twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
The "Twilight Time" tutoring sessions are moving forward slowly but surely.

Sweetie Belle's has progressed from sorting the gem grit by color and size to arranging it in abstract swirls. She now makes more complex patterns via magically enhanced harmonies, such as simple diffraction of streams of gem grit through a narrow gap in a magic shield. I think the notes she takes in her field book helps her to focus and improve.

Applebloom's glassware vibrates a bit under the influence of Sweetie Belle's humming and I could swear the color and length of the strings Applebloom pulls out of her pitchers and flasks match the color of the grit Sweetie Belle is moving. Applebloom is also developing a very strong glue. It just hardens too quickly and it needs to be more flexible.

Scootaloo has built a few wild scooter designs out of cloth, scroll paper and Applebloom's glue. Long boards, short stunt boards, boards with longer hang-times. Her wax canvas field notebook is already three quarters full of design ideas for all sort of mechanical things, from better gears to fixed wings to tire treads. I'm having her build an index on the last few pages to keep better track of what she's done and to find things faster. She's also playing with ways to weave Applebloom's fibers with reeds to create a lightweight board. I think Rarity could help her with that.

At the end of the session, I had the fillies stick short strands of Applebloom's strings to Scootaloo's near-finished vehicles, tie them down and move everything else into a nearby room. Then I opened up a few doors in the stairwell to the upper floors, opened the front doors, and we had a windtunnel in the corridor. The fillies were thrilled, throwing bits of paper into the gale and leaning into the wind. I told, shouted really, that wind was howling, to Scootaloo to look carefully how the air flowed over her designs and to look for straight and wagging strings. After I closed the doors I explained drag and turbulence, putting into words things Scootaloo had a feel for before but now she could visualize.

They were so excited that I think all three must have run all the way to their clubhouse to work some more on building the perfect scooter.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Overall, I think the lesson with Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo and Applebloom went well.

Applebloom followed Zecora's instructions and turned chopped reeds into a goopy smelly liquid that shot out of her flask, ignited, and stood for an instant as a red and blue column of flame that just about touched the ceiling of the grand hallway. Scootaloo was enthralled. She calls it Applebloom's Voice of Fire. That was not the intended result. I was expecting an epoxy glue.

Scootaloo's project is to design and build a better trailer for her scooter. The one she has is very sturdy, but it isn't light or attractive. I told her that with laminated plant fibers, she can take the sturdy frame of her trailer, cut out the extra weight while retaining key structural components, and build a light weight chassis over that. She gave me a blank look. OK. Trying again, I said, draw some pictures of what the most awesome, and cool, (and something else, I can't remember what it was Dash says), trailer would look like. Then take apart a spare trailer and put enough of it back together so that holds together and can carry a full load. Next, on that frame, weave a mesh structure based on the best drawing. The plant fibers will be laminated to the mesh structure with Applebloom's epoxy. Paint comes last.

She made several drawings. I think that soon she is going to need a wind chamber.

Sweetie Belle sweated hard over the sand and grit. It's not easy getting that many tiny rocks to move at the same time. The tourmaline grit is quite pretty, so she took that jar home with her to practice on.

I gave each of them their very own wax canvas field notebooks so they can track their progress, work out problems and build on their discoveries. Scootaloo has started her's with her design ideas for her 'cool' trailer; Applebloom has Zecora's procedures written out with notes as to where it was she probably went wrong; Sweetie Belle's notebook has a series of squiggly lines that mean something to her, I think a kind of combination of musical and magical notation, by feel.

After that, we celebrated out on the smaller balcony with bowls of vanilla oat swirl ice cream and called it a day. Or I called it a day. They ran off to do something or other. I spread my wings and sunbathed.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Today I was back again at where my Ponyville home once stood. I didn't have time to dwell on that, I had three excited fillies to coordinate, and somehow, a small crowd of onlookers. I had invited Fluttershy and Zecora, but it seems that word had spread of this magical experiment and the entire foal population was watching as well. They were a bit noisy at first and I was afraid they would break the fillies' focus, but Cheerilee also dropped by, and between her and Zecora's pointed looks, they kept it down to a low buzz.

