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Science ’ Category
Friday, February 21st, 2014
The kids participated in a science fair event a couple of weeks ago… where kids and adults could share their favorite science-related collections, photos, experiments, and knowledge. Some adults set up a slide show of their astronomy photos, sharing bone collections, a cartographer shared some of her materials, kids brought in their rock collection and more… My kids set up a science activity station with the Color Explosion in Milk. We’ve done this before at home. It’s sure to wow the other kids (and adults) and I thought I’d share this again here because it’s fun!
All you need is milk in a bowl, food dye, detergent and a Q-tip. You place a few drops of dye into the milk, dip the Q-tip into detergent and then very gently place the Q-tip into the water. The colors start racing around. The kids then dipped their Q-tip into the detergent again and gently placed it back in the milk in a different spot. The colors start moving and swirling about. It’s really pretty to watch!
I made a copy of this experiment and the explanation of how it works that you can print off:
Color Explosion in Milk!
The action in this experiment is a bit complex. Our chemistry book showed how soap molecules have different properties. Our book explained it as one end being “oil-like” and the other, “water-like.” Oil dissolves in the oil-like ends of the soap and becomes surrounded by the water molecules. This experiment shows the movement of molecules as the fat molecules are interacting with the soap detergent molecules.
Steve Spangler explains this milk experiment this way,
The molecules of fat bend, roll, twist, and contort in all directions as the soap molecules race around to join up with the fat molecules. During all of this fat molecule gymnastics, the food coloring molecules are bumped and shoved everywhere, providing an easy way to observe all the invisible activity. As the soap becomes evenly mixed with the milk, the action slows down and eventually stops.
Other sources explain that other factors are at work here such as breaking the surface tension of the liquid, etc. If your child is older you could discuss those other factors as well.
At any rate, it’s a colorful fun experiment to do with anyone from pre-K on up. Who doesn’t like watching colors swirl and whirl?!
If you like science, you might also enjoy this Science Experiment Packet I put together of our favorites:
Download your free Science Experiment Packet here.
And at this post you’ll find three more science experiments and a printable.
You might also be interested in this post which shows how you can create your own preschool science curriculum at home.
Need inspiration for fun things to do around the house? Check out these kid-friendly crafts using household items!
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Monday, February 10th, 2014
There is an amazing engineering curriculum that is put out by the Museum of Science, Boston. It’s called Engineering is Elementary. My friend first told me about their hands-on curriculum units and we actually have two of their units lined up for the next month or two.
Why study engineering? Their website explains it this way:
Hands-on, project-based learning is the essence of engineering. As groups of students work together to answer questions like “How large should I make the canopy of this parachute?” or “What material should I use for the blades of my windmill?” they collaborate, think critically and creatively, and communicate with one another.
Grades 6-8, Free Engineering Units:
They have launched a new curriculum, Engineering Everywhere, for Grades 6-8 and are offering the first two units free (right now). Normally, their units are about $50. They are very hands on (for example, the one we’ll be doing their unit on Water: designing water filters which has the kids design the best water filter to get rid of pollutants) and includes a story that goes along with it.
Thanks to their funder i2Camp, two of the units are now offered free. This link will take you there. I had to fill out a form with my details in order to reach the download page (once for each unit), but was able to retrieve their 75 page manual and the 25 page story with no troubles. There two units are called:
- Don’t Runoff: Engineering an Urban Landscape
- Here comes the Sun: Engineering Insulated Homes
Click on this link to download those free units: Engineering Everywhere Curriculum Units
Grades 3-5, Free Engineering Units:
While I was looking around, I also noticed that they offer other units for Grades 3-5 free as well called Engineering Adventures. Their free units include:
Four of the seven units:
I noticed that they have an option for “Buy the Unit” ($50) and “Download for Free” — so I imagine that these units won’t always be offered for free. (I don’t know that, I’m just speculating.) Anyway, it was free for me today.
Be sure to come visit us at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page!
