It is already July, when we would normally be thinking of parades, fireworks, and picnics. Things will definitely be different this summer!
Many communities are looking for creative and safe alternatives to the traditional fireworks gatherings. The fear is there will more backyard firework displays – leading to more accidents and injuries. Some places – like Coralville – will be having fireworks this year, but held in an entirely different manner. There will be drive-by fireworks – spectators will be able to park and watch from their car, with strict social distancing guidelines. They will also live-stream the fireworks on Facebook. In other communities there will be vehicle parades – drive-by parades – for which residents will be able to safely view the parade in their own yards. Neighborhood residents are encouraged to decorate and enter their vehicle in the parades. Sadly, candy being thrown during the parades won’t be allowed.
If you are looking for information about the safe handling and treatment of waste fireworks, check out this EPA brochure. You’ll discover what you need to know to safely dispose of spent fireworks.
If you want to know the fireworks control laws for each individual state, the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) has the site for you! Click on your state and find the pertinent laws! Be sure to check out your state’s Fireworks Control Laws before deciding to do your own fireworks displays. Local municipalities also have laws that one must follow.
Here’s more in-depth information on safe fireworks displays.
Chapter 8: transporting fireworks on Public Highways
Curious about the specifics of different types of fireworks? Check out the patents! Our patent guide will help direct you in your search!
How about this one from 2012? Described as an “Electronic toy with synchornized (sic) sound and lighting system that utilizes projectiles and method of use.”
It is described as: “An electronic toy with synchronized sound and lighting system that utilizes projectiles, and method, including a base, a projectile, pre-recorded sounds, a speaker, LED lights, and various circuitry.”
Or, there is this one from 1899: “Fireworks, i.e. pyrotechnic devices for amusement, display, illumination or signal purposes characterised by having holder or support other than casing, e.g. whirler or spike support.” This “invention relates to toy fireworks, and has for its object to produce a device for exhibiting pyrotechnic effects resembling pin or catharine wheels.”
When you are out celebrating and watching the displays and listening to the whistles and the booms (whether virtually or socially distanced), please be mindful of your neighbors and those around you. The United States Marine Corp has a webpage dedicated to raising awareness of how fireworks can affect veterans with PTSD. They aren’t asking that you forego your festivities, but be aware of where you are and what time of the day – or night – you are shooting off your fireworks. Fireworks also effect pets. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), has information on ways to keep your pets happy and healthy during the festivities. There is info on how to care for your pet during the celebration and also includes tips on preparation and cleanup after the celebration.
Wherever your fascination and interest with fireworks lie, check out our webpage and discover all the resources that we have available!
It’s the holiday break. You’ve opened presents, eaten, napped, and now what? How about some fun DIY projects and crafts?
Maybe start out with something from The Star Wars Craft Book. Want to start with a holiday-themed craft? How about a Hanukkah Droidel? The appendix comes complete with the Droidel pattern (it also has patterns for many of the other crafts including Yoda finger puppet dolls and, yes, even a Jar Jar Binks Jedi Mind Trick Doll pattern!) There are instructions for a Ewok Fleece hat, an R2-D2 crocheted beanie, an AT-AT Herb Garden, and even a Jabba the Hutt body pillow!
Ever dreamed of being a pioneer? Make: Like the Pioneers will take you through a “typical” day for a pioneer would have been! From the morning, which might include a bow drill to help you master fire, or what could be more fun that making bacon soap? Or learn to make apple cider right at your kitchen table! Learn to turn your junk mail into home made paper – your own personal stationery! In the afternoon you could learn to do some woodworking and make a “fool’s stool.” (The Fool’s Stool instructions use table saws and wood glue – so you’ve got an advantage over the pioneers!) There is also a section of full-color photos to teach the art of lashing! With some practice you could make a lookout tower! Think the evening is for rest? Well, a pioneer would no doubt be pickling grapes and beets or roasting pumpkin seeds. So, night calls for making an oil lamp, to keep the darkness at bay!
Maybe you are more into LEGO® building and would like to try something more elaborate than usual…. The Art of LEGO Design : Creative Ways to Build Amazing Models can help you do just that! It has chapters that include inspiration, how to work with colors, shapes, sizes, and scales! It helps you make the perfect work space and takes you through the essential elements. The chapters include Wildlife & Foliage, Large-scale Figures, Cars, Wagons, & Watercraft, Buildings, and Science Fiction. You’ll certainly find something that will spark your creativity!
