265 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139 csf@cambridgesciencefestival.org

Year: 2017

Curiosity Challenge: How do Brains Think?

Hi Maise, That’s a good question! You probably know that your brain is important for a lot of what you do: learning new lessons in school, remembering those lessons when you take a test, controlling your hands as you write the answers to your test, and even telling your lungs to breathe while you’re working! Your brain works in a similar way to do all those tasks. The main way your brain works is by making connections between its different parts. In the early 1900s, a scientist named Ivan Pavlov did a famous experiment with his dogs that helped us learn how the brain makes these connections. Pavlov wanted to know if he could train his dogs to think about food every time he rang a bell. He started by ringing a bell every time he fed his dogs. One day Pavlov rang the bell without giving the dogs food,… Read More

SciStreet: Mystery Tube

If you joined us at today’s Harvard Chocolate Festival, then you might have seen us walking around with some mysterious white tubes. We challenged you to figure out how they worked — in case you didn’t get it, or want to make your own, here’s how they were put together! No matter which string you pull, it causes all of the other strings to shorten so that only one string is long. Here’s the secret: On the inside, the two strings are loosely looped together. It’s important to note that they’re not tied in any way. The same effect can be done by threading the two strings through a washer. The washer must be left free-floating and not secured to either string. There’s an excellent set of instructions available at this Berkeley site.

Curiosity Challenge: How Does an Octopus Breathe in Water?

Hi Alexis, awesome question. My name is Brian Helmuth, and I’m a marine biologist at Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center. I study the oceans to see how they are changing, and to find ways of protecting them. I don’t know about you, but my favorite character in Finding Dory is, all 8 arms down, Hank the octopus, who is able to move around outside of his tank and hide just about anywhere. There are real octopus who have escaped from their aquariums to eat fish in another tank next door, and then returned home after putting the lid back on the tank to hide what they have done! But back to your question, like humans, octopus need to breathe oxygen to survive. But, unlike people, an octopus can be in air for only a few minutes. They much prefer to be in the water where they can breathe with their gills…. Read More