Congratulations, Muggles! You have been accepted as a virtual exchange student at Hogwarts! This new Wizard Studies Program is designed for non-magic folk (like yourselves)! But instead of learning charms and transfiguration: You'll be using Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math to bring a little magic to your every day lives!
You won't need textbooks or a lot of supplies. But you will be reading and discussing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. If you don't already have it, you can get a free copy of the eBook or Audiobook from your library! It's free on OverDrive and Libby through May 31. You can even sign up for an Instant Digital Card if you don't already have one. More information about that below...
Overview of Chapters 12 & 13
The Invisibility Cloak, the Mirror, and the Alchemist
These In these chapters, we jump forward a bit from Halloween to Christmas at Hogwarts. Of course, the trio are still trying to figure out what Hagrid's three-headed dog (Fluffy) is guarding. Their only lead: It has to do with Nicolas Flamel! So, Harry, using his new invisibility cloak does what any reasonable person would do: He goes to the library looking for answers! When in doubt, always go to the library! While he's out exploring after hours, he also stumbles upon something called the Mirror of Erised (which backwards spells "desire"). Because he's never known his family, the most desperate desire of his heart was to see them standing alongside him. But what do others see in this mirror? And why would Dumbledore just leave something like that sitting out? Curious... Very curious.
So, there's a lot to cover! First up, though:
Are you caught up? Be sure to read both chapters before you go any further.
How to use green screen to make it look like your head is floating through the air!
You've heard of Nearly Headless Nick right? Well, get ready for Completely Headless Jeremy! No! I didn't lose it! I just made my body invisible using the magic of green screen technology.
Even though I use the word "magic" this is actually technology... And, it's fairly simple tech. And we see it all the time. Meteorologists on the news, standing in front of a map and telling us the weather forecast are using green screen. They aren't actually standing in front of a map. They're just standing in front of a green wall or fabric screen. An app or software then takes all of the green out of the image. That's called a "chroma key" or "chroma key filter."
Hint: "chroma" is just a fancy word for color. Once they take out that one color (usually green but sometimes blue)... the photo or video can be superimposed (or put on top of) another image or video. Pretty cool right?
The Harry Potter films also used green screen technology... to make characters "fly" on broomsticks, for example.
There are lots of apps and software programs out there for green screen videos. Some are free and some are not. Usually, with the free apps, there's a watermark or logo in the video and you can pay to have that removed from the final video.
If you want to add some original drawings or animation to your video, you might also check out their "Animation & Drawing by Do Ink" app.
For these videos, I also purchased an officially licensed Harry Potter "Invisibility Cloak." But I could have used another green piece of fabric... I also purchased a lighting kit that came with a green screen (and a big mounting apparatus).
If you're trying this at home: Just make sure to use a bright green or bright blue fabric that's well-lit. If you do this often enough, you may also want to look into a chroma-key green paint for the wall. It's easier for the software to remove the green or blue color that way (no wrinkles from fabric).
If it's not well-lit, you might see green artifacts left over where there are shadows or wrinkles. You don't need studio lights... but you do want to try to use a combination of "soft" or diffused light along with the "hard" or direct light... So, not all the light you use should be directly from the source. Some of it should be softened by a white (semi transparent) filter. That will cut down on the shadows that get cast on the green screen. But it'll also make your face look better. No one wants scary shadows on their face. Just don't use anything flammable to cover the lights! Lights can get really hot... even if you're using LED like I am. It also helps if the lights are all the same kind. Have you ever noticed that some lights look more white or bright than others?
Don't stand right up against the green screen either. You'll cast a shadow and the software will have a harder time taking the green out around you. You will also want to make sure you don't wear any green or use objects with green in them unless you want them to disappear! Can you imagine a meteorologist wearing a green shirt? They'd have no torso... they'd just be a floating head and hands... That'd be kinda creepy. Unless creepy is what you're going for!
