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lewelma

Scientific Investigations with my 12 and 9 year old

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Ruth, Do you have any recommendations for reading up on how to start a mathematical model? We came up for a science fair project idea for ds12 based on something he is really passionate about. Problem is, I don't know how to get a 12 year old started on mathematical modeling?! He is finishing algebra and is strong in math, but can we really do this without calculus? Even if it's material for me to read so I can wrap my mind around it and guide him, it would be helpful. Brownie

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So far my ds has not actually mathematically modelled anything, not if you are talking algebraic variables. I think that 6th grade even with an algebra background is going to be tough for a true model. Instead, think about modelling more with relating 2 variables without statistics but also without any equations. More just relating the variables by doing different calculations. So last year for ds's beach project, he determined how much the sand moved every minute based on the different wind speeds and directions, and then collected the weather (wind speed and direction) for the month. He then related these two variables and calculated how much the sand moved in the month given the wind speed and direction. So no equation, no statistics, just weighted averages and relationships between variables.

 

It is similar this year, he is going to improve the traffic timing and then relate it to pollution levels. So calcuate how much time he can save per car, and multiply it up by the number of cars in a 5 minute period, and research how much pollution is made. Then calculate how much pollution is saved annually.

 

I think these complex calculations give them a feel for modelling, without actually having them make an equation or do true statistics. It is actually a lot more difficult to do for a 12 year old than you realize. There is just a lot of data to manage, summarize, and calculate.

 

As for a resource, let me know when *you* find one, because I have never seen one. Actually, Acadia is the person to ask as she is a star when it comes to internet research. Acadia, are you listening?

 

Also, if you want to start a new thread and describe your student's project, we could get a good discussion going.

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Week 8, ds age 9.

 

This week we 'harvested' the vertigris from the copper. We did it outside because I think it is somewhat poisonous. We tried scraping it with a knife, but this was not super effective because our little copper pipe is round, so we had to go around and around. But so little of it was falling into our tiny little container, because most of it was ending up on our fingers. We tried to scrape our fingers into the container but this did not work. :001_rolleyes: So as I said earlier we got about half of the tip of a pin in the container. We put the pipe back in the vinegar fumes and will try again next week. He will get some green paint, but not much!

 

This week he also decided to try kitty litter for white. He worked so hard to grind some that he broke right through the bottom of the mortar and pestle! :rolleyes: So that was the end of the grinding. He did try to paint what he had on a black piece of paper using both the egg yolk and casein binders, but neither are really white. So the next day we went a bought another $4 mortar and pestle, and he ground it again. This time more finely (and with less pounding and more twisting motion!), and he tried this finer powder with both egg yolk and casein binders. The egg yolk just turned yellow, and even with letting the casein paint dry and then layer on more, it just was not white. But then ds says "I remember when we used to draw on the side walk with chalk; it would stick so well if we mixed it with water. And kitty litter is basically chalk." Ok, wow. Good thinking! :001_smile: So he mixes the kitty litter with water and it makes a wonderful bright white paint. Now we just have to see if it has any sticking power. Project for tomorrow.

 

We also began this week to assemble his poster. I often find it so much more motivating if my dc can see where they are and what is left. DS picks out the photos he has already written about, and we print them. He then glues on his description and puts them on the big poster we get out. He also makes a lovely graph of the different strengths of the binders he has tried (6 in all). It is a qualitative graph with "excellent, very good..... poor" on the y axis and the binder type on the x. But he thinks and considers very seriously his thoughts on each and makes a lovely bar graph. We also begin the write up. To save some time, I have him dictate his introduction and methods to me and we print them out. Finally, today he chooses the font and size for his title. We print it and cut it out, and he glues it onto some lovely multicolor cardboard. So by the end of the week, the poster is looking more and more full. Very nice. :hurray:

 

Next week he needs to finish all scratch tests and deal with the vertigris then it is all about poster prep.

 

Time

2 hours experimenting

4 hours poster prep (including going to the photo store)

6 hours total

$4 for the new mortar and pestle, bringing the total to $48

 

Ruth in NZ

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Week 9, DS age 12.

 

DS has worked very hard this week. There is a LOT of calculating still to do and the schedule we drew up 3 weeks ago has him finishing all calculations by this week so he has time to make the poster and practice his presentation.

 

So on Monday and Tuesday he times the rest of the easy lights, and by Wednesday he is willing to try a hard one - a two way street. The first problem he encounters is understanding his data. The length of the revolution of cars going North vs South at the SAME light is different in his data. Of course, this is impossible. If this were true, the cars on the cross road could never get through because the N and S traffic on the main road would not stop at the same time. Something is seriously wrong with the data. But what? We really study the original data (before all the averaging) and try to understand what is happening, eventually we think we get it. I won't go into the details here, but after a good hour we can make sense of it. The next problem is how to deal with 2 different timings for N vs S traffic on a diagram to time 3 lights. After a good 30 minutes, DS comes out with a possibility. I think it will work but it will require quite a bit of labelling as he has squiggly lines all over the place. But I certaintly can't think of a better way. It is really a mess. Then, he begins his calculations. He needs to change some of the revolutions of the lights so that they can be coordinated and don't go out of phase. Also, apparently he has 3/4 of the cars making the next light, but 1/4 missing it. But the light is on a trigger which only triggered 3/10ths of the times we drove through, so he has to do multiple calculations for each direction while reducing the time he saves by the percentage that the light is actually a problem. It just about did my head in, but he really gets it and is really enjoying the process.

 

So that night, DH comes home and looks at the notebook and says, "It sure would help if I could see the original revolutions and how the lights are coordinated." DS surprises both me and DH and says "oh, I can't tell you that. I don't have that data." What?!?!?! Um, why not? :confused1: He explained it, and then the following day wrote it up:

 

"Problem 1 Revolutions: I timed each revolution of the N and S bound traffic separately, so I do not know how they work together. Instead, I extrapolated how one light's rotation coordintated N and S by aligning when they turned red, because cross traffic must have both N and S bound traffic stopped for them to cross the road. Problem 2 Coordination of lights: I collected data with an actual driving car to determine whether or not I hit a light. But this does not show how the lights are timed because you could make a light at any time during the green cycle or miss a light at any time during the red cycle. "

 

Wow. This seems pretty bad. :huh: Did we collect the wrong data? Can he time the lights with the data he has? The answer is 'yes,' for the easy lights, but we soon find out the answer is 'No' for the hard lights. So with some prompting, he wrote up this:

 

"The data I needed to collect: I needed 2 people on each side of the road at each light with synchronized stopwatches so that they can record the exact relational time of the revolution of the light in each direction. Also, to get the coordination of the lights, I would need to stand at one light and while timing it, concurrenlty sight the next light and time it. This would be very difficult to do because you often cannot see the next light because of the curve of the road, trees, trucks, etc. "

 

Um, oh. yikes!

