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Ghoulish Science Fun This Halloween Season!
budding scientists — dare yourself to begin the ghoulish journey through
these exciting Halloween haunted links. Symbols of Halloween are all around, but
many of these symbols are waiting for you to unlock their deeper mysteries. Maybe
along the way you’ll uncover a mysterious project that brings the science
of Halloween to life for you! Get ready … masks on … lights out
… let the journey begin!
- Why do we like to be frightened? What makes us
go to scary movies, and why do some of us like them more than others of us
do? Read about all this at the Why Files
“Things that go bump in the night”
website. After you understand why, take time to pop some popcorn and sit
back as you enjoy a spooky space invasion brought to life in 1938 when Orson
Welles first broadcast
“War of the Worlds”.
Scroll down far enough so you can listen! And then explore the
site in New Mexico
where some believe aliens have landed — even
Buster takes us to visit
shares a song
- What colors do you associate with Halloween? Most would answer orange and
black as traditional Halloween colors. But more and more people are
celebrating a green Halloween! The Environmental
Defense Fund reminds us annually of
tips for celebrating an eco-friendly Halloween.
And beyond these tips, parents and students will find wonderfully
engaging “green” activities
to bring life to any celebration. And we can’t forget the “green”
influence on our
- Halloween is one night you don’t want to get lost, so don’t go
trick or treating without knowing how to
navigate by the stars.
You will probably also want to make sure you check out your
October sky map
— maybe while you are gazing skyward you will spot the spooky
Ghost Head Nebula
or be in awe of the
eerie space sounds.
But just know that using the stars to guide one’s way has been around for
Check out a song
that reminds us of this, then read
NASA’s explanation of the words.
- What causes goosebumps?
How do movies make those scary special effects that give us such shivers? Check it
out at the
NOVA special effects site.
But maybe, just maybe,
haunted places really do exist.
- Haunted places are just where you are likely to find spiders.
Imagine the creepy feeling you have passing through their webs! Ever wonder why
get caught in their own webs?
Watch the precision and grace that this spider possesses as it
weaves its unique web.
special organs to make their special silk
which is the strongest natural fiber known — five times stronger than silk.
Check out more information relating to the
protein nature of these webs.
Maybe as you
learn more about spiders
you’ll begin to see how
intriguing they really are!
- What’s Halloween without some reference to witches?
So get crafty and make your own Halloween decorative accessories — hang a
or create your own witch splatting into the tree!
Continue with witch fun by exploring the
witchy animals of Shakespeare’s MacBeth.
After the fun and games, take time to learn the history of witch hunts
in Europe and America especially dominated by the
history of the Salem witch trials.
You can even catch some of the
Jump the first broom back to today to see what some have to say about
how is it still celebrated?
- Black cats are always nearby as Halloween approaches.
But do they really cause bad luck? While it would be difficult to test with
scientific rigor, Mark Levin has tried to
examine the issue.
Now if you are willing to test your luck, take time to play the
black cat treasure hunt game!
Then step back and explore the mythical link
between black cats and witches.
Just a little understanding of their
mythical link is enough to remind us that cats have really been
around for years.
And if you watch the
graceful moves of its anatomy,
it doesn’t surprise one that cats of all sizes become fascinating to study.
Yet, have you ever wondered why the
cat’s eyes shine
so well? Or even known about the healing potential of the cat’s purr?
- Masks and clever disguises have become a custom at
Halloween. Interestingly, masks have become celebrated as part of
cultural life around the world.
After taking a trip around the world, take time to rest and enjoy
mask jigsaw puzzles.
Just playing with the mask puzzles may lead you to try your own hand at mask-making
— here’s a project that can
bring realism to the mask design!
Who knows what fear your mask may incite, but kids have definitely given their
opinion about the
masks that scare
them. Take the scare out of masks and monsters by completing the
monster mad lib
— humor does wonders to calm the fears! Now we are ready to meet one
of nature’s master of disguises, the
Now, test your knowledge with a
Chameleons are doing their best to hide in their disguises, but maybe you can find some through NASA’s tools.
Scroll down to find the riches of this site!
- Monsters — real or not? Some aspects of science have
looked closely at one of the literary world’s most famous monsters —
Frankenstein’s monster. The
to our Frankenstein fascination are worthy to explore.
