Even More Science Apps, by Jen W.

Homeschooling With Technology

by Jen W.

Each day seems to bring more education-related apps for the iPhone, iPad, and Android platforms. However, not all of these are created equal. Here are some apps that my kids and I have found to be of great use as study tools or as methods of demonstration. It’s worth noting that there are many science apps that serve as little more than vehicles for flashcards or quiz questions; all of the apps on this list have more substance than that.

 Life Science:

  •  12979204503_02ee7056d6_s HudsonAlpha iCell (iPad, Android): This app gives students a 3D, easy-to-rotate view inside the three basic cell types: animal, bacteria, and plant. While viewing a specific cell type, students can tap the parts of the cell, which both zooms in on the part and provides a brief description. It provides three levels of knowledge: basic, intermediate and advanced. Basic is good for elementary (or lower level readers) while the intermediate and advanced are good for middle school through very basic college-level biology. I highly recommend this app as part of learning about cells and/or while working on microscope skills. It could use more information, such as the fact that a cell might contain thousands of organelles or show the internal structure of the mitochondria.
  • 12959942533_327553031e_s  D. Bones (iPad, Android): This is a great app for learning all about the skeletal system. It has three modes: a text that provides information about each bone in the body; in puzzle mode, students drag and drop parts of the skeleton with three different levels of difficulty; finally, quiz mode tests  students on their knowledge base using two different levels of difficulty. My only complaint is that it can a little hard to tap exactly where the app wants you to.
  •  12959862334_399813e5be_s Biology – Plant Handbook HD (iPad, Android): This is a wonderful high school level app designed to teach students about the biology of plants. It teaches about leaves, dissection types, flowers and more. There is also a free version that gives limited access, but could give you an idea of what this app is like before paying for it. Biology – Plant Handbook (free)
  • 12959863774_dc549a74db_s  Froguts Frog Dissection HD (iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire): This is a very realistic view of a frog dissection. It has male and female specimens and provides both dissection and 4 different practicum modes. It can be used either to help walk a student through a hands-on dissection (which is preferable to my mind) or could be used as an alternative to actual dissection (especially for those students for whom dissection might cause an ethical dilemma).
  •   12960082953_caf8cf0c31_sDK The Human Body App (iPad): This multi-award winning app is an amazing reference guide containing over 270 zoom-able illustrations, detailed videos, story pages and a testing tool. It covers all 12 systems of the human body: “integrated body, skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular, respiratory, skin, hair & nails, lymphatic & immune, digestive, urinary and reproductive.”

Earth Science:

  •  12960215463_ace9aa1707_sBack in Time (iPhone, iPad, Windows 8): This app gives an astounding view of the universe, allowing students to travel back in time to the moment of how scientists believe the Big Bang happened, through the vast stretch of time until the present day. There are animations, videos, timelines, and articles that discuss various phenomena. The one drawback to this app is that it takes up a lot of memory (over 600 MB), but the upside is that you don’t need to access the internet for the app to remain functional.
  • 12959577473_b668eea0f7_s Folds and Faults (iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire): This is a simple app that teaches students about the various types of folds and faults found in rock layers. It is a great little geology tool, especially if you are visiting an area that allows students to observe these in real life. It doesn’t have incredible depth or substance, but that is probably expected with its low price point.
  •  12959861594_fa38bfbc07_sWater Cycle HD (iPad): This is an audio-visual presentation of the water cycle. It includes photos, videos, and a Bloom’s taxonomy-based quiz function. This is one of the few apps in this list designed with younger students in mind.
  •  12959428475_a72b092a53_sSolar Walk (iPhone, iPad): This is another multi-award winning app. It serves as a 3D model of the solar system. You can view the galaxy as a whole, moons of other planets, interesting artificial satellites orbiting the earth, or a host of other databases. There are so many features available within this app that they are impossible to list in this short blurb.