Are you spending your holidays at the beach? How about making some Sand Stampers? Make: Fun! : Create Your Own Toys, Games, and Amusements tells you how!! Want to make custom cookie cutters? Make an oven using a light bulb and a can? Thinking ahead to Halloween? How about making a Tiki Mask? Cereal Box Sound Racers? There are even instructions n hot to make a talking booby trap, or a personalized talking doll? You got it – Make: Fun! has all the instructions for these – and more fun ideas!!
Make: Easy 1+2+3 Projects also fun projects – from a mini-foosball game, a clothes folding board, a simple lightup hoodie to tattooing a banana!
These are just a few (very few!) of the fun DIY project books we’ve got! Check below for additional resources and find something to make this holiday break!!
Or how about some easy (as 1+2+3) for the long weekend? Make: Easy 1+2+3 Projects has just what you need! It has chapters for everything – Toys and Games, Arts and Crafts, Science and Electronics, and Home and Outdoors!
Make your own mini foosball table using items you probably have around the house – a microwave popcorn box, straws, paper clips, gumballs, scissors and tape! Challenge your family and friends to a rousing game of foosball! Can’t guarantee you’ll burn off calories from your Thanksgiving meal, but it might help with the tryptophan sleepiness!
Want to tattoo a banana? You have to use a fine-tipped needle so make sure to be careful!
How about making a battery from anything? All it takes is 6″ of stiff copper wire, an AA battery and needlenose pliers! Or a sound sucker device? Boiling water, gelatin dessert mix, coffee stirrers, mug – we have a sound meter in our Tool Library so you can even check and see how much the frequency changes! Don’t have speakers for your phone? You can make some using earbuds, paper cups, pocketknife, a velcro strip, and your audio source! And each of these projects (and so many more) really has only 3 steps! So, gather your materials and spend the long weekend making fun and useful things!
We’d love to see your creations so feel free to share photos of your DIY projects on our Facebook page or Twitter feed – @UIEngLib!
Are you ready for Halloween?? Are you looking for costume ideas? Perhaps a DIY costume that will light up your night? Need some DIY decorations and special effects, perhaps? We have the tools and resources you need to create your own unique, spook-tacular, terror-ific, Halloween celebration!!
Want a classic scary pumpkin for your Halloween get-together? How about one that lights up? Electronic Projects for Dummies will help you create the perfect scary pumpkins! You’ll have 2 pumpkins – one which transmits an infrared beam and the second one lights up and plays a prerecorded message or sound. When someone walks between the two pumpkins and breaks the plane of the infrared beam, the 2nd pumpkin will light up and emit that evil laugh! The chapter, Scary Pumpkins, takes you through the process, step-by-step, complete with schematics, photos (some in color), parts list and detailed instructions!
How about a hologram of a ghoul? We have Holography Projects for the Evil Genius. It is a DIY resource which includes step-by-step instructions, helpful illustrations, a list of required, easy-to-find components (and a list of sources!). It not only helps you create – and customize – your own hologram, you’ll also master the latest tools and techniques!
Are you into ghost-hunting? We have resources that help you prove to your friends that “you ain’t ‘fraid of no ghost.” How about our LabQuest Microphone (available in our Tool Library) – check it out and see if you can capture the sound of those floorboards creaking when no one is around… Want to see who (or what) is going bump in the night? 101 Spy Gadgets for the Evil Genius has instructions for night vision camcorder! Haunted spaces are often colder than the area around them – so check out one of our 2 thermal cameras or our infrared thermometer! In fact, 101 Spy Gadgets for the Evil Genius has information and instructions on almost everything you’ll need to be a ghost hunter! (I was going to say so you could become a real-live ghost hunter, but decided I probably shouldn’t….)
Pepper’s Ghost is a special effects technique used when creating transparent and ghostly images! It was popularized in the 1800s by John Pepper, and has been used in theaters and haunted houses since then! The Pepper’s Ghost shown in the above photo was created in the Engineering Electronics Shop using the Universal laser and scrap materials. Stop by the Engineering Library and check it out! The images in our Pepper’s Ghost move and rotate through several images. While our Pepper’s Ghost uses a laptop, a computer or special equipment isn’t needed! If you are interested in a more elaborate hologram, How It’s Made : Season 1 & 2(disc 1) will explain how a hologram is created from the beginning to end. And makezine has complete instructions on how to make a spooky ghost for your party!
