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Giving “blood sugar” new meaning

blood

The kids and I had a lot of fun with this one. Be warned, it’s sticky! Thanks to Morning Hugs and Goodnight Kisses for the idea.

Magic School Bus Science Kit, Mold and Fungi

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Can I just say “Eeew”??! When I set off this year to do a better job helping my kids learn science at home after school, I didn’t know it would involve mold and dead rodents.

Actually, maybe I should blame this on Santa. He bought my daughter a subscription to the Magic School Bus Science Club  through a 50% off deal from Homeschool Buyers Co-op.

Here’s our latest kit:

Mold and Fungi

Mold and Fungi

This is the first kit we’ve gotten that is next to impossible to recreate at home. It came with a bunch of things I wouldn’t know where to buy: petri dishes, test tubes, Agar solution, etc. I guess you could find that on Amazon, but it would end up costing a lot more than $12.

Anyhow, here’s a look at some of the experiments we did:

This tray lived on my kitchen counter for almost two weeks.

This tray lived on my kitchen counter for almost two weeks.

After 2 hours, yeast blew up the balloon!

After 2 hours, yeast blew up the balloon!

Normal, dirty hands touch side A, Clean hands touch side B.

Normal, dirty hands touch side A, Clean hands touch side B.

A week later something is growing on the A side!

A week later something is growing on the A side!

Hard to see in the picture, but stuff is growing in this dish too. Yuck!

Hard to see in the picture, but stuff is growing in this dish too. Yuck!

The great news is my kids will hopefully have a better time remembering to use soap. 😉

For more posts about our Magic School Bus science kit adventures, click here.

 

The Magic School Bus Science Club, Solids, Liquids and Gases kit

The Magic School Bus "Solids, Liquids, and Gases" kit

The Magic School Bus “Solids, Liquids, and Gases” kit

“Santa” brought Jenna(4) a subscription to the Magic School Bus Science Club this year. It was a 50% off deal through Homeschool Buyers Co-op. That comes out to $12 a kit, which is totally worth it.

A lot of these experiments you can do at home for free. The only drawback is that you won’t have the teaching script to read from. I’m not going to lie, the script is pretty nice because it’s so foolproof. But if you go to the library and check out some books, you’ll probably be fine.

Here are some titles to look for:

The Magic School Bus Gets Baked in a Cake: A Book About Kitchen Chemistry

Solids, Liquids and Gases (Starting with Science)

Experiments with Solids, Liquids, and Gases (True Books)

Here are some experiments to get you started:

Dancing raisins. You need raisins and fizzy water.

Dancing raisins. You need raisins and fizzy water.

Drop the raisins in the water and watch what happens.

Drop the raisins in the water and watch what happens.

First the raisins sink because they are heavy. But then the gas bubbles (which are light) attach to the raisins and lift them up to the surface.

Blow up a balloon. You need at 2 liter bottle, vinegar, baking soda and a balloon.

Blow up a balloon. You need at 2 liter bottle, vinegar, baking soda and a balloon.

Drop baking soda and vinegar into the bottle and attach the balloon.

Drop baking soda and vinegar into the bottle and attach the balloon.

If we had used a 2 liter bottle this would have been better. What happens is that the baking soda and vinegar make carbon dioxide, which takes up room and forces the air out of the bottle up into the balloon. Our dinky little bottle didn’t have enough air in it to blow up the entire balloon. Note to self, buy 7-Up!

Fizzy tablets and water.

Fizzy tablets and water.

The citric acid and the baking soda inside the Alka Seltzer tablet react to produce the gas, which is lighter than water, so the bubbles rise to the surface.

Milk goop: you need milk and vinegar.

Milk goop. You need milk and vinegar.

Mix 4 parts milk, 1 part vinegar. Wait 10 minutes.

Mix 4 parts milk, 1 part vinegar. Wait 10 minutes.

The vinegar causes the protein casein to separate from the milk. The result is an ancient type of Egyptian glue.

More goop. You need cornstarch and water.

More goop. You need cornstarch and water.

Mix two parts cornstarch and one part water. Use your hands!

Mix two parts cornstarch and one part water. Use your hands!

This is an experiment you have to feel to understand. The result is not exactly a liquid, but not really a solid. It changes forms depending on how you squeeze it.

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That was a lot of  fun! We still have two more experiments to do before we finish the kit: making slime and a bouncy ball.

For more information about the Magic School Bus Science kits, visit the Young Scientists Club website.

