Thursday, May 28, 2015

Graham Oaks

We have been visiting Graham Oaks Nature Park since it opened, and watched restoration efforts unfold.  Trees that once were teeny saplings are growing and spreading.  Native wildflowers and berries that were planted alongside the trees are firmly established.  But our favorite part is still the older forested area near a steep ravine with a creek.  Most likely it was left alone when the rest of the property was being farmed. It's cool and shady in there on a hot day.

Camas flowers.
Western spring beauty.
Wood violet.
Inside-out flower.
Piggyback plant.
Broad-leaved starflower.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Bonneville Power Authority Labs

Here are some pictures from our tour of the Bonneville Power Authority Ross Laboratory in Vancouver.  This is actually the coolest field trip in the entire universe.  They offer them twice a year, fall and spring, and they are free. I bet they asked their most awesome electrical engineers to design the best demos ever, and set them free. They have some amazing machines that test the strength and endurance of all their power transmitting equipment, in order to insure everything they use is free of defects. Kids weighed themselves on a giant scale, tried hoisting things with block and tackles arranged in different ways, checked out a thermal imaging camera, watched high voltage melt metal wire,  saw spectacular corona, watched a rope subjected to a strength test, watched cans crush under pressure tests, tried generating electricity themselves to light different kinds of bulbs, got a lesson in the history of electrical science complete with demonstrations of cool gadgets like a Tesla coil, a Jacob's ladder and a Kelvin water dropper, played a giant piano by connecting a circuit with their bodies, and watched several machines make lightning. Everyone was really sweet and made us feel like they were rolling out the red carpet for us.  Before we left, they gave the kids boxes of Nerds to remind them that nerds are cool!

Do you see the number 8 on the clipboard?  A boy had drawn it there with his finger, and the heat that lingered was still visible on their thermal imaging camera.   
The kids on camera.
Melting a wire with high voltage.
Breaking a really strong rope with massive force.
Using massive pressure to crush a can.
A corona demonstration.
A Tesla coil demonstration.
Playing a giant piano.
This guy was struck by lightning.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Peonies and Irises

We stopped by Brooks Gardens to check out their gorgeous peonies and irises during bloom season. Both were stunning.  The peonies in particular were completely over the top!  Peony blossoms are the fireworks of the plant world.  You can buy cut flowers by the stem, so we got some peony buds and watched them burst open. They lasted a loooong time.