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Everything posted by lewelma

  1. ds(11) did some research on Ivan, and decided to take the opposing view of the historical figure. This essay has been edited. Although all the words are my ds's, I typed it as he composed, and as I typed, I asked questions like How? and Why? which directed his thinking. I reminded him for every paragraph to consider what the topic was and to make sure he had a topic sentence up front. He was working off of an outline. Ruth Ivan the Terrible Ivan was born to a corrupt Russia. Ever since his parents' death, self-serving officials often fought each other for power over Russia. However, Ivan would have to wait until he was 16 and crowned Grand Prince before he could attempt to change this corrupt society. The first thing that Ivan did as Grand Prince was to destroy the ruling elite. He suppressed the aristocracy by creating a combination of centrally appointed and locally elected officials. Following which, he appointed himself Tsar, meaning Caesar. Ivan decided to expand his country. He wanted to impress the rest of Europe, which was expanding their borders in the New World. He created a paid army and with it defeated the Khanates, Kazans, and the Astrakhans. To celebrate his success, he built a magnificent cathedral, called St Basils. Built from 1555 to 1679, St Basils Cathedral was one of the most interesting cathedrals in the world. In contrast to other cathedrals of the era, St Basils was brightly colored and had many spires shaped like onions. Exotic and unusual, the colors of this cathedral outlined the intricate shapes and designs. As a result of the expansion, Ivan gained a port and was thus able to make a trading bond with England, allowing Russia to import goods from Europe. However, the wars also led to an over taxation of the peasants. As they got poorer and poorer, they gave him the title of Ivan the Terrible. Although Ivan achieved many political and economic improvements, he also did many terrible deeds. Because Europe was concerned that Russia was becoming large and powerful, some European countries began to attack Russia. In addition to a massive famine and drought, these difficulties led to Ivan the Terrible's slide into insanity. He killed numerous people believed to be traitors. Shockingly, in a fit of rage, he even killed his son. Unfortunately, Ivan the Terrible's wrong doings have overshadowed his accomplishments, and although he left Russia a better place, he is always thought of as a villain.
  2. Yes, my oldest used IEW for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade. Then we used MCT Paragraph Town for 5th grade but that was a bust because the instruction was not specific enough. For IEW I was never strict with the stylistic components. I introduced them and he used them but I did not require them in every paragraph. We also did not get up to the most advanced model - critique/persuasive essay. He also hated story writing, so we did not do the writing from pictures. WWS's narrative unit has been the instruction he needed years ago for the story writing side of composition. Ruth
  3. Week 9. Day 4. DS(11) 6th grade After going outside and looking at the hut and walking around it, DS took 30 minutes to plan these paragraphs before writing. Impersonal: On one side of the clearing overhung with trees there stood a hut, which was built with sticks and bark and covered with grass and ferns. Two small meandering trails connected the two larger paths which were on either side of the secret clearing. In the middle of the clearing was a huge eucalyptus tree that towered among the other trees and provided most of the materials used to build the hut. (I suggested the first 2 sentences be combined with a "which") One side: I was able to see in the midst of a clearing an incredibly camouflaged hut which almost blended in with its surroundings. It was covered with fresh grass making it easier to see. An internal space of unknown size was slightly visible through a tiny opening in the hut. As I looked more closely, I was able to see a small worn trail that led toward the clearing. On one side a huge eucalyptus tree stood, towering above the others. (He added *fresh" grass and *internal* space when I suggested he describe it in more detail.) Walking around: As I approached a steep bank, I saw a worn trail meandering beside some flax bushes. I followed it. I was able to see a large hut in the middle of a clearing with a eucalyptus on one side. From behind the hut, I saw some bent and twisted trees acting as support. The whole structure was built out of sticks interlaced with bark and covered with grass. As I looked around, I saw a small parting in the bushes which led to a steep bike trail. My suggestions (I was typing it as we talked so I have no rough draft) 1. Original: "From behind the hut, I saw that the support of the hut was trees." (or something like this but with more little words.) I recommended that he turn the sentence around think about the subject in a different way. He came up with: "From behind the hut, I saw some bent and twisted trees acting as support." 2. I suggested he add in more description for sticks and trees and branches. He told me that he did not know what kind of trees and sticks they were . So, I silently used my hands to visually show how they looked to me. He came up with *bent and twisted* trees, and sticks *interlaced with bark*. He also added *steep bike* trail for more description 3."The whole structure was built out of sticks interlaced with bark and covered with grass." This sentence initially started with "I" again, and I suggested that he get to the point, and not refer back to himself again. 4. Original: "As I approached a steep bank, I saw a worn trail meandering beside some flax bushes and I decided to followed the trail." I suggested he break apart this sentence because he had 2 very long sentences in a row, and told him how to do it. I helped with more than this, but I can't remember what. He had much more trouble with the third description. Ruth
  4. DS(11) 6th grade. These assignments have not be edited. Week 6. Day4 On the 14th of April, 1912, the Titanic spotted an iceburg. Because the Titanic, the biggest ship of its day, was believed unsinkable, the crew were not worried when an iceburg warning was received but kept the ship at full speed. Thus, when it hit an icebug, no one thought the ship would sink. Some passengers even played with chunks of ice that had fallen off the iceburg. However, the captain soon realized the ship was sinking. "Put on your life jackets!" he ordered. Many distress signals were sent, but the closest ship that received them was four hours away. Most passengers were reluctant to leave the ship, "this ship cannot sink; it is only a question of waiting until another ship comes and takes us off," they said. Presently when the deck had noticeably tilted, more passengers left the boat. Afterwards, shocked survivors watched the stern of the Titanic dip below the water. Week 7. Day 4 When Johannes Kepler studied at university he learned about Copernicus's new theory of heliocentricism which hypothesized that the sun is at the center of the solar system. However, most people still believed the earth was at the center of the solar system not the sun. After he finished university, Keplar became the assistant of the famous astronomer Tycho Brahe. During this time, his job was to track the orbit of Mars. They both believe that all orbits were circular. Thus, when they noticed that Mars was speeding up and slowing down, they were unable to understand why. Unexpectedly Tycho Brahe died. Keplar continued trying to find an explanation for the movements of Mars. He struggled with this problem for five years. He once wrote, "I was almost driven to madness considering and calculating this matter. I could not find out why the planet would rather go on an elliptical orbit." In 1605, Keplar solved the problem and formed his first law of planetary motion. "The planetary orbit is elliptical and the sun, the source of movement is at one of the foci of this ellipse." He published this work in 1609, but it was not accepted immediately. Week 8 Day 3 The room was spacious and welcoming, and the decorated ceiling was high and vaulted. The gleaming windows were long and high with beautiful arches at the top. The floor was made of shiny oak boards. The sun was setting outside, and the light that flooded through the windows was red and gold, but it did not reach all the way into the comfortable corners of room. The colourful curtains hung at the windows, and comfortable chairs filled the room. The room was echoing, and the oppressive ceiling was high and vaulted. The gloomy windows were long and high with crumbling arches at the top. The floor was made with worm eaten oak boards. The sun was setting outside, and the light that struggled through the windows was crimson and yellow but it did not reach all the way into the cobweb corners of the room. Tattered curtains hung at the windows, and collapsing chairs were scattered throughout the room. Week 8 Day 4 On a hill there was a castle. Although it was called a castle, it was more of a palace for it was covered with superfluous windows and sculptures and looked as if it could withstand a siege as much as a log cabin could. It had a couple of turrets that soared into the sky, and it had a drawbridge that connected the guard tower to the gate house. The view from the top of the guard tower was tremendous, overlooking the surrounding countryside as well as the nearby wooded hill.