Physics:

  • 12959862534_fd8ec85a94_s Monster Physics (iPhone, iPad): This app allows students to build and operate various types of vehicles. They must use their vehicles to complete over 50 different “missions.” Monster Physics Lite (free)
  •  12960646975_d88467148b_sBuilding Serial Circuits (iPad): Students will learn about circuits via 3D graphics and 2D symbols. They will build various types of circuits using wires, switches, batteries and light bulbs. This would be a great supplement or prelude to a similar hands-on activity. Building Serial Circuits Lite (free)
  • 12960646975_d88467148b_s  Building Parallel Circuits (iPad): Using 3D graphics and 2D electronic symbols, students will build simple parallel circuits by using wires, batteries, switches, and light bulbs. By constructing their own closed circuit with two light bulbs, they will develop a deeper understanding of series and parallel circuits and discover that electricity follows the path of least resistance. Building Parallel Circuits Lite (free)
  • 12959864634_ccb7c13a14_s Coaster Physics (iPhone, iPad): Students learn about physics while building roller coasters. You can create and ride all sorts of roller coaster tracks while learning how speed, acceleration, energy and g-force change at different points in the track.

Chemistry:

  • 12959577613_0479a3d14d_s  The Elements: A Visual Exploration (iPhone, iPad): This is a beautiful reference that takes students on a visual journey through the period table. You can read about each element and see a visual sample.
  •  12959429115_182c363938_s Molecules (iPhone, iPad): This app allows students to view and manipulate 3D models of various molecules. They can download simple or complex molecules as they need to view them. The one downside to this app is that it would be nice if there was a better catalog of available molecules that students could explore.
  • 12959864904_27138afc22_s  ChemLab (iPhone, iPad): This app tests students’ knowledge of chemical compounds in a fun setting. If you are creating carbon monoxide, then you must add one carbon and one oxygen to the formula. Get it wrong and things go “boom!” While formulas are given after the fact, a pre-knowledge of chemical formulas would be useful.
Jen jen_wW.– Jen is born and bred Sooner who has spent twenty years following her military husband around the world. Jen started on her homeschooling journey when her eldest daughter learned to read at three years old, and she decided that she couldn’t screw up kindergarten that badly. That child is now a senior in high school, and they have both survived homeschooling throughout. Jen has two more children who are equally smart and have also homeschooled all along.
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Co-op Chemistry, by Cheryl

Mentos and diet soda, in cold weather

Science With Friends

 

My kids love doing science experiments! I really do too, but with everything else we do at home, the experiments sometimes get put on the back burner. I wanted to be sure that my eight-year-old science enthusiast had a year full of science experiments. To be sure I followed my plan, I signed up to teach a class for our co-op. I have never had so much fun with a group of seven, eight, and nine-year-olds!

We have spent the last two months studying the basics of chemistry. We have covered atoms; the periodic table; mixtures; four kinds of reactions; four types of evidence of reactions; polymers, and more.

Experiments we have done so far:

Mixing things found around the house to check for reactions: baking soda, lemon juice, vinegar, salt water, egg whites, and milk. As we mixed items, we recorded what happened in a chart. The kids loved baking soda with vinegar and baking soda with lemon juice. Milk and lemon juice was another fun reaction. We looked for bubbles or precipitation in these experiments.

We also spent a week studying the pH of various household liquids by mixing them with red cabbage juice. Acids turned our juice from purple to pink, bases turned it green/blue, and neutral items did not change the color. We also neutralized the acids by adding bases to watch the color turn back to purple. The kids had a great time mixing things back and forth to watch the color changes.

We tested mixtures. Our first project was to make a cake. We made a nearly homogeneous mixture as we stirred the mix, eggs, oil, and water then we added giant drops of frosting to turn it into a heterogeneous mixture. I think this was their favorite experiment because we ate it! While that cooked we tried mixing oil and water based liquids to see what would happen.

We checked for starch in food items with iodine.

The second favorite experiment was making gooey putty. Mix equal parts liquid starch and white glue to create a polymer that is fun to play with!

