The Fly on the Wall

It is easy to dismiss their presence and want to overlook the pesky circling of fruit flies, but these little organisms are actually more complex than they might look. In fact, researchers have recently been studying these bugs to come to a better understanding of their thought process. A team of neuroscientists have observed fluctuations in the time they take to process information before acting on a decision to hypothesize that they actually take a longer amount of time to make what scientists have determined as more difficult decisions.

Photo by: USDAGov

Are these tiny pests of a heightened intelligence than we might have initially thought? That is exactly the question that researchers are hoping to answer as they delve further into their studies. So how exactly are they testing the flies’ decision making skills? Like with any experiment they create a controlled environment testing certain variable options. More specifically they encase the flies in a narrow compartment, pitting two concentrated scents on both ends of a spectrum to see where the flies end up.

As for measuring the difficulty of the decision, scientists varied the distance between the concentrated scents. The closer the concentrations were, the longer the flies took to differentiate and identify to which area they preferred to fly. The consistency of the results, allowed them to conclude that there are links in the system which humans use to make decisions and that of these flies, which is all connected to the FoxP gene. Needless to say, there is more to these flies than meets the eye!

Avoiding a Sticky Situation

The tentacles of an octopus will stick to just about anything—well, almost anything. These suckers usually don’t suction onto to the octopus itself, allowing this brilliant and flexible creature to avoid getting tangled up in its own arms. Researchers are studying this undersea creature’s talent of escaping a twisted situation with hopes that what they find can be strategically used in bio-inspired robot design.

Photo By Joes Parks

Photo By Joes Parks

Scientists observed that the reason why the octopus doesn’t end up in a knotted mess, is because of the animal’s great intelligence that demonstrates “self-avoidance.” This ability is actually a reflex, that can be turned on and off as the cephalopod pleases. A sort of chemical signal in the skin is activated that controls the suckers from grabbing onto their skin.

Researchers aim to support the development of a new kind of “soft robot” in the shape of an octopus arm, perfect for using in human surgeries. These types of robots would be able to reshape their forms, making it easy to maneuver around unfamiliar obstacles inside the human body!

National Chocolate Chip Day!

There’s something extra sweet and special about today, May 15th —it’s National Chocolate Chip Day! Did you know that 25% of the cookies baked in the United States are chocolate chip cookies? In honor of this charming little holiday, celebrate with some deliciously baked goodness for you and your Cadets at home from an out-of-this-world recipe for brownies! And not just any brownies, but ones infused with our notable ingredient of the day, chocolate chips!

Photo By Andy Melton

Photo By Andy Melton

Click here to see this out-of-this-world recipe!

Science Fair Projects

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of conducting your own scientific experiment. Science fair projects can give students the opportunity to practice their scientific thinking, on top of building onto their problem-solving skills. Hands-on experiments help to engage and connect kids with the many topics that science brings up. Spark up a new found discovery of scientific exploration with these ideas for science fair projects.

Photo By Jose Kevo

Photo By Jose Kevo

Build your own working compass

What you will need:

  1.  A steel paper clip
  2. A magnet
  3. The cap from a milk jug
  4. A pie plate (9 to 12 inches in diameter)

Steps:

  • Fill your pie dish with water.
  • Place the cap from a milk jug onto the water to float. Center the float.
  • Straighten the steel paper clip and turn it into a magnet—Take your magnet and stroke it along the straightened paper clip around 15 times.
  • Place the magnetized paper clip onto the float and watch as your paperclip will slowly point North!

With hands-on experiments like these, kids will have a blast when discovering that they are fully capable of carrying out their own scientific experiment! For more inspiration on science fair projects, follow us on Pinterest and share with us some of your favorite discoveries!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Today is Mother’s Day! How will you be celebrating with your family? If you are fresh out of ideas or would like to spruce up your already made plans, show the very special woman in  your life that you care with some of these stellar Mother’s Day ideas from Math Blaster! From breakfast in bed to helping around the house, your mom will sure feel as radiant as she should, being the star of today’s holiday.

Photo By Paul Wilkinson

Photo By Paul Wilkinson

So be sure to take the time today and show your mom that you truly care by making her feel extra special. And don’t forget about Grandma, after all she is the ultimate mom since she was the one who raised yours! For more inspiration on making your mom feel on top of the world, visit our Pinterest page and share with us your favorite ways to celebrate Mother’s Day below.

 

 

Mom: The Brightest Start in Your Solar System!

Mom—she cooks, she cleans, helps with your homework, and has been there for you since day one. We celebrate her once a year, taking the time to appreciate all of the work she does that seems completely out of this world. With Mother’s Day fast approaching, have you thought of how you will be celebrating? There are many thoughtful things you can do to help show your mom that you are grateful for all that she does. Here are a couple of ideas on how you can make your mom feel like the brightest star in the universe for Mother’s Day.

Photo By Gabriela Pinto

Photo By Gabriela Pinto

Click here to make mom smile!

Worksheet of the Week

More Numbers Make it Fun! - Free Printable Math Worksheet for 3rd Grade

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