  5. ds(11 and heading into puberty) was reading his geology book about identifying crystals and rocks. Unexpectedly, he jumped off the sofa and said, "I need to find some cleavage!" And ran outside to find his rock pile.
  6. Neighbor: What kind of transformer is your favorite? DS(5): What do you mean? Neighbor: You know, a transformer is a robot that turns into an airplane or a truck or a car. DS(5): No it's not. A transformer steps down voltage.
  7. This may have been true in the past, but I seriously doubt it now. Science is just too expensive to be able to make important discoveries without having access to equipment -- general lab equipment for Biology and Chemistry, orbiting telescopes in Astronomy, CERN in physics. This equipment is required for making discoveries in most fields and costs millions or even billions of dollars. Also, in the past, not much was known about any field, so there were many discoveries to make that could be made by the amateur. There is a phrase, "standing on the backs of giants," which is so true in science today. You don't make a discovery without reading the work of the people who came before you, a process that takes at least a year of full time reading, and up to 5 years more part time (I read 10,000 pages of scientific articles:tongue_smilie:). You are suggesting, I think, that this reading indoctrinates individuals to a certain way of thinking, leading to research which is "more of the same." But most fields have come so far in even just the last 20 years, that you simply could not ask a question without knowing what is already known. Most of the discoveries today that are made by non-scientists are the discovery of a new species, supernova, or archaeological find. There is a lovely quote by Pasteur, "Chance favors the prepared mind," and many of these types of discoveries require a great knowledge of what you are looking at and looking for. But these types of discoveries are of a thing, they are not answering a question or developing a theory. I'm not saying they're not important, but these types of discoveries often get way more press than they deserve IMHO because they are easy to understand, which is why the public is aware of them. Most of the "risky or less relevant" questions today are done not by newbies or non-scientists, but by scientists who are working interdisciplinaryly. These individuals have a huge knowledge of one field and apply it to another. This knowledge gives them a fresh viewpoint. But I don't believe they could ask a decent question without having all the knowledge from the other field behind them. I don't want to be argumentative (sorry if I have been), and I am happy to agree to disagree. Ruth
  8. Thanks for this. yes, I completely agree with this. We do the same thing. We did not go down and look for money 3 different times during the day, and then replicate it for 4 weekends, as we designed! Makes sense to me.:001_smile: I love to see what people have done in their past. I worked in an immunology lab for 2 summers during college, and did AIDS research. I don't remember much except the tiny guillotines used to chop off the mice's heads. :tongue_smilie: I have also been thinking more about SaDonna's question about why she does not see more original inquiry in science curriculum. I will hypothesize (since we are talking science) that homeschool curriculum are based off of regular school approaches. I think that it would be very hard to do 30 different science fair projects with 30 different kids in a class. But having said that, I have experience with only 3 school situations. 1) In NZ, 7th and 8th graders in most schools do a science fair project either every year or every other year, and the winners go to the regional fair (where I see their work). 2) My sister teaches science in a ritzy private school in KY, and all students grades 3 to 12 do a science fair project every year. 3) My other sister's kids are in public school in well-off area in VA, and her kids do a science fair project every year starting in 6th. So, considering my 3 examples, I think perhaps more of this is happening than we think, but possibly more often in the "better" schools in the US. Off to a BBQ on a lovely Spring evening (with the noise from the Rugby World Cup party as background music to our ears:glare:). Ruth
  9. In contrast to writing and history, science is new. The scientific method was really started only in the late Victorian period, so we are talking 130 years ago. There is no 2000 year old progymnasmata to mine for good ways to teach it. And science in K-8? When did we start teaching science to kids? I don't know for sure, but I thought it was in the 1960s with Sputnik. There has just not been enough time to come up with a good method. Also, in contrast to writing and math, science is a constantly moving target, making it very challenging for the teaching community to come to an agreement for a good way to teach it. I also think that a lot of curriculum do encourage students to do real investigations. (I know that Prentice Hall does, and you have said BFSU and ES do, and musicmommy said that Great Science Adventures does.) But I think it is like those math challengers at the end of each chapter, teachers just never assign them because they are hard, and there is a lot of content to cover that will be on the test. But problem solving is THE most important thing in math. If you cannot turn words and thoughts into mathematical statements, you cannot use your computation and algebra skills in real life. But yet, we all skip those math challengers, just like we all skip the true scientific inquiry recommendations. They just take up too much time for the perceived benefit. There are also different ways to teach science. I think it is very comparable to SWB's discussion of teaching grammar (in the early grades writing lecture). There are two camps: teach grammar early for more years, or wait until high school and do it more quickly. She is in the early camp, believing that grammar is like a foreign language and there is a time when the mind is receptive. Comparatively, I am firmly in the camp of teaching true scientific inquiry to students when young, because the scientific thought process is harder to incorporate into your thinking if you are introduced to it at a later age. Teaching kids about inquiry is easier when they are young because kids naturally ask questions all the time (for my kids, really all the time). Teens and adults quit asking questions, they just accept that "that is the way it is." Here are 2 of my kids' questions from yesterday. 1) Why are the new spring leaves (yes it is spring here) paler than the evergreens. The younger one hypothesized that they had less of that green stuff that makes food (chlorophyll) in them. Ok, very very easy to test. Go get both kinds of leaves and put them under the microscope and count the chlorophyll. Question #2) When do think is the best time to pick up money off the street? (this made me laugh) We are having the Rugby World Cup here and live 6 blocks from the big block party and are on the hill so we can see it. They have found money on the street before, (yes drunk people drop it). So, this is easy to test. Go up and down the street at 3 different times in the day and see when you find the most money. Don't just guess. Make a hypothesis and TEST your ideas. It really is not hard. You just have to listen to their questions. “Why is the sky blue?†is not a question you can test. But “do bees visit the yellow flowers more than the white ones?†is. I have also seen, in my lifetime, the proliferation of pseudo-science. Ideas masquerading as science which have no data to support them. I have friends who pay good money for stuff that is fake. Then, they tell me, well it worked for a friend. They have no idea the difference between anecdotal evidence and scientifically tested ideas. Anecdotal evidence is what leads a scientist to make a hypothesis and then test it (with replication, a control, and statistical analysis) to see if he/she is right or wrong. The proliferation of pseudo-science tells me that science is becoming more and more important, and marketers and individuals realize that if they couch their ideas in “scientific speak†more people will believe them. And because people don't study scientific inquiry, they do! Ok, enough for now. I'm guessing that you won't be surprised to find out that school holidays started 2 days ago so I have more time on my hands than I usually do. Ruth