 

So on Thursday, he begins the process of timing the most difficult lights, the ones that are really complicated with lots of turning cars, different times to approach the light, lots of cross traffic etc. And he tries and fails. It can't be done. So I come in and look, and help him think through the problem. What he really needs is the data that he does not have. Is he willing to actually try to collect it for just these difficult lights? Yes, he is. So we set out today to collect MORE data. Luckily it is a beautiful day. We sychronize our watches and try yelling across the 6 lane cross road. This is clearly not effective. So I cross again, talk a bit, make a plan, cross again, stand with my clip board, and wait for the signal. Yes, we do finally get it organized and the new revolution data collected on 2 roads. But it does take a while. Then, we try to sight 4 lights in a row to time the cascading. What a mess. DS calls out the data while I write, fast. He stands just so that he can barely see the light 4 blocks away turn red if the wind does not blow the branches of the tree in the way. He calls out when each of the lights turns red, then green, then red, and because they do not cascade, I am all over the page trying to keep up with the numbers and which streets they are on. :willy_nilly: Boy, I hope I did not make a mistake. Finally, we are done and go home.

 

Unfortunately, I need to motivate ds to finish the analysis because it is Friday. It must be done to keep to the plan, and the plan is tight so it must be kept! He does not want to do it. But a little bit of hot chocolate goes a long way, and he works for an additional 3 hours to organize and make sense of this new data and then time the most difficult of lights. And OH wow, does he do it! I think he saved 30s on average one way and 12 s the other. Awesome! :hurray:

 

Now on the 3 day weekend (queen's birthday) he still needs to research the pollution and do the fairly easy calculations for pollution saved annually.

 

Finally, we begin to talk about the poster. He tells me that he hates posters -- they are a waste of time. But really the poster is incredibly important because it requires him to not only summarize his work but explain it to a lay audience. Both of these skills are incredibly important in science because that is how you get the grants! I tell him also that he has to make the poster pretty to draw in the audience. He should have a car on it. NO! He will not have a car on it. How about a traffic light? NO! But over time I think I am convincing him of the traffic light. We also begin to talk poster titles.

 

Red light, Green light: traffic flow dynamics in the central city

Why is the light always red? : Synchronizing traffic lights

The red light - The bane of modern civilization

 

Open to suggestions!

 

Time (2 hours per day Mon-Thurs, 7 hours on Friday!)

Analysis and documentation 14 hours

Data collection 1 hour

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I like something along the lines of the 2nd one :) It seems most like science fair projects I've seen....draws you in with the practical problem and then explains the project itself a bit.

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Wow, Ruth, this is amazing work by both your kiddos! I just love following along. What a doozy! Your kids will definitely remember their science and the scientific method this way - much better than from a textbook!

 

I have been thinking all week about how hard it is to find the right question and about how much that applies to other subjects, relationships, life, etc. I may be extrapolating too much but your son's hunt for the right question has been in my mind as I write to a homeschool high school graduate.

 

I am so looking forward to pictures. And all I can think about when you ask for the suggestions are 2 silly things: a game we play called, "Red Light, Green Light" and for some odd reason, the children's book, "Go, Dog, Go." :rolleyes:

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Wow, Ruth, this is amazing work by both your kiddos! I just love following along. What a doozy! Your kids will definitely remember their science and the scientific method this way - much better than from a textbook!

Yes, you are right. They remember every single detail of every investigation they have ever done.

 

I am glad you enjoy following along. I think seeing the process is so important. If I only posted the kids' posters when they were done, people would say "Oh, I could never do that. It is just too hard." But when you look at my 9 year old's project week by week, what have I really done that was so hard? Every week we run into problems that we have to solve. So we solve them. I'm not some sort of expert on paint making, so it is not like *I* already have the answers. It is really just common sense and a bit of internet research. (Obviously, my 12yo's project requires more expertise on my part, although I knew NOTHING about traffic planning when we started).

 

I have been thinking all week about how hard it is to find the right question and about how much that applies to other subjects, relationships, life, etc. I may be extrapolating too much but your son's hunt for the right question has been in my mind as I write to a homeschool high school graduate.

I agree with you. One of the reasons I really like one big project every year is that it brings together all the different skills from both life and school and requires my children to use them all at once. Finding the project requires them to brainstorm, determine their interests, evaluate if a project is possible, and make a decision! The scale of the project requires them to make a plan, manage their time, be persistent over the long hall, and maintain their motivation The difficulties we run into every week require them to problem solve and research, and teaches them that mistakes WILL happen and that you can and should learn from them. The write up requires: summarizing, simplifying, graphing, layout skills, attention to detail, and oral presentation skills. And the entire process builds self esteem. What more could you ask for? Clearly, this process is not just about science!

 

I am so looking forward to pictures.

Pictures are worth a 1000 words!

 

And all I can think about when you ask for the suggestions are 2 silly things: a game we play called, "Red Light, Green Light" and for some odd reason, the children's book, "Go, Dog, Go." :rolleyes:

 

Love it!

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Week 9, DS age 12.

 

Red light, Green light: traffic flow dynamics in the central city

Why is the light always red? : Synchronizing traffic lights

The red light - The bane of modern civilization

 

Open to suggestions!

 

Your titles are missing the connection to pollution:

 

Red Light, Green Planet: Saving time and carbon emissions with traffic light design

 

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Red Light, Green Planet: Saving time and carbon emissions with traffic light design

 

Wonderful! I will run it by him. Very clever!

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DS age 12. Week 10

 

On Monday, I sat down to show ds how to do internet research to find the information he needs for converting seconds saved into CO2 (and other pollutants) saved. Well, I found it virtually impossible to help without doing, and finally my ds told me to leave! Once I was gone, he got down to business and surprised me with his research skill. He struggled to find exactly what he needed and kept getting mph instead of kph and tons instead of tonnes, but eventually he found exactly what he wanted. While waiting at his brother's music lessons, he mucked around with the data, and then when I was driving home he tried to verbally describe what he had done and why it was not working. I had absolutely no idea what he was saying, and kept asking if his units cancelled when he was calculating. Finally, when we got home, I looked at his notebook and was stunned once again that he does not naturally document anything. He had little sketches of calculations all over the page, and nothing was clear AT ALL! :banghead:

 

We talk about it for a few minutes and I keep telling him to write it down so that the units cancel. He keeps saying that he can't do it, it won't work. And I keep saying, if you can't do it, then it's not right. :confused1: Finally, he figures it out – and definitely without my help, because I still can't figure out what he is doing because he won't write it down! Apparently, he has researched and found how much pollution is made per kilometre, but his cars are NOT MOVING – they are idling at the light. So he couldn't do the calculation because he had the wrong data for the conversion.

