A Few Good Links

Here’s a bit of what’s clogging up my browser today…

Fear The Pumpkin: In Ukraine, It’s The Big Kiss-Off

Think jack-o’-lanterns are frightening? Try being a man in Ukraine. Then you’ll truly understand what it’s like to fear a pumpkin.

For centuries in the Eastern European nation, a pumpkin meant one thing: No, I won’t marry you.

An old tradition held that a would-be suitor would visit a woman’s house to propose. If the answer was yes, there was family toasting and celebration. If no, the poor guy was silently handed a pumpkin….

Poor guys!  🙂  Read the rest from NPR here.

Not-So-Scary Play-Dough Monsters!

Pink and Green Mama has more on how to make these fun beasties!

A throw of the Dice

Up to 20,000 years before they had bows and arrows to hunt with, those who roamed what would someday become the U.S. used something called an atlatl to put elk and venison on the supper table…

And mammoth!  Don’t forget mammoth!  If you’re curious about this atlatl thingee that I’m always posting about, this article has some good basic information about it.

Make Me: Spooky Story Dice

I’m not sure about you, but I have to admit that we’d never played with story dice before. Halloween is the perfect excuse to start seeing as spooky stories always seem to capture their imagination. It’s hysterical to hear the stories they come up with! We’d love to hear yours…

These printable dice sound like fabulous fun!  Visit Made in Me to print yours.

Explanation on ballot may baffle voters

A phrase says the amendment “would ensure that the right to vote for persons with mental illness cannot be taken away by the Legislature.”
See kids, grammar matters!  Because we all have a right to vote for persons with mental illnesses, right?  Oops… Read more about the poor wording that’s causing voter confusion here.
And lastly…

The Hundred Year Starship: The Nasa mission that will take astronauts to Mars and leave them there forever

The mission is to boldly go where no man has gone before – on a flight to Mars.

The snag is that you’d never come back.

The U.S. space agency Nasa is actively investigating the possibility of humans colonising other worlds such as the Red Planet in an ambitious project named the Hundred Years Starship.

Wow!  Amazing stuff to ponder.  Read the full story here.

A Rant and Some Raves About the Science Conference

I have to say that all in all, we LOVED the science conference yesterday.  It was fabulous.

But there were a couple of times when I felt the need to go off on a rant.

One was when I picked Anna up from her “sugar high” class and overheard one of the teachers tell a father that all sugars were equal (“high fructose corn syrup, sugar, artificial or natural,” she said) as far as our bodies are concerned.  I happen to have a very different opinion, but oh well.

The big thing that set me off occurred in Victoria’s geology class.  It set me off so much that I told the organizers off on their online evaluation form.  When it asked for me to explain any “areas of concern,”  I wrote this…

In Geology Rocks, my daughter proudly told the class that she and our family have found fossilized sharks’ teeth at a lake near us.  One of the teachers explained to her that she must have found “fish teeth” because it would be impossible for them to have been preserved without limestone.  My daughter is incredibly proud of the sharks’ teeth she has found and my husband has helped her fully research exactly what species they are from, along with their general ages, and she told me “I had to bite down hard on my tongue to keep from arguing with her.”

Please direct the teachers (I’m not sure which one) to http://magicandmayhem.homeschooljournal.net/shark-teeth/ to see some of the specimens that our family has collected and find out how my husband and daughter did their research.  Please also let them know that they have washed out of the matrix of limestone and are now loose, which is how it is possible to find them now.

One of the most important themes of this conference, something that the “Science Dude” himself pointed out today, is that ANYBODY CAN BE A SCIENTIST.  My daughter may be twelve years old and may not have a geology degree, but she DID find fossilized sharks’ teeth and she loves geology.  It is never a good idea to assume that a child must not know what she’s talking about simply because it’s new information to the “expert.”

That said, she enjoyed the class otherwise!

To read more about the conference, click here (the program) and here (how it turned out).  Despite my grumblings about a few small things, it really was utterly fantastic.  The Science Dude especially!