  10. Let me start off by saying that no home school can do everything well. We have decided to focus on science instead of history as our main topical area. For history, dh reads to them both living books and history books at night for 30 minutes, and they watch docos. We only dabble in timelines, primary resources, independent research, persuasive essays etc. We do dabble, but it is not our focus. My recommendation is if you can only dabble in true scientific inquiry, that is fine, but do dabble, do not just ignore it. Now, I have such a mishmash of answers to questions. No real organization here. Sorry. Right. Kids need to see and do and not just read. We are currently studying astronomy, and both boys (7 and 11) have 1) followed the moon for a month, 2) watched the movement of stars around the southern pole for a few hours, 3) observed the change in altitude of the sun at its zenith, and 4) drawn the change in latitude of sunset for a couple of months. My older boy (11) has also done his science workbook's investigations 1) of the terrestrial planets' surfaces. He has compared and contrasted them to earth surface from the point of view of gradation, cratering, volcanism, and tectonics. 2) drawn a scale model of the planets' distance from the sun and a scale model of the diameter of the sun vs different planets., 3) and done a study of how latitude and longitude work both on earth and the celestial sphere. All of these activities have been a part of learning about astronomy and really driving home what just reading won't. But none of them attack the problem of learning about scientific inquiry, they just help in his understanding of the body of scientific knowledge. The problem is that many science programs mask of these types of activities in a veil of terminology suggesting that it is true scientific inquiry. Something like: Question: Does the sun change the angle of its zenith over the year? Methods: measure the angle of ascent with an astrolabe every 3 days for 1 month and record it on a chart. Results: you record your results on a table they provide Conclusions: Yes, the sun changes its angle, because of the tilt of the earth. I just would never talk about the scientific activities in that way. Its pretending to be something that it is not. This approach might help to reinforce the pattern of science, but it is done in such a false way as to confuse the student. Yes! Even better would be a hypothesis (an educated guess) “I believe that mold grows better in a warm environment.” Then design an experiment. Ask questions: if you put it in the sun, does UV light damage it or does the warmth from sun light help it grow? Perhaps you need a warm dark place also. Then make the child think about what kind of data to collect. How are you going to measure growth? Density of mold, types of mold, surface coverage? How do you measure it objectively? Do you need to make a chart at the beginning to keep you honest in your assessment? Are you taking quantitative measurements (number of patches, number of species), or qualitative measurements (the petri dish is empty, mostly empty, partially full, full). Make the child develop the collection sheet, the table style, the graph style. These things are hard as they force you to really think before you start. THEN start the experiment. You MUST drive home the objective nature of science. This is how it differs from historical research or literary analysis, where a writer has an opinion and supports it with arguments and persuasive writing. In science, you don't get to just think your way to an answer. how does coral grow?: this is a demo can worms mix soil?: duh, yes of course they can. This is a demo. You could change it by comparing how long it takes them to mix different types of soil (clay, sand, compost, etc) Can I dissolve shrimp shells?: demo, but easy to change to : Which vinegar dissolves shells faster? frog dissections: this is a technique lab used to teach methodology and equipment (see below) Which type of fur keeps mammals warmer?: not sure how this one is done unless you have your own pets. Which bone breaks easier? (chicken thigh bones that has been soaked in vinegar, another bakes in over, another a control) – This could be a true experiment if you have not already studied what the answer could be. Like the control, very nice. Remember demos are fine as long as the child knows it is a demonstration of a scientific fact or principle that is known to exist that you are trying to observe. Yes, there are labs that are designed just for kids to learn how to use scientific equipment or to understand a method of study. Typical examples of equipment: Microscopes, telescopes, measuring with beakers, rulers, pipets, thermometers, rain guage. Typical examples of methods of study: transects for counting things, mushroom prints for identifying mushrooms, scratch test to determine a rock's hardness, iodine to identify starch, etc. Methods of study often mascaraed as true science, But in the end these are just tools to be used to answer questions. You don't just learn how to use a saw, but never build a table. Do these labs, just make sure you clarify that these are tools that scientists use to answer questions. Then, try to answer a question yourself. For example, learn the iodine trick for finding starch, and then run around the house testing stuff – cotton socks? Paper? Lentils? (Don't pick something obvious like bread, because that's boring, but you could ask which type of bread has more starch in it. Yes, use the script. Then just twist it a little bit to ask your own question. Also, you can learn scientific inquiry using the Social Sciences. Questions like: Why is there congestion on the streets at noon everyday? Do home school students prefer to study longer for 4 days or shorter for 5 days? What age do parents feel comfortable leaving their children at home alone? Now plan an systematic way to collect data that would answer your question. Social sciences often use surveys, which are very fun to design. In the end, what is the true purpose of studying scientific inquiry? I mean, really, why bother to make the effort? Here is my attempt to be persuasive: Your student needs to be able to identify pseudo-science masquerading as science. Their mantra needs to be “show me the data.” Magnets in water? Tuning forks to cure migraines? Not only will they use their scientific knowledge to identify the idiocy of many claims, they will also use their understanding of the scientific process to question and doubt claims that are unsubstantiated. Many of these claims are health related, so not only will this understanding save them money but also possibly their health. You student will one day be a voter. There are many scientific issues in the news that influence elections. And there is soooo much misinformation. Can your student independently evaluate claims or are they completely reliant on the very biased news to interpret science for them? When they get a job, they will likely deal with scientists or social scientists. Lawyers and doctors rely on scientists and statisticians regularly. Workers in business or government deal with social scientist all the time. You need to know what these people are doing. You cannot just nod your head and smile. Your student needs a general understanding of how difficult scientific inquiry is, and how time consuming, and often how expensive. Also, scientific research is falsifiable. When scientists say that they were wrong, this is not because they were idiots. It does not mean that you should not trust them in the future. When earthquake scientists in Italy missed an earthquake, is it really fair to put them on trial for manslaughter of failing to warn residents? Or is science probabilistic? Why are we not sure if a faster than light particle was found? Why do we need to replicate it? These issues are in the news, and all educated individuals need to understand scientific inquiry to really get it. OK, now I will get off my high horse and go to bed. Ruth
  11. Well, yes that is the way **I** do it, but there are many ways to study science k-8 and there are many different types of learners. I have found that I am not alone in finding that the weekly “experiment” is exhausting for me, and often not very helpful/interesting for my student. It seems like a lot of work for not much payback. So I simply consolidate my hands-on time into a 6-10 week period and do a BIG project. Science has 2 main parts: 1) the body of knowledge and 2) the methodology for how to answer scientific questions. The weekly “experiments” that are a part of many science curricula try to serve 2 functions simultaneously. They try To help students understand the body of knowledge. If you simply cannot believe that 2 balls fall at the same rate, go try it and you will see. To help students become acquainted with the methodology for how to answer scientific questions. Abstract thinkers do not typically require #1. They are the kids who say “do we have to do this?” “I already know what will happen.” In contrast, concrete thinkers often find that the hands-on activities really solidifies their understanding of scientific concepts. Each parent/teacher needs to identify what the child's learning style is, and do what is appropriate for the child. Where I struggle with weekly “experiments,” is how they attack #2 – becoming acquainted with the scientific method. The way it typically goes is that the book gives you an activity to do with your children which has expected outcomes that you are trying to achieve. The methods are given to you in a “cook book” style and the student is supposed to write up the hypothesis, methods, results, and conclusions. Here are my concerns: Because the question is already posed, the student never learns that science is about asking questions and looking for answers. It is someone else's question they are answering. They are never taught to ask a question of their own. They are never taught that their questions are valid, interesting, and answerable in an objective manner. Because the methods are already designed, the student never has to puzzle over HOW to answer his/her question. This activity requires logical thinking and problem solving. These weekly demonstrations/activities give the misconception that answering a scientific question is as simple as following the directions, and scientific inquiry is NEVER so simple. Because the student is looking for a certain result, when the result is not produced, students are taught that they did not get the right answer. This is the antithesis of scientific thinking. Data is data. It is not Wrong. Your hypothesis has just been disproved. These activities teach