Saturday, August 30, 2014

Some Science Highlights

As I'm shifting to not do quite as much about all of our homeschooling stuff, I thought I'd still try to keep up with some highlights of what we're doing.  I realized, as I looked through photos and thought back over this first couple of weeks, that a highlight has been our science time.  So, I thought I'd share a few highlights of our science for this first month of school.

Our co-op has been doing an American pioneer/Little House on the Prairie sort of theme for the month.  We didn't actually do too much with that beyond our co-op time, but we did start an experiment to then share and observe with our group.  I was hosting this particular week, and I knew we were focusing on kitchen science for the particular time.  So, we had the kids make butter by shaking their jars of cream (which, let's be honest, mostly got finished up by the moms!), and we made sourdough biscuits.  A friend was kind enough to share some sourdough starter with me, and we talked a bit about what sourdough is, how it starts, and why is works in bread.  Sourdough Home was a great resource for that information.

I decided it would also be interesting to talk a bit about food preservation since the first book in the Little House series (which is about as far as we got with my two boys, to be honest) started off talking all about them preparing food for the winter.  
So, we decided to prepare a little experiment to explore what preserves food.  I got the original idea from Experiland, but the experiment is not complete on the site (only if you buy the book).  It was a pretty simple one to figure out, though, so we went ahead and did it.  We cut up an apple into six parts and put each one in a clean glass jar.  We covered each section with one of the substances we were testing, other than the control one, obviously, which we just left plain in its jar.  My son wasn't interested in testing rosemary, as suggested on the site, so we tested salt, sugar, vinegar, water, and then he chose for his last one to be sugar and vinegar combined.

I really like trying to teach my boys to think like scientists and to learn some good habits for recording and tracking experiments, so we set up a page in our notebook.  My kids are young, so I certainly don't make us pause to do in-depth recording every time; sometimes we just discuss and enjoy the fun of it.  But, I do like to build it in frequently.
Since we did the observations and conclusions with our co-op group, I didn't do a good job of actually going back and recording them here.  More time was actually needed past when our co-op observed them, so I think we'll do our final observations and conclusions this week.  I need to remember before the jars start attracting all manner of funk in my kitchen! :)

Here are our jars all set up.  We observed with our co-op after 5 days, which was still interesting, but it would be better to do more time for a fuller effect.

Though our co-op theme was focused on pioneers, our science focus for our own school time has been on water.  I had originally planned to start out with light, and we did a few things with that, but Isaiah kept asking questions about water, so I made a shift (growing in flexibility all the time!).  We did a pretty simple "Will It Float?" experiment, and after setting up our chart and letting them test all the initial things they chose (and a few I chose), we experimented a bit with combining floating and sinking items.

One of the things I love about the ages of my boys right now is the curiosity.  So, even after the experiment was "finished," they still kept playing around with different objects and combinations and just exploring.  A lot of it was just playing, but they kept really connecting in with how objects were reacting to the water, and it was fun to just sit back and watch them explore.

My little one actually takes great delight in cleaning up after big messes made by such exploring! :)

We did two demonstrations to explore density.  They are described well (and their products worked out much better than ours) on the blogs where I find the ideas, so check out Science Sparks for the first density demo Playdough to Plato for Rainbow Jar.

 I think the favorite for the boys was this Water Bottle Fountain from Learning with Play at Home.  They LOVED it!  They couldn't wait to show Daddy when he got home that evening, and they scrambled getting ready for bed faster than I have ever seen with the promise that they could then do it one more time to show it to him!  It was really fun to hear Isaiah even give a good explanation of why it worked!

 Really curious to check out what was going on...

 ...and crazy excited to watch it work!

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