sure of something Lilly…ask another question.

(Anyone reading this post who wants to ask a question or make a comment please feel free to do so)

Elizabeth (9) asks “How does sand form in a desert?”

I agree we need to do an investigation.  The suggestion is that the desert sand might have come from the soil. Let’s see if we can find sand in the soil around us. Before we do this lets think about soil, the soil in your garden. What do you think it is made of? Maybe it is just made of soil? Maybe it is made of a mixture of things? Let’s investigate these questions.

Collect some soil. Get a plastic transparent beaker or a jar with a lid. Put a couple of small spoonfuls of your soil into the container. Add enough water so that it is half full. Cover and shake for about 20 seconds. Put it down and wait for about fifteen minutes. Now look at it and make notes on what you see. Repeat with another sample and another beaker or container (investigations always need to be checked).

Has your experiment resulted in layers of stuff in the beaker? Maybe a bit like the layers in the image below.

If it has then think about why you have layers? What has formed the first layer and why? Was it because it was the lightest or heaviest ‘stuff ‘ in the jar (soil)? Is the second layer made up of ‘stuff’ that is lighter or heavier?

The bottom layer is ‘sand’ …..the heaviest ‘stuff’ that makes up soil. The other layers are ‘silt’ and ‘clay’. Look at the diagram that my friends have given you the sand particles are the biggest.

Now to deserts. In very arid (dry) conditions the soil dries out. The wind basically blows away the smallest particles of clay and silt leaving the largest so a desert of sand is formed.

Elizabeth … thank you for your question.

Abdul (10) asked “Why do heavy things fall faster than light things?

Abdul, a great question. I can remember asking this question to a class of 9yr olds. Our investigations started by dropping a sheet of A4 paper and timing how quickly it reached the floor. We had to make the test fair and then recorded our answers. We then all screwed up our piece of A4 paper and then predicted how long it would take to drop the same distance, again making sure the test was fair.

Several in the class said that the results of the test was unfair, because the sheet of paper had been made heavier. A mass balance proved that was not the case. So why had the screwed up ball of paper fallen faster? Your thoughts please.

So how can we test if heavier things fall faster than light things? Is it true or not true? What things do we need to change and what things do we need to make sure are the same. We need a fair test. Let me know your answers.

“Does sound bounce?” asked Molly (7)

Molly, this seems to be a question that we could investigate. I have asked my team about it.

You will now have to think of some experiment to test the ideas that my friends have come up with. See if you can get a plastic mirror and maybe a sheet of cardboard. The next task is how to see if you get a bounce. You will probably need a friend , a cardboard tube and a device to make a sound (bell, buzzer, horn or something else). Your friend can ring the bell in front of the tube and you can  then listen to see if you can hear a bounce from the mirror or cardboard. Try it and then try it again, see if you can make the test as fair as possible. If you can get it to work, try with other surfaces, paper, carpet, aluminium foil. Have fun.

Let me know how it went.

“Why doesn’t America use the metric system?” was Dekekisha’s (11) question.

Dekekisha, what a question.  Something that I have always asked myself when I have been converting Centigrade readings to Fahrenheit so that I could understand the weather. Friends, help me.

It is one of those occasions when I agree with you. As long as we all know and understand the different measurement systems and can confidently convert one to another.

Disagree, then let me know by clicking on the Reply button below. Thank you team.