Be backyard scientist. Use a hula hoop to isolate an area to observe.
And if you don't have a hoop, make one! Scroll down for step-by-step instructions.
How representative is a hoop-size backyard sample of the whole ecosystem?
You may question this observation, but it’s what scientists have to do all the time— whether they’re sampling the deep ocean, bringing back moon rocks, or looking at blood through a microscope. Choose a spot for your hoop that seems to have a lot happening inside, but be aware that there may be even more (or less!) happening at other places in the ecosystem. You can observe what’s in your hoop just once, or repeat at different times of the day— or year. Take notes and photograph or sketch what passes through.
It takes about an hour to make a hula hoop. Times will vary when it comes to mastering the art of using one!
WHAT YOU NEED FOR EACH HOOP
- irrigation or other flexible tubing
- 3/4-inch (2-cm) connector
- pipe cutter (it’s usually on sale near the tubing)
- duct tape
- unpopped popcorn to place inside the tube to make a shh-shh sound when moved
- gaffer’s tape, hockey tape, electrical tape, or other tape in colors for decoration
- hair dryer to warm ends of pipe to allow you to insert the connector
- bucket of water to soak pipe ends to allow you to insert the connector
Measure the diameter you want for the hoop. This measurement should be the same as your measurement from the ground to your belly button.
Stretch the tubing out from the coil into a circle with the designated diameter. You can also calculate the circumference of the circle, using the diameter measurement and this formula:
C (circumference) = D (diameter) x 3.14 (pi)
Cut the tubing to this measurement, using the pipe cutter.
(Be sure to have adult supervision! It’s a sharp tool.)
Pour some uncooked popcorn kernels into the tube.
Use the connector to connect the two ends of the tubing together. You do this by pushing the ends of the connector into the ends of the tubing. It’s supposed to be tight, so you may need to push hard to get the connector into the tubing.
Secure the connection with duct tape. If you're having trouble getting the connector to go in, try warming the ends of the tubing with a hair dryer or soaking them in a bucket of water.
Decorate your hoop by winding colored tape around it in a spiral pattern. Add little pieces of tape or stickers to make it fancier!
HOW TO USE THE HULA HOOP
Hold it around your waist. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart or slightly wider, with one foot ahead of the other. As fun as it may seem, there's no need to go wild swinging your hips! Just shift your weight from one foot to the other, practicing a while to figure out how fast and hard you need to go to keep the hoop up.
WHAT TO EXPECT
You may find you don’t need as fast an action to keep this hoop circling your waist and that you’ll be able to do more tricks.
WHAT’S GOING ON?
A heavier hoop—and a larger hoop—takes longer to make a revolution around your waist, which makes them easier to “hoop” than a typical toy-store Hula-Hoop.
All photos by Matthew Rakola
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