 

So back to the computer for more research, this time on pollution created by idling cars. He finds it, and on my way out for a walk and remind him to do TIDY calculations that are well documented. I remind him how to cancel units and write it like ( )( )( ) with units in the numerators and denominators cancelling. I leave, and apparently he works for 2 more hours.

 

When I got home I was amazed! Really really amazed. His calculations were beautifully written and clear to follow, and the conclusions are nicely laid out. :hurray: What a change. He tells me that the earlier calculations were just him trying to figure out what to do. And I tell him if he ever hopes to work in a team, even preliminary calculations need to be readable or he will never get any help. He agrees, but reluctantly. I am beginning to think that this lesson will take another science fair project to drill into his head. Sigh. And he wants to be a mathematician. Sigh. It appears that documentation is not natural, but learned.

 

So the following day, we lay out a plan. He has 2.5 weeks until the science fair, and he needs to finish his notebook (results, discussion, introduction, references, acknowledgements, numbering, title page), he has to make a poster (including summaries of all text, redrawing his diagrams larger, designing understandable calculations, finding diagrams, developing photos, labeling everything, effectively layout his poster, and glue everything down), and he has to make a presentation (design it and practice it). I know how long this will take, and it is a LONG time. We agree to keep to the plan and work long days if required. Little did we know that the first 2 days of this plan would take 10 hours!

 

So on Tuesday, he finishes up quite a few details on his notebook, glues some stuff in, and makes some results tables. He finds that he has saved 30tonnes of CO and 45 tonnes of CO2! He finds a beauuuuuutiful diagram that shows 1 tonne is hugely bigger than a double decker bus - perfect for the poster! great job! He has an answer to his question and it is a good one! :hurray: He is very very excited, and talks about it all night!

 

Today, we agree to check all his calculations. I am thinking mostly of the most recent stuff, because he did it completely by himself and I want to make sure it makes sense. However, we agree to start at the beginning of the notebook with the data collection. We start with the actual time spent sitting at lights, and find errors in the first 2 calculations! Just easy adding – total time spent waiting at a traffic light. Apparently, he calculated it in the car between runs and was sloppy. :huh: Oh dear. So I ask him, 'Is this data in any important calculations?' DS: 'No, not really; oh wait, yes it is in the average speed of a car.' Me: 'oh, well we can just change those few calculations, that won't take long.' Then, DS starts to get upset, then really upset, then weepy. Me: 'It won't take more than an hour, you can do this, it's ok.' DS: 'You don't understand. I used the speed of the car for ALL of the timing of the lights! How long it takes to drive between the lights determines how I made them cascade!' Oh. Oh dear! :eek: I push back from my computer simply thunderstruck, and ds bursts into tears. :crying: DS: 'I was so proud of this project, and it is ALL wrong.' My heart starts pounding, and I just stare at him. :sad: :(

 

So, step one: I take a deep breath (or 2 or 3). Step 2, it is time for me to go into Scientific Advisor role rather than Mother role. I remove my emotions and tell him my story. “Did I ever tell you about when I had to re-do all my calculations for my PhD?†No. “Well, my advisor trapped mice for 25 years, and I had counted how many animals were known to be alive in any month using this data. I then worked on my statistical calculations for a year. The following year, my advisor tells me that he remembered something – that in the first 5 years of data collection they only had 100 traps instead of the 400 used currently. They just moved the 100 traps into the 4 different quadrants every week. Um..... that is not good! This meant that ALL the calculations for how many animals were in the woodlot were wrong for the first 5 years, which means that ALL of the statistics I had been doing for last 12 months were wrong! 'Why didn't you tell me?' I ask. And I very clearly remember his exact words, 'Ruth, it was 25 years ago, I forgot!'..... So I did what I had to do -- I started over.â€

 

As he slowly starts to calm down (just a little bit), and we get a hot chocolate (my solution to all problems), we begin to recalculate the speed of the cars. I tell him that 42.5km/hr is totally reasonable (the speed limit is 50kph), and so the real answer will not be far off. Apparently, he had calculated the speed using the first 5 runs so he could get started on the analysis early, but then we did an additional 5 runs for a total of 10. Ah, interesting, perhaps we should just use the average of all 10. But then, we have a closer look. What we notice right away is that he cannot do a straight average with the data because 5 of the 10 runs are at noon. So he picks 4 data points at different times of the day and on different days -- so as much variety as possible. Luckily (very luckily) the new calculations are not only better than the first because they are more diverse, but the average speed of a car is almost identical -- 42 vs 42.5kph, close enough that we both feel fine about ignoring the difference. Sigh. This kerfuffle has taken 3 hours to deal with!

 

Finally, now that it is all ok, I discuss with him the lesson he needs to learn – always check and recheck your data and calculations. Really, it is so good to have this disaster at age 12 because he will never forget. He understands and agrees. Lesson learned.

 

 

Analysis and write up over 3 days: 14 hours

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Ds age 9. Week 9.

 

Oh, it is getting so exciting at my house. DS has put everything on the poster board and started to move things around and try to figure out how to fit it all in. He is so proud of himself! With pride in his voice, he just said, "I have never done a project *this* big before." But I am getting ahead of myself. We need to finish the research....

 

There is really only 2 things left: to finish the white paint and the vertigris. The lovely bright white mark ds made last week with the water and kitty litter could be easily rubbed off with the pad of his finger. So ds decided to try to cover it with a gloss of casein. This created an interesting effect -- as he painted over the chalk mark, the casein pulled up parts of the chalk off of the black paper leaving black sections throughout the white. It looked very odd, almost like the paint was torn off. So the next idea he had was to mix the water and the casein with the ground kitty litter in the beginning and then paint it on. When wet, it was just beige/tan, and I was really disappointed. But ds said, "just wait, it always dries whiter." And he was right! It made a beautiful bright white, scratch-resistant paint! He did it! :hurray:

 

As for the vertigris, well, apparently the inner plastic bottle had a hole in it, and the copper rod is kind of a damp blue. :tongue_smilie: Looks like it just wicked the moisture up. So ds decided that he would just make paint with the tiny bit of vertigris that we got off the first time. It did make a very nice shade of light aqua-blue. The main problem is that he really needed to grind it first, but we had so little that he couldn't -- so the paint is a bit chunky. I think you really need a flat piece of copper to be able to scratch off the vertigris. But ds is happy enough with the outcome.

