Friday, September 25, 2009

Density part 2

Today we learned that density measures how tightly atoms are packed together.

Democritus believed 1) all matter is made of atoms, 2) differences in atoms were in shape and size, 3) atoms were indestructible, and 4) atoms were in constant motion.

Of the four, scientists have proven that 1 and 4 are true. We know that atoms are basically the same shape and are limited in size. Over 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms can be on the head of a pin. Now, would someone tell me in English what number that is?

We also know that atoms are destructible because we split atoms to create atomic bombs and nuclear energy.

Next, we experimented to test the theory that atoms are in constant motion using a bottle of hot and a bottle of cold water to disperse food coloring. I think we have all done this at some point (we have).

The blue dye is in the cold water, demonstrating that atoms in cold water move more slowly than in hot (the green). Both eventually completely mix. Interestingly, the yellow dye mixed in the cold water much more quickly than the blue. Any guesses as to why? I'm not sure. Is it because we can't see the yellow as easily or is there a difference in the density of the colors?

On another note, here's a picture of my daughter working in a workbook.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Atoms in a historical context

We finally leaped head first into Science. Being naturally disinclined to follow instructions exactly, I am using the Apologia text, Exploring Creation with General Science as a guide. Their approach to science is historical which is right down our ally! We'll deviate somewhat later because some of the history it presents I think is contradicted elsewhere so we'll be learning about that too.

The text opens with a brief introduction of Imhotep (eem' oh tep) from ancient Egypt around 2650 B.C. adding the note "most historians agree that the heart of Egyptian medicine was trial and error" and that a very important reason the Egyptians were so advanced in the art of medicine was because they had papyrus. They wrote everything down.

For example, they learned that they could get open wounds to heal quickly and cleanly by applying moldy bread on it. Sounds gross, right? Of course, most of us know that moldy bread produces penicillin, and that's why it worked. Back in ancient Egypt, they just wanted to know what worked, not particularly why.

Next, we learned that Greek scientists were the earliest "true" scientists that we know about. They systematically collected facts and observations and then used them to explain the natural world.

The Greeks we learned about were Thales, Anaximander (an axe' uh man der), and Anaximenes (an axe' uh me nees), followed by Leucippus (lew sip' us). He is called the "father of atomic theory". Much more is known about his student Democritus (duh mah' crit us)who continued the study of atoms.

I really liked the visual illustration Democritus used to explain atoms. He used the analogy of sand to explain atoms, likening the atoms to grains of sand. Quoting from the book, it says, "Think about walking towards a sandy beach. When you are a long way from the beach, the sand looks like a smooth, yellow blanket. As you get closer to the beach, you might notice that there are bumps and valleys in the sand, but the sand still looks solid. When you reach the beach and actually kneel down and examine the sand, you find that it is not solid at all. Instead, it is composed of tiny particles called 'grains'."

The experiment was simple enough. We put canola oil, water, and corn syrup in a glass and saw what happened. Then we dropped in a cork, rock, ice cube, and a grape and observed what happened. Such as it is, here's the picture from my point and shoot camera:

It's hard to make out the picture, especially through the fish, but the corn syrup was on the bottom, water in the middle, oil on top. If you look closely, you can see different textures in the liquid. The cork (brown) floated on the oil, ice (look at the nose of the largest fish) on the water, grape (see the purple blob?) on the corn syrup, and rock on the bottom.

Afterward, we discussed how the experiment illustrated the theory of atoms. Briefly, we learned that the amount each object sank has to do with the density of the atoms in each item.

Tomorrow we will be discussing a bit more about Democritus and atomic motion with another experiment. It will also be much shorter lesson since we covered twice as much material as normal today.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What makes a good education?

I received this on a homeschooling email list I'm on and found it to contain some good standards for all parents to measure their own and their children's education. I hope you enjoy it.

You won't find "takes honors classes," "gets good grades," or "attends only Ivy League schools" on John Taylor Gatto's list of qualities of an educated person. Gatto taught in New York City schools for 30 years and was named New York State's Teacher of the Year, but his experiences convinced him that what students need is less time in classrooms and more time out in the world. Building character and community, Gatto argues, is more valuable than learning from tired textbooks and rigid lesson plans.

Really educated people ...

Establish an individual set of values but recognize those of the surrounding community and of the various cultures of the world.

Explore their own ancestry, culture, and place.

Are comfortable being alone, yet understand dynamics between people and form healthy relationships.

Accept mortality, knowing that every choice affects the generations to come.

Create new things and find new experiences.

Think for themselves; observe, analyze, and discover truth without relying on the opinions of others.

Favor love, curiosity, reverence, and empathy rather than material wealth.

Choose a vocation that contributes to the common good.

Enjoy a variety of new places and experiences but identify and cherish a place to call home.

Express their own voice with confidence.

Add value to every encounter and every group of which they are a part.

Always ask: "Who am I? Where are my limits? What are my possibilities?"

Friday, September 4, 2009

Learning to use time wisely

I'm beginning to believe that this year will be the time my children learn to use their time wisely (or drive their mother crazy!) Seriously, everything seems to be going back to that and it's not being an easy lesson for them.

One of the things we have done this year is left the everyone together, unit study model. My daughter would probably do better with that, but the boys are pursuing somewhat different interests. Mostly they want to establish their own identities. In that sense, it must be challenging to be a twin.

One of the things I have done is bought each of them a cheap day planner with their assignments. Their co-op is driving that need somewhat, but it's also necessary because I can't keep track of 3 people's assignments anymore. I can make the assignments for what we're doing here at home and I can help, but they have to follow the schedule.

Yesterday, they searched frantically for those planners because I told them they had to get everything completed before they went to bed. Maybe they are starting to get the lesson?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

First day of co-op

Tuesday was our first day of our new co-op. The kids were all a bit worried/anxious/scared to go, but they loved it once they got there. The spirit there was so good: an eagerness to learn. Sure, the older kids tried to play it cool, but they obviously had no problem with completing the homework assignments.

My own kids came home jazzed! They were all abuzz with telling about their day and the things they had learned. Steven was especially excited about his Medieval History and World War I classes and could not stop talking about them. He wanted to know if he could read the Uncle Eric book about WW I book that I just bought.

Jewell felt very important telling about her classes and her homework. The idea of having homework was awesome to her, and she related the details of her experience.

James was just on a different plane. He was totally happy with the whole experience.

Me? It was a good day, but I've got my work cut out for me to prepare eight lessons on Famous Americans for 2nd graders. Discovering Great Books is going to be fun too. My most spiritual class, though, was with the "Walkers". You know, the children who are upwardly mobile but still not very old. I had the distinct impression that I was holding some of Heavenly Father's most special spirits.

It was a good day!