Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Lab coats at the ready

We're getting a science-y vibe around here, and I must say that I welcome this little vibe.  Not that it hasn't come with a little effort.  Let me explain what has gotten us to today.

Our homeschool co-op is organizing a science fair for next week.  While I've been pondering the possibilities for what my children could present for about 4 months now, it turned out that I could have simply asked them.  Which I fully intended to do, and which I did last week.  I was a little wary that they would pick a topic that was either incredibly complex, ridiculously messy, or excessively expensive, but it didn't turn out that way at all. 

With Jaelyn, I needed to explain what a science fair was first.  Simply put, I told her it was a chance to pick a science topic she wanted to learn more about and share her learnings with the rest of the group.  Almost immediately, she told me she wanted to do a project about polar bears.  Her dance class is also studying polar bears, as they will be doing some sort of dance with a polar bear link for her year-end recital.  She is already armed with a lengthy list of facts, which she shared with me.  We've also done some reading about polar bears to learn more facts.  We've discussed other ideas, like drawing a life-sized polar bear.  I hope to spend some more time with her over the weekend diving into the world of polar bears.

Nicholas had been mulling over projects in Kids Concoctions and Contraptions.  As I spent a few minutes introducing the idea of the science fair to him, he announced that he wanted to grow "sea monsters".  Tilting my head to one side, feeling like I was facing those fears I'd had at the outset, I asked him to tell me more about the sea monsters.  He immediately grabbed the book and showed me the project - it is growing brine shrimp.  He also proceeded to do his own searches for where to find a fishbowl (used) and brine shrimp eggs (the pet store).  Lastly, we gathered all those materials and were ready to begin.

I must say that I'm impressed with his patience.  Despite the relative simplicity of the project, he has needed to plan by considering the amount of time needed for the project to be successful.  He chose to find the fishbowl first so he would know how much water needed to be "aired out" to get rid of any chlorine gas.  Then he timed the purchase of the eggs to coincide with when the water would be ready (which, in hindsight, we didn't need to do).  He spent time yesterday evening mixing up the water solution and adding the eggs.

And today, we pulled out a neat little tool for watching what happens to these miniscule eggs.  We learned how to use his microscope and how to make a slide.  I plan to encourage his interest by checking out his pets with his microscope every day, so he can be aware of the changes.

Me...I'm learning too.  I'm learning that perhaps all of us would be best served if I went with what I know and what I am comfortable with for this first year.  Biology topics, like the ones the children have chosen, are much more up my alley than the physics projects we've tried, and I've had difficulty executing or troubleshooting.  Not that we won't ever do physics stuff - of course we will if that's where their interest takes them.  However, I may just send them to our resident physics expert (their dad) for some good quality time.

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