 

So as for the poster, ds decides that he wants to make a "process of experimentation" diagram with each type of white paint he made. He describes the problem and his solution, glues the white paint below, then describe what is wrong with that paint and his solution, and glues the next white paint below it, and proceeds with this until he gets to his best white paint. It is a really cool way to show what he has done throughout this project.

 

He also decides to make a chart using matching colour markers to show what colours he found and what he made them from. He includes a list of the colours he did not find: purple, green, red (although he could have made green by mixing turmeric and vertigris if he had had more vertigris). He was so cute going through our 100-set of markers trying to get just the right colour to match his paints, and then record this on his chart. It reminds me that he is 9, and 9-year-olds like markers and colour and cute-ness! :001_smile:

 

Once we have everything on his poster board and we move it around for a bit, he decides that he wants to put the methods and results for each part of the poster with the information on that topic. The three topics are: Colours, Pigments, and Binders. So we separate out the methods and results for Colour and put all the information he has on colour (photos, chart, paints) into that section with a nice blue backing. And we do the same for Pigment and Binders. By putting it all on the poster, he realizes that he is missing a few things (like a photo of making casein for example), so we make a list for next week.

 

To Do

take photo of alum and potash turning into crystals

take photo of making casein

develop photos

label photos

label scratch test and rest of little containers

label original tries notebook

number photos and put in references to them

make pretty headers for 3 main sections

shorten methods and results

write discussion

format text

arrange everything on blue backing

glue down the poster!!!!

 

Looks like he can be done in about 5 hours, which will be good for me, as older ds needs quite a bit of guidance next week!

 

experimentation - 1 hour

making diagram and table (including cutting, gluing, and marker choosing!) 4 hours

dictating methods and results to me to type - 1 hour

arranging poster (and admiring it) and making schedule - 1 hour

Total time 7 hours

 

I just realized the the younger has one fewer weeks on this project than the older - I think this is because the older had to work over the School Holidays to play catch up. Either that or I can't count! :huh:

 

Ruth in NZ

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DH just found this on XKCD, and it is so going on the poster! All the non-mathy people can just read the cartoon and ignore the math.

 

long_light.png

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Is it going to be a copyright problem to use that cartoon? It does seem perfect for the experiment

 

 

Luckily for us, it is fine!!!

 

From the website:

 

" This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

This means you're free to copy and share these comics (but not to sell them)."

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Younger son finished his poster today! :party: Will post photos when I get a chance.

 

Older son is running scared. I think he has about 15 hours left!

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DS age 12. Week 11 (and the rest of week 10)

 

Ah the challenges of making a poster. Honestly, it takes just about as long to write up your work as it takes to do it. So if you are going to do an investigation keep this in mind -- a 1-hour project takes an hour to write up, and a 40 hour project takes 40 hours to write up. It is just really hard. It is hard to 1) explain something so large, 2) simplify because no one is going to read a novel, 3) write to a lay audience that knows nothing about the topic, and 4) format everything so that it fits! It is really an iterative process. DS would write and put it all on the poster, stand back, evaluate, and realize that this or that was not clear. A friend would come over and give this or that suggesting. He would re-write, and then realize more needed to change x and y. Hour after hour, version after version. To get it right, you need to plan on this. The real question is how to teach it.

 

1) First of all I set expectations. I tell him that he will need to write at least 3 version, and take at least 2 days to format. I suggest to him to get other's opinions -- find a 'dummy' who knows nothing to tell you what he/she does not understand.

 

2) I teach ds how to make a big plan and then break it into pieces for each day. You don't have to keep to the plan exactly -- sometimes the flow causes you to do tomorrow's work today, that is ok, just reschedule

 

3) Expect to get it wrong for at least the first 2 versions. It is hard to see the whole until it is all on the poster board, and then the problems/holes become more obvious. Expect this and don't stress over it.

 

4) Shorten, shorten, shorten. and clarify.

 

5) Find the big picture. It is so easy to get caught in the details of a large project and forget to explain what you have learned that you have forgotten that you have learned. Remind yourself over and over to discuss the obvious

 

6) Plan lots of breaks -- time to come back fresh and see what is actually there rather than what you think it there. Basically, you can't rush this process.

 

7) Talk, alot. Brainstorm. Even when you are not working on the poster, think about how you could make the poster more exciting, interesting, clear. Plan your next move.

 

This process is incredibly important for the scientist. How do you get funding? You MUST make your research both interesting and clear. You MUST. Don't consider this a waste of time, it is critical skill and worth all the time it takes.

 

So as of today, DS is still not done, but he is close. I think 1 more day for formatting, 1 day to glue it all down, and 1 day to make a pretty title. Then he still has time to plan his presentation. The science fair is in 1 week.

 

Write up over 7 days: 27 hours!

 

Ruth in NZ

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Ok, the last week....

 

DS age 12, week 12

 

It took him 12 hours to proof the poster, print everything out, cut it, design the layout, and glue it down. He had a lot of trouble deciding how to lay it and not make it too busy. It is crowded, but it does look nice.

 

The presentation has been very hard for him. He only has 2 minutes and that is just not enough time to explain anything. He finally decided to make a separate presentation for the homeschool fair and for the judges. The homeschool presentation needs to pitched to a 9 year old, because the age range will be 5 to 15. We had quite a few fights over the last few days because he thought that I was requiring him to pitch it too low. He told me that he did not want to "sound stupid." But I kept telling him over and over and over that people will respect him more if he can explain something complicated in a simple manner, that no one likes to be made to feel stupid if the presentation is too complicated, that none of the kids even know what 'timing the lights' means, that the kids will be distracted and they will only understand the basics. In the end, I won, but only because he could be as complicated as he wanted to be for the judges. What I kept driving home is that scientists MUST be able to explain their work to a lay audience, because in the end it is The Public that funds most research and they need to think it is worthwhile. He needs to not focus on the "how" but on the "why" and he needs to connect the "why" to humans and how it will specifically help humans. The Lay Public really does not appreciated basic research. Luckily, his project is very human focused. It was a good lesson, but a very difficult one to convince him of, and I am not sure in the end that he is fully convinced!

 

Poster prep: 12 hours

Presentation prep: 8 hours

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Ok, the grand totals:

 

DS age 12: Red Light, Green Earth: saving time and carbon emissions via traffic light coordination (yes Janet, he is using your title!)