Our final chemistry experiment was the “Mentos in diet soda” reaction. We read about the reason for the reaction, discussed what we thought would happen with different types of soda and then we went outside with eight bottles (four types of soda) and two flavors of Mentos. We had a soda fountain show! Our soda did not shoot as high as Mythbusters’ did. Our hypothesis is that the soda and Mentos (which sat in my car all night in the freezing cold) do not react as strongly when cold. We plan to test it again when it is warmer outside.

The kids have been introduced to some important foundational concepts of chemistry as well as the idea of the scientific method in experimentation. We are only halfway through our class. I cannot wait to get started on physics with these kids!

Cheryl–Cheryl is a singing, dancing, baking, homeschooling mom of three. She has danced her cherylwhole life and taught ballet and theatre for most of her adult life. Her favorite pastime has always been cooking and baking, and as a Pampered Chef Independent Consultant she gets to share that love with others. Home educating her three children has been and continues to be one of her greatest learning experiences! It is an adventure she is ready to continue.

FIRST Lego League Robotics, by Cheryl

Science With Friends

 

My oldest son is great at math and has been since he learned what numbers were! His brain does not work like mine; he breaks numbers down in his head in ways that make me dizzy (and I am good at math, too). He is also very visual and good at seeing how things work, how to make things work, and how to build. I have been looking for ways to take his mathematical and mechanical abilities and show him what he can do with them. We found it in FIRST Lego League this year.

We participated in the Jr. league this year. The kids are given a theme and required to build a Lego display with one motorized part and a couple of simple machines. At the meets they are judged on their design and how well it works. They are also judged on a presentation board they create and on their ability to talk to the judges about their project. This year was “Disaster Blaster:” the kids had to pick a natural disaster and create their project around that.

We live in Moore, OK. Our teammates do, as well. Our kids picked a tornado for their disaster. They built a town and a working tornado out of Legos. I was not involved in any of the design or build. I was very impressed with what I saw at the first meet.

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My eight-year-old had a great time! He learned about machines and a lot about gears as he attempted to make his tornado work properly. (He was even more excited when we were at the Oklahoma Science Museum riding the Segways, and we saw that the inventor of the Segway started FIRST Lego League!)

Next year he will be in FLL instead of FLL Jr. They build and program a robot with the Lego Mindstorms robot kit. The robot has to complete a series of tasks. The students are also required to do a research project and present their project. We loved watching the older teams practice at the meets, and my son cannot wait for next year!

I am impressed with the setup of this program. It teaches kids so much more than robotics! They learn team work, public speaking, and presentation design. The website (linked above) has information on starting your own team and volunteering to help run events.

Cheryl–Cheryl is a singing, dancing, baking, homeschooling mom of three. She has danced her whole life and taughtcheryl ballet and theatre for most of her adult life. Her favorite pastime has always been cooking and baking, and as a Pampered Chef Independent Consultant she gets to share that love with others. Home educating her three children has been and continues to be one of her greatest learning experiences! It is an adventure she is ready to continue.

Teaching Physics With an 8th Grader (and a Few More), by Jane-Emily

Middle School Science

 

This year, we are studying Physics.  I have used the four-year science/history cycle described in The Well-Trained Mind for eight years now; this is the end of our second cycle (which goes Biology, Earth Science/Astronomy, Chemistry, Physics).  Recently, I wrote about our Chemistry studies last year, and now I’d like to tell you what we’re doing in Physics–and what I would change if I were starting over.

My goal was to have a really solid year of Physics at the 8th-grade level.  Clearly, however, an 8th-grader taking her first year of Algebra is not going to be able to do a traditional Physics course with all that complex math!  What I wanted was a good grounding in the ideas of Physics, but without very much math at all.  After quite a bit of poking around for textbooks, I figured out that what I was after is called Conceptual Physics.

There are only a few textbooks in Conceptual Physics.  I ended up choosing the textbook by the guy who thought up the idea of a math-light physics course in the first place: Conceptual Physics by Paul G. Hewitt.  The one I got is the current 11th edition and it is a college textbook.  My daughter has not found it to be too difficult for her–I think a good reader wouldn’t really have a problem–but I found out later on that there is a high school textbook. If I’d realized that I probably would have gone with it.  (Although maybe not; I was able to preview a lot of the college text online which helped me decide, and she really is doing fine and enjoying the textbook.)