students that what you expect should happen, should happen, and if it doesn't, you need to do the experiment again and again until you get what you expect. What?!?!? THIS IS NOT SCIENCE. So here are some things to think about for your individual student: If your student wants to be a scientist, I would urge you to have him/her do a large independent study at least once before heading to university to major in science. I have met graduate students who are serviously disappointed with their choice of science. They love learning scientific knowledge but don't like scientific inquiry at all. Better to learn early that scientific inquiry is not your thing and go into science writing or something else instead. If your student is a concrete thinker, do the weekly demonstrations to help solidify his/her understanding of the concepts. But be clear with them that in real scientific inquiry, the questions, methods, and results are not known ahead of time. Then go and read some really good biographies of scientists where the true difficulties are laid out and not sugar coated. If your student finds that weekly scientific activities are fun and that they are really helping with writing up lab reports etc, then try to get your student to alter the hypothesis slightly. Go a bit further, ask a question that is not in the text. If the question is “does fertilizer help plants grow?” Well, duh, of course it does, everyone knows that. How about “Which fertilizer makes plants grow taller?” This is a much better question, and would still take the same amount of time. And of course, if you have the time and energy, do a science-fair type project. It is soooooo fun and leads to such unexpected learning! I truly believe that scientific inquiry is misunderstood by most of the public. Pseudoscience is elevated to the level of science. Politicians ignore scientific data. The public expects a quick answer to a difficult question or assumes that scientists don't know anything because the facts are always changing. The list could go on and on. These are problems with understanding scientific inquiry, not understanding scientific knowledge. Scientific learning is incredibly important for decision makers and voters alike, which is why I am spending time posting!:D Ruth
  12. SaDonna, I have heard very good things about his program. My understanding is that he teaches the 4 main disciplines of science each year, and progressively increases the student's understanding of each over many years. This IS systematic. I don't think it matters the order of the material you study. And Regentrude has written that students often can get a better understanding of how all areas of science are integrated if you study the 4 disciplines in a single year. I achieve this integration by making sure we study chemistry when we are doing geology, and physics when we are studying astronomy, etc. This integration might use more of my personal knowledge than I realize, which others may not be able to imitate. For example, when we studied quartz, my son was very interested in the chemical composition and how it compared to amethyst. So I just got out the periodic table and a piece of paper and showed him how the atoms connect together using shell diagrams. :001_smile: We study 1 science discipline per year only because I read about it in the WTM when I first started homeschooling and it resonated with me. I can keep track of where we are and what is coming up, and so can the kids. They like to know that next term in geology and next year is Chemistry. But keep in mind that we do a new sub-discipline each term, which is like a new topic from a kid's point of view. Do you really think that my 7 year old sees how oceanography and meteorology connect better than biology and chemistry. Not likely. And we are NOT purists. My kids are currently in love with all The Way Things Work physics videos with the Mammoths. And my 7 year old has just gotten out all the Magic School Bus books from the library. So he is currently reading about bees and rain forests. It sounds like you have found something that resonates with you and your children. Trust your instincts. Ruth
  13. Thank you, Quark (and others, oh my!), for you kind words. Thought I would cross post something I wrote on the K-8 board. You have probably already seen it, but it fleshes out what I have on this thread, so I thought I would add it here. I wrote it to help a kid who was so excited about science and so busy with his scientific studies that he never stopped to write anything down, make posters, or "share" his knowledge..... Here are my two goals for elementary (K-8) science education: 1) Get as much general knowledge into his head as possible until he is ready for high school texts. This includes Biology, earth and space science, chemistry, and physics, and the MANY sub-disciplines within. 2) Give him a beginning understanding of scientific thinking, which includes: a) your questions must be falsifiable b) you must be objective when answering your questions c) you must think about your assumptions d) you need to collect data systematically e) you must be willing to find your ideas wrong f) And... a general knowledge about replication and averages and probability would be a major plus heading into high school science So this is how I achieve these goals: 1. I follow the WTM approach of 1 year for each major area of science in g1-g4, and then a repeat in g5 through g8 before highschool. However, you can also do all 4 areas each year. Regentrude has discussed this, and I believe that this is the way that both MSNucleus and Singapore Science curriculums work. We read, read, read. And discuss all the time. We discuss library books, documentaries, random ideas, the news. For example, what is the implication of the faster than light particle that they discovered? Ok.... Did they actually discover it? What does the statement actually say? Did they replicate? Who can replicate their work? Japan could have but their facility was destroyed in the earthquake. What are the implications if they are right? What scientific theories will need to be remade? We discussed all this just in passing for about an hour over 2 nights with our 11 and 7 year olds. So you see how this discussion leads to the second goal: 2. We achieve scientific thinking through discussion (as described above) and through a 6-10 week long science fair project. We do not do demonstrations throughout the year in elementary and middle school (unless the middle school child is doing high school level textbooks.) Ok, so where does output and "sharing" come in for an elementary child? Here are a bunch of examples of output and my thoughts: discussion: all the time oral narration: sometimes when it might be helpful memory work: I put together a list of what they want to remember and review monthly or so projects: large science fair project answering a question of their choice. We write up their report together. lab reports: none scientific research reports/ written narrations: maybe a few a year for their writing program diagrams: if it would help, they have been known to copy them for fun (like 1 a year) questions from a text book: we don't use textbooks in elementary Field trips: as much as we feel like The problem with the output for grammar level science is that it is just explaining what you just read about, which is easy. It is just narration, which you can do in any subject, so why slow down the child who is sooooo excited just to learn about science. Your next question should obviously be, WHEN do you expect output for science? My answer would be when they study a high school level subject intensively. High school level textbooks get into the more difficult questions than "explain" and "describe". Questions like evaluate, interpret, integrate, compare and contrast, critique, etc. And these are questions that you need to guide your student over many months about how to answer. I teach ds to make sure he 1) answers the question that is asked, 2) revises his answer orally until it is short enough to write down, 3) write it down 4) check that you answered the question and 5) if you have "ideal" answers, compare your answer to the ideal and figure out how you could have improved. If you have a good textbook with good questions, answering them can be REALLY HARD, and not just for your child. Output also comes in high school with mathematics, equation balancing, essay taking, lab write ups, etc. I do not think that it makes a budding scientist more prepared to have him try to mimic this output at a lower scale when younger. And I definitely think that doing posters and projects etc do NOT help with learning science. They are good for other things like creativity, independence, time management, writing skills, etc. But if your son just wants to fly with science, do posters and projects for something else. Last thing (yes this is getting long) how do you organize "delight" driven science. In our family, we do one topic per year. The kids know what we are doing. This year it is earth science. We are all talking about it as a family. We are all excited. We work together. Term 1 is astronomy, term 2 geology, term 3 oceanography, term 4 meteorology. We go to the library and get out books, lots and lots of books and documentaries. They can do what they want. I don't force it. If they want to read a book about birds, great, but the whole family is currently into astronomy. So it is what we are all thinking about, talking about, noticing in the news, noticing in the sky. So it keeps our study of science systematic. Seems to work great.