Monsters often become part of folklore
whether through written or oral storytelling traditions and quickly become entwined
with our culture. There are at least three monsters that some are still hunting in
an effort to disprove the belief that they are only imagined —
Just the thought of Loch Ness, reminds us that
giant monsters used to roam the earth and sea.
And even today it is interesting to explore some of the
deep sea monsters
which stake claim to the dark, murky depths of our seas! Check out how much you know
present-day deep sea monsters
by closing this exploration with a short quiz.
- Halloween is more than just black cats and monsters … Halloween sets the stage
for an often a flamboyant display of fall colors! Where is
the best display of vibrant colors this weekend? This question and more can be answered
Fall Color Hotline
operated by the USDA Forest Service. Just remember there is really no perfect time,
colors peak in waves,
though there is information on the
best places to see fall foliage
so that you can make your travel plans. Equally amazing as the colors are learning about the
chemistry behind these fall colors
how leaves change colors.
Check out this
for further explanation. Now take time to experiment and find the
colors that are hidden in green leaves
— if there are any left!
- For a spooky spin on physical science, just in time for
Halloween, stop by the
to experiment with properties of light critical to protecting him from the
impact of morning light. Or visit the
Wolf Man’s ghostly graveyard
to explore facets of energy. Many other rooms await taking you to lesson plans and
background information that will make you howl!
- Inventors love Halloween, too. The U.S. Patent and
Trademark Office offers
“The Little Shop of Halloween Patent & Trademark Horrors”
highlighting actual inventions with a Halloween theme that have been invented over
the years. And speaking of inventions, don’t forget to read about the
inventive history behind
Halloween traditions like candy corn.
Did you realize candy corn has been around since the 19th century?
- Everyone’s favorite Halloween flying mammal — the bat
— wins its top position as it is the only flying mammal. To enjoy a close-up video of
a bat check out this video of a
flying fox bat
enjoying a bite to eat. There are many terrific bat sites on the web. For instance,
don’t miss the National Geographic
“Creature Feature — Vampire Bat”.
This site comes with video, audio, maps, even a postcard to send to a friend. The
BBC also has a great bat website
or you can learn more about bats on
Bats really can cause one to stop and think — how do bats fly? how do they
use sound to navigate? what are they good for? To find out some answers check out
How Bats Work.
And if you are really curious, listen for some more fun bat facts.
After all this information on bats, you should be ready to take the
Or maybe you are ready to build a
… or a simpler endeavor would be to build a
- Skeletons — you can’t celebrate Halloween without
them! Get a close look at all the
different bones there are in the human body.
You can also examine human, gorilla and baboon bones in more detail with the use of the
website. And for a little fun, you can build a skeleton from a pile of bones at
Lawrence Hall of Science.
Some skeletons are much older than humans are. Look at the skulls of some of the
ancestors and relatives of Homo sapiens, for instance, and see how the skulls have
changed through evolutionary time at
Human Evolution at the Smithsonian Museum
UCSB’s Human Evolution.
Skeleton finds are a researchers’ treasure chest! The
is proably one of the best known skeleton finds. But wait until you hear this
NPR story on a hominid skeleton
find believed to be even older! And if you want to read more about this find check out Discovery Channel’s report.
Now that you are so familiar with skeletons, it is time to try your hand at
making a pasta skeleton!
- Safety should be foremost in our minds whether we are
kids or adults! Red Cross reminds us of this with some
kid-friendly safety tips
that kids of all ages should read! And don’t forget
some of these rules (pdf)
come in handy even before the trick-or-treating begins. Sometimes it is easier to
the Halloween safety tips including the tips impacting costume design!
A discussion on safety can’t leave out
pumpkin carving techniques
And when you think you have mastered pumpkin carving
check out this video of “extreme” pumpkin carving!
But what do you do with those pumpkins once Halloween is over? Ever
hear of a trebuchet
— check out this video!?
Patti Sanner and Stephanie Bianchi, National Science Foundation Library.
Webpage last updated October 2008.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations
expressed in this newsletter are those of the participants (authors), and
do not necessarily represent the official views, opinions, or policy of
the National Science Foundation.