 

Finding a topic: 14 hours over 5 weeks(this includes the project that he eventually gave up on)

Designing project: 5 hours

Data Collection: 13 hours (including table making)

Documentation: 10 hours

Timing the lights: 21 hours

Write up: 34 hours (both notebook and summary for poster)

Poster prep: 12 hours (actual printing, layout, stick down)

Presentation prep: 8 hours

Grand total: 117 hours over 12 weeks

Cost $16 (all for the project he didn't do)

 

DS age 9: Paint Alchemy

 

Preliminary analysis: 2 hours

Experimenting: 16 hours

Research and reading: 2 hours

Documenting & poster write up: 6 hours

Making diagram & table: 4 hours

Layout: 1 hour

Glue down: 6 hours

Poster prep and practice: 5 hours

Grand total: 42 hours over 10 weeks

Cost $48

 

And we are finished. :party:

 

The Science Fair is tomorrow!

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Of course, a massive storm is coming in tonight with 130km per hour gusts! And snow expected on the mountains. I have already contacted the judge who lives 1.5 hours away on the other side of the mountains, and she is leaving a car at the train station on this side, and will be packing up the posters, gear, and kids tomorrow morning onto the train (that goes under the mountain) because she expects that the State Highway over the mountains will be closed. Sigh.

 

Our posters are already in the car because we have 110 steps from our house to the car -- and large poster boards, rain, and 130 gusts just don't go well together.

 

I am just trying to figure out what I am going to do with 230 wet rain jackets in the gymnasium!

 

ETA: I just found out that the King tide is tonight and we are expecting 6 meter swells!..... ok, now it has been announced as the worst storm in 37 years. sigh.

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Well, I just cancelled the science fair. Sigh. Big huge sigh. A lot of the roads are closed, and the police have asked everyone to stay inside because of flying debris. I'm hoping for a rain date on Tuesday, because the pig heads that we will be dissecting have already been bought and don't improve with age! I leave for America on Thursday, so this is getting a bit tight!

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What a turn of events! Better safe than sorry, though.

I hope the roads are better by Tuesday.

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:( Hope it gets rescheduled soon! And hope you're all okay. It's weird to think about snowstorms in sunny North America right now.

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Here is the text from old ds's poster. None of the equations are importing unfortunately. I will post photos later today and try to get some close ups of the figures and equations.

 

Red Light, Green Earth:

Saving time and carbon emissions through traffic light coordination

 

Introduction

 

Traffic lights are a part of all modern cities. Lights can be coordinated so a platoon of cars drive through a sequence of cascading green lights. This saves both time and pollution. Research has shown that in the USA, three out of four traffic lights are not timed1. In addition, a study in Canada has shown if every car idled three minutes fewer every day, 1.4million tonnes CO2 would be saved, which is equivalent to removing 320,000 cars from the road2. Global warming is a world wide problem, and NZ is a part of the Kyoto treaty which require us to reduce our Carbon emissions.

 

In Wellington, the road along the water front3, a main artery in the central city, is only partially timed. A platoon of cars only forms for a six block stretch, and during the rest of the thoroughfare cars are regularly stopped. In fact you miss out 30% of the lights when traveling from Tory St to the Motorway. This system is difficult to time because many lights have in-pavement detectors, pedestrian buttons are used to activate the timing system, and there are many two-ways roads. This study seeks to minimize the amount of time spent waiting at these stop lights and determine how much pollution could be saved. (the road along the waterfont has 6 names, which is why it needs a footnote!)

 

Part 1 – Can the traffic along the waterfront be coordinated better?

 

Methods

 

Data Collection

 

Distance Between Stop Lights – Measured with a car odometer.

 

Light Revolutions – Measured the length of the green and red intervals a minimum of 4 times, using a stopwatch. I averaged this data.4

 

Design of Intersection – Drew all possible turns and marked triggers and pedestrian crossings for each intersection.

 

Actual Time to Travel – Timed wait time at each light and the total time spent traversing from Chaffers to Aotea Quay. I replicated this 10 times in each direction.5 This data created a Make or Miss table (Table 1).

 

Average speed of a car – Using the actual time to travel, I subtracted the time waited at lights, giving me the time spent moving.6

 

How I Timed the Lights

  • Identified the problem lights using the Make or Miss Table 1, and whether the light Not Coordinated or Triggered using Light Revolutions.

  • Not Coordinated – Matched the revolution time to the light before it and then coordinated them.

  • Triggered – Created a specific time in which cars and pedestrians can trigger the light which is coordinated to the light before.
  • I averaged all actual wait times at each problem light. I calculated the number of seconds saved on average using expected value if necessary.

Results

  • Yes, the traffic can be better coordinated.
  • I have saved in total 69s North and 36s South per car.
  • This is a 60% reduction in wait time for North and 45% reduction for South.

Discussion

 

The road along the water front has few streets which cross it, thus coordinating this road will have very little effect on other roads. However, most roads in the city would be more difficult to time because they would have to be coordinated with cross roads.

 

My coordination favours the main traffic. I am assuming for cars on feeder roads that the amount of time saved after the first light will balance out the time waited.

 

Part 2 - How much pollution could this save annually?

 

Methods

 

Data Collection

 

Optimized Time to Travel per Light – Calculated from Part 1 (Table 2).

 

Average Pollution per Car per Minute – Researched on the Internet the amount of CO2, CO, NOx, and HC put out by a idling car.

 

Number of Cars – Counted all cars, trucks, and motorcycles passing us in a 5 minute period.7 I replicated this 7 times.

 

Analysis

 

I multiplied the seconds saved for one car and by the Number of Cars and the Average Pollution per Car per Minute while idling. I extrapolated this annually. These are the calculations for CO2 (see notebook for others).

 

Results

My analysis could save a LOT of pollution. (this statement sits right next to a small table of pollution saved)

 

Discussion – Part 2

Although I have only saved 69s and 36s for North and Southbound traffic, this small amount of time does translation into a large amount of pollution annually. My improved traffic light coordination saved 45 tonnes of CO2 and 31 tonnes of CO annually, and I timed only one road in one city. Clearly these numbers would be exponentially larger if the Wellington City Council hired traffic engineers to coordinate all the lights in the city.

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ds9's text on poster. A lot of his text is in photo descriptions that are hand written, so I will get close ups of those tonight.

 

Paint Alchemy

 

Introduction

 

I studied how to make medieval paints. At first glance it seems commonplace to see famous paintings from the medieval time, but every single one of them requires an intimate knowledge of chemistry. To make paint, map makers and artists used pigments and binders.

 

Pigments are made from dried flowers, chemical reactions, spices, and often poisonous chemicals such as white lead and red lead. Binders are what you use to stick the pigments onto paper. Paint making was the apprentice's job for good reason – it is extremely time consuming and hard work!

 

Part 1: Pigments

 

Methods: I prepared pigments by:

1) Putting colour into crystals with a chemical reaction. (photos 1&2)

2) I dried and ground flowers, dirt, and spices. (photos 3&4 )

 

Results

1) Alum and potash unfortunately does not hold colour very well. Many bright flowers turned into a dull grey. However, the crystals were very easy to grind.

