FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SCIENCETOYMKER SITE język polski

Who is making this scienctoymaker.org site
Why the dot org extension? Are you an organization?
Why is the background on your web pages so dark? Why don’t you have many real pictures?
Are there print-friendly pages?
When are you going to finish those “Under Construction” projects?
What are the future plans for the sciencetoymaker site?

Who is making this scienctoymaker.org site?
I am Slater Harrison, a technology teacher at the Jersey Shore Middle School in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania. You can see my "Schoolwires" pages with some good quotes here and a biography with pictures here. And here is a visitor from France's perspective written by my dear friend Jean-Yves.

Why the dot org extension? Are you an organization?

All the directions for all the projects are free for everyone. When I created the sciencetoymaker web site, I envisioned a community of people tinkering with science toys and contributing new innovations and new projects to the site in a communal spirit. Hundreds people have contributed feedback that has resulted in more clear instructions and cool variations. I wish more people who complete projects would also send in a picture or two of the actual finished projects. I'd like to post the pictures so other people can gain confidence in seeing they really can make the project just from the directions.

Why is the background on some your web pages so dark with drawings?

Well, the format of this web site illustrates the saying. “A little knowledge can be dangerous.” While this explanation gets slightly technical, it’s the same answer to all those questions. When I was first started learning about web pages, I discovered that drawn-illustrations with big blocks of color could be saved as GIF files. These GIF pictures are compressed in such a way as to be much smaller file size than JPEG pictures. The JPEG file format is used to save photographs. With GIFs having a smaller file size, I figured that the long pages of instructions would load faster for dial-up connections, and this is the case. Furthermore, it seemed that with line drawings I could emphasize important parts of the picture while eliminating clutter. I’d been traumatized by too many assembly instructions that had fuzzy, indecipherable pictures!

Once I decided to draw my own pictures instead of using photographs, I decided that having a black background made the colors seem to brighter—almost neon--especially light colors like yellow. Light colors hardly seem to show up against a white background at all. I did not realize that making pictures with black backgrounds goes through a lot of black ink when people try to print pages.

It's come to my attention that some people froth at the mouth and knash their teeth over my home page, what with the colors and layout. These people must lead dull lives to get so excited over such things.

All of my recent projects use instructional videos.

Are there print-friendly pages?

Making pages that print text in small black and white, and removing some of the ink-wasting black from the illustrations is on my "to do" list, but I never seem to have enough time.

When are you going to finish those “Under Construction” projects?

Web sites that just throw out some untested science project ideas drive me crazy. If the authors are too lazy to work out some of the details, the projects are frustrating and dispiriting. I try to refine projects on the sciencetoymaker site to the point that they are as practical for people to actually make as possible. Sometimes that takes time. Sometimes years!

Mind you, there is still plenty of potential for creative innovation to the finished projects. Throughout the site there are hundreds of tips from people who have made the projects and improved them.

What are the future plans for the sciencetoymaker site?

I learned about video production so I could make instructional videos of the science projects. I find it much more natural to show people how to do something than to try to convey intricate instructions just with words and static pictures. This is especially true of some of the more challenging projects. Some of the procedures of, say, the putt putt boat are not hard, but they are so far outside the experience most people have had. Show and tell is easier.

I am very interested in do-it-yourself alternative energy and appropriate technology. It might seem like a separate subject to some people, but to me tinkering with solar or wood-burning water heating or wind power seems like a natural, practical outgrowth of tinkering with science toys and projects. Here is my new appropriate technology section.

To go back to the sciencetoymaker.org home page, click here.