Archive for the ‘
Science Experiments ’ Category
Friday, November 28th, 2014
Now that Thanksgiving is over, I have a fun activity for your with your Indian corn. We did this ‘science’ activity with Indian corn a couple of years ago.
Soak your Indian corn cobs in a bit of water to see what will happen. We had a large tray with a paper towel and about 1/4 inch of water. We also pour water over the cob every 2 or 3 days.
By day 2 we saw a few sprouts.
And after a week, there was quite a bit of growth. Our acorns, on the other hand, have grown nothing but mold. We also have some popcorn seeds in the water, but there’s been no change there either. DD decided she wanted to add her Indian corn cob as well and they declared that it’s a race to see whose corn will grow fastest. Sigh… anyone else’s kids compete about most everything?!
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After a couple of weeks, our Indian corn had grown quite tall in big pots at the end of our dining room table!
So here’s the corn after about 1 week of being watered.
After a while we decided to plant the corn in some empty flower pots.
Tuesday, November 18th, 2014
We just love hands-on activities! We’ve been studying Earth Science this fall. Back several weeks ago, we explained how we started this unit… with an overview of our solar system, then a closer look at Earth’s geologic timeline talking about the age of the Earth (4.6 billion years) and the appearance of various critters in the geologic timeline (trilobites, sharks, dinosaurs, ants and more). We also l learned about latitude, longitude and how to use a compass.
As I was going back through my pictures, I realized that I never shared our pictures from when we learning about finding compass points. When the weather was nice in October, we went outside and the kids practiced making their own compass rose:
Here are some step-by-step pictures of the kids making the compass rose. You can see some of our previous activities here in htis post: Latitude, Longitude and Using a Compass. (Obviously these weren’t taken this week with temperatures plummeting into the 20s and 30s!!)
After that, we started looking at plate tectonics. According to a theory developed in the early 20th century, the super-continent Pangaea formed about 300 million years ago. The continent began breaking apart about 100 million years ago. We traced and cut out the continents and moved them around to see how they best fit together. Then we looked closely at the picture of Pangaea (on a notebook page I made for the kids… which I’ll share once it’s polished and ready!). Each of the kids had their own set of continents (which is why there are yellow and white continents in the picture below):
When we studied plate tectonics several years ago, we did this activity with paper to show how the continents could move without our touching them. This was perfect for the kids at that age (DD was about 5 and LD was 7), since it let them “see” the continents move without our touching them. I cut the continents out of foam. The kids folded construction paper. First we set the continents close together with a piece of playdough to weight the continents down. As the kids pulled each side of the construction paper, they could see the continents move apart. We got this idea from Robert Gardners” Earth-Shaking Science Projects About Planet Earth.
We did this activity again with several of the continents and of course the kids took turns “moving” the continents apart over and over!
This time around, we into much more depth about the mechanics of plate tectonics. We went over the evidence for there having been a super-continent (geologic evidence, fossil evidence and climate studies). We also talked in some depth about convection currents that occur deep within the Earth as the heated rock rises cools, sinks and is heated again. We did a couple of activities to help the kids really understand how this movement of heated rock helped geologists develop the theory of plate tectonics.
Materials to have on hand:
- 2 sponges cut into the shape of South America and Africa
- 3 push pins
- 1 aluminum pan
- 2 or 3 small tea candles
- 2 thick books
We poured water into the pan and let it sit until the water stopped moving around. Then we carefully put the sponges in place. We read that one of the sponges should have push pins placed in the side. I’m not sure whether this was to weight it down or keep the sponges from touching. Then we set the experiment up as follows (with books holding the pan up).
Once the water stopped moving, we lit the tea candles beneath the pan. We made sure the candles were in between the two continents. It was pretty neat watching the continents drift apart!
We spent several days talking about convection currents and looking at various diagrams. After we watched the continents drift apart, we carefully dropped dye into the water to see convection currents in action. The dye dropped to the bottom of the pan and then moved upward and outward with the heated water. I should have videoed this since the series of pictures isn’t terribly exciting to look at, but at any rate, with the dye, the kids could see how the water moved with the heat source (candles) underneath and it gave them a better understanding of convection currents and how they work.
We read about plate tectonics in several different resources. Two that we found especially helpful were The Changing Earth (A middle school science text by McDougal Littel) and Plate Tectonics by Linda George. Both worked well for my kids (ages 6, 9, 11).
I keep adding and adding to our Earth Science Notebook Pages Packet as we go through this unit. It still is in rough draft form and not really ready to share on the blog. But as I keep saying, if you’re working on this unit right now and see something you could really use, send me an email or a note on our Homeschool Den Facebook page. Otherwise, I hope to get that polished and shared at some point!