Conceptual Physics is my spine, and I designed everything else around that.  I figured that since physics is both complex and very hands-on, it might be good to have a lecture series to watch on TV to reinforce the material and help do examples.  I looked through The Teaching Company’s offerings (otherwise known as The Great Courses), and chose a DVD series called Physics and Our Universe: How It All Works, taught by Professor Richard Wolfson.  The course description says that “it doesn’t rely heavily on equations and mathematics, using nothing more advanced than high school Algebra and Trigonometry.”  More on that below.  During my planning, I arranged the DVD lectures so that they would match the textbook chapters.  This came out to usually doing two 30-minute lectures per week, but not always.

I also wanted lots of lab activities.  Some I came up with on my own; I ordered fancy magnets, ferrofluid (look it up; it’s amazing), the world’s longest Slinky, and other fun things.  I also got eScience Labs Introductory Physics (version 3.2), a boxed set that is supposed to have a full year of lab activities.  It comes with a CD-ROM that gives instructions for each lab and questions for students to answer.  It is mid-high-school level; not serious Physics, but enough questions to make it fairly hard work.  However, you can also just do the activities to illustrate the principles, and that is fun for any age!  I figured out a schedule for labs to match my textbook.

We have been doing all this work with a group.  Last year, we had one extra student for chemistry, and that was quite fun–plus it was good for me, because I had to plan those labs and make them happen!  I could never put it off and think we could do it next week.  That student is not homeschooling this year, but all of a sudden several of my friends are homeschooling their kids, and before I knew it I had a group that included three high school students, three middle schoolers, and five elementary-age children!  Students age 12+ come to the lectures and read the textbook; the rest of them use Real Science 4 Kids Physics and only come to the labs.  (At first I thought the 12-year-old was too young to use the college text, but he turns out to be a natural engineer.  He got the textbook late, caught up, and is loving it.)

As if this is not enough, I chose some supplementary books for the older students to read if they felt so inclined.  These are not required, but they are great resources:

Lastly, in order to keep all these students informed, I started a Facebook page.  They aren’t all on Facebook, but their parents are!  I post information, announcements, and neat videos or images, and our syllabus is available there for reference.

And how has all this turned out?

The textbook is fine.  Although I wonder if I would have been better off with the high-school text, everyone is reading and understanding just fine, and my daughter–who was not really excited about Physics in September–tackles her chapter first thing every Monday morning and says she really enjoys it.  I feel pretty good about it.

The DVD course is pretty interesting and has some good examples, as I hoped.  It also turns out to have a different definition of “doesn’t rely heavily on equations and mathematics, using nothing more advanced than high school Algebra and Trigonometry” than I do.  When the math comes up on the screen, we all stare at it in despair.  After that happened a couple of times, I started fast-forwarding when the math starts.  Later on in the course, some of the lectures get pretty advanced.  If I could choose again, I might go with a more conceptual course by the same instructor, Physics In Your Life, though then I would probably worry that it was not rigorous enough!  On the whole this has worked out fine, though.  My students are still showing up regularly for lectures, so I guess we are doing OK.

Hosting labs is always fun.  The box set tends to draw lessons from very simple activities, and sometimes I wish I had something on a bigger scale, but for the most part it is going fine.  The kids enjoy the activities, and I try to tell them the principles behind what we are doing.  Labs also give me a great opportunity to talk about science in everyday life, and using our knowledge to think about what we see around us.  We have had some good conversations on why we should understand scientific principles and how to avoid expensive (yet completely unsound) products.  The very best days are when my husband, who is a true Physics aficionado, is able to be present and talk with the students.  He is much more eloquent than I am, and would be a better teacher, but sadly he has to earn a living.

The Facebook page was a good idea.  It’s easier than emailing everyone, and the videos get a good response.  There are some amazing Physics videos out there!  We have especially enjoyed some of Veritasium’s videos; our favorite was the giant Slinky. 

