Category Archives: science

Making A Hand

moving hand

It was a strange little project but we were following her interests. That’s how it goes, right? Delight directed can lead to some interesting things and this led to making a hand.

We started with the Mystery Doug video for the week which is answering “Why do muscles bulge?” Miss J was enthralled with the information and watched the video twice. And then there was the extension project mentioned – building a paper finger.

“Please?!?”
“Get your supplies. They are listed right there.”
Off she runs.

Not much later, she is moving the finger around and comparing it to her own. Trying to make them both do the same things. And they pretty much can!

studying the hand

“I wonder if I could make a whole hand?”
“Well, look at the additional learning project – make a hand.”
“Please?!?”
“What do you need?” And off she goes to gather more of the same, plus a little more.

Not much later, she is trying it out, trying to see what she can make it do.

And asking for more videos on making fingers and hands that work. So we do some more videos.

An hour and a half later, her curiosity is satisfied and her projects are beginning to not be quite as interesting. So, on to the rest of the school day. But what a fun project and what fun learning! She will remember this one.

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Innovators Tribe ~ a Crew review

Innovators Tribe course

Fridays are a “different school” day for us: we are intentionally giving the girls hands on learning in science, technology, and art. Innovators Tribe had given us a wonderful opportunity with their program titled Thinking Like an Engineer, which we have been reviewing for a few weeks.

Thinking Like an Engineer

Innovators Tribe is an online curriculum designed to foster the thinking skills needed to bring creative thinking from the head to the hands. Created by Wayne Kroeplin, known as Mr. K., students are guided and taught the thinking skills needed to become an innovative thinker and a problem solver. The courses offered by Innovators Tribe are designed for 6th – 12th grade students. Because it is an online program, you will need a reliable computer and internet service as it is not a downloaded program.

We have been using Thinking Like an Engineer  during our Fun Fridays. Each Friday, we log into our course dashboard and click the link that continues us in the course right where we left off previously. The course is a good mixture of online learning with recorded lessons from Mr. K., slideshows, and videos to explain various concepts. There is also a printable unit journal that has questions for the students to complete. These questions help to focus the student’s attention on certain parts of the lesson, highlighting important terms or ideas. In addition, there are research and hands-on challenges that allow the students to put into practice the concepts discussed in the lessons.

tower challenge

Topics that are addressed in Thinking Like an Engineer  include what is an engineer (professional problem solver – I LOVE this description!), types of engineers, types of problems solved or studied by engineers, and real world examples of the application of engineering and problem solving thinking. Hands-on opportunities include things like building tower of books standing on only one piece of paper, making a tower of paper over 5 feet tall using minimal materials, creating a water filtering system, and these are just the ones we have encountered in Unit 1. (Looking ahead there is a bridge challenge and a roller coaster challenge, too.)

The challenges require some basic materials, though if you want to try the water filtration system, you will probably have to go shopping for some things. But overall, it is just paper and tape for the challenges.

book stacking challenge

We have begun Unit 2 and this is where we got to download the 3D software. We are extremely excited to learn how to use this software and find out what it can do to increase our problem solving abilities. The 3D software is used to design models of ideas for solutions. So many possibilities! There are several instructional lessons using this program and also some challenges with it.

As I mentioned earlier, we are using this program for a couple of hours each Friday as part of our STEM learning. This is being used by an 8th grader, a 6th grader, and a 3rd grader. They watch the lesson online together and then we talk through the questions in the Unit Journal related to that lesson. Finally, they tackle the challenges as a team.

research

Though she is below the anticipated age of the program, the 3rd grader is doing really well participating and helping out. She is not doing the writing in the Unit Journals, though we are talking about each question out loud and so she is participating in the discussions. She is also a big factor in the solutions with the challenges so far. She is just jumping right in, paying attention, and having fun with the learning.

Mr. K. really wants his students to learn and does an amazing job of assisting the students in that. For one of the questions in the Unit Journal, Miss L needed to research the engineering related to a topic she enjoyed. She chose dance. Well, let’s just say that is not an easy internet research topic. So, we took Mr. K. at his word about sending an email his way when we needed something and we had a very quick response that was just amazing.

He responded to Miss L with a video message in which he talked directly to her, addressing her need in such a way that she was empowered to go do the rest of the research needed to answer the question. He did not just tell her what to go look up but rather talked to her about how to think about the topic in a way that she could figure out what to go look for.

