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Pitch: Super Sounding Drums

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The construction of a drum -- the materials it is made of, its size and shape, and the tension of its top, or drumhead -- all affect how the drum sounds. In this video segment, two members of the ZOOM cast create drums of different sizes, shapes, materials, and tensions, and compare the results.

This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

Balloon Brain: Designing a Helmet

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As humans, we thankfully have more going for us than the balloon brains depicted in this video segment adapted from ZOOM. Still, the failed efforts of some of the ZOOM cast members to design adequate protection for their balloon brains illustrates the importance of wearing a proper helmet and protecting your own brain whenever you skate, rollerblade, ski, or ride a bike.

Triangles: Designing a Newspaper Chair

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Once it's been read, there's often little more to do with the daily newspaper than to add it to that towering stack of recyclables we collect each week. In this video segment, however, the ZOOM cast demonstrates how innovative design can turn this otherwise flimsy material into a relatively solid piece of furniture.

ZOOM | Pitch: Making Guitars

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Vibrations are the basis for all sound. Controlling the frequency of sound-producing vibrations is the key to creating and playing musical instruments. In this video segment adapted from ZOOM, two cast members demonstrate how to make guitars out of boxes and rubber bands, as well as how the sounds these instruments make can be manipulated.

ZOOM | Experimenting with a Glass Xylophone

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The cast investigates how the pitch of sound changes when they strike a variety of glasses filled with different amounts and types of liquids in this video segment adapted from ZOOM. When you hit an empty glass with a spoon, both the glass and the air inside it vibrate. You hear these vibrations as sound through the air.

ZOOM | Kid Musician: Mexico's Guitar Town

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Perfecting the frequency at which a guitar vibrates is important to creating pleasant-sounding guitar music. However, for many, including the boy featured in this ZOOM video segment and the others in his "guitar-crazy" town, guitar music goes beyond simple sound vibrations. Follow along as Andres prepares for the citywide guitar competition and describes the practice and passion behind his beautiful musical performance.

Pitch: Straw Kazoo

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In this video segment adapted from ZOOM, two cast members make a simple musical instrument from a straw. Through their exploration, they discover that pitch--how high or low a sound seems--can be altered by simply shortening the straw. This demonstrates the direct relationship between pitch and the amount of vibrating air contained in a musical instrument.

Hana's Japanese Drums

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Drums have played an important role in many cultures for thousands of years. In this video segment from ZOOM, a young girl named Hana talks about her interest in the art of Japanese Taiko drumming and describes the drums and techniques involved in this traditional art form.

Cooking Cookies with Solar Power

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The ZOOM cast tests two homemade solar cookers to determine which one can cook a "s'more" faster. Both designs exploit the fact that heat flows in three ways: by conduction, convection, and radiation. Though one cooker performs better than the other, they both outperform the experiment's control setup.

Kid Inventor: Newspaper Crank

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In this video segment from ZOOM, a young inventor named Andrew demonstrates the machine he engineered to fold newspapers for his paper route. Turning a crank handle puts the first fold in a paper, and sliding a wooden shelf makes the second fold. Once the paper is folded this way, Andrew can easily slip a rubber band over it and go about his deliveries quickly and efficiently.

Columns: Finding the Strongest Shape

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The shapes of a structure and its parts are often as important as the materials those parts are made of. In this video segment adapted from ZOOM, members of the cast bend and fold sheets of paper to see which shape is strongest and can best support the weight of a heavy book. This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grade K-8 students.

Designing a Puff Mobile

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If you were to build a vehicle powered by your breath, what characteristics would increase or decrease its performance the most? In this video segment adapted from ZOOM, four cast members design, construct, and test a variety of puff mobiles.

Visiting a Recycling Plant

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About half of the paper we use in our daily lives has been recycled. The process begins when paper is picked up from a recycling bin and taken to a sorting facility, where items are separated and baled. The materials are then taken away to a facility where they are cleaned, possibly de-inked, shredded, and blended with other similar material, such as paper board, office paper, or newspaper. The batched material is then converted into a new end product. In this video segment from ZOOM, a cast member visits a material recovery center to watch this process unfold.

Air Power: Making a Hovercraft

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The hovercraft was originally developed to more efficiently transport passengers and freight over water and land. In this video segment adapted from ZOOM, cast members build a simple hovercraft. A balloon filled with air provides the airflow that lifts a plastic plate off the table, while cast members supply the push that propels the craft forward.

Triangles: Testing the Strength of a Gumdrop Dome

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In this video segment adapted from ZOOM, cast members construct simple structures based on the light-but-strong design of the geodesic dome using gumdrops and toothpicks. These gumdrop domes help demonstrate that some shapes, like triangles, are inherently strong while others, like squares, are comparatively weak.

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