School Projects

Fun Projects

Monday, March 23, 2015

New Activity On Old Projects

Hello and welcome to Monday!  Did you all have a nice weekend?  We did.  It was one of those rare weekends where we didn't have any places we HAD to go or official things we MUST accomplish.  Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of things to DO (there always are), but there was no real pressure to do any particular thing.  It was productive, but in a nice and relaxed sort of way.

I decided that I was finally going to get started on Brynn's new birthday.....er, Christmas.....er, Easter dress.  I don't know why I never got around to sewing this thing, since I've had the material and pattern sitting around since last October, but until Saturday it just sat untouched in the bottom of a bin.  I didn't get it finished yet, but I made enough progress over the weekend to ensure that I will get it completed in time for Easter and only six months late.
I wasn't the only one, though, who got going on a long overdue project.  Aaron did as well, and he actually finished his.  I don't want to get too excited or anything, or make a bigger deal out of what he did than I should, but to say that I am extremely pleased is not an understatement.

A few years ago we did a major renovation of our living room and entry way that included a new front door:
Unless you are very observant, you may not have noticed that the place where a dead bolt should be located in the door is stuffed with something that is not a dead bolt.  It is, in fact, a sock.  A formerly black sock that with the passing of several years has been bleached greyish-whitish-yellowish.  Please don't ask me why we used a sock to stuff the hole.  That discussion is not pertinent to this post.
 Whatever the reason for the sock, it is irrelevant now, because the sock is gone.  Permanently.  I threw it away as soon as Aaron took it out to start working on installing the actual dead bolt.
 And there it is:
 It ain't fancy, but it also ain't a sock.  That makes me a happy woman and confirms that this past weekend was a very successful one.

Happy sock-less front doors, everyone!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Weekly Science Experiment #11

Wanna be a super cool mom?  Maybe you are already confident in your super coolness, but if your ego needs a little boost than give this Rain Cloud science experiment a try.  My kids thought it was the coolest thing we have done all year and it took, at the MOST, 5 minutes.  You only need three things: a clear container mostly full of water (taller and narrower is best), regular shaving foam, and food coloring (any color will work, but blue seems more rain-like).
 First we talked for just a minute about where the water in clouds comes from and also how the water vapor condenses around dust particles.  To simulate the cloud we sprayed a nice pile of shaving cream on the surface of the water.
 Next we started squirting food coloring on the top of the cloud.  This is a great way to use up those one-quarter full containers of coloring that you have laying around (I had three, which worked out great).
 Eventually the shaving foam can't hold any more food coloring (just like a cloud can't hold any more water),
 and it starts raining out the bottom.  It was at this point that my kids got rather excited and mentioned words like "super" and "cool" and "great" and "awesome."
 In the end they couldn't resist playing with the blue shaving foam left overs and made a bit of a mess, but blue faces and fingers are a small price to pay for science experiment success.
Happy rain making, everyone.

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Field Trip - Not a Project

Sorry, no project to report on today.  Since the weather took a rather pleasant turn last week the kids have been spending a LOT of time outside and haven't wanted to make anything, which is just fine with me.  I have projects I want to do, but opted instead for some spring cleaning.  When given the choice, who wouldn't want to scrub down grimy kitchen walls and woodwork?

We did, however, make time to take a walk along the river in our town.  We'll call it a field trip.
Happy spring weather, everyone!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Weekly Science Experiment #10

This week's experiment actually started last week.  In fact, all the interesting things happened on last Friday and Saturday and today was only interesting because we got to throw the finished remains in the garbage can.  I suppose, though, that scientists spend a good deal of time disposing of their left-over cultures and samples and compounds, so we can list today's activity as a review of good laboratory practices.

Anyway, as fascinating as discussions about throwing away science projects are, what you really want to know is "What did you do?"  The answer is: We grew Eggshell Geodes.  I found this experiment on the Connections Academy website (with really nice pictures and clear explanations of the process) and it looked like fun.  Turns out it was!  

First, the kids and I talked about what geodes were and how they formed (the basics here)
(Image found here)
Second, we cleaned out some eggshells and set them up in a mini-muffin tray.
Third, we made our mixtures (check the website above for the recipes).  Blair had sugar and water and red food coloring.
Ian had baking soda, water, and green food coloring.
Brynn had table salt, water, and blue food coloring.