  14. Part 2 Independent writing across curriculum: This stage begins when re-tells and parallel writing have been mastered and the child is ready to start synthesizing greater amounts of information. Because of their ages (meaning concrete vs abstract thinkers) and the need of the child to still concentrate on the writing process itself, etc., I try to keep these assignments purely factual in nature. This is a great time to start writing research books or reports. I usually start out with research books because there is no need for a formal introductory paragraph, body, conclusion, and all the transitions that go along with them. I let my children choose a broad topic of interest and we make a trip to the library. I look through the books before they start reading them and then I point out different topics that they might encounter in their reading. We discuss how to take notes on note cards by giving the cards a common heading for common topics, etc. We discuss which subtopics within the topic they might want to write about. I let them spend about a week reading information and taking note cards. After they have collected their note cards, we sit together and organize all their information. Some topics they may have to eliminate b/c there simply isn’t enough info. Others may need to be broken into further sub-categories b/c they have too much info. I do not expect them to be able to do this by themselves when they first start. Just like all the other writing skills….they need guidance in the beginning. This is a skill that they need to learn with your help. After the note cards are organized, I have them write a paragraph on each sub-topic and compile them altogether in a chapter book complete with title page and table of contents. Some of my kids like art and I let them illustrate them. I don’t make them do this if they don’t want to. ;) This project may take a few weeks. We review each paragraph together just like we have been all along. Over the course of this year (or two years….depends on how the child’s skills progress), I do expect them to start doing an initial edit/revision on their own. After a few chapter books, most kids are able to start writing reports quite painlessly. Creating a topic paragraph really isn’t a big deal when you know how to write the body…..isn’t that all the “chapters†in their books are?? Transitions are easily taught because the foundation is there and all they need to do is incorporate them. The same goes for a concluding paragraph. Updating: They spend the rest of elementary school (or middle school, depending on the child) writing across curriculum. I give one paper assignment per week. I pick a topic from either history, science, or lit. They follow the pattern I posted earlier in this thread: Monday- gather info on topic and organize Tuesday- write 1/2 rough draft Wednesday- write 2nd 1/2 rough draft' Thursday-meet for revising and editing Friday-final draft due Analysis and essay writing: Once children have mastered basic report writing, essays analyzing literature, scientific processes, etc are the next logical progression. I like to start my kids on analytical essays where the analysis is easy. Writing about allegories like Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe are easy analytical papers for beginners. Finding supporting ideas for Aslan representing Christ, etc is simple. Once they are at this point, I start asking them to incorporate supporting quotes and I start teaching MLS documentation. I assign progressively more difficult types of analysis. A simple essay on an allegory is much easier for the child to develop than a comparison/contrast paper on the lives of two different political leaders. Cause and effect papers are more concrete, so for a child teetering on the edge of concrete vs abstract thought, a cause/effect paper might be a good compromise for an assignment. (For example….how did the crash of the stock market impact world economies….this is more factual than having to form their own view on 2 different world leaders and then taking those opinions and comparing them to each other.) These are ideas for the advanced late middle school student and for typical high school students. As they move toward senior status, the child should be encouraged to write papers that require multi-stages of development. Back to the examples that I have used….the comparison paper is a multi-stage paper. I would not ask my young analytical students to write a paper comparing democracy to communism. It requires too much analysis for them and then you must factor in the difficulty of incorporating those ideas into a paper. I hope you find this information helpful. I learned from my children that writing is not really that difficult to teach. The difficulty comes from expecting too much without the proper foundational instruction. Teaching writing incrementally allows children to shrug “ok, no big deal†when asked to complete an assignment. Just expect to actually be there as teacher.
  15. I'm also a fan. I don't know where this writing post from 8filltheheart is located on this board, but here it is from my notes. Part 1 Pre-independent writing skills: At some point after my kids are reading confidently and are ready to move beyond copying simple sentences for letter practice, I start using their copywork as a teaching tool. The key here is that the children don’t have to focus on sounding out words or on letter formation. If they have not mastered those 2 skills, they need to work on those before you progress. My approach is that it is expecting too much for children to learn anything from reading/writing until they no longer have to focus on the reading itself. I begin by selecting copywork that is very basic and we focus on mechanics (capitalization, punctuation) and grammar. Then we play with the structure of the copywork. For example, The dog ran. I teach subject, verb, as well as capitalization and punctuation. Then we spend time coming up with parallel sentence structures and identify the parts of speech. The baby crawled. The cat climbed. The pig snorted. Once that concept is mastered, I add in another part of speech for focus….adjectives or adverbs, for example. (I don’t have any set pattern….basically, it is whatever I am in the mood for.  ) The baby crawled quickly. The cat climbed high. The pig snorted loudly. After mastery, I add other parts of speech. (I do not use the same base sentences with my kids. I am only doing that for the sake of illustrating my point. I don’t want them to learn the parts of speech from memorization, but from context.) The chunky baby crawled quickly. (I would not use that as an example unless they were struggling and we needed to go back for a refresher. I would actually use a unique sentence…..The rambunctious child twirled rapidly.) I continue this process adding more and more parts of speech: possessives, direct objects, indirect objects, and pronouns. Julie’s baby wanted more food. Henry threw the Frisbee. Henry threw Jack the Frisbee. He threw him the Frisbee. I work with them to come up with about 10-15 similarly structured sentences. We work on this for about 10-15 minutes a day until they master the concept. Some concepts they master quickly (subject + action verb). They may do it in a day or a week. Some may take longer. Just work where they are. After they have conquered the basic parts of speech, I assign copywork from their reading, our read alouds, or some other source. We take these sentences (eventually progressing to paragraphs) and study them. I ask them to identify all the nouns, verbs, etc. Can they identify the function of the nouns? Some they will already know (subject, DO, etc….some they won’t: appositives, complements, obj. of prep. etc) We don’t worry about the words they haven’t studied yet. We just focus on the ones they do. Gradually we start incorporating more and more complex grammar. For example, this was my 2nd graders copywork today: (From the Family Under the Bridge….. Nikki raced down the narrow streets and shouted insults at pedestrians and cars that got in his way. His own car sputtered and rattled and clanked as if it would fall apart any moment. But it didn’t. My daughter had no trouble identifying any of the parts of speech except for that and as if. Learning them in the context of their work makes grammar, mechanics, and writing all connected and not isolated concepts that don’t have intertwined applications. Paragraphs for copywork: We start analyzing paragraph structure from copywork in the same way we began our study of grammar. We discuss what the paragraph is describing. What is the main idea? What do we learn about the main idea? From that, they learn about topic sentences and supporting details. We do this for weeks! We play games with paragraphs. I print up logically ordered paragraphs that I have typed into individual lines and cut them apart. I mix them up and they have to unscramble the sentences and put the paragraph back together correctly. This is an enormous skill to master. It means they understand topic sentence and logical sequencing. We continue working on this until they are able to do it fairly easily. (Some paragraphs are easier than others….how-tos are the easiest, descriptives are harder, etc. Gradually increase the difficulty level. The key is to let them experience success while still learning. After basic paragraph reconstruction is mastered, I start to add a twist….I will add “misfit” sentences into the mix. For example, if the paragraph is about a bear stealing a cake from a camper’s picnic table, I might add a sentence like, “I love to eat cake.” This skill helps them learn to focus on the topic sentence and make sure the information belongs. This is an essential writing skill that is really better developed in the pre-writing skill phase. If they can identify misfit sentences in other people’s paragraphs, it makes it easier to help them find them in their own. Using the early grades to focus on developing pre-writing skills enables children to move into the writing stage with the tools they need in order to progress with confidence. You wouldn’t give a child a bunch of word problems in math to complete without giving them a foundation in basic arithmetic. Writing is similar. You shouldn’t expect them to start writing independently without understanding the fundamentals of how writing is structured. Independent how-tos, re-tells, or parallel writing: What type of paragraphs I start my children on is really child dependent. I have had at least one child that could not write any “re-tells” in logical order. This child and I spent a considerable amount of time on how-to paragraphs. (Updating this: Yrs later, this child still has trouble with logical order. Writing an outline is a must for her. If she doesn't, her writing meanders. When she takes time to write an outline, her writing is usually solid.) Most of my kids have been able to start with “re-telling.” Do whatever works. How-to paragraphs are wonderfully non-threatening paragraphs. Every child knows how to give directions on some task, whether it is baking a cake or making their bed. Creating a list of logically ordered steps, developing a topic sentence, and using transition words are very “visual” or “concrete” in how-to paragraphs. Write a couple together. Take them apart. Study how they work. Then help them write their own. The child I described above wrote NUMEROUS how-tos. But they worked. The idea of logical sequencing started to flow into her writing. Re-tells are another way to learn to write in a non-threatening way. Give your child a short example….a fable, a definition paragraph (like a very brief encyclopedia article), etc. Have them make a key word outline. Help them organize their ideas and create a topic sentence. Then have them re-tell the information in their own words in a paragraph. Then, using all the skills that you have learned together from pre-writing, edit/revise the paragraph… there a topic sentence? Does all the information belong? Are your sentences complete thoughts? Do all your verbs stay in the same tense? Etc. We spend months on re-tells or in parallel writing. (Parallel writing is taking a story and re-telling it in similar story line…..the boy who cried wolf becomes the mouse who cried cat, etc) We also begin studying grammar independently. Yet, we continue to study grammar in the context of their writing. We spend as much time on our revisions/edits as we did on our pre-writing skills and as on the initial writing itself. Our editing time becomes a time for studying grammar, mechanics, as well as content. From editing their own work, grammar/mechanics show their inherent value because the children see them in context.