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Tuesday, January 7th, 2014
Today many of the public schools are closed because of the incredible cold front that has come sweeping through. I thought I should share some science experiments we did that might really get kids intrigued about the cold weather!
Freeze water in a cottage cheese or large yogurt container. In one of the cartons you can place a wooly mammoth plastic creature if you have one!
Have the kids guess how much of the ice block will remain above the water and how much will remain below. Then drop the block in.
As we looked at the huge amount of ice that was under the water, we talked about the Titanic and pretended to drive our boat near the iceberg. We also talked about the fact that wooly mammoth remains have been frozen in the ice. A wooly mammoth calf was found in Siberia, Russia just in the last five years. We talked a bit about the Ice Age and what other animals lived then–the saber toothed tiger, etc.
How do mammals protect themselves from intense cold?
Blubber as Insulation:
Once the water is pretty cold you can try the famous blubber experiment… the one where you place shortening in a plastic bag and then put another plastic bag inside the other bag. The kids took turns wearing the shortening glove and slipping both hands into the cold water. The PBS website had a good overview of this experiment and we talked about the background information provided at that website. I also printed out some other information about blubber I found online and read them excerpts from that. We talked about how blubber acts as an insulation.
What makes good insulators?
Another experiment you can do relating to insulation was suggested at the back of the Magic School Bus book about the Arctic. We took a half-dozen piece of bread and toasted them. Then we wrapped the hot toast in various items to see which kept the toast warmest. The kids made predictions about which items were the best/worst insulators. They made a list predicting in order what would keep the bread warmest down to which bread would lose the most heat. For us we found that LD’s down jacket kept the toast the warmest while the toast wrapped (badly) in the black construction paper was coolest.
You could do a variation of this experiment by placing several bottles of water outside in the intense cold… one just outside on its own, one wrapped in a jacket, one wrapped in thin socks, one wrapped in paper (you get the idea). Check frequently to see which bottle of water freezes first.
Blubber and Buoyancy:
Another cute experiment we did involved olives with the pits still in them and shortening. I had to hunt pretty carefully to find olives with the pits still in them (and used green olives). This experiment was to show how blubber helps whales come to the surface for air.
First we dropped an olive into our bowl of water. It immediately sank to the bottom.
Then we smeared shortening on the olive as best we could and dropped it into the water. As long as the shortening stayed on, the olive bobbed and floated at the surface of the water. Even when the shortening/olive dove down into the water when it was dropped in, it immediately jumped back up. It was a really cute activity!
You might also be interested in these related posts:
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Monday, January 6th, 2014
Five or six weeks ago, someone asked me how I go about setting up our science units. I wanted to spend some time really laying out that process. Since we have homeschooled from the start, I thought it would make the most sense to talk about the preschool years first. I wrote a post about that and shared links to lots of our activities a couple of days ago. Today, I’ll talk about how I go about planning for science now that the kids are older, 5-10 years old.
Science in the Preschool Years – click here
Science in the Elementary Years:
As my kids were older we continued our science units, but began going into considerable more depth. We spend as much time as needed (and while interest lasts). In the past year or so we’ve done units on (I’ve put in links so you can explore our hands-on science units)
This January we’re going to start off with a new unit on weather, wind and water… But we need to go into more depth about the Earth’s systems first. We’ll review several of the systems we’ve gone over before (the geosphere, biosphere, lithosphere) and spend quite some time on the atmosphere before moving on to the weather and water related topics.
How do I decide quite what we’ll cover? I have a running list of the units I feel the kids should know. I gather these by looking at various science books and so forth. My mental list of unit possibilities might look like something like this…
- the human body (5 senses, human body systems, nutrition, germs, eyes, ears)
- Nervous system
- Skeletal, Muscular and Integumentary Systems (Skin, etc.)