Nicolas Flamel was a famous alchemist from history who - in the fictional world of Harry Potter - made something called the Sorcerer's Stone (also known as the Philosopher's Stone in some countries). While Flamel was a real person, his work with Albus Dumbledore (on the uses of Dragon's blood) and the Sorcerer's Stone are just part of the story that JK Rowling created.
Alchemists were a little bit like chemists or scientists of today. However, there's a few big differences. Among other things, Alchemists were famous for trying to turn base metals (like lead) into pure gold. While synthesizing gold is technically possible with modern technology (using a particle accelerator), it's not financially practical. So, it won't make you rich. It might actually cost more money to make than it would be worth! Oops!
The "Great Work" (Magnum Opus) of most alchemists was not just making gold, though: Just like the stone in the book, the Sorcerer's Stone was also supposed to cure any ailment and make the drinker immortal. Now that might be worth something.
In this activity, we're going to make something called an oobleck. Like the Sorcerer's Stone, it's a little more than what it seems. It acts like a liquid sometimes and a solid at other times... and reacts based on changes in pressure!
Pour one cup of cornstarch into the mixing bowl, and dip your hands into it. Can you feel how smooth the powder is? It's made up of super-fine particles.
Now pour the water in, mixing slowly as you go. Keep adding more water until the mixture becomes thick (and hardens when you tap on it). Add more cornstarch if it gets too runny, and more water if it becomes too thick.
Add a few drops of food coloring if desired. (If you want to turn your Oobleck another hue, it’s easier to add the coloring to the water before you mix it with the cornstarch.)
Oobleck is non-toxic, but please use caution when doing any science activity. Be careful not to get it in your eyes, and wash your hands after handling the Oobleck.
Roll up your sleeves and prepare to get messy! Drop your hands quickly into the Oobleck, then slowly lower your hands into it. Notice the difference!
Hold a handful in your open palm—what happens?
Try squeezing it in your fist or rolling it between your hands—how does it behave differently?
Move your fingers through the mixture slowly, then try moving them faster.
What else can you do to test the mixture's properties?
Extra: If you have a large plastic bin or tub, you can make a big batch of Oobleck. Multiply the quantity of each ingredient by 10 or more and mix it up. Take off your shoes and socks and try standing in the Oobleck! Can you walk across it without sinking in? Let you feet sink down and then try wiggling your toes. What happens?
Observations and results What is happening when you squeeze the Oobleck? What is happening when you release the pressure? Does the Oobleck remind you of anything else?
Cleanup Wash hands with water. Add plenty of extra water to the mixture before pouring it down the drain. Wipe up any dried cornstarch with a dry cloth before cleaning up any remaining residue with a damp sponge.
Other, more familiar substances change states (from solids to liquids to gases) when we change the temperature, such as freezing water into ice or boiling it away into steam.
This simple mixture shows how changes in pressure, instead of temperature, can change the properties of some materials. Oobleck and other pressure-dependent substances (such as Silly Putty and quicksand) are not liquids such as water or oil. They are known as non-Newtonian fluids.
To learn more about the Science behind how normal fluids versus non-Newtonian fluids behave, click this link. To put it simply: "If you apply a force to such fluids (say you hit, shake or jump on them), the sudden application of stress can cause them to get thicker and act like a solid, or in some cases it results in the opposite behavior and they may get runnier than they were before. Remove the stress (let them sit still or only move them slowly) and they will return to their earlier state." It's not magic. It's Science!
Upcoming S.T.E.A.M. challenges: There's only two modules left!
In Module 7: We'll Engineer a Magical Egg Drop Contraption and I'll Teach You How to Make Your Own Flying Dragon!
In Module 8: We'll Be Playing Wizard’s Chess with Moving Pieces Using Stop Motion Animation and we're having fun with Math in "Harry Potter and the Dichotomous Keys" Using Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans.
Complete a Digital Escape Room as the Final Challenge!
It's Christmas! And Harry received a rather interesting present from a mysterious gift-giver: an invisibility cloak. The note says it once belonged to Harry's father! How cool is that? If you had an invisibility cloak - what would you use it for? Before you say secret late night trips to the library: You should know that our security system is motion-activated.