  16. SaDonna, you are very good for my ego. I actually had something wonderful happen today, just a few hours ago..... My ds (8) came up with an astronomy project!!! (well mostly, a bit of engineering too). You may never have thought about how hard it is for an eight year old to do any NEW research in astronomy, but really, it is impossible. Are they going to find new information on the red shift or how sun spots work? not likely. We are actually in the difficult year of the WTM 4-year cycle-- earth science. Astronomy, geology, oceanography, and meteorology. In general this field is the pits for kids and real science fair projects. You could survey the rocks or study the weather in your area , but we have done this. I have been thinking about environmental science instead-- pollution, littering, surveys, etc. Some possibilities there. sooooooo, we were reading about the sun, and there was a little description about how to make a solar oven. My ds says "well, I think that a shallow bowl would be way better for making toast than a trash can lid, because it would focus the beams of light better." My minds starts to work..... "Wow, that is a great question. I bet we could do that for a science fair project." ds: "But the science fair is in the winter, there would be less sun." Me: (getting more excited) "you are right, but could we not see how long it takes to toast the bread in the summer sun vs the winter sun? We could even look at the different amount of time for toast depending on clouds or fine weather." ds" "And I think that you may need to hold the toast further away if you are using a bowl." Me: "That is another good questions, how long to toast the bread depending on the distance from the base." I start thinking... replication, averages, physics of light, reflection, refraction, outside project:001_smile:, lots of toast:001_smile: ..... Then my ds says "but it will be too easy, not a big project." Little does he know.... Then he says, "but I think I want to determine which galaxy is the furthest away." :001_huh: um, ok, not sure how we will do that one!! But now I have something to play with come bbq season in January! Our first idea of the year, this is an exciting moment even if it comes to nothing. Ruth in NZ (land of the January BBQs)
  17. My son loves microbiology. He did one slide a day for 2.5 weeks and then had a "oh no" moment and had to do 3 slides a day for 3 days to finish on time. But we had made a schedule, and he had not kept it, so he knew what he had to do.... He did say his eyes were quite tired after 3 slides! If a child is interested in the project, he will do heaps. That is why it needs to be his/her own project (not yours). If he likes fire, he will burn things for hours I am sure. However, there is drudgery in all science. Hence the Edison's quote "1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." Science takes time. I remember once being interested in doing a behavioral, observational study on mammals, and I had a VERY wise friend suggest that I trial this first. He said I could find a group of Marmots (furry rabbits like animals) outside of town. He said that I should go watch them for 6 hours a day for a few days to see if I could actually do that kind of work. I lasted 3 hours, and went to find a different style of project (statistical modelling!!). Do what your son CAN do. Science is a broad topic! There will be something interesting for him out there. Ruth
  18. Here is the first grader's write up and poster. My ds7 obviously required help in designing the layout of this poster. Although you cannot see it well, each circle has the name of the minibeast in his handwriting. Ruth in NZ Question How many different kinds of minibeasts can I find in my garden with different traps and different enticers? Introduction A minibeast is very small animal which can be classified into 3 different groups: Arthropods, Molluscs, and Annilids. Arthropods have an exoskeleton and jointed legs. Molluscs include slugs and snails. Annilids include earthworms. Methods I looked for minibeasts under and around stones, bark, trees, leaves, flowers, walls, pavement, soil, lights, and in our house. I made a pitfall trap. I used banana, orange, and honey for bait. I classified the minibeasts using library books and the Internet. Results I found Molluscs, Arthropods, and Annelids. I found more Arthropods than any other minibeast category. I found 9 Insect Orders. Discussion I did not expect to find so many different kinds of minibeasts. It took 6 weeks for me to find all the animals. I searched in winter, but I expect that I could find even more minibeasts in the summer.
  19. As promised, here is the update on 5th grader's Biology science fair project. This is his write up (he even typed it!) and a photo Introduction What is a micro-organism? A micro-organism can be anything from a single-celled bacteria to a multi-celled animal like a Rotifera. Just like a rain forest compared to a desert, I expected that there would be a huge difference in diversity between mucky water and pristine water. Question What sort of water has the most diversity? Methods Collected water from my frog terrarium (Photo 1), a ditch (Photo 2), a ocean rock pool (Photos 3 & 4), and a creek (Photo 5). Made 7 slides for each sort of water. Searched each slide with a microscope. Drew, measured, and identified the organisms. Results All of the waters had the same diversity at the Phylum level (see Graph 1). Creek Water has the highest diversity of Protists (see Graph 2). Rock-Pool Salt Water has the highest diversity of Animals (see Graph 3). See Chart 1 for details of phyla found in each water, and drawings of interesting animals. Discussion Although I expected to find the most diversity in Frog Water because it was full of organisms, I found that all water types had the same number of phyla. It is easy to confuse the number of creatures with the number of phyla. For example, Frog Water has an enormous number of organism but not a lot of diversity within each phylum. Creek Water, whose slides were almost empty, had a huge amount diversity. Another problem was where I sampled from. In creek water if I sampled from the top, I would not get any organisms, but if I sampled the small amount of muck at the bottom, I would get a few. Conclusion All types of water have identical diversity, if the muckiest part was sampled. Extra information that did not make it into the poster How I search a slide: I searched a slide on 100x and when I found a creature, I changed to 400x. When I thought I had found all the creatures on the slide, I changed to 100x to search the slide one more time. This process took me approximate 30 to 45 minutes per slide.