Innovators Tribe

This is a great example of how he teaches – he doesn’t lecture and tell you everything he wants you to know. Yes, there is some of that because there is just no way around it sometimes. But, he addresses the “how” of the thinking and gives the students the power and ability to think about the problem differently and in a way that allows solutions to be imagined. That is powerful!

I encourage you to find out more about Thinking Like an Engineer by visiting Innovators Tribe.

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Read more reviews by families who have been using both Innovators Tribe classes:  Thinking Like an Engineer and Thinking Like an Architect.

Thinking Like an Architect or Engineer {Innovators Tribe Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Weekly Science Lesson

simple weekly science lessons

We have had a lot of fun recently using a weekly science lesson from a company called Mystery Doug. Each week we get an email with a link to a video answering a question. We watch the video and then, if even one of the girls is interested in learning more, we do the extension activities when they are offered.

This week the question was about the skeleton – why do our skeletons have so many bones? The short, five minute video was a neat illustration of the human skeleton and its function. It doesn’t take long for the video and we have really learned a lot of interesting things from these videos.

company name

Sometimes, there is an accompanying hands-on activity. This week, it was making an artistic rendition of your own hand so that it looks like an x-ray. It was lots of fun and Miss J did a great job with hers.

We have found that the video do so well that the topics pop up in conversations often. For example, the other night, we were talking with grandparents about the trees changing colors. Miss J popped out the explanation for the change in colors and shocked everyone at the table (the other two girls had missed that particular video lesson). She was quite proud of the fact that she knew something no one else did. Great way to increase self-esteem, as well.

If you are looking for a short and simple addition of science to your week, check out Mystery Doug.

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Finally – a Texas Butterfly field trip

Texas Discovery Gardens

 

Miss L has enjoyed butterflies for a long time now. She is known affectionately as the Butterfly Whisperer by many of her friends for her ability to coax butterflies onto her finger and for her patience to be still and wait or to just be still and enjoy watching them.

Yesterday, we went to the Texas State Fair and visited the Texas Discovery Gardens. The Texas Discovery Gardens is a butterfly garden. We were able to get special pricing during the State Fair so it was very reasonably priced. We spent a good hour there, maybe an hour and a half. And the space is not that large but she did enjoy it tremendously. The joy she had just running around and looking at these lovely creatures was wonderful.

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There were volunteers and staff members here and there throughout to offer information and answer questions. But mostly, we just enjoyed observing and watching to see what all we could see. It was wonderfully peaceful in the garden.

The flowers were also something to see. I was fascinated by the beautiful flowers throughout the butterfly house. All sorts of colors, shapes, sizes, and types. I don’t have names for most of them but one that had a name plaque there was the pitcher plant. It was really neat. The plants alone were just lovely.

They also had a bee tree. The bees came into the tree from the outside through a tube and there was a plastic viewing place where we could watch the bees moving around inside the tree/hive. We could watch them and look at the combs. Miss J had a magnifying glass and spent quite a bit of time studying them up close through it. Miss E also seemed to find these pretty fascinating and spent some time viewing and reading about the bees.

From the lovely Blue Morpho to all the others that I don’t have names for, we saw a lot of lovely butterflies. It was definitely an experience worth repeating. If you haven’t gone, it is definitely worth going.

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Carlsbad Caverns

At the end of August, the girls and I were able to take a field trip to New Mexico, my home state. We visited a couple of sites that are pretty special to me and enjoyed our time there and with family quite a bit.

This is the highlights of our time in Carlsbad. We did see the Bat Flight program the night before we hiked the cavern but it is not safe for the bats to have any kind of a device on, so we turned off the cameras and phones and just enjoyed watching. The estimate was that there were about 500,000 bats the night we were there. The Brazilian Free-tailed Bats are a migrating bat so they are not there year round. We truly enjoyed seeing them. The next day, we hiked the cavern and saw lots of beautiful sights. The girls really seemed to enjoy it and we had a pretty good time.

Carlsbad was a specific destination for us since watching the videos about the National Parks. This was one that Miss E has been asking to visit. It was not difficult for us to get there and we definitely enjoyed checking this one off her “bucket list.”

Enjoy our pictures.

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The Greatest Inventors ~ a Crew review

The Greatest Inventors

Looking for a simple way to start our new school year, we decided that a week-long unit study would be great. Enter A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks and their stand-alone lapbook product, The Greatest Inventors .

Greatest Inventors Lapbook with Study Guide

A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks has been around for a while and got its start when a couple of homeschooling moms realized that what they wanted was not to be found. So, they created it! How’s that for ingenuity? That was the start of A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks (AJTL).

