3 Rs




Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Cousins' Christmas Party

What a wonderful way to spend a Monday.

I left my home for the 450 km drive to Windsor, ON to attend the Cousins' (Cuz) Christmas Party at my Cuz Jan's house in LaSalle (next to Windsor). I was greeted at the door by Susan, Jan's sister who gave me a big hug as I walked in. We hadn't seen each other in years. I chatted with Alice, John's wife. John is Jan's older brother who was attending a funeral with Jan and they would drop by the party later.

Cousins came in, one after another bringing gifts and food. Of the 19 of us in the room, three of us were men. Even Jan's ferocious attack dog ISIS, a Chihuahua was a girl. My uncle Chess and Aunt Bess had three girls, Marg, Shirley and Betty Faye. They each had more girls. It was uncanny. So many girls.

I performed the marriage of my cuz John and his wife Alice in a United Church in Windsor according to the Anglican rite several years ago. It was the last marriage that I performed as an Anglican minister. As John pointed out, "It was a great ceremony. We're still married."

John and I were reminiscing about the marriage ceremony. John told me I had my surplice (white vestment worn over the black cassock) on inside out. "I forgot about that," I said. "Performing the service before one's family and the relatives was nerve-wracking enough," I said. We laughed some more..

Many fond memories were shared among the cousins and we laughed heartily throughout the evening.

John, Jan and Susan
John, Jan and Susan are the children of Ernie and Janet Kain. Ernie was my mother's brother. In order of birth there was Sam, Bess, Margaret (my mother whom everybody called Gret), Helen and Gord. Jan has all the info in her Kain ancestry binder that she continues to research. Jan pointed out that a few generations ago, like great, great, great grandfather was a smuggler. How cool is that? She also discovered that the smuggler was an Irishman by the name of Robertson. He was caught by the local constabulary but he escaped Ireland, changed his name to Kain and fled to Scotland. My mother's father was born in Scotland and while I've been boasting of my Scottish background, it may be possible that our background is really Irish.

I look forward to next year's Cuz Christmas Party. It was wonderful meeting so many of my cousins, but I would need more than a few hours to chat with each one. Perhaps next year, all the cousins will be in attendance and perhaps Jan will have uncovered more secrets of our ancestry.
Stan looking at Jan's ancestry album
A few of my wonderful cousins chatting and munching
John, Alice and Stan

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Taylor's Pneumatic Toys: How to Build Toys Out of Wood with Your Children

A book review by Sylvia Welke.

Stan Taylor, a long-time science teacher, STAO member, and contributor, has written a great little manual for building cool toys that demonstrate the principle of the multiplication of force. Not only can this instructive manual assist teachers with the grade 8 science curriculum through its hands-on activities but it can also be useful for secondary physics units on force. You can tell that Stan had a great time creating these toys with his grandchildren (his interspersed anecdotes attest to this) and we are lucky that he decided to share his building skills and physics knowledge. It is a great resource for anyone with an interest in building fun toys.

The book details nine different experimental setups including a pneumatically-controlled miniature Canadarm, the construction of a front-end loader, and a McDigger. What is great is that these experiments in pneumatics result in toys to be enjoyed for a long time after they are built. Each pneumatic toy is described in detail and comes with a well-labelled diagram and step-by-step photos. In order to construct these toys, some basic materials are needed, such as pieces of wood of different sizes and shapes, some syringes, tubing for the syringes, and wooden wheels. With each toy, all required materials are listed and step-by-step instructions help the novice through the building of each toy, which is best tried at home first, if possible.

A lab bench or some other work space is also useful. Teachers should dedicate several periods to construct each toy, and some assembly beforehand might facilitate classroom work. Teachers can approach the construction of any one of the pneumatic toys as a teacher-guided activity, a student-led inquiry or some mix of the latter.

Stan has included a short section on useful websites as well as suggestions for evaluation and rubrics
(for toy design and construction) for teachers. In all, it is a useful resource for teachers, parents, and
budding engineers.

To order this book, go to http://stao.ca/store2/index.php?cPath=32_44 (http://stao.ca/store2/index.php?

