Lots of basketball

Antonio has been playing a lot of basketball. His coach entered their C.Y.O. team into a few tournaments and they did really well. They made it to the championship game in the Bayhawk Christmas Classic hosted by St. Dominic but fell to Sacred Heart, a stacked team from North Merrick that didn’t seem to belong in our division. Antonio has been heavy into PC gaming since he built his own computer this summer. He’s getting better and better with Adobe Photoshop, Premiere, and After Effects. I am still hoping he’ll wake up and start monetizing his growing skills. Lots of his peers could benefit from his ability to create intros to their youtube channel videos and Antonio is fully acclimated to the whole process.

As an aside… it’s interesting to see how Antonio and Giovanni differ in their view of technology. For Christmas, they both wanted upgraded video cards. Antonio wanted a GeForce 770 a hefty upgrade from his 660. Giovanni wanted nothing other than the 780, a card that came with a $200 premium over the 770. Antonio looked at the benchmarks and immediately saw only moderate performance gains over the 770. He knew Santa has a “budget” and opted for the 770 + some sleek new Air Jordan 11 Gamma Blue’s. In the end, Giovanni did get slightly better frames, but Antonio didn’t care and is loving his new basketball shoes.

Marco is even more intensely into basketball shoes than his older brother Antonio. He’s on 2 basketball teams and is online looking at shoes almost daily. Now, you may think these shoes are overrated. Overprice sure, that’s true. However, compared to a “cheap shoe” they definitely perform much better. When you watch Marco run across the court and stop on a dime, you know the shoe is doing it’s work. A lot of the kids in an “average” shoe are slipping and sliding all over the place. Of course, Marco uses baby wipes to clean the bottom of his shoes before and after every game so clearing the   dirt and dust from the rubber bottoms also helps. Who said obsession was a bad thing?

Sera is also in 2 basketball programs: C.Y.O. (Catholic Youth Organization) and P.A.L  (Police Activity League… I think). She loves it so far and now that I’ve been through things twice before with Antonio and Marco, I’m pretty well prepared to give her the opportunities the other boys didn’t have. That is… if you want to get good at a sport, you need to do it as much as you can, all year long. Hey, if they love it then I support them.

Infinity² – Giovanni and his band rock K.J. Farrells in Bellmore

Giovanni has been taking guitar lessons since January 2012 so he’s been playing for a little over a year now. He has also been in a band class since November. For this additional hour a week, he and a few other kids his age practice playing songs together. The band who call themselves Infinity² played their first gig at K.J. Farrells in Bellmore on February 10. The Music Emporium did a great job poutting together the event. K.J. Farrells is a great place for local live music. The Sunday afternoon was a perfect time, too, and we just barely missed canceling the event since we had that big snow storm the day before. They had Blonde Ambition on tap, a great beer from the Great South bay brewery. So that was like the cherry on top of a very tasty sundae.

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The members are as follows:

  • Brendan Tominey – Guitar
  • Giovanni Codignotto – Guitar <—- that’s my kid!
  • Max DeGeorge – Bass
  • Samantha Coppola – Vocals
  • Vincent Tenaglia – Drums

Brendan is Giovanni’s friend from school. They are led by a veteran musician Artie Blaurock. Arty has been playing in bands and teaching music for decades. If you google him you’ll see he’s got a lot of experience under his belt. In fact, he was Giovanni’s music teacher at his pre-school.

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There were a lot of bands playing that day and Infinity² were the closers. They rocked the house. Here is a shot of a bunch of Giovanni and Brendan’s friends from school, with Serafina as a bonus:

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Here is a picture of the band after one of their practices:

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Here are youtube links to each song. I got them all on video. At the end I have a link to Giovanni’s awesome solos.

Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey

Wanted Dead or Alive – Bon Jovi

Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin

Before He Cheats – Carrie Underwood

Unfortunately, the audio was cut off on this one. I guess it was good enough to trigger the DMCA hornets? However, I uploaded a copy of it to my website: http://primordia.com/upload/beforeHeCheats.mp4. It’s best to download this link, streaming is not optimized.

Beat It – Michael Jackson

And here is a special video I made that has all of Giovanni’s solos:

The band is working on their next gig. I think the experience is awesome and I’m so very proud of all the kids who played in the band. They are all so very talented. For Giovanni, I’m especially proud of his effort over the past year and how he pulled off some of those difficult solos.

Science Fair

This past weekend, we finished up Giovanni and Antonio’s science fair projects. We wound up doing two projects dealing with electricity. We had changed plans a few weeks ago as our original idea was to grow plants. I don’t know what the kids were thinking when they picked those projects. Electricity is so much cooler than growing plants in different soils and seeing  how they grew. I mean, if we were growing carnivorous plants, that might be pretty cool. But I digress.

Antonio’s project was called “Is this connected to  that” and it was about an electrical circuit and conductive materials. Antonio build a tester himself from instructions on the intertubes. We got a little buzzer, some alligator clips, some wire, a battery holder and a few batteries. Here is a diagram of what he made:

Circuit tester components

Antonio generated a chart of materials that conducted electricity. We also tried a few light bulbs and saw if we could make them glow. We couldn’t make the household ones glow cause those require a lot more voltage. We had a few small 3V tiny light bulbs that lit up fine. When it came time for an Ikea 12V bulb, we had to use 8 batteries in series. Here is a picture of that bulb all glowy:

Lighting a 12W bulb

That’s our unit with 8 batteries, here is the finished 3V tester with buzzer:

Finished curcuit tester

We also experimented with a lamp, seeing that the switch broke the circuit and removing the light bulb also broke the circuit. The cool thing was that all of this was new to Antonio so he learned a ton. I also learned that 8 batteries put together in series can create quite the sparkle show if you don’t pay attention.

Giovanni’s project saw the construction of the world’s simplest motor. Here are  the components:

Materials for the simple motor

This was a pretty fun project. We used neodymium magnets, which are always a lot of fun. They are also a pain in the ass cause they draw things from quite a distance and it’s not uncommon to get pinched in a sudden and painful manner. The laser tachometer was very cool. It’s rated at measuring speeds up to 100k rpm. We were able to get this motor spinning at 4900 rpm, which is pretty damn fast. We spent a lot of time eliminating friction and making sure the motor was balanced. WD-40 was our friend. Giovanni and I had a little contest to see who could get the thing spinning the fastest. We did a bunch of trials with different number of batteries.

Here was some of our raw data:

Magnets Top Observed Speed in rounds per minute (rpm) Notes
2 200 Could not really get it going
3 2400 Super-well balanced
3 2800 Super-well balanced
3 1200 Slight wobble
4 1900 Well balanced, low friction
4 1200 Well balanced, low friction
4 900 Wobbled
4 4400 Super smooth
5 1200 Well balanced, low friction
5 4900 Super smooth
5 1520 Well balanced, low friction
11 4400 Super-well balanced

We massaged the data and were able to see these trends:

 

data

 

We would have ran a lot more trials to get a better statistical distribution, but getting the thing up to speed was not easy. Sometimes we could not get friction eliminated. Sometimes we expecte the batteries were getting drained. It really wasn’t easy. If I were more handy, I would have tried to build some kind of rigging that would keep things more stable, but I’m not that handy.

Until next year!