2) Dirt and spices were easy to grind. But not all dried flowers could be ground. I could only use soft petals – fibrous petals were almost impossible to grind (see photo 5).

 

Part 2: Binders

 

Methods

I made several different binders but my favorite are probably casein and egg yolk.

1) Casein comes from curded milk which then you add either borax or ammonia to soften it up. (photo 6)

2) Egg yolk paint is also known as tempera and was widely used during the medieval period. (photo 7)

 

Results

I found that casein paint was practically impossible to mark with a toothpick. In contrast, egg-yolk paint could be easily scratched (see graph 1 and scratch test board).

 

Scratch Test: I tested paints made from different binders by scratching them with a toothpick.

 

Part 3: Colours

 

Methods: I tried to get pigments of every color of the rainbow by using flowers, dirt, spices, and a chemical reaction. Copper in vinegar vapour makes verdigris (photo 8).

 

Results: I found that the best colours came from flowers and spices. Verdigris is a bright blue but very hard to make in large quantities. It took me a few weeks to grow this small quantity (see paint board and chart 1).

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I hope that you were able to reschedule the fair! Thanks for posting the text from their posters.

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Thanks for posting pictures of the posters! It is especially cool being able to see the pigments your younger son made.

 

Okay, I just checked out the rules for our regional science fair, and I'm having a WTF moment.

 

1. Any experiment that involves "human participation" or "vertebrate animals" (not to mention bacteria, etc. but elementary students aren't allowed to do that at all) requires a Qualified Scientist to advise the student. I looked at the QS form, and said person must have a degree (didn't specify what level) in the area of study the student is experimenting in. The QS has to *supervise* the experiement.

 

Really?! There's very little wiggle room there. My husband has a degree in physics, but unless all our kids plan on doing physics experiments year after year, that means we'll have to get outside help. How many professors are going to take ~100 hours to mentor a homeschooled student for free? :(

 

The only way I can see around this is basically lying. Getting a professor to sign off on forms, notebooks, etc. but be very hands off. I think this rule is biased against homeschoolers--I bet public schooled students can get their science teachers to stand in as QS. A lot of teachers are probably already holding hands with students in after-school science programs (versus parents).

 

2. The student must submit a proposal to the regional board to get his experiement approved before he can lift a finger on the project. Talk about beurocracy. This makes it really difficult if a kid, such as Ruth's older son, decides to switch projects. You can bet that it's not a stamp-and-go approval, and the time involved to get something approved may mean that the kid is stuck with his initial idea no matter what.

 

3. It's 3rd grade and up. Students younger than 8 years old can't participate. :(

 

This is discouraging. Not insurmountable, but definitely discouraging.

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I'm a little behind but just wanted to find out if they rescheduled the fair. The posters look awesome!

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I'm a little behind but just wanted to find out if they rescheduled the fair.

'They' is ME, as I am in charge. And yes, we just got back from the science fair! We were really lucky that the gymnasium was free today, and it all went well, really well. After a weekend of reorganizing, we had a good turn out of 200+ people. The pig heads, however, were not completely thawed, so we had to soak 24 half pig heads in large sinks of warm water. This made for squishy brains...... But the kids did not mind so much. It did take more than an hour to pull 24 eyes out of skulls -- we had not thought of that!

 

I was very pleased that there was a dad there who is the person who optimizes the air traffic for NZ. He had a lovely LOOOOONG talk with ds, and actually asked about the math and the techniques for coordination.

 

I had a teen take videos of the presentations and will try to get them up tonight.

 

The posters look awesome!

 

Thanks! I was very pleased in the end. We have found that clustering related text on a single colored backing helps with organizing the poster.

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1. Any experiment that involves "human participation" or "vertebrate animals" ... requires a Qualified Scientist to advise the student......

2. The student must submit a proposal to the regional board to get his experiement approved before he can lift a finger on the project.

 

I could be really wrong here, but I think this is just the standard animal rights and human ethics committee approval. So as long as you are not touching the animals, (so observing birds, or throwing sticks to your dog) you don't need permission. Here are our rules to compare.

  1. Any project involving animals (other than invertebrates) that affects or changes their normal routine, requires approval from the ethics committee of the New Zealand Association of Science Educators. The committee will meet to consider applications on 26 June and 21 August 2013. Applications should be submitted two weeks before these dates. For more information refer to the New Zealand Association of Science Educatorswebsite.

     

  2. Projects with experiments using people need signed permission from those involved and, for children under 16 years old, permission from parents or guardians as well. For more details follow the requirements for the Royal Society's Crest Awards.

 

So if I were you, I would get some clarification of your rules. Because for us, only projects involving vertebrates 'that affects of changes their normal routine' needs to be approved. If this is true for you too, you can still do bio, earth, chem, and physics projects without an external supervisor, just not any animal 'experimentation' or human participation.

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Well, there are some downsides to living in the country with most lawyers on earth. I'm thinking by the wording that they aren't as relaxed as your fair! I might email them just to be absolutely sure. Here are the rules verbatim:

 

If you are working with ANY of the following items, you must have a "Qualified Scientist" to supervise your work and be approved by a local SRC Committee BEFORE beginning the project! You must also attach additional ISEF forms as shown on p. 3 of this form.

 

a) Projects involving Humans (for example projects with surveys, tests, reaction times or exercise. This includes if the student studies his/ herself).

B) Micro-organisms – this includes any project with bacteria and fungi (See ISEF Rules on page 13 for complete list). Students can NOT grow bacteria at home. Teachers/Parents read additional rules for projects with micro-organisms. *** Because of the risks and safety rules associated with culturing bacteria, these projects are restricted to junior and senior divisions ONLY.

c) Vertebrate Animals – this includes pets, farm animals, fish, and wild animals. Special rules apply for work with eggs and embryos.

d) Potentially Hazardous Biological Agents - in addition to micro-organisms this would include any work with human or animal tissues, blood or body fluids, fresh or frozen and recombinant DNA technologies. As with bacteria, these projects are restricted to Junior and Senior Divisions only.

e) Hazardous Chemicals, Activities or Devices or using Regulated Substances - examples: projectiles, rockets, gasoline, biofuels, alcohol. Check MSDS sheet for any chemical hazards.

f) Projects done in Regulated Research Settings: Projects done in professional research laboratories (university or industrial) – including where the parent is the scientist.

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I know!! And how does it make sense that we can EAT eggs but they treat them like a hazardous product? You can't, say, use them to make medieval paint without asking permission with a blasted form!