“I’ve designed pneumatic toys elementary and secondary students can build using wood. I have drawings and pictures of each toy with instructions on how to build them. Children have the opportunity to learn the joy of working with wood to the construction of an end product. Children and adults alike have learned through my workshops how to make many of the toys in this book. The sparkle in the eye of a child and the broad smile of an educator when they have made the toy and when they see it working is most gratifying. I am not a carpenter. My ‘toys’ are available for everyone to build and with care, should last a lifetime. Let the fun begin!” – Stanley R. Taylor

Sylvia Welke is a member of the STAO Promotions C
This entry was posted in Gr 7-8 Science & Tech, Gr. 11-12 Physics and tagged activity, design, inquiry,
pneumatics, tools.

Monday, October 13, 2014


My Benign Essential Tremor started when I was about nine or ten years of age. I used to build model planes out of plastic as opposed to wood because I experienced difficulty carving the balsa to the desired shape. I don’t recall if I had tremors when working with wood. I do recall having difficulty putting the small sails and thread-like webbing on the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, my first models when I was a boy. Plastic pieces that fit into each other with a male and female connection were easier to assemble than playing with wood.

My tremor was dianosed as a neurologic movement disorder by Dr. Michael Stuparyk in 1983. He referred to it as a benign essential tremour, It is characterized by involuntary fine rhythmic tremor of my left arm and hand. It has affected my head slightly, and as I entered my senior years it has affected my voice, tongue, and the roof of my mouth (palate), which at times makes it difficult to articulate speech. In retrospect, when I was in Grade 5, I had to attend a special class after school for an hour. My teacher told me that I wasn’t articulating my words clearly. It was referred to as Speech Class, or that’s what I remember it being called.

My neurosurgeon, Dr.Andres M Lozano of Toronto Western Hospital   simply calls it an Essential Tremor. Benign is usually associated with person s who have a growth that is non-cancerous. That may be why the word 'benign" was dropped.

Unlike people with Parkinson’s disease, the Essential Tremor is non-life threatening. Tremors increase in amplitude with age, usually starting in the forties. In my case, manipulating utensils and drinking liquids from a glass is a challenge.

I was in a restaurant one time and the waitress asked what we wanted to drink. I replied, “I’ll have an apple juice with a straw.” The other three of my colleagues ordered coffee. She looked at me funny and said, “Would you like the kiddie’s menu as well?” I replied with no facial expression and looked her right in the eyes, “I’ll have an apple juice with a straw, please.” I didn’t get upset with her. She didn’t know. I wasn’t offended at all. Some people are ignorant of the disabilities of others. Besides, to put the scene into context, we were joking and laughing before she popped the question. As we ate our breakfast and she noticed my tremors, as I spotted her in my peripheral vision, she had a hurt look on her face bordering on remorse. Poor woman.

Before my deep brain implant to control my tremors, I stopped going out to restaurants. It was just too embarrassing. I changed my attitude with the implant. Although my tremors have come back, I still go to restaurants. If it’s a buffet, I get the person in front of me to put food on my plate People are genuinely nice. They have made my life easier and I am grateful.

This piece about my tremor is an introduction to what is to come. I am going to post videos on YouTube with me building my pneumatically controlled Canadarm, piece by piece. It will be a mini-how-to-series especially for people with tremors. We have to feel useful and that we can contribute something. I am fortunate. I have conducted science workshops for children and adults on how to build my Canadarm. It is great fun.

I have a workshop coming up on Saturday, November 15, 2014 from 2:15-3:15 pm. The following is posted on the on-line flyer: " Pneumatic models such as: Front end loaders, Hickory Dickory Dock clock, Brakes and Tow Truck models will be demonstrated. Participants will build a miniature pneumatic controlled Canadarm to take home." (Resource: www.stao.ca/program).

China to Mars

An purportedly anonymous official of the China National Space Administration has indicated that China will continue with its deep space mission and that it will put a man on Mars in 2020.