AJTL has many products to fit many needs. Whether you are looking for a stand alone study or something to accompany a curriculum you have purchased, AJTL may have just what you need. And if you don’t know exactly what a lapbook is, well, they have a page for that, too. Head over to their site to watch their video about lapbooks. But quickly – lapbooking is a way to simply document learning by completing mini-booklets in different shapes and sizes, keeping the documentation varied and interesting for the student.

We were able to use The Greatest Inventors, a stand-alone lapbooking unit. What that means is that the downloadable product (you can also get a printed version) contains all of the mini-booklets to create the lapbook as well as all the information in a study guide to be able to fill out and complete the lapbook. Each mini-booklet has its own page of information to read. It was a simple unit to complete and we were easily able to use it with our girls, ages 8, 11, and 13.

working on the book report form

How We Used The Greatest Inventors

I printed out all of the mini-booklets from the PDF file. I did not print the study guide pages; we accessed those on the computer when we needed them. I also checked out a book on each inventor from the library, since the study guide was not as high a reading level as I wanted for the two older girls. They needed more of a challenge. (The reading level was perfect for our 8 year old, though.) I placed the books and pages together on the table and the girls took turns picking the inventors they were interested in.

Some of the inventors –

  • Jonas Salk
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Guglielmo Marconi
  • George Eastman
  • Louis Braille
  • The Wright Brothers
  • and many more.

Each day that week, the girls worked on one or more of their inventors. They read the study guide and the books. In some cases, we looked up more information or pictures on the internet with a simple Google search. Then, the girls completed their mini-booklets, as well as the book report form that is included in the PDF.

working on da Vinci

The book report form is a simple form, asking for the name of the book and its author. It asks about the birth and death, the time period, and information about what was understood from the book. It also gives them a chance to be creative, designing a stamp for that inventor. It was fun to talk about stamps being a way to honor someone and their achievements.

Miss J presenting her researchMiss L presenting her research

At the end of the week, we had a presentation. The girls took turns presenting their inventors, the book report, and showing the mini-booklet that was created. We also used this time to open up a discussion about how each invention helped or changed the world. It was a fun day, full of unexpected learning.

Miss E presenting her research

Now, we went pretty far above and beyond the lapbook product itself. But this is a great example of how easy it is to extend these products to include the entire family in learning. Our oldest students got some good research experience, as well as having to present, while it fit perfectly the reading ability and interest level of our youngest. We could easily have just used the mini-booklets and the study guide and we still would have learned a lot.

everyone can change the world

AJTL has simple to use products, though you do need access to a computer and printer if you are purchasing their downloadable products. If that doesn’t work for you, they have printed versions available, as well.A Journey Through Learning

The Homeschool Review Crew had several products that the families were using. These included

These are just a few of the hundreds of titles that A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks has available. There is something for just about every study you can imagine. Visit their page to see what else they have.

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Lapbooks for Classical Conversations, Apologia, Inventors & 20th Century {A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Solar Eclipse 2017 – a photojournal (of sorts)

a photojournal

You knew it was coming, right? Today is a traditional Middle School Monday post and we spent the day observing the sky, searching for crescents (the shadow reflections of the sun), watching videos to learn more, and enjoying the company of friends. What a wonderful day it was.

We turned on the NASA Live channel, which was really quite fascinating. Then, when it got about time for first contact here, we headed outside. We had fun watching it and as it approached peak, we noticed two things that we did not know would happen here (about 70-75% cover): the temperature dropped a good bit and it got noticeably dimmer. I don’t want to say it got cold because it probably stayed in the upper 80s or lower 90s but it definitely was not as hot as it had been earlier. I also don’t want to say it got darker because it was not dark, just much less intense. We no longer had to have sunglasses on to just look at one another. Right before and right after, we also had some wind but that wind was absent during the peak 15 minutes or so. Probably just a fluke but maybe not.

As we knew it was close to peak, we sent the kiddos running around seeing if they could find projections of the eclipse. They found a lot of them! It was really fun seeing them look and experiment with things and then holler “come take a picture of this!” And the leaves moving was so neat, we took a short video of it (you don’t need the sound on).

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If you didn’t catch it tonight, NOVA produced a really interesting program titled Eclipse Across America. Hopefully they will show it again or you can catch it on their website or something. It was really interesting. We all learned a lot and it was a nice close to our day of solar eclipse information.

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