These are what the pages we’re working on for our science notebook look like (coming sometime soon to homeschoolden.com!):
You might also be interested in these related posts:
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Monday, October 27th, 2014
A couple of years ago, we did some spooky science with dry ice. We’re going to do some of these activities again this week, but I thought I’d share some of the things we did then in case you want to try these activities with your kids.
I went out and bought some dry ice and we did a number of experiments. You can see suggestions from Steve Spangler science and a couple of you-tube videos at Dry Ice Fun: Cool Science Experiments and Scientific Tuesdays.
First we dropped dry ice into the spooky skull cup Daddy bought for the kids. Then we did the one with dish soap (left) that created lots of bubbles.
We placed a coin on a block of dry ice and watched it move back and forth as the coin warmed up the ice and made pockets of carbon dioxide move past. Then we left the coin and went on to other things–only to notice later all the ice crystals that had formed on the coin.
We added warm water to a plastic water bottle and then added chips of dry ice. Then we put a big punching balloon on it and watched it inflate. The kids were intrigued by how much carbon dioxide was released. We also had a terrific talk about the different weights of gases, hauled out the periodic table and looked at where hydrogen and helium appear on the table.
We used a bubble solution to create these massive bubbles in a pot. The kids liked that!
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Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
Last week, I mentioned that we learned a bit about the Solar System in general. This week we’ve been looking more closely at Earth’s long history. We’ve been going over the four major eons and looking more closely at what happened in each (Hadean Eon, Archean Eon, Proterozoic Eon, Phanerozoic Eon). At first 4.6-4 billion years ago, the Earth would have been molten. Then as the Earth cooled it went from liquid to solid. Heavier molten iron sank into the core, while lighter rock rose to the surface, cooled and became the crust. This was the activity we did as we learned about the layers of the Earth.
To get ready for this activity, I made several batches of homemade play dough.
In a pan, place the following ingredients. Cook on the stovetop until the dough sticks together in one big clump.
- 1 cup flour
- 1/3 cup salt
- 1 Tablespoon cream of Tartar
- 1 Tablespoon oil
- 1 cup water
- 5 drops of vegetable glycerine (optional)
- dye — We made globs of dough in different colors for the different layers of the Earth. Be sure to add the dye before you start heating it on the stove.
We read through Gail Gibbon’s book Planet Earth/Inside Out
. We talked about how thick each layer was and filled in the worksheet I made for the kids. [I'll share that at some point soon. We're still working on things and the packet isn't quite ready to finish. If you are working on this right now and would like those pages, just email me or leave a note on our Homeschool Den Facebook
and I can send you what I have so far!
Otherwise, I'll probably share that within the next couple of weeks.]
The inner dark layer represents the solid iron core which is 1500 miles across. Then we added the outer core, the mantle, the crust (oceans/continents).
Once it was assembled the kids took a knife and cut it apart. It’s definitely a visual way to see the layers of the Earth!
This is such a great activity for any age! We first did this about four years ago, but the kids enjoyed it as much at this age as they did when they were 2, 4 and 6!
You might also be interested in these related posts (We’ve moved to homeschoolden.com):
Well, that’s about it for now. See you next time here or at our Homeschool Den Facebook page!
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Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014
While LD was away at summer camp, the girls did a few egg-tivities of their own. First in preparation for the activity, they made their own pinewood derby cars (just kits that we got from Michaels).
Once the paint was dry and the wheels were on, I told them they had a challenge… to create a seatbelt safety system to protect an egg as the car traveled down our steep driveway. DD experimented with a couple different options. First she tried using pipe cleaners:
When she couldn’t get the egg from popping forward, though, she opted for a rubber band system instead.
Although her egg stayed in place, her egg did not survive the bumpy ride down the hill. To be fair, though, her egg had a slight crack to begin with (from rolling off during the seat belt adjustment phase!).
She gave it a second go with a pom-pom addition (I”m not quite sure what the pom-pom was for)… but egg pilot #2 came to a bitter, sad end as well! She really had a blast with this activity despite the sad end for her eggs!
Meanwhile, ED declared she wanted a kitty to ride her car instead. Kitty made many, many safe trips down our driveway for an entire afternoon of fun! That’s what it’s all about, right?!!
If you’re looking for other egg-tivities, we had a ton of fun with eggs around Easter. Be sure to visit those posts and download our entire Egg-speriment pack.
Did you miss the first posts in this series?
Have fun and see you next time! If you try these out at home, we’d love to hear from you at our Homeschool Den Facebook page!
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