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Yikes! But I still think you need to ASK. It reminds me of going through Agriculture at the Airport. It says no plant materials, but if you show them your crackers and musuli bars, they tell you that they are fine and you don't have to go into the Red line. I would like to think that it would be similar if you told them you wanted to use edible eggs for paints. Clearly they are trying to prevent experimentation on the hatching of eggs, which actually could be pretty yucky.

 

Here are our other rule that relate to yours.

  1. Explosives must not be used, and dangerous chemicals (including strong acids) are not to be used in the exhibit without the consent of the Fair Committee. This must be obtained in writing, at least one month before the Fair.
  2. Biological experiments should conform with health and safety guidelines. (refer to Ministry of Education Safety and Science)

 

Ours are just a lot clearer, but they do keep sending me to legal documents to read!

 

Good luck! I hope that it is not as strict as it appears.

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I am putting up the presentations. The ones in the gymnasium were given to a crowd of about 200. I required older ds to target his presentation to the age of about 9. He was not happy about this, but did it anyway. He also made a separate presentation to give to the judges. I recorded this in my house. You might find it interesting to note the differences. He assumed that the judges could see his poster, but the homeschool audience could not. I will only keep these up temporarily.

 

One at the house, prepared for the judges:

https://picasaweb.go...315659910862162

 

At the homeschool fair with a microphone and audience:

https://picasaweb.google.com/100502613708475080408/ScienceFair2013?authkey=Gv1sRgCKXar7769bve2AE#5893340856526055618

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Thanks for posting pictures of the posters! It is especially cool being able to see the pigments your younger son made.

 

Okay, I just checked out the rules for our regional science fair, and I'm having a WTF moment.

 

1. Any experiment that involves "human participation" or "vertebrate animals" (not to mention bacteria, etc. but elementary students aren't allowed to do that at all) requires a Qualified Scientist to advise the student.

 

 

By human participation, they mean human subjects of the investigation -- generally, these are in the fields of Human Biology or Psychology.

 

There are generally two levels of this: One is that a Qualified Scientist reviews that the experiment is safe for the humans or animals involved and will not cause unnecessary suffering. In this case, the Qualified Scientist's job is done after the research plan is complete and the safety review is done. The Qualified Scientist for an elementary project (say, involving the sense of smell where the subjects are asked to smell onions versus roses), would often be the elementary school science teacher. For a simple project like the one I just described, some homeschoolers have ask their family doctor to sign off on it. If you do not have someone handy, the board of directors of your fair should be able to refer you to someone to do the human/animal safety review.

 

The other is a higher level projects: The materials or procedures or whatever is such that it cannot be done safely in a home lab, and in that case, yes you would need a scientist to open their lab up to you. If your project needs to be done at a university lab, it is usually up to the student to make the contacts and find the lab space himself or herself.

 

--Janet

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#c & #d would appear to disallow experimenting with egg yolk or curdled milk paints :scared:

 

 

Generally speaking, any biological products you can buy at the grocery store (eggs, milk, chicken bones, etc.) are not considered hazardous materials.

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Ruth, your posts have been tremendously helpful and inspiring- thank you so very much for sharing what you do.

 

Would you mind describing briefly what the non project months look like - what a typical week looks like? I believe you've said it's generally reading in subjects following an annual rotation schedule? Have you already posted that elsewhere?

 

Thank you again!

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We are just back from travelling, and I realized that I forgot to post the homeschool judges' reports for my 12 year old.  So here they are:

 


Judge #1:

 
Presentation:                 9/10  - Neat, Clear, Outstanding Use of Tables, Graphs and Imagery. Possibly too much information for adequate judging in time available.
Testable Question:        10/10 - References a cause and effect relationship and demonstrates a measurable change.
Background Research:    7/10 - Diverse sources and clear citations; I would have liked to see an attempt to contact the organisation responsible for traffic flow in the Wellington CBD to  discover what factors are considered when planning for traffic outcomes.
Hypothesis:                     9/10 - Based on Research and Clearly defined.
Variables:                      10/10 - Clearly defined. Exceptions noted.
Materials:                      10/10 - Listed and appropriate.
Procedure:                     10/10 - Investigation clearly described.
Data:                              9/10 - Both quantitative and qualitative data well presented and clear. Are there any extraneous factors that a traffic engineer may consider when planning for traffic flow?
Analysis:                       10/10 - Excellent.
Conclusion:                    8/10 - Very good. I would have liked to see suggestions for further study or use of the data.
Abstract:                         5/5 - Excellent
Acknowledgements:       5/5 - Excellent.
Overall Score: 93%

An Excellent Project. I agree with Judge #2 regarding the inherent assumptions in the study, some of which could have been mitigated by talking to appropriate traffic engineers or equivalent.

 
Judge #2

Strengths:
Kxxxx put a great deal of time and effort into collecting data and on his calculations to improve the traffic light coordination.
He made a large number of readings (e.g. recorded the number of cars going past in 5 minutes on 7 occasions).
He researched various sources and studies to find out information on traffic light coordination and greenhouse gas emissions.
The project is relevant to New Zealand today and to Wellington in particular, both on the level of improving traffic flow for our convenience, and also for wider environmental reasons.
The project is well-presented, neat and attractive.
The project is highly original.
He considered factors such as the speed of the cars, making the traffic light coordination optimal for cars travelling at a reasonable speed (not too fast or too slow).
Kxxxx presented his project very well to the homeschoolers and it was a great idea to relate the volume of gases saved to the size of the building in which the fair was held.
 
Weaknesses:
It is a little difficult to understand for the average person.
It is very theoretical and contains a lot of assumptions.
 
Ideas for Improvement:
It is unclear how significant the improvement in carbon emissions would be.  Although Kxxxx gives figures for the emissions saved, there are no other numbers to compare it with, for example, how much the average car produces in a year, or the average cow.
Other savings could also be mentioned - for example, petrol (this would possibly be more important to the average driver than carbon emissions).
 

Kxxxx has done a great job and his hard work is evident in the quality of this project.  Well done!

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Here is another one of the homeschool Judges' report for a project done through a correspondence school.  I am not posting it for comparison to my son's project, but rather to help those of you interested in the process see what the judges are looking for.  Hope some of you find it interesting.

