Posts Tagged ‘science’

A better way to teach Arduino: http://igg.me/at/codeshield

The Codeshield is a small add-on to the Arduino Board and enables students to get started on electronics projects very quickly (lesson plans included).

If you are interested in teaching electronics to your students, please check out the crowd-funding campaign: http://igg.me/at/codeshield


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We have a new addition to our home and homeschool, and he is a rodent! His name is Squeker (not a misspelling) and he is a Golden Syrian hamster about 9 weeks old. He was not a sudden or spur-of-the-moment aquisition, either. My hubby said he wanted to see a one page typed paper explaining why Dana should have a hamster and how he would care for it. With a little help, that was accomplished.

Much research, thought and careful planning went into his choice. Dana researched online before announcing that he thought a hamster would not only be a good pet, but a neat 4-H project as well. So our first purchase was made at the county extension office, where we bought the two 4-H Pocket Pets Project books. After reading a lot, he decided that a Golden Syrian would be the best choice for him, and we were off to the pet store for equipment and supplies. That was a hefty dent in the pocketbook, but Dana has agreed to earn money to help pay for it and to buy future supplies. 4-H doesn’t start up until February, but he has a head start so there will be less pressure later to complete the project book and required activities.

(Photo above was taken by Dana on his 3DS.)
As a homeschooling project it is already paying off in learning (research, reading, record keeping, planning and writing). As a life skills learning opportunity it is also showing results already. He is learning some things that are very hard for an Aspie, like empathy, patience, responsibility, planning ahead, and more.
Maybe every prospective parent should be required to do all this with an animal before being allowed to have children!  I do know that no baby has ever been more wanted, prepared for and lovingly nurtured than Squeker.

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Our studies are moving along now, so we want to add some field trips and take advantage of learning activities around us. Fortunately, I have found three that look like fun educational opportunities for Dana.

The first one on the calendar is a science workshop provided free for 6-8 graders (homeschoolers welcome) by Kenyon College, which happens to be very near where we live. The LADS (Learning And Doing Science) session for boys will be from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm, Saturday, October 22. This free session called “Chemistry All Around You” will include”  “KABOOM! Come see the hidden powers of common household items. How can you tell if a liquid has enough acid in it to burn through a table? You don’t want to touch it to find out, but a food in your fridge can tell you. We’ll watch candy blow up, and make and eat delicious instant ice cream. Come learn how chemistry can be cool! Registration will be open from September 1 to October 14, 2011.” If this one goes well, we will also register him for one in February on light particles. For more information, if you are anywhere in Knox County, Ohio, go to: http://www.kenyon.edu/physicslads They already held the first session for girls, but another will come up in March (http://www.kenyon.edu/x58103.xml )

Then, on Saturday, November 5, from noon until 4:00 pm, we will be taking a “Walk In the Past” at Mohican Outdoor School in Butler, Ohio. This is a family event giving the opportunity to experience what life was like in Ohio in the 1800s costing only $5.00 for the whole family. Click here for more info and to download flyer:  http://www.mohicanoutdoorschool.org/events/view/56/169.html No registration required.

On Tuesday, November 15, Dana and his granddad will be attending Mohican’s Fall HOOT (Homeschool Opportunities for Outdoor Training).

The website says: “Join us for the Fall 2011 Session of HOOT!, from 10 am – 2 pm.  Let’s start digging – that is, digging in our mock archaeology dig site!  We will explore the geology of Hemlock Falls, and learn about archaeology during this HOOT! session.  Cost per child: $5.00.  No fee for parents.  Please bring a packed lunch for child and adult, something to drink, and outerwear appropriate for the weather, as we will be outside for most of the class times, rain or shine.  Pre-registration required.”
Click here to register online

Hopefully these will all be great experiences and are all either free or extremely inexpensive. If you don’t live in my neck of the woods, check your own area for great activities. Happy Fall homeschooling!

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Robotic Arm Project

The type in the image is very small and hard to read, but this was a gift Dana received this year. He built the robotic arm (with some help from Grandma getting the screws good and tight) in a day and a half. I plan to have him write a descriptive page about the project to go in his scrapbook/portfolio. It is a rather amazing little wired-control robotic arm not unlike industrial use robots. It has grippers and several rotation points and extensors controlled by 5 little motors that he had to put together.

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Chemistry: Mysterious M&Ms

Scrapbook page


The cup on the left contains two M&Ms. The cup on the right contains two gumballs. We also experimented with colored light corn syrup. In all cases, the colors did not mix as Dana predicted, but formed a pretty clear line separating the colors. In several cases, one color pushed over the top of another color, but no mixing occured. Next we will investigate whether the temperature of the water affects how fast the colored coating dissolves from an M&M. We have to hurry and finish these experiments before we discover how fast we eat all of the M&Ms!