I do a Space workshop with Grade 6 students through Scientists in School (www.scientistsinschool.ca). In my presentation, I state that China will be the first country to put a man on Mars. My rationale is quite simple: China doesn't have the battles of the budget that plague Western countries. China's leader doesn't change as frequently as Western leaders which simply means it is easier to stay the course.

I interviewed a scientist a few years ago who was involved with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). "Positioned 1.5 millions km from Earth in the cold darkness of space, JWST will be able to discover and study objects thousands of times fainter than those seen by current telescopes." (This quote is from an article I published in Crucible, September, 2010). The telescope was to be launched in 2012. It's still on the ground in a laboratory. The USA changed leaders and the telescope was no longer a priority.

Each country has its own brilliant scientists. I was pleased when India sent a spacecraft to Mars; the first Asian country to do so.

Did you know that NASA through thought about setting up a launch site on Cape Breton Island (Canada) which is on the same line of latitude as Kazakhstan? They changed their minds, and leaders. The USA says it will put a person on Mars in 2030 and they have been saying this for the past five years. Too late.

I can't wait to see which country does what in the next few years of space exploration. We live in exciting times.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Rocket Lab

A New Zealand Rocket Lab aerospace company company can build and launch a ten ton rocket at a fraction of the cost of current rockets for smaller satellite payloads. See http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/gadgets/60372738/kiwi-rocket-company-ready-to-blast-off

Monday, July 14, 2014

Front-end Loader

See the front-end loader my grandson Jakob made when he was 8 years old at


The story behind this 'toy', pictures and plans (pp 13-16) Taylor's Pneumatic Toys. Also check out my "Brakes" video on YouTube.
can be found in my book,

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Canadian Author Stan Taylor’s New Book

Ontario Association of Physics Teachers Conference
Book Reviews

“New book inspires young people to build scientific toys.”  Randy Attwood, Senior Editor   SpaceRef Canada Interactive Inc.

“I highly recommend this book to any parent that would like to spend some quality and creative time with their child.” David Anderson, Ph.D. Retired Physicist

“Stan Taylor has written a delightful little book that ought to be a standard classroom reference for every middle school Design & Tech teacher.” Tim Langford, Newsletter Editor, Ontario Association of Physics Teachers

Carly Reed, Steve Spangler's Manager states: “Steve Spangler’s book review team all agree that Stanley R Taylor did a great job on his book, Taylor’s Pneumatic Toys.”
 “Mr. Taylor has produced an interesting, well-illustrated, book which describes nine simplified models of miniature, pneumatic robotic items. Their parts can be ( and have been ) assembled by elementary school students. These are indeed 'educational' toys but they are also entertaining and thus will trigger many variations by the students themselves. (Well done Stan ! )”
Bruce Aikenhead, Designer of Canadarm

Stan with his pneumatically controlled Canadarm
Stan resides in Leaskdale, ON with his family

Saturday, June 7, 2014

My Pneumatically Controlled Canadarm

I am a retired educator from the Toronto Catholic District School Board. I sit on the editorial board of the Science Teachers Association of Ontario for our two e-journals, Elements and Crucible. I also do hands-on science workshops with Scientists in School.
My book, Taylor’s Pneumatic Toys, features toys elementary and secondary students can build using wood. My book can supplement the Grade 6 “Space,” Grade 8 “Fluids” and Grade 9 “Earth and Space” science” curricula. I have drawings and pictures of each toy with instructions on how to build them. Children have the opportunity to learn the joy of working with wood to the construction of an end product. My signature toy, the pneumatic Canadarm, has been a hit with children and educators alike. Four weeks ago, I taught Ray Bielecki’s AstroNut Kids how to make my Canadarm. Children ranged in age from 8 to 14 (picture top right). Last May I taught secondary educators how to build my Canadarm at the Ontario Association of Physics Teachers annual conference at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.
I have also taught educators how to build my Canadarm at
· Space Exploration Educators Conference (SEEC) at John Space Center (NASA) in Houston, February, 2013 and 2014 and
· The Science Teachers Association of Ontario (STAO) annual conference in Toronto, November, 2012 and 2013 and I will be teaching it again in November of this year.
The first toy in my book is on the “Multiplication of Power” and can be found in the Nov/Dec 2013 edition of Canadian Teacher, pp 16-17.
Taylor’s Pneumatic Toys (ISBN 978-0-9918098-0-6) can be purchased online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indego, STAO Store, or directly from me at Stanley R Taylor Communications, PO Box 137, Leaskdale, ON L0C 1C0 for $25.00, which includes HST and shipping.
Please see the previous four posts of book reviews.
I am available to do workshops on my pneumatically controlled Canadarm within a 250 km radius of downtown Toronto with up to 30 Grades 6, 8 and 9 educators on a mutually agreeable date. I charge $25.00 per person (minimum of 10 educators) plus mileage at 40 cents/km over 100 km, one way.
Stanley R Taylor