Zecora was there for the potion aspect and she was interested in seeing how her breathing exercise had become humming scales. Fluttershy's interest is in the reforestation potential and building a better bird house.

All three fillies marched into the center of loose earth where the Golden Oak had once stood. Dressed in their lab coats, hard hats and safety visors, they started setting up their demonstrations. Although they had been hamming it up for their friends in the crowd, they were starting to look nervous now that the moment of truth had arrived.

They had brought their materials, but with some differences from the last time Applebloom had sprouted an acorn.

Applebloom's glassware had an added distillation and titration stage that didn't look necessary to me. She also had many more flasks, some containing liquids that looked suspiciously like apple juice, pond water and mud.

Sweetie Belle came equipped with twelve sparkling sapphires and this time Scootaloo's large mound of odds and ends included forks and pinwheels. I was beginning to think the experiment was going to fail. But the lesson would not be lost.

Applebloom was busy connecting glassware, Scootaloo was rapidly building a base out of her eccentric collection of odds and ends, and Sweetie Belle was already gritting her teeth as she attempted to levitate all twelve sapphires at once.

I stopped Sweetie Belle to remind her to find her focus first, and to levitate the sapphires one after the other, as if they were on a string. Breathe in. Breathe out. Clear. Focus.

My focus was broken by Apple Bloom searching madly for an acorn in her bag and flinging flasks into the air. I caught those before they smashed. Some fillies in the crowd were laughing (cut short by a stern look from Zecora). I had brought an acorn. Apple Bloom took it sheepishly. She made a mud, apple juice, pond water puddle and stuck the acorn into it.

Scootaloo's scrap sculpture fell over, making us all jump, including Sweetie Belle. She had been counting her breaths. I tried to explain the breathing exercise again. Many of the foals in the crowd had become bored and had run off.

Apple Bloom's potion, or potions, were bubbling, condensing, getting titrated, combined, and filling the collector poised above the acorn. The foals left in the crowd pressed closer.

Scootaloo's contraption was now looking quite a bit more sturdy with extra spokes on the inside loopdehoop and with a fork attached to each ear horn. She was screwing metal wafers to the outer hoop. It really looked like abstract art made out of junk.

Sweetie Belle was starting to get the hang of the breathing. A first sapphire twitched and rose up, followed by another. A third twitched.

Applebloom watched the color of the potion in her final condenser darken, her hoof poised over the valve.

Scootaloo took a step back, looked at what she had built, put a few drops of oil on a pivot, and gave it a gentle push. The pinwheels caught the breeze and twirled.

Sweetie Belle had all twelve sapphires following each other in a circle in mid-air. They wavered a bit, then moved into a figure-eight pattern. Sweetie Belle remembered to breathe.

Apple Bloom opened the valve. A big dark green drop of liquid fell onto the acorn. It sprouted immediately.

Scootaloo's metal hoops turned lazily and silently.

Sweetie Belle started to hum as she made the sapphires spin while they carved a figure eight in the air above her head. A chromatic scale. Scootaloo's hoops picked up speed, going faster with each note and echoing them. In the crowd, all eyes were on Applebloom's sapling oak. Some of them were humming too.

The oak sapling was growing fast and round, as it had in the castle hall. This time the tree grew as large as a barrel before a collective gasp and cheer from the foals sent three branches growing up like corn stalks five pony lengths into the air. Distracted, Sweetie Belle dropped her sapphires. The tree stopped growing and a single leaf sprouted from each branch. Scootaloo's hoop-thing went silent but kept spinning.

The roots on the barrel tree were so shallow that when Scootaloo leaned on it while posing for pictures, it fell over and smacked Zecora and Fluttershy over the back. The barrel is hollow.