It’s a bit early yet to declare this a good year for science, but I think we are well on our way to being able to say that.  So far it’s been fun, and everyone is learning.

Featured photo: Iron filings and a magnet. The filings are in a jar of oil so they can be easily observed. The magnet is in a test tube so it will stay clean.

Jane-Ejane-emilymily–Jane-Emily is a classically homeschooling LDS mom of two girls, and a librarian at the local community college, very part-time. She loves to read and will pick up almost anything. She also loves to sew and mostly does quilting, heirloom sewing, and smocking. And she’s a Bollywood addict.

How I Taught 7th Grade Chemistry, by Jane-Emily

Middle School Day

 

Last year I had a twelve-year-old in seventh grade and a nine-year-old in fourth.  For science, I wanted to concentrate on chemistry — one of my very favorite sciences!  It’s the recipe book for the universe! — I wanted to make sure that my twelve-year-old would be very well-prepared to take AP Chemistry, or some equivalent thereof, later on.  I searched high and low for materials that would make it possible for me to teach a solid chemistry course without too much math.  I also invited another kid along for lab days; I find that it is more fun if we have an extra kid or two along for the ride.

For a text, I found Friendly Chemistry, a course designed for homeschoolers with plans for larger groups.  Friendly Chemistry is quite clear, and it teaches a lot of chemistry, from atomic structure to stoichiometry to ideal gas laws.  There is some math and it sometimes got difficult, but together we figured it out.  There is not much of a lab component; it’s limited to easily-obtainable home items.  It has quite a few games to aid in memorization of elements, ions, and so on, and several of them are well-designed.  There are a few typos, but otherwise my only problem was that the solutions in the back of the book did not provide help with working out the problems. Only answers were given, and sometimes we got stuck.

I wanted lots of lab work, so I ordered the biggest chemistry set Thames & Kosmos stocks: the C3000, containing instructions for over 300 experiments designed to take the student from basics to more complex organic chemistry.  T&K being a German company, I did find that a few extras it required were hard for me to find, such as hartshorn/baker’s ammonia and so on.  Of course the experiments followed a completely different logic than the Friendly Chemistry did–it is all practical chemistry–but we didn’t have too much trouble with that.   The variety was nice, and all of us appreciated the fun of setting things on fire.  I needed more glass test tubes than were provided, and I came perilously close to running out of a few chemicals.

Meanwhile, my nine-year-old came along for the ride for much of this.  She had the Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry text, which was OK but not wonderful.  I would have preferred something else, but I didn’t find anything I loved.  She and I worked through those chapters together, and otherwise she played the games, participated in the experiments, and did just fine.  I am confident that she absorbed plenty of chemistry for her age.

Our schedule was as follows:

  • Tuesday, read the chapter for the week.  Start exercises and finish by Thursday.
  • Thursday: lab from 12:00 until at least 2:00 (with extra child, who was also doing the same text at home).  Go over the week’s lesson and make sure exercises are understood.  Do any activities from the text.  Do a section of experiments from T&K set and talk about them.
  • Friday: give the chapter test.  And make sure to practice memory work through games throughout!

Some of my favorite activities included:

Element/Ion Bingo: this was at the very beginning of the year, when we needed the kids to learn the elements and their symbols.  I filled large bingo cards with all the most difficult symbols.  After a couple of weeks of that we changed to ion bingo so they could practice distinguishing sulfate and sulfide, etc.

The Doo-Wop board: this is a proprietary game from Friendly Chemistry that helps students understand the structure of the atom.  I found it quite helpful myself!  We would pick an element and fill the shells with electrons until we had it right.  (The electrons were white and chocolate chips, which made it a very popular game.)

 legochem

Lego chemistry: I found this to be a great help with stoichiometry (which is figuring out how much of what goes into a substance).  Get a large tub of plain Lego bricks, and assign each color an element.  We had fun making them appropriate, but you can’t do that with all of them.  Carbon = green, sulfur = yellow, calcium = white, etc.  We made tiny white bricks be hydrogen.  You can then build each molecule.  Build ions first and then attach them.  You can make this work pretty well for molarity, even.  It is a great way to visualize everything and work out the formulae if you’re finding it confusing. The main trouble with this activity, of course, is getting more distractible kids to pay attention to the molecules instead of the really great spaceships they’re building!

