A Gallery of Science Photos

Art and Science Collide

A peek into what homeschooling science looks like.

Student Spotlight: Botany Studies Through Drawing, by Sydney

Art and Science Collide

My name is Sydney, and I live in the rural area of southeastern Ohio. In addition to my daily studies, I’m also involved in a local school of martial arts. I plan to finish high school this spring and join CollegePlus in the fall.

I’m the proud owner of two ponies and two dogs. My hobbies include my pets, sketching in my spare time, and reading books. Old books, sappy books, exciting books, historical books, mystery books; I love them all!

The Science of Color, by Apryl

Art and Science Collide


To understand color, first we must understand how we see it. Our eye is much like a camera. It contains a lens that focuses the light, an iris (aperture) that controls how much light is let into the eye through the pupil, and the retina (the film or the image sensor). The retina lines the inside of the eye and receives the light that comes in through the pupil. It is made up of photosensitive cells called rods and cones. The cones are the cells that allow us to see color. Cones vary in their response to light, with over half responding most strongly to red light, a third responding most strongly to green, and a very small percentage responding most strongly to blue.

When light enters the eye, the retina and its combination of photosensitive cells detect the light waves which vary in length depending on the color. Information that the cells detect is then passed through the optic nerve to the brain, where it is then perceived as color.

With only three different types of color receptors, you may wonder how we can see such a wide range of colors! When light enters the eye, it will stimulate different receptors at the same time. All the colors we see are simply combinations of three primary colors. For example, if you see magenta, then the lightwaves are stimulating red and blue receptors, but not green. When all of the cones are stimulated equally, we perceive white.

How do light waves mix to form colors? Light is made of waves of energy that are grouped together in a spectrum. Our eyes can only see a portion of the light spectrum. At the shorter end of the visible spectrum, the light waves are perceived as blue. At the longer end of the visible spectrum the light waves are perceived as red. Green is in the middle, and all other colors we perceive fall in between. Light waves that fall outside of the visible spectrum are not visible by the naked eye, but may become visible with aids such as night vision goggles or x-ray machines.

When mixing colored light, you are essentially starting with darkness, or the absence of light, and then adding in light that falls along the visible spectrum. For example, green light plus blue light gives you cyan. All three primary colors of light mixed together will give you white. This is called the additive color system, and this is how all image capture devices (such as cameras, video, etc.) handle color.

When creating artwork, it is important to know how the light spectrum works, and how the additive color system used in controlling light color differs from the subtractive color system that is used in mixing pigments for paint and ink.

Objects, photographs, and artwork all express color by absorbing some light wavelengths and reflecting back others. For example, a white sheet of paper appears white because it is reflecting back the entire visible spectrum of light waves. A sheet of black paper appears black because it is absorbing the entire spectrum. To illustrate the example further, picture a white sheet of paper. It is currently reflecting back all the light waves. When you add a circle of cyan paint, it subtracts the cyan light wave from what it is reflecting back to you, essentially absorbing the cyan light wave. The eye perceives this and interprets it as a cyan colored dot. If you layer a yellow dot directly over the cyan dot, it is subtracting cyan and yellow from the light waves that are reflected, and your eye perceives green. In theory, overlaying the three primary pigments cyan, yellow and magenta would absorb the entire spectrum of light waves and you would perceive black.

Often, when mixing paints, the colors are not pure and the results are muddy. This is why when mixing paints or inks, pure pigments are needed to get accurate results. Also, since light itself is color, your light source will change how different paints and inks are perceived.

Try your hand at mixing colors in this virtual color mixing lab:  http://sciencenetlinks.com/tools/mixing-primary-colors/

Here is a beautifully designed App from the Exploratorium called Color Uncovered  https://www.exploratorium.edu/explore/apps/color-uncovered


O’Haver, T. (2001, January). In Living Color. Retrieved February 19, 2014, from Inform.umd: http://www.inform.umd.edu/MCTP/Courses/ColorLesson/

Pappas, S. (2010, April 29). How Do We See in Color. Retrieved February 19, 2014, from livescience: http://www.livescience.com/32559-why-do-we-see-in-color.html

unknown. (n.d.). Understanding Color. Retrieved from RGB World: http://www.rgbworld.com/color.html

Apryl–Born and raised in Tennessee, Apryl is a southern girl at heart.  She lives out in the country aprylwith her husband and her three daughters. After having an unfulfilling public school education herself, and struggling to find peace with the education her girls were receiving in the public school system, she made the choice to homeschool.  When they began their homeschool journey, the girls were in the third and sixth grades.  Now she is happily coaching three teenaged daughters through their high school years.

