Pics of the Science Conference

I’m finally feeling well enough to put up pics of Tuesday’s science conference.

Here’s the lowdown….

The day started with a keynote presentation and lots of fun demonstrations that showed scientific ideas.

Check out what happened to his styrofoam head when he poured fingernail polish remover on it!  Many of the kids were guessing that the marker would disappear, not the head!  🙂

(So is this a physical reaction or a chemical one?  Answer at the end.)

Another fun reaction.  It bubbled up and made quite a mess!

Then there was letting kids light hydrogen balloons on fire!  He added different elements to each (like sulfur) to create different colors.  This was a fraction of a second before the big burst of blue flame.

Then on to the classes!

Victoria started with lego robots.  They used computer programming to tell the robots to knock over a colored block.

Anna had Che-Mystery, with the same scientist who did the keynote.

She got to make soda pop, see lots of cool experiments and even made her own bouncy ball to take home.

Then we broke for lunch (at 10:45!), which we ate downstairs with the same scientist who taught Anna’s class and gave the keynote speech.  I asked him all sorts of questions about borax and polymers because it’s how I am.  😉

Then the girls headed to class number two.

Victoria had an orienteering scavenger hunt at “the interpretive center,” which turns out to be exactly the opposite direction the nice helpers in the orange vest tell you to go.  We nearly gave up and certainly got our exercise hiking all over campus!  Vitoria finally caught up with them and had a pretty good time, despite the fact that the campus had started a construction project on the scavenger hunt site and most of it had to be scrapped!  🙂

Meanwhile, Anna had a glowing germ class where she learned about proper food handling, germs and illness.  There were several parts to her class, starting with a talk about food safety complete with glow-in-the-dark “germs” that were put on a tortilla and then passed around to show how germs spread.

Then she had glowing “germs” put on her hands, got to view them under blacklight and then went to the bathroom to wash her hands.  After that, the kids went back to the blacklight room to see if they had really washed away all of the germs.

For the third class, Victoria had Chemistry SMELLS, which had lots of fun hands on stuff like how to test for acids and bases with purple cabbage and such.  They were also given challenges, like making their solution turn a different color by adding something.

Anna ended the day with a class about how to be an inventor.

Both girls really enjoyed the conference, and I can’t wait until Jack is old enough to take part too.  I know he’d love the experiments and such.  It’s for 3rd grade and up so he has a couple of years yet.

I ended up running myself ragged trying to get the girls to all of their classes in all different buildings on campus (often up 3 flights of stairs to take one girl and then run down and dash to another building and up 2 more to take another in the small window of time) so I ended up really exhausting myself since I was newly over the flu.  I’m so glad we went though, because it was a really educational and entertaining experience.

We’ll definitely make this a yearly event for our family.  🙂

PS  It’s a physical reaction.  Did you get it right?

10 Random Thoughts

1.  The girls have a science conference in St. Peter tomorrow. We have to leave at 6:30 in the morning.  Whimper.

2.  Daryl gave Jack a dragon fraction problem today for fun and he rocked it. It was a magical recipe for dragons involving 80 of this, 4 of that and son on, but the challenge was to recalculate the recipe to make only 1 dragon.  He got every one right and then had him make up more.

3.  My dryer has been broken for a week and we won’t have a repairman till Wednesday. I’m tired of hanging clothes on the clothesline and hoping they don’t freeze overnight.  I’m still grateful to have a washer and dryer at all, though.  Decades of laundromats taught me that much.

4.  Victoria and Anna are both reading Harry Potter 5. The same copy.  You cannot imagine the battles.

5.  I’m in a homeschool rut. I have no desire to lead crafts, make lapbooks, read history, embark on nature walks, dream up educational games or in any way inspire brilliance.  I have no desire to even make my bed.  At some point the old me will kick in again, right?  Right?

6.  Alex is finally talking regularly. It took him long enough, but it sure is fun to finally hear some words from that boy.  Of course, we can still only understand 1/10th of them.  One of his favorite words seems to be “quark.”

7.  Jack got a gmail account. We send each other emails back and forth and chat from our computers.  It’s spelling and typewriting.  🙂

8.  Disney is issuing a full refund for Baby Einstein DVD’s purchased in the past 5 years, after admitting they do absolutely nothing to boost children’s intelligence. I once had a friend who was so worried that I was wasting Victoria’s brain potential that she bought her a Baby Einstein video herself.  Bad me, I didn’t play it anyway.  We were busy reading and playing together and I kept forgetting.

9.  Anna is writing a book. It’s about a wizardry school, big surprise.  She’s on chapter 3 and it’s pretty good.  She started writing it before I told her about the Book Arts Bash, but that added to her enthusiasm.  There’s cash involved.

10.  This is our city’s police report for the month of September:

One accident
Four open doors
Two funeral assists
Two tickets issued
Two county assists
One repossession assist

Quite a month.

See you tomorrow.

10 Fun Ways We've Learned and Played Lately

Despite the flu, we got a bit of fun in last week.  Here’s some of the ways we’ve learned around here lately….

1.  Played Personal Bingo. I printed personalized bingo cards here and filled the squares with 5 kinds of tasks (chores like dust the downstairs or gather the recycling, educational like write a haiku or do 2 workbook pages, charitable like give someone a piggyback ride or take a treat to a neighbor, health/fitness like run up and down the stairs 10 times or brush and floss your teeth, and silly like say the alphabet backwards or cluck like a chicken).  The kids each got a card and then worked to get a bingo, which earned them small things like coloring with me or playing a game.  Getting a blackout (doing everything on the card) earns them a surprise.  They’re working on their blackouts now.