The Well Trained Mind: Thoughts from Chapter 8

This is a series of posts I am writing about The Well Trained Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. Although the WTM has a decidedly homeschooling bent, it is an excellent reference book for any parent who is interested in taking an active role in their child’s education.

Over the next few weeks I am reading the WTM again for the second time and blogging about my thoughts chapter by chapter. I want to be conscientious about not violating any copyrights, so I will not be including quotes from the book on my blog. I will however, be referencing specific page numbers from the third edition. I invite you to read along with me, and chime in your own thoughts in the comment section below.

Chapter 8

General Thoughts: I think that the potential Achilles heel of any Classical Education program, whether in a brick and mortar school or at home, are the STEM subjects; Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Whenever an educator undertakes the teaching of science, that is a big mission. As a classroom teacher, science was the area I felt weakest at teaching, so I was grateful to have coworkers and colleagues to sponge ideas and lesson plans from.

p:158 My margin notes point out that yet again the authors are sanctioning letting children go off on learning tangents, and this being another example of child-directed education. YES, I KNOW that means different things to homeschoolers versus public school teachers. 🙂

p: 159 The WTM plan for scheduling science is similar to public school classrooms around that grade level. In third grade for example, I would expect science to be on the schedule about twice a week in a normal classroom.

p: 160 Here’s a peak at the science notebook my son Bruce brought home from Kindergarten. I was very impressed by what his teacher had their class doing. The journaling and observations are similar to what is being suggested in the WTM. (These are examples from different time points from last year, and not current reflections of what Bruce is capable of doing now of course.)

Bruce’s teacher brought in goldfish and snails for their unit on life cycles. This is pretty typical curriculum for five year olds, but I really liked how she tied in writing and scientific observation.

p 186: I really want to get one of the Science in a Nutshell kits. If I hadn’t just made a big book purchase, as well as having just ordered All About Spelling, I’d probably get one right now. Maybe for Christmas…

Here are some other science kits we have tried:

Science Kits


We have tried out several science kits for Bruce (6y) over the past couple of years, and the Young Scientist Series is one of our favorites so far. Each kit comes with almost all of the materials for three separate experiments, along with three scripts for the parent to read.

The first kit we tried was Set 3, “Minerals, Crystals, and Fossils”. This kit was great, and I highly recommend it for birthday gifts or summer fun.

The second kit we tried was Set 1, “Recycling, Scientific Measurement, and Magnets”. This kit was not nearly as good as the first, but that is mainly due to my own reluctance to actually let Bruce do the first experiment, which involved making paper. I remembered the 1st/2nd grade class doing this experiment at my old school, and I can still vividly picture my friend Michele’s ruined blender! There is no way I am going to let paper-making go anywhere near my Vitamix, which is my favorite kitchen appliance of all time! I still have the all of the materials for this experiment however, so the next time Doug goes up into the attic he can bring down our old blend and Bruce can start making paper.

Additional science kits we have tried that are fun, but not quite as well scripted as the Young Scientist Series, are the Magic School Bus kits. When Bruce was four and a huge fan of Ms. Frizzle, we bought two of these kits. Bruce had a lot of fun with them, but I can’t really report fully about what they were like because Jenna was newborn at the time and he worked through a lot of the experiments with the wonderful teenager we hired to take care of him while Jenna and I napped. These were the two kits we had:

Science in the Kitchen Revisited

Last week Bruce and I did an experiment with a popular candy, that left our whole family thinking twice about eating anything with artificial colors.  Check it out for yourself here: https://teachingmybabytoread.com/2011/06/13/science-in-the-kitchen/

Today we revisited the same experiment, this time using the so-called “natural” version of the candy, sold in the bulk bins of our local coop for a whopping $6.19 a lb.

We put about five or six pieces of candy into two glass jars and filled the jar with about 1/2 of water.  Then we set the timer for five minutes.

This is what the jars looked like when the timer went off.  Not exactly appetizing, is it?

Here is the picture of the experiment done with the conventional candy.

Here is the picture with the natural candy.  As a result of these activities, Bruce is really thinking twice about eating anything with what he terms “weird colors”.

Science in the Kitchen

Think about this experiment the next time you reach for a bowl of candy! 

After watching the last episode of Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution, Bruce and I decided to do an experiment with some left over candy.

We put about five or six pieces of candy into two glass jars and filled the jar with about 1/2 of water.  Then we set the timer for five minutes.

This is what the jars looked like when the timer went off.  Does anybody want to eat some candy?  How about that colored sludge water to go with it?  Yuck!  This simple experiment really left an impression on Bruce, who immediately asked to throw the rest of the candy away.