Teen-age children as experimental subjects

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Sandra Porter
We always enjoy home science experiments and it was fun the other night to learn about a new experiment we could try with our teenage daughter and an iPhone. As it turned out, the joke was on us. My husband is an enthusiastic fan of the iPhone store. Last night, he downloaded this application called "Army Knife." This application has, I kid you not, the following nine items:
  • unit converter - these are always helpful, especially if you travel
  • ultrasonic whistle
  • protractor
  • Heart (beats per minute) counter
  • measuring tape
  • digital caliper
  • Two levels
  • flashlight
  • emergency SOS light
Some of these are amazing enough to consider, when you realize you're doing this with a phone. I mean, a tape measure? It works, though. And, if you happened to be out shopping and wondering what would fit where, you might not have a tape measure, but you would most likely have your phone. That's all fine and probably useful, but we found the ultrasonic whistle to be the really fun way to spend some time. The whistle makes noise at different frequencies and supposedly you can only hear certain frequencies when you're below a certain age. That's a challenge that's hard to resist. After making sure we couldn't hear those different frequencies, we tried our dog.
Figure 1. Koko pays attention. The cats continue sleeping.

This wasn't a good experiment since the dog tends to notice us hovering around her and looking for a response. It only took a moment before she got really excited and brought her toy, just in case we wanted to throw it somewhere. I mean you never know. We really might want to grab a slimy spit-sodden stuffed animal and throw it down the hallway for the dog retrieval game. We might or we might think first. Retrieving toys can be an infinite loop process with our dog. On to our child. My husband set the phone on the proper frequency and tiptoed upstairs. "What's that noise?!!" she cried, exasperated and a bit perturbed by his grinning face. "Oh you hear it!" Yeah, of course. (translation: how you be so stupid, of course I hear it) It's playing a special frequency! Isn't that cool? Oooooh (long sigh, extremely bored, exasperated look). OMG! I can't believe you don't know about that! What? Dad! People have been using those sounds as ring tones for years!! Where have you been?!! We use them because teachers can't hear them!! How could you not know that?!! (look of shock on parental faces) And Parents, no one over 30 Twitters, okay? OMG, I can't believe it.

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