We’d love to see your Halloween costumes and decorations – post to our Twitter (@UIEngLib) account!
Have a spooky and safe Halloween!!
Ceceri, Kathy. 2015. Paper Inventions : Machines That Move, Drawings That Light Up, Wearables and Structures You Can Cut, Fold, and Roll. San Francisco, CA : Maker Media. Engineering Library TT870 .C54 2015
What can be more summer-like than the 4th of July, picnics, parades and, most of all, fireworks!
Fireworks have a long and (yes, I’ll say it) colorful history. Fireworks go back as far as 7th century China. In 1292 Marco Polo took fireworks back to Italy where the Italians began to develop them as an art form. Settlers brought fireworks to the Americas in the 1600s, and the very first 4th of July celebration with fireworks was in 1777 – a year after the Declaration of Independence was signed. The earliest patents for fireworks go back as far as 1876.
There are a multitude of different fireworks, but they all fall into three distinct categories. Aerial fireworks include mortars, bottle rockets and Roman candles. Proximate fireworks are often used indoors for concerts, theatrical presentations and movies. Ground-based fireworks include the familiar firecrackers, snakes, smoke bombs, and sparklers.
As you are sitting there in the dark, or lying on your back on a blanket and ooohing and aaahing over the amazing color, have you ever wondered what goes into creating those effects? Well, the beautiful colors of the fireworks come from various chemical compounds: red is strontium and lithium; blue is copper; silver or white is burning aluminum titanium and magnesium; orange is calcium; yellow is sodium; green is barium; and the neon green and turquoise are chlorine with barium or copper. Chemicals also affect the appearance of fireworks. Love those sparkly fireworks? Aluminum creates that effect! Glitter comes from antimony, calcium deepens the color, phosphorous creates glow in the dark effects and the smoke effects come from zinc.
Now cover your ears, here comes the noise! Sound is also influenced by the chemicals used and by the shape of the firework tube. Perhaps surprisingly, the whistle effect is second only to flash powders in being the most hazardous firework effect. Whistle combinations consist of potassium chlorate or potassium perchlorate as the oxidizer, with a salt of benzoic acid or a substituted benzoic acid. You’ll notice you see the fireworks before you hear the booms. That’s because light travels about a million times faster than sound. Those loud booms are actually sonic booms caused by the expansion of gases. You can calculate how far from the fireworks you are by counting the seconds from the time you see the firework until you hear the boom. To figure the distance in miles simply multiply the number of seconds by .o2.
There are, not surprisingly, many safety regulations surrounding the production and handling of fireworks. Before safety regulations were enacted there were many accidents which resulted in casualties. When the Treaty of Aix-la Chapelle was signed in 1748 celebrations were held all over Europe. The celebration in Paris had a mass explosion which led to the death of 40 people and over 300 injuries. It was 1875 before the Explosives Act was introduced. The current Federal Explosives Law and Regulations is from 2012. Each state also regulates the use and availability of fireworks. Go here to check the fireworks control laws in your state.
There are also interesting regulations for the storage of fireworks. One of the hazards of storing fireworks is static electricity. Staff working in explosive buildings should not wear synthetic clothing or non-conducting footwear. Personnel should also discharge themselves before entering the building with an electrostatic discharger. There are also regulations for conduction, anti-static flooring and the humidification of the room. I found this information interesting and, dare I say, shocking!
Remember the Treaty of Aix-la Chapelle, back in 1748? George Frederick Handel was commissioned to write an overture for the London celebration of the treaty. He wrote Music for the Royal Fireworks, and this began the tradition of association between music and fireworks. For more information about creating fireworks displays and their environmental impact, check out Fireworks displays: explosive entertainment, by Dr. Tom Smith.
Here’s a video of the Overture – complete with fireworks!
In Iowa, fireworks were banned in 1937, following two incidents. In Spencer someone lit fireworks in a store where they were being sold. That 1931 fire destroyed most of the downtown. Then, in 1936, a similar fire in Remen caused about $600,000 in damages. Iowa’s ban included all fireworks except sparklers, toy snakes and caps. The laws have changed since 1937 – be sure to check with the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) for current information.