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Johnson Space Center, Houston

February 5-9, 2014 was full of adventure and excitement. It was my second year presenting at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Although the weather was cool (40s F) it was certainly warmer than the below freezing double digit temperatures that I left in Canada. My presenbtation went well after a rocky start. The PA system wasn't working properly. The video of Canadarm i and II prepared for me by Steve Lang of the Canadian Space Resource Center in Toronto projected clearly on the large screen behind me, but the audi feed wasn't working. I cancelled the video and jumped right into teaching the 19 educators present how to build my pneumatically controlled Canadarm. The workshop went very well as I observed broad smiles on the faces of the participants as they made their booms go up and down and watched their end effectors rotate. The participants dep[arted as I cleaned up the tables and my demstration area. I grabbed my onme remaining box of 4 and headed out to catch my bus. A woman coming in to do a presentation informed me that the bus had left. I had a sick feeling in my gut. I had to get back to mthe space center museum building to catch another bus to take me on the Mission Control Tour. A bus arrived an hour later. Missed the tour. Sigh. Later that day I went on another tour at Rocket Park and saw an Atlas 5 rocket in a huge building. I guessed it was four stories high on its side. Walking the length of this rocket seemed like a city block and then some. It was huge. I learned that the propellant came out of each stage via tiny holes on the inside of the erxhaust system. Beside these little jets were smaller jets that emitted liquid hydrogen so that the metal exhaust sections wouldn't melt under the extreme heat caused by the thrust. Stage 1 held one million gallons of fuel which it exhausted in 2 minutes. The sond Stage held half a million gallons and the third stage just under a quarter of a million gallons. All this fuel just to launch into outer space. To be continued...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth Book Review

Chris Hadfield, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Book Review by Stan Taylor, author of Taylor’s Pneumatic Toys Chris Hadfield is the consummate story-teller. From his well-placed metaphors and similies in his opening paragraph to the plain language of the concluding paragraph, Chris has drawn you into his world and into his life. The sounds he experienced and the sensations he felt as the spacecraft leaves the launch pad resounded in my head as I read his account. It was as if I was sitting in the seat beside him, feeling what he felt and hearing the sounds he was hearing. His writing style is mesmerizing. He’s telling a story of a folk hero. I experienced the hootnanies of the 60s and the folk music of the 70s. Chris was speaking my language. Yet, as I learned later in the book, Chris never thought of himself as a hero. His folk songs aren`t about him: They`re about us. The middle of the book is concerned with the Sims; simulated training scenarios of anything and everything that could possibly go wrong from leaving the launch pad to his mission aboard the ISS. He made me realize the seriousness of doing the sims over and over, never looking at each as the ‘same old’ but with a refreshing new perspective. He was trained so thoroughly that should an emergency arise, and knowing he had only seconds to react, he would react with a calm reserve and determination. Chris states, “The life of an astronaut is one of simulating, practicing and anticipating, trying to build the necessary skills and create the correct mind-set.” (p. 172). It is this ‘mind-set’ that served him well in his training, spending two years in Russia to learn the language, and to making the most of his final mission to the ISS. Chris Hadfield is an ordinary man who has accomplished extraordinary feats. Upon reading his book, I felt privileged to be sharing his training and raw determination from his first mission to his last. An Astronaut`s Guide to Life on Earth is a subtle guide for us all and should be in everyone`s home.