 

 

These comments are not for either of my children:

 

Judge #1:

 

Pond Ecology
Presentation:                6/10  - Neat and Clear. Images Used. One Extensive Table. No Graphs. Background Information included which is not relevant to a Project Study. 
Testable Question:       5/10 - A testable question is identified but the subject is narrow and restricted.
Background Research:  8/10 - Comprehensive. Sources not clearly identified. 
Hypothesis:                   7/10 - Based on Research.
Variables:                     4/10 - Not Clearly defined and Inadequate.
Materials:                     4/10 - Listed as Parameters. Not detailed and Inadequate.
Procedure:                    4/10 - Investigation not sequential and not clearly described.
Data:                            6/10 - Both quantitative and qualitative data are tabulated. Table is incomplete. Formula present for some date but calculations of some data are missing and unable to be judged.
Analysis:                      7/10 - Describes the results and comments on reasons for observations.
Conclusion:                 7/10 - Based on Analysis. Does not include suggestions for further study.
Abstract:                     2/5 - Not present. Some information that would be relevant to Abstract is scattered throughout the Study.
Acknowledgements:   4/5 - Good
Overall Score: 58%
A Good Start. Mxxx has clearly gained some important skills whilst completing this project. Her observational abilities are excellent. I would like to see her extend this study out into her community; possibly looking at the Ecology of the Pauhatanui Inlet or Porirua Harbour.
 

Judge #2:

Strengths: 
Mxxxx had done a lot of background reading and research into ponds.

She took several readings over the course of one day and also had an update a few months after the first tests were performed.
She observed a variety of factors affecting the ponds and undertook various tests.
Good analysis of the data with explanations for the differences over the day.
The project was well-presented with attractive colour photographs.
 
Suggestions for Improvement:
The project appears to be incomplete, as the hypothesis mentions testing dissolved oxygen, but this was not done.  The table also lists algae counts but there is no data recorded.
There is unnecessary material on the board - e.g. general information about the scientific method, and classifications of North American ponds.
There is information repeated across the table, for example size of pond, location of pond, etc which does not need to be stated more than once.
The study would benefit from more readings over a longer period of time or more varied conditions (as Mxxxx stated in her conclusion).

It is a good beginning, and there is a lot of scope for further study, for example, testing ponds at different times of the year, observing how ponds react to drought or high rainfall, or studying the microbiology of ponds.

We hope that these comments are helpful to you and we wish you all the best with your future endeavours. 

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Would you mind describing briefly what the non project months look like - what a typical week looks like? I believe you've said it's generally reading in subjects following an annual rotation schedule? Have you already posted that elsewhere?

 

 

I am happy to describe our non-project months, but I am off to start schooling so will try to get to it tonight or tomorrow.

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We work 10 months per year, so 7 months are non-project months and 2-3 months are for the investigation.  

 

During the non-project months, my kids read. No tests, no experiments, no strict expectations. We have a topic for the year (Physics this year), and I pick good nonfiction books and textbooks for them to study.  From 4th grade to 7th grade, I build my children up from 20 minutes to 1 hour of reading per day.  They read nonfiction books at first and then slowly over time I move them into textbooks -- good textbooks not just any textbooks.  Typically, in 4th and 5th grade we all lay on the bed in the sun with a book silent sustained reading - modelling good reading habits seems to be very important.  In 6th and 7th, my older son was very independent, and was happy to read independently (but I'm not sure what will happen with my younger).  I set some very general expectations - my 4th grader this year is supposed to read 1 or 2 spreads in his physics book (The Way Things Work) each day, and my 8th grader is supposed to read 1 section per day in Knight's College Physics.  But I stress that I trust them.  If the material is difficult, I expect them to get through less, and if the material is easy, I expect them to get through more.  If I find that they are not really getting through as much as I expect, then I watch the time spent, and set a buzzer if needed, or I check their understanding if they are speeding through material.  This year my older's physics book requires that he work through both a workbook and end of the chapter math problems.  In addition, I will be giving term tests for 8th grade physics using Regentrude's tests - so 4 tests for the year.

 

During non-project months, my kids also watch documentaries/lectures.  I try to find ones on topic, like The Way Things Work videos (cartoons with mammoths) and Coursera's Way Things Work lectures.  But they also watch docos on other topics - David Attenborough is a favorite and they are all in the library, and BBC's Horizons is very variable and current.  So about 3 docos/lectures per week.  I will be watching the Coursera lectures with my younger, but I expect that my older will be able to handle coursera's Physics with Lab lectures on his own.  I have also bought The Great Courses Physics lecture series. But once again, I stress that I trust him and if my older finds that the lectures are not helpful, he can just tell me and can skip them.  The docos/lectures  are in addition to the reading, not a replacement.

 

During non-project months we are also on the look out for investigation ideas.  We discuss ideas in the car when driving to activities or over dinner.  We brainstorm how questions could be answered and how easy it would be.  So we ask lots of questions and then do 'arm chair' science and plan without doing.  This is good practice and has in the past helped my kids to find a topic to study.  We also discuss science in the news at dinner.

 

Finally, when available through the homeschoolers, I do sign my children up for a 2 day lab course on chemistry, or a cool biology fieldtrip led by an expert, or we go to the Bioblitz at the local botanical gardens, etc.  But these particularly good opportunities happen only about 2 times a year and are not a major aspect of what we do.

 

Hope that helps. I'm happy to answer any questions. 

 

Ruth in NZ

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I enjoy reading about your method of doing science and am incorporating what I feel capable of.  I'm interested in the tests you mention from Regentrude.  Can you link to a thread?  Perhaps it was a personal discussion in which case I don't mean to intrude.

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Your science fair has FANTASTIC judges. I would kill for feedback like that from the science fairs we've been to!

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I enjoy reading about your method of doing science and am incorporating what I feel capable of.  I'm interested in the tests you mention from Regentrude.  Can you link to a thread?  Perhaps it was a personal discussion in which case I don't mean to intrude.

 

I should preface this with the fact that my son's passion is physics, so he will be working on AP AB Physics. Obviously, this is not a typical 8th grade path. 

 

Here are Regentrude's google docs for her syllabus and tests.  http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/416217-knight-college-physics-materials-uploaded/

The textbook she chose is excellent.  I have started working through it myself, and it is by far the best physics book I have ever worked with.

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Your science fair has FANTASTIC judges. I would kill for feedback like that from the science fairs we've been to!

 

I will tell them!  Judge #2 and I started together 6 years ago, and we agreed that written comments would be really helpful.  This year I backed out because I was just overwhelmed.  When I put out a call for a new judge, I got a volunteer from a different region - 1.5 hours away.  She is in a rural area and their science fair ran every other year, and then just kind of fizzled out.  So she was very happy to join with us, and took our approach as her own although she added in the percentage scores.

 

The two judges worked very well together and put each student through a 15 minute interview.  This only works because we only judge kids age 11 and up, and we just don't have that many!

 

I should also add that judge #2 has had 3 additional children since she started judging, so always with a baby on her hip.  6 kids in all.  She was a microbiologist in a previous life.  I am always so impressed that she can show up with 3 posters and act as judge with a baby.  wow!

 

 

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