- Circulatory and Respiratory Systems
- Digestive and Excretory Systems
- Endocrine and Reproductive Systems
- Immune System and Disease
- life cycles and reproduction
- atomic structure – periodic table
- common elements chemical bonds and chemical reactions
- plant and animal cells
- cell structure and process
- cell function (chemical reactions inside cells)
- cell division
- classification: taxonomy
- kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species
- offspring names
- group names
- levels of organization
- biosphere, ecosystem (biome), community, population, organism, groups of cells, cells, molecules
- Microorganisms – bacteria, viruses, protists, fungi
- Biomes (Ecosystems)
- Ecology – interdependence of organisms and their environment; food chain
- DNA – RNA Genetics
- Earth science
- geographical features – land forms, water forms
- inside Earth – geosphere
- Earth’s movement – changes to Earth’s surface
- Earth systems (geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere)
- Underground water
- Oceans, Tides
- solar system
- kinds of stars
- Water Cycle
- Oxygen Cycle
- Nutrient Cycle
- Nitrogen Cycle
- Carbon Cycle
- Sulfur Cycle
- Phosphorus Cycle
- Rock Cycle
- Light and optics
- Sound –vibration, waves, speed, frequency, wavelength, amplitude
- physics – speed, force, energy, power, heat, energy transfer, conduction, convection, radiation, simple machines
I keep in mind what we’ve studied already; what we haven’t studied, and what we need to study again to cover in more depth. Once I pick our unit (the kids often have a say in what we study), I start researching. My behind-the-scenes preparation usually takes at least two weeks. I usually start by reading through a basic science text to see what it covers. Then I check out tons of books from the library. Finally, I go out on the Internet for more ideas. I take notes as I go – and eventually a lot of my notes make their way into the science packet or notebook pages I make for the kids.
As we start the unit, I take the opportunity to review old terminology and make sure I’m filling in holes we may have left because the kids were much younger the last time we touched on the topic. These days, the kids have science notebooks. I usually prepare some science notebook pages that covers the topics that I want us to touch on. Their science notebooks also includes projects and lapbook pages. The kids LOVE their science notebooks and often flip back to see what we’ve covered. We also do a lot of hands-on activities based on the topics at hand.
Books and Resources:
- I have a set of science textbooks that I bought used from Amazon. I often read through that material on various grade levels to pick out the components of the unit I feel we should cover.
- I head to our local library and check out a HUGE stack (usually 10-15 books) on that topic.
- I check out science activity books (especially Janice VanCleave’s books) and science fair project books to see if there are hands-on activities that will go well and add to our unit.
- I do research on the Internet to see what resources are available free.
Hopefully that gives you some insight as how we are approaching science and creating our science curriculum. We use a lot of different resources as we go.
You might also be interested in these posts from our chemistry unit:
You might also be interested in these Earth Science posts:
You might be interested in this series:
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Saturday, January 4th, 2014
Behind the scenes I’ve been getting things ready for our upcoming science units. ED will be doing a bit of animal classification review and I made some new cards for her. I realized, though, that if any of my readers have younger kids in the 2-4 age range you’ll want to start off with a simple living and non-living card sort. Here are a set of cards that you can download free to use with your kids:
Free Living and Non-Living Montessori Cards
Characteristics of Living Things: Here is some information to cover with older kids.
- Living things are made up of units called cells
- Living things reproduce
- Living things are based on a universal genetic code
- Living things grow and develop
- Living things obtain and use materials and energy
- Living things respond to their environment
- Living things maintain stable internal environments – most organisms must keep internal conditions such as temperature and water content fairly constant to survive (homeostasis)
- Taken as a group, living things change over time
You might be interested in this related post:
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characteristics of living things, Free Montessori 3-Part Cards, Free Montessori cards, Living Non Living sort, Living Non-Living Activity, living nonliving cards | Categories:
Preschool (Age 4), Preschool and Toddler Activities, Preschool for ED - Fall 2011 (age 3 1/2), Science, Toddler/Preschool Activities, Vertebrates - Invertebrates