Want to try to make your own (safe) fireworks for the 4th of July? Make: has instruction for making your own Soda Bottle Rocket LED Fireworks! Check out Make: v.41 (2014:Oct./Nov.) or the Makewebsite. The website includes a video of the Soda Bottle Rockets being launched at night!
When you are out celebrating and watching the displays and listening to the whistles and the booms, please be mindful of your neighbors and those around you. The United States Marine Corp has a webpage dedicated to raising awareness of how fireworks can affect veterans with PTSD. They aren’t asking that you forego your festivities, but be aware of where you are and what time of the day – or night – you are shooting off your fireworks.
Please be aware of the effects fireworks have on pets. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), has information on ways to keep your pets happy and healthy during the festivities. There is info on how to care for your pet during the celebration and also includes tips on preparation and cleanup after the celebration.
Firework photos by Carol Johnk at the Coralville, IA 4th of July celebrations through the years.
Philip, Chris. A bibliography of firework books : works on recreative fireworks from the sixteenth to the twentieth century. 1985. Wincester, Hampshire : Published by C. Philip, in association with St. Paul’s Bibliographies. Main Library Z5885 .P48 1985
Learn paper folding and create your own fun and unique greeting cards! We’ll be working on special Valentine’s cards, but you can take what you learn and make special cards for every occasion! It will be held February 12th at 2:30 pm in the Engineering Library Creative Space!
Deanne Wortman, Program Manager, NEXUS of Engineering and the Arts, Engineering Student Services, will be teaching the art of paper folding and helping you create your own special card!
Opening a bag of cranberries can take you right back to Thanksgiving with your loved ones and that traditional cranberry dish. But have you ever wondered about how cranberries became associated with holidays? Wondered how they are grown? Or thought about their health benefits?
The simple cranberry is one of the few fruits that is native to North America. No one knows for sure how it became associated with the holidays, but it is believed it goes back to the Native Americans and the first Thanksgiving meals. Cranberries are generally harvested between Labor Day and Halloween and they store well, all of which makes them a perfect fruit for the holidays.
Native Americans also used the cranberry as a source of red dye for decorations, and also medicinally. Cranberries have an astringent tannis and therefore can help stop wounds from bleeding. Cranberries also have an antibiotic effect.
There are some species of cranberries that grow wild in Europe, but the cranberry most cultivated as a commercial crop is the one that is native to America. Cranberry cultivation began in 1840 in Massachusetts when Henry Hall noticed that the cranberries were most abundant where the ground was sandiest. From there the cultivation spread through Wisconsin, Washington, and Oregon. The cultivation of cranberries also spread to Scandinavia and Great Britain. Interestingly, they arrived in Holland as a result of a shipwreck of an American ship. The crates washed ashore on the small island of Terschelling and cranberries have been cultivated there ever since!
The cranberry is often considered a “super food,” due to their high nutrient and antioxidant content. And the fact that a half a cup of cranberries only has 25 calories! Cranberries have several important health benefits. They are known to help prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). There is evidence that the polyphenols in cranberries may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by preventing platelet build-up and anti-inflammatory mechanisms help reduce blood pressure. It has also been shown that the humble cranberry may slow tumor progression and to have positive effects against prostate, liver, breast, ovarian and colon cancers. They are a great source of vitamin C, fiber, and vitamin E. They also contain vitamin K, manganese and naturally occurring plant chemicals that help protect the body from free radicals. A lot of health benefits for such a little berry!
And yes, the TV commercial is accurate – the farmers really do stand in the cranberry bogs in hip waders. However, cranberries don’t grow in water, they grow on long-running vines in sandy bogs and marshes.
The harvesting process is quite fascinating! In late September, when the berries ripen, the bogs are flooded with water and the berries want to float to the surface. Since they are still tethered by their long vines, the farmers take machines, sometimes called “Beaters,” into the bog. The Beaters create underwater turbulence which pulls the berries from the stem. Then farmers wade in and corral the freed berries into a corner of the bog. A pump then sucks the berries out of the bog and transfers them to a truck. They are taken to a factory where they undergo several cleaning stations, including one in which workers use brooms and water jets to clear away remaining branches and leaves.
