Helix @ CSIRO

28 April 2016
by David
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Play Go

You will needA board covered in black and white stones.

  • Lots of black and white counters
  • A Go board. You can download a go board here, or use a chessboard and play on the corners rather than middles of the squares.
  • Someone to play against

How to play

  1. Choose who goes first. The first player plays with black pieces and the second player plays with white.
  2. On your turn, put a piece onto one intersection (a space) on the board. Remove any pieces you’ve captured (see ‘capturing stones’). Then your opponent has a go.

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19 April 2016
by David
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A cracking look at the world of fossilized dinosaur eggs

A big red rock with lots of smaller gray lumps in it.

Dinosaur eggs by the dozen!
Image: The Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences

Almost two years ago, we reported on the discovery of a special fossilized dinosaur specimen – the first pterosaur egg preserved in 3D! Pretty impressive, huh? Since then, there have been some other interesting finds. So we thought it was time to crack open the fossil files and take a look at some of the most egg-citing dinosaur egg finds!

Dr Thomas Rich is Senior Curator in Vertebrate Palaeontology at the Melbourne Museum. He says: “Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a single egg found in Australia. But fossilized dinosaur egg discoveries aren’t all that rare, if you know where to look. Argentina, Montana and China are some of the most significant discovery sites.” Continue Reading →

11 April 2016
by David
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Coins around the equator

A jar with a slot in the top and a sign saying 'silver coins for maths'.

Label your jar clearly and start collecting coins!

How much money would it take to put a line of coins around the equator? With a bit of research and a bit of maths, you’ll soon know the answer!

You will need

  • Silver coins
  • Jar
  • Cardboard
  • Fine marker
  • Paper

    Silver coins in a line going off into the distance.

    Make a one-metre line of coins.

  • Masking tape
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure

Collecting coins

First, collect some silver coins to measure. If you don’t have enough, here’s a handy technique to try.

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6 April 2016
by David
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Feral fences’ funny fail

A dark, spotty quoll.

Quolls such as this were once common all over south-eastern Australia.
image: Wikimedia Commons/Ways CC-BY-SA

The Aussie bush was once full of cute, furry creatures. But these days, quolls, bandicoots and bettongs have a hard time keeping safe from feral foxes and wild dogs. So how can we protect our native animal friends?

Out at Mulligan’s Flat Woodland Sanctuary on the outskirts of Canberra, the rangers built fences to protect the native wildlife. The fences are great at keeping ferals out – bettongs and bandicoots are safe in the reserve. But the rangers discovered a flaw in their fence when they recently added quolls to the population. Fences will keep the nasties out, but they don’t keep the natives in. Continue Reading →

30 March 2016
by David
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How tall are you, really?

Someone is sticking tape to the wall.

Put a line of masking tape up the wall.

You will need

  • Masking tape
  • Pencil
  • Bookend (or something with a right angle, such as a set square or hardback book)
  • Tape measure
  • An adult to help, and to experiment on
  • If you’re much shorter than your adult, you’ll need a small ladder, so you can reach the top of their head

What to do

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27 March 2016
by David
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Magic calculator

Some one is cutting up a piece of paper with numbers on it.

Cut out the six rectangles.

You will need

What to do

  1. Cut out the six rectangles on the magic calculator sheet.
  2. Ask your partner to think of a number between 1 and 63.

    Three cards with the number 11 circled on them.

    Ask them to find all the cards with their number.

  3. Hand the six rectangles to your partner. Ask them to look for their number and separate the cards that have their number on from the ones that don’t.
  4. When your partner is finished, pick up all the cards that have their number on them.
  5. Take the first number on each of those cards and add them together. This sum will be their number!

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26 March 2016
by David
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An astronaut’s tall tale

Two astronauts.

Astronaut Scott Kelly and his identical twin brother Mark.
Credit: NASA

On 2 March this year, two long-term International Space Station residents returned to Earth. Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko both spent 342 days in space. Their year-long mission included space walks and Earth photography. But the most important experiment was on themselves. How does a person react to a year in space?

Throughout their expedition, scientists conducted many experiments on the duo, checking reaction times and making sure they were still healthy. But while Scott and Mikhail were floating in space, there was also a third participant. Continue Reading →

25 March 2016
by Jas
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Winning ideas from Australian students

A video screenshot of someone with a cow.

Jade researched how cows spread plant seeds.

The winners of this year’s BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards have been announced. These students are among Australia’s best and brightest young scientists.

From green energy generation to a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease, all of the winning projects address critical real-world challenges. Continue Reading →

24 March 2016
by Jas
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Burp! Excuse us

A cow eating hay.

This Brahman doesn’t burp as much as we thought.
Image: CSIRO Livestock Industries

In a recent blog post we reported on farts, a type of methane emission. When talking about these emissions, we made an omission. That is, we should have mentioned burps as well as farts.

In cows, burps can account for 95 per cent of methane emissions. As methane is a greenhouse gas, these emissions can contribute to climate change. Continue Reading →

2 March 2016
by David
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Where on Earth am I?

A stick next to a string with a blob of putty on the end.

Use your plum bob to make sure your stick is vertical.

NOTE: This activity is written for people in the southern hemisphere. Northern hemisphere mathematicians can still do this activity, but they will need to swap north and south.

You will need

  • Long, straight stick (a broom handle is perfect)
  • 1 metre string
  • Plasticine
  • Compass
  • Tape measure
  • Pair of compasses
  • Pens, ruler, A3 paper (or two A4 sheets taped together side-by-side)

Continue Reading →