Dana is also reading “Investigating the Scientific Method with Max Axiom” and has done some related pages on Time4Learning.

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Science Links

These are science resource links that I recently shared with friends on All Kinds of learners, so if you are on that great list, you have seen these before. If not, enjoy!

The National Institute of Health (NIH) has lots of free teaching resources available at: http://science.education.nih.gov/customers.nsf/WebPages/CSHome
for elementary through high school, including “Doing Science: The Process of Scientific Inquiry” for grades 6-8. Some materials can be downloaded in pdf format, some you can request free in hard copy, and there are online supports, including short videos for some. The “Doing Science” module has four objectives: 1. to help students understand the basic aspects of scientific inquiry; 2. to provide students with an opportunity to practice and refine their critical-thinking skills; 3. to convey to students the purpose of scientific research and think about the relationships among knowledge, choice, behavior, and human health; and 4. to encourage students to think in terms of these relationships now and as they grow older.

“Einstein’s Miracle Year” – This site (Physics Central) also has lots of other stuff that I plan to explore, but this 15 minute award-winning movie is a great introduction to physics and to Einstein. He says in the video that science is about observing and solving puzzles. http://www.physicscentral.com/explore/einstein/miracleyear/index.cfm

Download the “Strategic Science Teaching: Grades K-12” book from: http://scienceinquirer.wikispaces.com/file/view/StrategicSciTchgBk.pdf
It is a sampler of science lessons connecting literature with the California standards. 196 pages

Rocks and minerals: Lots of free downloadable teacher packets and I have also gotten some neat stuff on rocks and minerals mailed to me from this source. http://www.mii.org/teacherhelpers.html

Please bookmark this site: http://scienceinquirer.wikispaces.com/freestuff
It has just tons of great links for teaching science! It is truly fabulous. If you can’t find what you need here, it probably isn’t out there or it isn’t worth wasting your time on. (Just a guess) Happy hunting!

And last, but not least…You may not have ever heard of “Invitations to Science Inquiry” by Tik Liam. I hadn’t. But apparently a lot of science teachers know about it. It is selling used on Amazon for over $48.00 ($98.88 new), but I found a free download of the whole book! This 486 page book has, according to one reviewer, “…over 350 [the book intro to this edition says over 400]science demonstrations that challenge students to think. Each activity is one page and has a section covering materials, procedure, questions and explanation. The index is useful in finding that demonstration you need for a certain topic. Liem covers such topics as Air, Weather, Matter, Chemistry, Energy, Heat, Magnetism, Electricity, Light, Sound, Force and Motion, Space Science, Plants, and the Human Body. This is a must for all Middle and High School Science Teachers.” The original link I found didn’t work so I had to do some searching. I found it at: http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/contentdelivery/servlet/ERICServlet?accno=ED301471

This is the download link, but I must warn you that I tried three or four times before I could get it to complete the download. I think it is because of the size of the file. Hope it is easier for you, but in my opinion, it is worth the aggravation to get such a good and expensive book for free.

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Since I seem to have focused on some great free chemistry books lately, I though I would share some pictures of our new home chemistry lab we are setting up for next fall. Our upstairs, which was originally added to our house to be an art studio for me to work in and teach classes, has morphed several times to meet changing family needs. Originally, I had a photo darkroom with a deep sink (and a toilet) up there, too. Since I long ago swtiched to digital photography, it is now being transformed into a home chemistry lab. While we could do most of our experiments at the middleschool level on kitchen counters or work tables, this allows us to go a little bit further and keep things stored ready to use comfortably and safely. There is no window, but ventilation is provided by a ceiling exhaust. We won’t be working with any noxious fumes, anyway.

We still need a couple of lab aprons, some lab-type rubber gloves, and a few other things before fall. But the lab now includes a balance scale, an alcohol  burner, test tubes, stands, a test tube holder, beakers and bottles, stoppers, funnels, glass and rubber tubing, a Teaching Tank, chemicals (including household products we will use) splash goggles, a table of the elements, and safety signs and instructions. My make-shift chemical storage could use some upgrading. I am thinking a wide medicine cabinet with or without doors might work, if I can find an old one somewhere.

We probably have more books than we need, including those pictured below, which includes those written about elsewhere on this page. But we can choose some great lessons and experiments from them to help Dana really begin to understand and experience chemistry.

If you are having trouble finding supplies and chemicals for home chemistry (or materials for other science fields), you might try HomeScienceTools. I have found them to have decent prices and fast shipping. But by all means, search on eBay or Google for what you need.

Happy “Mad Sciencing”! Be safe! Have fun!

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