Some of the educational squares they did include: write a haiku, learn and use 3 new words, write a poem, copy a poem in fancy handwriting…

2.  Made apple goodies. While I was sick, Daryl was in quite a baking mood.  He made:

Farm Wife Apple Tart
Farm Wife Pear Tart
Apple Cobbler  (twice)
Fried Apples & Onions
Baked Green Tomatoes
Apple Coffee Cake
Applesauce
Apple Crisp

He has the kids help him bake when they want to.  He and Anna made this fabulous apple cobbler, for instance.

3.  Read Harry Potter. Victoria and Anna are both on Harry Potter kicks and carry the huge books with them everywhere.  Unfortunately, they both ended up on the same book, which is now involved in an hourly custody battle.  Anna and her friend Jessie also spend hours on the phone playing that they’re wizards and making up elaborate story lines.

4.  Prepped a peck of peppers and pumpkins. We buy produce from a wonderful farm family in a nearby town and they were selling off the end of their peppers cheap.  I sent Daryl to get some and the guy threw in a bunch of extras free because they had blemishes and he said we were good customers.  I had Daryl pick up pie pumpkins too and the guy threw in extras free because “I’m just happy to meet anyone who makes pie anymore.”  🙂

We got about 4 dozen peppers, a half dozen pie pumpkins and two onions the size of canteloupe for about $6.  Have I mentioned I love buying local?

Daryl washed and sliced up the peppers to freeze and we got to see lots of genetic mutations as he worked.  Sometimes the insides had not developed and instead of seeds there was a tiny clump of matter.  Sometimes there were odd colors inside.  Sometimes they grew in funny shapes, and so on.

5.  Watched Fetch and other PBS programs. Lots of sick days = lots of afternoon TV.  Luckily PBS has some great shows on like Fetch, the New Electric Company, CyberChase and Between the Lions.

6.  Read, read, read. Daryl and I read picture books to the boys and Misty of Chincoteague Island to Anna, plus I read poetry to Victoria.  The 3 big kids also read tons of books, magazines, etc. to themselves.

7.  Carved jack-o-lanterns. Daryl made up blank pumpkin templates for the kids to sketch ideas and then they picked their favorites, transferred them to their pumpkins and Daryl carved them.  We talked about the difference between jack-o-lantern pumpkins and pie pumpkins (the former are more thin-shelled and hollow, while the pie pumpkins are more “meaty and heavy– you can tell the difference when you thump them), sorted and dried the seeds for roasting and got nice and goopy.  😉

8.  Went to the artists’ conference, obviously.

9.  Got roses. Okay, there’s not that much educational value in getting roses (though we did discuss cutting the stems at an angle, giving them fresh water each day and putting a little sugar in the water!) but it sure is nice.  Daryl surprised each of us girls with a rose on Thursday.

10.  Played math. Jack and I got onto the subject of what 1/4 was and he had me ask him to figure out a quarter of all different numbers.  He figured out 1/4 of 4, 100, one dollar, $100, 8, 4000 and lots more.  He did great!

Speaking of which, Jack just came looking for paper to do some art but he saw that and asked me to come do some math with him.  That’s my cue….

Book Arts Bash Begins November 1

I’ve been asked to pass this on…..

This year’s Book Arts Bash is now underway.

The Bash is an amazing opportunity for budding homeschool novelists to showcase their writing. Last year, over 300 homeschoolers entered their writing. Judges like Lois Lowry (The Giver) and Robert Pinsky (former US Poet Laureate) judged and critiqued these homeschooled writers.

This year the Bash organizers have made it even easier to enter the Bash. Entrants simply send a .txt file to the Bash. Because all entries are digital, entrants will have the opportunity to share excerpts of their entries online.

All judges will all be best-selling novelists, such as Holly Black (Spiderwick Chronicles) and Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants).

The top three entries in each age group will then be sent to leading literary agents in New York and Los Angeles for constructive critiques. The top entry in each category will also win $100.

The Bash starts accepting entries on November 1. The deadline for novels is January 1. This is a great opportunity for homeschooling parents to help their children find relevance in their writing curriculum. Your children have a chance to win cold, hard cash and more importantly, they have a chance to have a top notch, industry professional critique their work.

Art Conference Recap!

The Young Artists Conference yesterday was a great experience.  Here’s a few highlights!

The keynote speaker’s topic was about the merits in asking dumb questions and how far it had taken him in life (he’s written the Suessification of Romeo and Juliet, a one act play that’s popular for  high schools to perform, plus lots of books and plays and other things).  The finale got the children cheering though:  he juggled a garden hoe, a magic 8 ball and chainsaw (ON!).

Jack’s classes were making a funny hat, clay sculpture and Digeridoo Dot Dance.  Here’s some pics…

This is one of the hands from the Wild Things movie!  His teacher worked on the animatronics for the movie.  The inside mechanisms have been removed, along with the talons.  This one was defective so they let him take it home, but the good ones were ultimately painted and everything.  The kids loved this!

Anna’s classes were an acting improv class, funny hat making (she didn’t sign up for it but she was assigned to it because pottery was full) and abstract watercolor (another that she didn’t sign up for, but a good one).

They apparently knew she was coming!  Check out the sign on the wall.  🙂

Victoria had a computer logo design class, watercolor pencils and acting.

The kids’ classes were spread among 6 classes on a college campus and I stayed with Jack most of the time, so I had a hard time getting pictures of the girls.  I ducked out and checked on them a couple of times.

Afterwards I picked up Alex and he accompanied me and the girls to the Fine Arts building.  I had passed some student art on the walls and told the kids we could see if anything inspired us to do at home.

It was a great day!