  20. Okay, I guess most people realize by now that I am procrastinating. Yes, I really am supposed to be organizing the science fair that is in 10 days.... Here is my 7 year old's science fair project on Minibeasts. Exploration stage. April week 1. Start talking about biology ideas. I have done a bad job of narrowing his focus mostly because he has had little interest in biology this year. While walking in the woods we discuss ideas. We see weeds everywhere - plants that are exotic to NZ and real pests. How about a weed project. Let's try to see which way to kill them works the best. Not sure if we will get in trouble for doing this in the public park! :001_huh: How about fire. He loves the idea of fire. Obviously, I start to back -peddle right away. 7 year olds and fire don't typically mix well. My son did a survey of ferns for Kindy4, and fertilizer for Kindy5, and my older son has done a mushroom project for 1st grade, so we want something a bit different. How about bugs? I start to think this will be great, I only later realize (and I mean a month later) that he is a bit squeamish about bugs. We go to the library and get out all the books on bugs. April week 2. The gardeners find a very large centipede in the garden and save it for us. We take photos and talk about the difference between centipedes and millipedes and that centipedes bite.... Not helping the squeamish part. Start reading some books on bugs. Find a nice series on where to find minibeasts that has a series of "experiments" where you go and find some minibeasts. April week 3. Look under some rocks, find earthworms, ants, hopping little thingies. Read up on ants. Reserve a book on earthworms. April week 4. Try shaking a tree over a white sheet to see if anything falls out. Nothing does. Happen to find a number of large stick insects on the wall outside. Lay out some food for the ants. Go and check back the next day. It is all gone, we saw no animals. Try it again, same result. We start to wonder if the food is being eaten by mice, rather than ants. We never see the ants out of their hidden burrow. (ant hills here are rare and hidden) At this point, we should be in the project stage, but as you will read, exploration continues for a few weeks.... May, 6 weeks to the science fair, time to decide on a question. We are not really ready. He is interested in where to find minibeasts and what types of food attract them. We start to record data more carefully. He wants me to write it down outside, and let him copy it into his own "data collection booklet" which he wants to be in his own handwriting. This will be time consuming, as he is not a big writer. We talk about trying different locations with food - leaf litter, open area, sunny, shady etc. We talk about trying different types of food - fruit, rotten fruit, meat (decide this might attract rats), honey, etc. Find a book on trap making. May, 5 weeks to the science fair. We start to take photos in earnest. I teach him how to use the macro lense and that he has to hold the camera still. They find a pseudoscorpian in the dirt, and my 10 year old gets soooooo excited. "I have always wanted to find a pseudoscorpian" he tells us. Ok!?!?!? unexpected. But it makes the 7 year old pretty excited. They spend 1 hour trying to get a good photo as this creature is smaller than an ant. We do decide on one part of his question. How much diversity in minibeasts can I find in my garden.? We talk about Kingdoms, phylums, classes etc. I try and try over a number of days, to make sure that he understands the full implications of the classification system. Not sure it is sinking in, and I will keep working on it for the next month. We start to take photos of every minibeast we find. We find LOTS of insect orders - like 10. I am pretty pleased. May, 4 weeks to the science fair. I am beginning to realize that he cannot conceptualize the project in his head. It is too amorphous. I decide that we need to start making the poster now, rather than waiting until the end of the project. We spend 2 hours over 2 days drawing and redrawing what his poster might look like. He starts to make the diagram of the classification system - we find molluscs (slugs, snails), arthropods (spiders, centi/millipedes, insects, and one 10-legged minibeast that I still don't know what it is), and annelids (earthworms). We also make a pit-fall trap and bait it with bananna, then orange, then honey. What we find is only somewhat different. This aspect of his project looks doomed to fail. I am starting to think that we don't have time to try different foods with replication (many tries over many days). I am considering dropping this part of the project and sticking to the classification side only. May, 3 weeks to the science fair. We decide on a question (this is very late!) His words: How many different kinds of minibeasts can we find in our garden with different traps and different enticers? I like it (and get the giggles over the word "enticers".) It does not assume that we will have data about which bugs are attracted to what food. Still thinking that visual would help to focus him. We develop all the photos we have so far, and enlarge them, then cut them out and put them next to his classification diagram. I buy the poster board and we put it all on. We pick colors and leave room for the description, and make a list of all the minibeasts we have seen in the garden that we don't have photos for. We take pictures of the study site. I am still hoping that this project will be more than just classification. I would love a graph. But it is not looking likely. June, 2 weeks to the science fair. We type up the intro and the methods. I run around for 30 minutes trying to take a picture of a bee. No luck. We make a "minibeast soil collector" with an upsidedown bottle and a hot lamp. We get nothing. We bait the pit fall trap with honey. We print the title. We make a list of what is left to do. yikes, this project is not going as well as his brother's. But that is science. You never know what will happen. Some projects are good; others are not. I have already told you about my friend who spent a SUMMER in Death Valley trapping kit fox and got 2. Project over. Sounds like you all will need an update in 2 weeks...... ruth in NZ
  21. Thought I better cross post this, as all my science ideas are currently on this thread. This is from the "5th grade science the WTM way" thread. Here is my interpretation of how to do science the WTM way. For 5th grade you need to pick 3 topics for the 3 terms (or 4 topics for 4 terms here in NZ). Your options: Botany (great in spring/summer) Animal Diversity Human Biology Cell biology and genetics/inheritance/DNA, RNA, protein, meiosis, mitosis Evolution (if this is an option for your family) Environmental science (can also be studied during earth science) Ecology (competition, predation, population size, interaction with plants) Biome diversity (arctic vs tropical forest and how relates to climate) Oceanography (can also be studied during earth science) For each topic, choose books from the library to read. Don't forget to go to the adult section (yes, even in 5th grade) because they often have wonderful coffee table books on tropical rainforests and oceans etc, and many kids at age 11 will delve into a topic beyond most children's library sections. Have the child read, make lists of interesting facts to memorize, draw diagrams (heart etc). Have discussions on more complicated topics like ecology and genetics. Have a look on the internet. We found a great discussion of haemophilia in the royal families of europe when we were studying genetics. Grab a newspaper and read the science stories. Talk about pseudoscience vs real science. Get some science magazines to read and discuss. Read biographies Experimental part. If you want cheap and free, here are some ideas: Human biology: dissect an ox heart, a pig eyeball, an oyster (cheap to do). Buy an owl pellet to study bones. Animal diversity: Collect and identify organisms in an environment. You could easily do arthropods in your yard or sea life in a rocky intertidal zone. Or even a pond would be great. Cell biology: borrow a microscope, look at stuff, use internet to identify organisms Ecology: Do a project in your backyard. Count number of birds in a field and correlate it to the weather. Genetics: Find a trait and trace it through your entire (hopefully large and multi generational) family. Determine the alleles. Env. Science: Read newspaper and interpret graphs and charts. Do research on an env issue. Botany: plant a garden. Do a real experiment with replication. 10 plants with fertilizer, 10 without. Measure every week and graph. Make sure to do the standard: hypothesis, method, result, discussion write up for at least 1 experimental/observation project each term. Ruth
  22. SaDonna, I don't have a book to recommend, I wish I did as so many people ask me. IMHO, a child's project is at the level of the common sense of an educated adult who thinks logically. So I think most adults can wing it. Only once they get into high school level projects will you need more than just your wits. One thing I am not sure comes across in my previous posts is that I don't have a plan for any of the research projects. I fly by the seat of my pants. Not only would it be hugely difficult to lay out 4 weeks of exploration activities and then a 6-week project ahead of time, it would not be "real" science. So my approach is simply "make sure you do something everyday on the project." I do have to watch the clock and make sure that they have a question by a certain date, and then I help them make a schedule to keep. How do I help them find a question? Usually, I have an idea of a broad topic that they have not yet studied that should yield a project. So next year for earth science, I am thinking pollution for ds(11). We have not studied pollution before, and we could consider air, water, trash, even microscopic pollution (polyester fibers are pollution). We could even go so far as to do a social sciences project by designing a survey and evaluating people's trash habits. Or we could send away samples for water analysis. Or do something with wind and dust in the air. Or even indoor pollution. Don't really know. But all this coming year, I will be thinking and kicking ideas around with my son. They won't lead anywhere at first, but when it comes time for the