We did some really great chemical experiments too, such as producing hydrogen by mixing aluminum with sodium hydroxide (lye), burning various substances to see the colored flames (a good time to talk about fireworks!), and so on.  I wished for a lump of sodium to blow up, but I never got one.  Someday!  I videotaped one of our experiments, and here it is for you.

I also love popular bookPeriodic-Tales-Williams-Hugh-9780061824722s about chemistry. Here are some titles that you might enjoy; you can tell the stories as you teach, or you might have an older student who will like one.

This is a reprint of an article we ran in October 2013.

Janejane-emilyEmily homeschools two daughters in California.  She is a librarian who loves to quilt and embroider, and she’s a Bollywood addict.  Her favorite author is Diana Wynne Jones. She blogs about reading at Howling Frog Books.

Real Science 4 Kids, Focus on Middle School: Astronomy Review

Middle School Day

by Jen W.

Real Science 4 Kids (RS4K) is a wonderful science curriculum designed by a scientist and homeschool mom, Dr. Rebecca Keller. As of this writing, there are 5 complete subject areas to study in Elementary and Middle School levels: Biology, Astronomy, Geology, Physics and Chemistry. There is also a course in High School level Chemistry. Each book and corresponding lab book is designed to take a semester to complete. However, each book is presented in a  well organized fashion that makes them easy to beef up and extend for a full year, if desired. Homeschoolers following the four year science cycle of life science/earth science/physics/chemistry will find it easy to plug these books into their homeschool plans.

If you are starting science late or have recently pulled your child out of school and feel their science education has been lacking, then you will be glad to note that Gravitas Press offers several alternate sequences on their website (found under their FAQ). Homeschoolers may also appreciate the fact that the books seek to take a “neutral worldview” and specifically mention that some scientists disagree over scientific facts such as the age of the earth. Due to this fact, many parents will want to fill in the blanks a bit using other resources.

Middle School Astronomy (previously titled Astronomy Level One) is a book that appealed to me because astronomy is a subject that is often given the short shrift, considering its importance to science as a whole. The book first discusses what astronomy is, then expands its topics from earth to the moon and sun, to other planets and so forth until it investigates galaxies other than our own. The language is simple enough for middle school students, but the concepts are solid and complex. There are colorful pictures and diagrams that help keep students engaged. The labs are mostly easy to complete with household items, but truly help students grasp the concepts presented within the text. The lab book makes it easy for students to learn how to record their science experiments.

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Gravitas Press offers their own supplemental materials such as the “study folders,” which would particularly appeal to people using these books in co-op settings who are looking for engaging material that is easy to expand for multiple students. Downloadable quizzes and lectures via CD-ROM are also offered for this course, which can help a busy homeschool parent or co-op teacher. The “Kogs” workbooks are designed to help students make inter-disciplinary connections between science, history and other areas, which is something that might particularly appeal to parents with students with strong interests in other areas to help pique their interest in a subject less naturally appealing to them.

If you were to use this book along with Geology in order to study one year of Earth Science, then you would only need a basic science encyclopedia to fill in some blanks and expand the reading. Parents who wanted to use Middle School Astronomy for a full year’s worth of science would need to supplement a bit and can find a list of suggested resources at the end of the article.

Sample of Middle School Astronomy

FAQ on the Gravitas Press website

Dr. Keller discussing the issue of world view and her books.

