Saturday, June 18, 2011


We made whirligigs this morning this morning to publicize our science play space idea at our "maker's market".  The reason we have a maker's market, as I understand it, is because our farmer's market only wanted food to be sold there.  So, for example, you can't sell homemade soap or crafts.

An enterprising soap maker got permission to have the maker's market across the street from the farmers market.  What should I say about this?  Where I come from our crafts and food are all together in a nice jumbled mix, and I don't see any problem with it.

However, I have no idea of the history of why they are separate here.  Maybe there is no ill will in it. I have seen a great improvement in the farmer's market in our five years here, and the makers are newcomers.  I do see a role for regulating the markets: There should  be regulation to assure that the food is local and that baked goods are safe. When we first came we used to find that the quality of the food or seedlings was spotty, but there is a lot more selection there now than there was when where first came.  We buy a lot less there now because my garden seems to produce enough or we get it from a very high quality farmer who sets up here in the village on Fridays.

The Makers market has very few rules, and they were happy for us to set up a table there. Its too bad a lot of people don't bother crossing the street from the farmers market, but we did attract some people.  Some of them were from the moms group- I had told them we would be set up there.  It was kind of a good thing we didn't get too many kids at once because even though I had spent some time testing the activity, some parts of it still went slowly.  Most of the reason is because I didn't have exactly the right materials.

The easiest way to make a whirligig is to use a button and yarn.  We wanted to use some type of disk kids could decorate, but it had to be heavy enough.  We figured out how to make that happen, but poking the holes and cutting the card stock did take a bit of time.

I made whirligigs when I was a kid, but it took a grandparent to remind me how to spin it well.  A whirligig is kind of like a horizontal yoyo.  You put a disk on a loop of string strung through two holes, and twist it up. Then you pull it out and in- if you are good enough you can get it spinning back and forth very fast.

I thought how nice it was that this was a toy the grandparents were the experts with and could enjoy showing the kids.  I wondered if there were more activities like this that had some nice cross-generational attributes.

I had a great helper who seemed more adept at the poking holes and the cutting aspect of the project.  She just graduated from the college in chemistry.  We discussed the physics of the toy and came up with something about potential, kinetic and rotational energy, but in most cases we talked with the kids and parents about how to make the toy, and about the science play space we want to create.   Personally, I don't mind explaining the science, but for me the important thing is getting the kids to play, experiment and tinker with stuff.

Anyway, I think we learned a lot about how to do whirligigs and had a good time.

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