exploration phase, he might be more self directed. Then we get library books out with some "science demonstrations" to try, and we will do a few and this will get him thinking. I do think it helps to narrow down the field of earth science to something specific like pollution right away otherwise the exploration phase does not lead to a project because it is too scattered. Be careful not to pick a topic where you cannot do "real" science. I wouldn't pick astronomy for example, because what would he ask that we don't already know? I do find that if you do your study about your local area, it will almost always not be previously done (meaning, you can't look up the answer). People may have published books on mushrooms in NZ, but there are no studies on the most common mushroom in our back woods. I do look through the books we get out of the library and say "hey, this looks cool, should we try a mushroom print?" Or "here are directions for a pitfall trap, do you want to try one?" Besides studying things nearby, you can study personal items, like which type of shoe has the most friction. Sometimes kids just ask questions. "Why are there always so many cars at this light?" At that exact moment, I think "great science fair question." So I start talking about how you would figure it out. I might have a hypothesis, but it is only a hypothesis until I do a formal study and get an answer. So, right then we discuss how could you figure out why there are so many cars. Does the timing of the light rotation change over the day? Are there more cars going in one direction? Should the light really be longer for one road than the other? There are probably more cars during rush hour, but move beyond the obvious. Pick a different time of day. Count the cars over many days (replication). Time the light throughout the day. Record the weather. Perhaps rain is a problem. Call the city council and see if they have any information. Look in the library on traffic planning. Follow the rabbit trails and see where it leads you. But in the end, pick a question, design an experiment or structured observations, and write up your results and the implications. One final thought, having 50 families do this at the same time is wonderful. Kids at playgroup will come up to me and say "I'm studying fungus. It is sooo cool. But my experiment is not working right now." Others come to swimming with their experiment to try on all the kids "does color affect taste?" - green cookies, pink french fries. yuck. So if your area has a science fair, go. If it does not, start one (and then delegate!:001_smile:) Good luck, ruth
  23. Previous science fair projects: 1st grade. Biology. What is the most common mushroom in the local woods? (define most common - mushrooms cluster) 2nd grade. Earth science. Make weather station, describe local weather. Can I predict if it will rain tomorrow using cloud formations? (define rain - does mist count?) 3rd grade. Chemistry. What mix of chemicals makes the best silly putty? (what do you mean by best? - stretch, bounce, etc) 4th grade. Physics. How does the angle of attack affect the flight time of a kite depending on the wind speed? (This one I discussed in an previous post, it was an absolute bear to do) 5th grade. Biology. What environments have the most microscopic diversity? (how do you define diversity?) Son number 2 Kindy4. Biology. What ferns can I find in the local woods? Kindy5. Biology. What fertilizer is the best? (define best, discuss plant growth - height vs breadth) 1st grade. Biology. What minibeasts can I find in my garden and what kinds of food attract the different types? (what is a minibeast?) For young kids, Biology is often the easiest. ds#2 wanted to do a project also, so he started younger than ds#1. I do break down their posters and put them into clear files as keep sakes. They are so much fun to look at. My older son is already asking what next year's project on earth science will be on. I am guessing environmental science-- perhaps pollution? I do help guide the ideas if there are none forthcoming. Ruth
  24. SaDonna, We have 2 weeks to go to the science fair, an the house is getting a bit high strung. I am in charge of the science fair for Wellington, New Zealand. We will have 250 people in a gymnasium from ages baby to 17. I run the science fair in 2 parts: part 1 for viewing projects (we will have about 50 this year) and part 2 is for science activities. These activities include things like dissections, crystal making, dry ice, plant experiments, and even spaghetti and marshmallow tower making (yes this required 130lbs of spaghetti and 18lbs of marshmallows.) We need tables, and judges, and people collection money, and coffee and tea, and monitors, and the list goes on and on. The point being, it feels really good for someone to ask me about the science, rather than the administration of the science fair! Ok, rant over. I have a son in 1st grade and a son in 5th grade, both doing biology (isn't that handy). The first grader is studying all the minibeasts in our garden (NZ word for yard) and the 5th grader is doing a microscope project. I may not be able to get through all of it in one sitting but here is the start: Week 1 April: science fair is in 10 weeks, better start thinking. My ds(10) loves microbiology and we have borrowed the homeschool microscope for the term. We get out some books from the library on microscopes, and try a slide from water in the frog tank and put it under the microscope. I teach him about how to use the microscope (it is a FANCY microscope, apparently donated from the pathology lab at the hospital when they up-graded a few years ago). He sees a few cool things and starts to read the books from the library. Week 2 April: happen to have a friend over who is a doctor, and he gets really excited about the microscope. I pull out the prepared slides that I bought last year and he looks at a bunch of them for 1.5 hours. He shows my son some of the more unusual features of the microscope that I did not know about and tells him that the highest resolution requires an oil immersion. My son spends the rest of the week looking at the prepared slides. Week 3 April: I give my son a bit of a project to try to tell the difference between a dicot and a monocot cross-section without a book. I tell him to draw some pictures and see if he can find a difference. This is when I realize that our microscope is VERY powerful, and his diagrams are so highly magnified that he does not see the difference between the 2 plant structures. Oh Dear. Week 4 April: I send my son to the ocean (by himself which was the first time, about 10 blocks over the mountain) to get some water. We had gone to a bioblitz at the beach in March and found so much diversity, I figure that there must be some really cool diversity at the microscopic level. He comes home, makes the slide, looks at it under the microscope, and finds NOTHING. yikes. what does that mean? In the same week, he brings a jar and collects some water from a creek near a playground at which we are meeting some homeschoolers, and once again, brings it home and finds NOTHING. humm. I guess that would be good water to drink if we have an earthquake. Week 1 May: Ok, 6 weeks until the science fair. Muddling around is over. What is he going to study?!?! We need to decide pretty quickly. It rains and he collects some water from a ditch about a block away that is usually wet year round. He finds LOTS and LOTS of cool things. But what are they? I have no idea. We go to the library and hunt an hunt for books, there are NONE. And this is a big library. I guess no one is interested in identifying microscopic things, how sad. We come home and look on the internet. YEA! there are some really nice sites. Take a look at photos of little tiny things. Week 2 May: 5 weeks until science fair. The question is decided, "What environment has the most microscopic diversity: frog, ditch, ocean, or creek water?" DS starts to draw pictures of the frog water. He gets really excited by all the stuff he has found. We still don't know what it is. Week 3 May: 4 weeks until science fair. DS starts to try to match the drawings to the photos on the internet. He finds some obvious matches, and learns about the major kingdoms, and phylum that he is likely to find. He realizes that he needs to know how big his drawn organisms are. I find him a nice discussion on the internet which he reads and then we test out the microscope. the first field of vision is 2 mm across the highest power is 1/2 the width of the finest line that you can draw with a pencil!! Wow! He needs to start measuring in microns as mm will not work with lots of decimals. We discuss microns and he measures the size of all the previous organisms that he has drawn. This helps immensely with identification. He writes up his introduction. Week 4 May: 3 weeks until science fair. We discuss methods. How is he going to measure diversity? number of species, number of phylum, how? How is he going to survey a slide - low power, then high power, scanning, random points? how? How will he be consistent? 7 slides each water? where will he pull the water from -- the sediment or the open water or both? Will he survey the same number of slides or will he hunt until he finds nothing new? He makes some decisions and writes up his methods. Now here is where we are with 2.5 weeks to go. We make a time table. What is left? We get out a calendar and put these items on days: data collection - 10 slides to go plus identification analysis graph making taking photos of study sites and developing labelling photos and drawings writing up the results, discussion, and conclusions make title lay out poster glue down poster prepare presentation practice presentation This will take about 15 hours per week to finish. I might add that I do reduce his other work to a bare minimum during the last 3 weeks. He currently is doing math and mandarin and science fair. Just not time for anything else. Wow, this has gotten long. But I enjoyed writing it. If I have time, I will do one for my 1st grader. Ruth in NZ
  25. Melissa, I reread your post, and I don't think you were referring to my post about the kites. I guess I need to get that cup of morning coffee. :glare: Anyway, it did give me the motivation to really think about some of my ideas and try to express them. Ruth in NZ
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