Monday, August 18, 2014

A MacGyver Training Guide

I was leafing through some books from my Father-in-Law's z"l teaching days, when I came across a fun one: Science Activities With Simple Things by Howard R. Munson. It's a relatively short lab guide offering teachers dozens experiments for their students to try. As the name suggests, each experiment requires only 'simple things' such as paper cups, needles, milk cartons and other easy to find objects. Rather than being organized by subject area the book is organized by the materials themselves.

What does all this have to do with the greatest TV show ever produced? Well, as you know because you've watched MacGyver (wait, what? You haven't watched all the episodes? Stop what you're doing and do so now!), the premise of the show is that the hero saves the day using odds and ends he finds lying around. Exactly the kinds of odds and ends that this book puts to work.

Need to craft a scale? You'll need a rubber band and paper clip. Need a barometer? Collect up a straw, jar and balloon, and you're good to go. Thermometer? That just requires a jar, tube, and colored liquid. How about a steam engine or magnet powered motor? There are recipes for building those. Not to mention one for a record player and various musical instruments. And then there's my favorite: an astrolabe, which is intended by to used by students to share the locations of specific stars in the night sky.

And did you know a column of cups was stronger than a single cup? Or that you can boil water in a paper bag (this I did actually know).

Isn't science awesome?!

If you can master these experiments, you'll be pulling off hacks worthy of MacGyver himself.

And if I ever decided to write MacGyver fan fiction, I can totally see putting some of these experiments to use. Rubber bands and paper clips, here we come!

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