In the Mirror of Erised, Harry sees his parents for the first time. The Dursley's didn't show him pictures (if they had any). So, it's a really special but sad moment. What's more: He's unable to communicate with his parents - except by waving. Nevertheless: Harry comes back night after night. It's hard to lose a loved one. Sometimes, all we have to remember them by are old pictures or maybe items they once owned or things they gave to us. Ron hasn't experienced a loss like that. When he looks into the mirror, he sees himself winning a prize. He's one of the youngest in a big family, afraid he'll always be compared to his bigger brothers. What do you think you'd see in the mirror? I think I'd see a happy future with the ones I love.
There's more Quidditch in these chapters and more of Professor Snape. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are convinced that Snape has it out for Harry and that he'll do anything to make sure the Gryffindor's don't win. Why do you think they distrust him so much? Does it just have to do with Snape's leg following the troll incident at Halloween? Or are there other signs that he may be up to something even more nefarious than rigging a Quidditch game?
You also read about Professors Snape and Quirrell getting into a argument... in the Forbidden Forest no less! How sketchy is that?! What do you think Snape is up to? And how is Quirrell involved?
Thanks to Neville (and the chocolate frog cards), Harry remembers where he's heard the name Nicolas Flamel before! Hermione realizes that she's had a book about the alchemist in her dormitory for weeks! Turns out, he's an alchemist who's worked with Dumbledore in the past... and he succeeded in making a Sorcerer's Stone! It turns any metal into gold and produces an elixir that makes the drinker immortal! That's definitely something you'd go to great lengths to protect... and it could very well be what the three-headed dog (Fluffy) is guarding! If you had the power to turn any metal into gold or to live forever... would you? What would you do with all of that time and money? Would you keep it all for yourself? Or would you share it with others?
We learn a lot about Harry's character in these chapters. First: he's not afraid to break the rules! For one thing... he keeps turning up in places he's not supposed to be. More importantly, though: the mirror reveals what's in Harry's heart. He doesn't desire riches or fame. He craves love and belonging. His reaction to the presents the Weasley's gave him for Christmas are another example of this. He was so shocked and delighted that anyone would think of him... he was used to not getting anything. Why do you think the author showed us this side of Harry? Does it make you sympathize with him? Does it make him seem like more of a hero?
The Mirror of Erised is also the first time Harry and Dumbledore have gotten to speak one-on-one. Dumbledore seems kind (if a little eccentric). But he also seems to be holding back a lot. Why do you think he didn't tell Harry what he sees in the mirror? Do you think the author just likes making Dumbledore appear mysterious? Or do you think there's something more to it?
If you want to share your thoughts with your professor:
If you have videos or photos you'd like to share with us or with the rest of Putnam County, please send those along, too! We would love to see some of your completed challenges!
This program is made possible by a Library Services and Technology Act grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences. It is administered locally by the Florida Department of State Division of Library and Information Services (commonly known as the "State Library") with help from the Putnam Alachua Levy (PAL) Public LIbrary Cooperative.
Go to the library's website: FunInPutnam.com and click on "eBooks" at the top to learn more about OverDrive and Libby. If you're using a computer, I'd recommend OverDrive. If you're reading on a smart device or if you're listening on a phone, I'd recommend Libby. You can find the apps for both in the Google Play or Apple App Store. Sign in by choosing "Putnam County Library System" in the list of libraries and then entering your library card number. If you don't have a card, sign up for an Instant Digital Card using a mobile phone number.
Watch celebrities read aloud from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Did you know that the British version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone has a different title? It's the same story, though! So feel free to read along with Daniel Radcliffe, Eddie Redmayne, and others. For more information, click here. To hear Daniel Radcliffe (who played Harry Potter in the films) read "The Boy Who Lived" (Chapter 1), click here. For more chapter themed challenges developed by the folks at WizardingWorld.com, just click here.
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