The experiment was a success. The fillies have already put it behind them. We'll do something else next time.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Scootaloo, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle were over this afternoon for tutoring again. This "Twilight Time" I thought I'd start with teaching them focus using Zecora's breathing exercises. I got the idea in my head that I'd demonstrate breath release by humming. That had mixed results.

Sweetie Belle turned it into music. Scootaloo and Apple Bloom were bored. We moved on.

Scootaloo brought a bag of odds and ends which she dumped out on the floor and began trying to fit together. I asked her what she was trying to repair. She wasn't fixing anything, she was "building a contraption". What kind of contraption? Scootaloo: "I don't know yet".

I was distracted by Sweetie Belle up-ending Applebloom's saddlebags and dumping all the glassware out. I barely caught it in time, some of those vials smelled really vile. While I tried to again teach Sweetie Belle to focus, only to get rewarded with chromatic scale humming and not much telekinetic control, Apple Bloom stuffed an acorn into a pot and set up a series of glass tubes, burners, flasks and condensers.

Scootaloo's contraption was beginning to look like abstract art, like one of Alexander Coltdeer's Stabeels, with spiral horn amplifiers sticking out of two hoops. "Neat huh? Granny Smith gave me some of her ear horns! She has a whole closet full of them! The loopdehoops were Apple Bloom's idea!" Scootaloo opened up another small bag and dumped several dozen metal wafers out on the floor and began screwing those to random spots on her contraption.

Several of Apple Bloom's flasks were bubbling merrily, I caught a vial Sweetie Belle had sent hurtling just before it would have smashed against the wall. I convinced her to carefully lift six of Scootaloo's extra metal wafers at once. Scootaloo's hooped construction was now as tall as she was. She was fitting rings containing little metal balls to the pivot points.

Sweetie Belle squinted in concentration and I could see the six wafers starting to vibrate. I told her to focus on her breathing. Scootaloo gave her abstract hooped thing a satisfied swat and it started to spin. Applebloom's condenser was dripping on the acorn. I forgot to ask her what compounds she had combined, at that moment Sweetie Belle's six wafers rose off the floor and she started to hum. And everything happened at once.

The acorn sprouted. The wafers on Scootaloo's device started to glow and hum in tune with Sweetie Belle. It spun faster. Sweetie Belle was focused on her six wafers, coaxing them to fly in a figure "8". Apple Bloom's acorn was now a tiny tree, but it wasn't growing straight. The tiny trunk had divided itself into six branches, and the branches were weaving through each other and leaving a big space in the middle, like they were cradling an invisible orb. Sweetie paused for breath, Scootaloo's gyrating hoops slowed down, the tiny tree branched out sideways. Sweetie dropped the wafers and beamed. "How was that?", she squeaked. The tree unfurled tiny leaves on six horizontal branches and stopped. Scootaloo's contraption wobbled to a stop.


All three looked at the tree, then Scootaloo's round metal thing then at Sweetie Belle's wafers. Did you get one? Did you get one? Did you get one? They looked at their flanks. Still blank. Oh well.

That was enough for today. The three dismantled the apparatuses, picked up their things and ran off show the tree to Fluttershy. It could make a nice bird house. Or mouse house.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
It was "Twilight Time" again for the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Scootaloo found and rebuilt the crank-action scarf loom I'd conveniently broken after getting my tail caught in it one time too many. A gift from my brother. I'll have to find a darker corner in the basement to "store" it. Applebloom's latest growth potion carpeted the halls with grass... that promptly died. And then caught fire. Sweetie Belle then caused a water bucket brigade to spring to life and douse the flames. By the time I found a counter-spell for this potion-based magic fire the hallways were filled with black sludge and we were all coughing and hacking. If only the fire had spread to the scarf loom. The three foals were mostly sad that they didn't get fire-fighting cutie marks.

Now to crack open that tome again to the chapter on euclidean fixed distance lithography of static illusions. I was just at the part on adjusting for quantum wobble in pony photographic prints. This could be very useful!

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