The State of Education…

I wrote an article today about a new digital science book being developed (to be available free!) and was on Wired while I was doing research.  This comment got my attention…

i’m not really convenced when he says no publisher is doing this.

i used to work for Harcourt School publishers who (at least 8 years ago) were the leader in all school book publishig for the USA and they were producing ebook versions of the text books.

then later in life i started taking night classes at university of phoenix and pretty much every single book i had to buy was a digital book (from various publishers)

so yeah i call BS on that front.

on the other hand i will conseed that these guys seem to be taking it the next logical step forward with the audio and video componants. i really look forward to downloading their first chapter and checking it out!!!


This from someone who:
a)  Worked for a textbook company, and
b)  Attended a university

What’s even worse is that someone replied to this person and appeared to “correct” the spelling of concede, with a new wrong spelling!  And some snazzy new spellings of his/her own…

@ Iblissli While I will conceed that others are attempting to do this, No One has anything like this available for High schools in the US. I have used the “digital” material that Harcourt provides and I would not put exxentially a scan of the book page on the same level as an interactive video hyperlinked, searchable text. This is the next logical step in the evolution of education. I will be waiting for the first chapter eagerly. When will the physics, Chemistry, Geology, Astronomy… texts be comming?

Hey kids…  Your homework is to see how many errors you can find in those quotes!  😉

Obama to appear on Myth Busters

And no, not about his birth certificate.  😉

Rueters says:

Obama’s appearance on the popular Discovery Channel show is part of a White House effort to highlight the importance of science, math and engineering as experts warn that low interest in these subjects among U.S. students could hurt the economy…

I especially liked this part:

“I can announce today that I taped a special guest appearance for their show, although I didn’t get to blow anything up,” Obama said at a White House science fair event. “I was a little frustrated with that.”

and this:

“We welcome championship sports teams to the White House to celebrate their victories … I thought we ought to do the same thing for the winners of science fairs and robotic contests and math competitions,” Obama said.

Read the full story here.

The 20 Worst-Paying College Degrees in 2010

I thought it was interesting!

Of course, it also doesn’t go into how hard it is to find a job once you have the degree.  Art History may pay better than Elementary Education, but how many jobs are there comparatively?

And hey Victoria, did you catch that bottom line?  Yes, you do need math, Sweetheart!  😉

From Lynn O’Shaughnessy at The College Solution Blog

Wedding Helpers

Victoria and Anna have a fun job today.  They are helping at setting up the community center for a wedding reception!

Alex’s Head Start teacher (and Jack’s before that) asked the girls if they could set up battery-operated candles and such for the reception.  Jan showed them their jobs on Thursday and today at 4:30 the girls are headed over to get things ready.

Jan is more than just a lady who shows up at our house once a week with fun books and educational activities, she’s become a family friend we really adore.  The girls are tickled pink to get to help set up her daughter’s wedding reception.

Pink also happens to be one of the colors of the wedding and of the highlights in the bride’s hair!  Both girls were also tickled by that.  🙂

Jan presented the girls with cards and $20 as thanks.  They would have happily done the job for free, but that made it even more awesome.

It should be a fun evening!

Oodles of Fun Ways We've Learned and Played Lately

Oh my goodness, I’m so behind in blogging here!  Life has been a nonstop whirlwind for months.  I think November might slow down a tiny bit…  Who would have thought that I would ever want winter to come?  I’m really ready for some snow days.  🙂

Here’s a tiny fraction of what the kids have been up to…

  • History Fest
  • German Class
  • Spanish class
  • Reading Betsy, Tacy and Tib for the MHL Reading Challenge
  • A fall festival
  • Mad math problems
  • A playdate with fabulous friends
  • Making pretzels
  • Making bread
  • The Farmers’ Market
  • Blogs and diaries
  • Song writing
  • Books, books, books
  • Altered books
  • iPod apps and games
  • Dice games
  • Thrift stores
  • Photography
  • Keeping up with the mine rescue
  • Cleaning and organizing
  • Park days
  • Vocabulary car games
  • Grocery store games

Plus bunches more.

We also painted the bathroom, are clearing out another room and are just generally completely busy.

I am ready to just putter for a while.

I am really hoping I can do that before November.