If the cranberries are destined to become juice, part of the process includes them moving through 216 filters which remove any plant particles and bacteria that are larger than a micron. A micron is about 25,000 times smaller than an inch… The presses can make almost 9 tons of puree at a time – that’s about the weight of 11/2 elephants…
Cranberries that don’t become juice go through a grading process which includes workers removing substandard berries – by hand. A sorting machine then scans the berries for color and substandard berries are blown off the production line with an air gun. Those that make it through these tests go on to either be packaged or dried. Dried cranberries are cut in half, seeded, pressed and then soaked in a sugar and water solution before they are dried.
The cranberry is quite versatile – there are many different cranberry recipes, including cranberry relish, cranberry sauce, cranberry bread, cranberry bars, cranberry jelly, cranberry pies, cranberry punch… And, yes, recipes for “white chocolate, macadamia and cranberry cookies”…
Now, when you gather for Thanksgiving, whether it be with friends or family, you can prepare a unique cranberry dish – one that may become a new tradition. You’ll also be able to share your new knowledge of the humble cranberry.
USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. United States Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service, National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. Basic Report: 09078, Cranberries, raw. Accessed November 18, 2015.
“…Look at our small town spinning around We got our feet dangling high off the ground Can you believe, baby, how good it feels Falling in love on a Ferris wheel? Falling in love…”
Ferris Wheel, written by Michael Sarver. (C) 2010 Dream Records
February 14 is not only Valentine’s Day, but also National Ferris Wheel Day! It is the birth date of George W. G. Ferris, Jr. and he is credited for creating the first large, steel amusement ride – the Ferris Wheel.
That first Ferris Wheel was unveiled in the summer of 1893 at Chicago’s World Columbian Exposition. It was the first international exposition held in the United States and the committee wanted an engineering marvel that would overshadow France’s Eiffel Tower. Having recently ridden a fifty-foot wooden “observation roundabout,” which had been built and soon would be patented by William Somers, Ferris was inspired to enter the competition with his paper-napkin drawing of an enormous park ride. The constructed 45-foot axle-wheel powered by two 1,000 horsepower steam engines was supported by two 140-foot steel towers and it carried thirty-six wooden cars 264 feet high into the air – taller than any existing buildings!
Since the original Ferris Wheel, the world has continually been trying to out-do it. In 1897, a copy of the original was erected in Prater Park, Vienna , Austria and became the longest running Ferris wheel in history. In 1904 the Ferris wheel was again the centerpiece of the World’s Fair, this time in St. Louis. The Texas Star was built in Italy and shipped to Dallas, Texas in 1985. It was, at that time, the tallest operating Ferris wheel at 213 feet (that is 52 feet shorter than the original 1893 wheel).
The London Eye, at 443 feet, opened to the public in 2000. The Singapore Flyer, at 541 feet, became the tallest Ferris wheel in the world in 2008. The 682 foot tall Beijing Great Wheel was supposed to be built in 2009-2010, but the parent company went into receivership and it was never completed.
The original Ferris Wheel had 36 cabins and each one was able to carry 60 people for a total of 2,160 people per ride. There were fancy wire chairs for 38 passengers and five large plate glass windows. The cabins were 24 feet long, 10 feet high and weighed 26,000 pounds. A conductor rode in each cabin to allay fears and answer questions.
Currently, the world’s largest Ferris wheel – or Observation Wheel – is the High Roller in Las Vegas across from Caesars Palace. It is 550 feet tall, 107 feet taller then the London Eye. In contrast to the original Ferris Wheel each of the 28 cabins is 225 square-feet and weighs approximately 44,000 pounds. Each cabin has a diameter of 22 feet and includes 300 square feet of glass. It also has 8 flat-screen televisions and an iPod dock. The High Roller is lit by 2,000 LED lights which have multiple lighting options. Looking for that special Valentine’s Day destination wedding? You can book a VIP cabin on the High Roller and have the wedding of your dreams!
Find the nearest Ferris Wheel and maybe, just maybe, fall in love?
In 1978, the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) formed the F24 committee to create standards for the design, testing, manufacturing, and operation of amusement park rides. http://purl.lib.uiowa.edu/ASEDL
Standard Practice for Ownership, Operation, Maintenance, and Inspection of Amusement Rides and Devices, ASTM F770, Sept. 1, 2013 (4 pages)
Standard Practice for Measuring the Dynamic Characteristics of Amusement Rides and Devices, ASTM F2137, Aug. 1, 2013 (7 pages)
Standard Practice for Design of Amusement Rides and Devices, ASTM F2291, Aug. 1, 2013 (52 pages)