Purchase the text and lab book here:

Focus on Middle School Astronomy Text

Focus on Astronomy Middle School Workbook

Focus on Astronomy Middle School Teacher Book

Suggested Additional Texts:

The Usborne Internet-Linked Science Enclyclopedia

Suggested resources for expanding the course into a year long course:

The Usborne Internet-Linked Science Enclyclopedia

Janice VanCleave’s Astronomy for Every Kid: 101 Easy Experiments that Really Work (Science for Every Kid Series)

How the Universe Works

Science in a Nutshell, Destination Moon

Science in a Nutshell, Planets and Stars

Helpful YouTube Channels:

NASA Spitzer (includes the series “Ask an Astronomer”)

NASA

National Geographic

PBS Astronomy videos

Ohio State University Department of Astronomy

Khan Academy

Audible books:

Don’t Know Much About the Universe: Everything You Need to Know About the Cosmos

iPad apps:

StarWalk

AstroAid

SolarWalk

Planets

List of NASA apps

Jen jen_wW.– Jen is born and bred Sooner who has spent twenty years following her military husband around the world. Jen started on her homeschooling journey when her eldest daughter learned to read at three years old, and she decided that she couldn’t screw up kindergarten that badly. That child is now a senior in high school, and they have both survived homeschooling throughout. Jen has two more children who are equally smart and have also homeschooled all along.

Pigby, Digby, and Chuck Learn About Matter, by Megan

Teaching Elementary Science

 

My eldest son is a science fiend. He devours all science books he can get his hands on. He loves to do science projects with my husband. He loves watching science videos, Bill Nye the Science Guy being his favorite.

This year for our science curriculum, we’re using REAL Science Odyssey Earth Science & Astronomy Level 1. I feel like it has the right balance of interesting, factual text and fun, hands-on projects. It also has worksheets for recording data, which makes my life easier.

This week, we did the Unit 2 lab #1 demonstration. Unit 2 is about the water cycle and for this lab we observed water molecules in their solid, liquid, and gas states.

We started off by taking a dry jar, making sure that it was dry by feeling it, then adding ice and water, drying off the outside, and letting it sit. We came back to the jar when we were done with the rest of the demo.

science-2

Next, we took some ice cubes and put them in the hot pot. Before we turned the hot pot on, we felt the ice cubes and Pigby recorded his observations on the accompanying worksheet. We did the same with a bowl of water and the water vapor in the air.

science-3

Next, we turned the hot pot on and watched the ice melt into water and then turn into steam. As the water heated, I pointed out the moving air bubbles and how the hotter the water got, the more they moved.  I said the same thing was happening with the water molecules; we just couldn’t see them individually.

science-4

science-5

Then we discussed how to get water vapor in the air to turn back into a solid. We did this by pouring the boiling water into a jar and then putting an upside-down lid filled with ice on top. They could see the steam fogging up the sides of the jar and then see the droplets fall back to the bottom.  I also lifted the lid and and showed them the condensation that had gathered on it.

science-6

Next, we compared the two jars. I wiped my fingers on the outside of the hot jar and showed them that my fingers were dry. Then I let them wipe the outside of the cold jar and they could see the water that had gathered. I asked if the water in the cold jar had leaked through the glass. Pigby said yes, but I again explained how condensation works.

And while Pigby finished writing his observations, I let the littler two put their mittens on and play in the ice in the cooler. This might have been their favorite part.

science-7

Some points I’d like to make: While the pictures show the little two patiently observing, I would like to make it known that keeping three and four-year-olds occupied is fairly difficult, even with an intriguing subject. The pictures don’t show them crawling over, under, and around the table! The pictures don’t show me telling them to back up before they burned their faces in the steam. They spent most of the time playing in the ice cooler and asking me questions both related and not related to the subject at hand. This is all normal and a little frustrating, but the thing to do is just go with it and redirect as you can. Playing in ice is more important for a three-year-old than trying to stay quiet and listen to explanations on molecules and condensation. Get them to participate as much as you can (mostly to keep them occupied and out of trouble) but don’t be surprised when they wander as much as they can.

Megan–Megan is mom to three children: Pigby (boy, age 7), Digby (boy, age 4), and Chuck megan(girl, age 2).  She loves history, ballroom dance, and crocheting.  She made the decision to homeschool when her oldest was three and they’ve been on this journey ever since.