Fourth, we set the eggshells on the microwave and waited.  Our instructions told us we would see crystals begin to develop in about five days.
We must be extra good scientists, because ours were already growing by the next morning.
At least the blue and green ones were - the red one never did anything except turn into a sticky syrup.
 Oh well, two out of three isn't bad.

The kids made on other interesting observation: the green food coloring had mostly disappeared from the crystals by today, and the blue crystals were also fading.  Does anyone know why that would happen?







Friday, March 6, 2015

Weekly Science Experiment #9

This week's science experiment was pretty simple - I wanted to show the kids that water "moves" even when it looks like it is still.  The only problem was that our water never looked still, because three small scientists kept wiggling the table or poking the glasses.  To them it was obvious how water moved - it was never allowed not to.  I tried anyway.

We started out with three glasses of water.  One was as hot as I could get it out of the tap, one had been set on the counter at breakfast time and allowed to reach room temperature, and one had been placed in the refrigerator to cool.
 Then the kids tried to guess which water molecules moved the fastest - cold water was the leading contender.
 Then we dropped food coloring into the glasses and watched the "mostly" still water swirl the food coloring around.  
 (I love the kid's faces in these pictures.)
 It is hard to tell from my photography, but the hot water mixed the food coloring throughout the whole glass faster - because warmer water molecules move faster then cooler one.
Happy sloshable science, everyone.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Educational Value of Leprechaun Traps

See this first picture?  Look closely.  Looks a mess, doesn't it?  Looks like the kids got their hands on their mom's box of junk and dumped it out and are having big fun with it, right?
 I would like to correct you, however, because that is not a mess.  Oh dear me, no.  You have no idea how wrong you are.  That photo is an illustration of the very latest in educational trends and buzzwords.  That is what we uber-hip educators call a "Maker Space."  In a "Maker Space", students are provided with all sorts of materials and tools and are allowed to create and problem-solve on their own and in their own way with no judgments or criticisms.  Sometimes they are given a theme or idea to work with and other times they are encouraged to independently create.
 "Maker Spaces" go hand in hand with other current educational programs like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and STEAM (or as my husband calls it MEATS - which is what you get when you add Art to the other four subject areas).  In the past these topics were referred to as SCHOOL, but we have moved beyond those old-fashioned concepts.  Now we make STEAM in large publicly funded buidlings.
 In our privately funded "Maker Space" (better known as the kitchen) my kids are using carefully collected supplies (stuff from my junk box) to create independently and artistically engineered structures called Leprechaun Traps.
 Leprechaun Traps have become a tradition in our house.  After all, what kid wouldn't enjoy creating a trap with candy for bait, hoping that a funny creature called a Leprechaun might be captured and forced to bargain for his freedom with more candy?  My kids make their traps in early March and they check diligently every day to see if they have been sprung,  It always seems to happen on St. Patrick's Day.  It must have something to do with the luck of the Irish.
 Happy making, everyone.




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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Weekly Science Experiment #8

This week's science experiment is really a report on several weeks of observations of plant growth.  About a month ago I discovered that some of the garlic cloves I had for cooking were sprouting.  I thought, "wouldn't it be fun for the kids to plant these and see what happens?"  So after our regular weekly science experiment (#5) we did just that.  Some of the cloves we planted in a glass cup with a wadded up paper towel to keep them in place and enough water to cover them.
The other three cloves got planted in a clear glass vase with good old potting soil.
Then we set them in a sunny spot and waited to see what would happen.
A week later we made official observations.  The kids were quite interested in how the roots were growing through the dirt as well as around each other in the water glass.
The following week we observed again, but the excitement wasn't the same because although the stems and roots had increased in length, they didn't look a great deal different from the previous week.
Today we observed again.  Our first observation was that the garlic in the glass was beginning to smell - and not a pleasant garlicky smell, but a starting to get moldy smell.
So we pulled them out of their home, talked a bit about roots and stems and leaves, what plants eat, and why they need dirt to grow, and then we threw them away.
The cloves that we planted in dirt did not smell, so we are going to leave them in their sunny spot and continue to observe them grow.  Maybe we'll even get a bulb of garlic to eat when the experiment is finished.
Happy edible science, everyone!