Ten Great FREE Science Apps! by Apryl

Homeschooling With Technology


Technology is changing and allowing educational opportunities like never before. The world is literally at our fingertips! If you are able, a great way to learn through this technology is through the use of apps on a tablet.

Below I have collected some of my favorite FREE science apps for the iPad. Some of them may also be available for Android based tablets. None of these apps require purchase for use. The final app does offer more to play with for a purchase, but it is worthwhile in the free mode as well.

Many, many more apps are available; you just have to take the time to search them out.

1.  WWF Together app (FREE)


This is a beautiful app that explores the life and habitat of several different animals in an interactive format. While it’s clear this is a plea for donations, it is still an app worth downloading.

2.  Hopscotch Coding (FREE)


This is a fun, colorful app that introduces children to coding. As a bonus, teachers can sign up for an email newsletter about teaching with Hopscotch. And they have a blog!

3.  Shout! Science (FREE)


This pretty little app offers up three scientist biographies in an interactive format. Learn about Anton Van Leeuwenhoek & Microbes, Maria Sibylla Merian & the Lives of Insects, and James Hutton & the Theory of the Earth!

Biointeractive has several apps that are great for high school science:

4.  Bacterical ID Virtual Lab (FREE)


Learn how scientists obtain DNA sequences from bacteria to identify them. Also find a very interesting virtual lab with a lot of information.

5.  Click and Learn (FREE)


This app is a hidden gem with over 40 presentations on Geology and Biology. The presentations are well done, interactive, and include teaching notes.

6.  Earth Viewer (FREE)


This app is an interactive globe that allows students to explore geographic time periods and the changes of the earth.

7.  American Museum of Natural History Apps (FREE)


AMNH offers several beautiful apps for topics ranging from Space to Dinosaurs!

8.  NASA apps (FREE)


NASA offers a full page of various apps covering aeronautical and space topics.

9.  ROBOTS app (FREE)


This is a very cool app that allows to you explore videos, and interact with and view photos of over 151 robots.  You can also learn how to get started in robotics.

10.  Nuclear (FREE)


This app allows you to manipulate atoms to form elements.  The first 54 elements are free.

BONUS! Elements 4D (FREE)


Part educational story and part game, the Elements 4D app offers a new, fun way to experience augmented reality and learn about real-life chemistry.

AprylaprylBorn and raised in Tennessee, Apryl is a southern girl at heart.  She lives out in the country with her husband and her three daughters. After having an unfulfilling public school education herself, and struggling to find peace with the education her girls were receiving in the public school system, she made the choice to homeschool.  When they began their homeschool journey, the girls were in the third and sixth grades.  Now she is happily coaching three teenaged daughters through their high school years.

Grasslands: The First Stop on Our Biomes Tour, by Cheryl

Teaching Science at Home


We chose to start with the grasslands of the world because we live in a grassland. We could walk outside and see what we were studying and our local zoo is filled with grassland animals. Our method was to read books, go to the zoo, and make a lap book of what we learned.


First, the books. I picked up all of the books at our local library. Links to the books are provided, but numerous good books exist on this topic; if you wish to do your own biome study start with your own library and see what they have!

A Grassland Habitat by Bobbie Kalman (Perfect introductory book to get us started.)

Here Is the African Savanna by Madeleine Dunphy (This was my daughter’s favorite! It is a fun poem with good information about the animals and plants in the poem.)

Out on the Prairie by Donna M. Bateman (Another favorite at out house.)

Grasslands by Susan H. Gray (I was able to pull copywork for my son from this book! Lots of fun facts! This is also part of a series. Sadly, our library is selling them off, but I have grabbed some from the sale shelf!)

Temperate Grasslands by Ben Hoare (Part of a Series on Biomes carried by our library. It made a great intro to our topic and we will use the series, when available, for the rest of the study. Each book has great maps that mark all the biomes of the world!)

One Day in the Prairie by Jean Craighead George (This book tells the story of a boy taking pictures on the prairie as a storm comes in. It describes the animal activity on the prairie throughout the day. It was a fun read!)

An American Safari by Jim Brankdenburg ( Beautiful pictures of the American Prairie!)

I compiled a list of world grasslands, animals and plants inhabiting those grasslands, and general vocabulary we encountered on our study. Unless otherwise noted, we encountered all of these words in the books we read. Most were well-defined in the books; we did look a few up in the dictionary.

Animals of the Grasslands


African Savanna and the Velds: Tick Bird (Yellow Billed Oxpecker), Hippopotamus, Zebra, Baboon, Lion, African Elephant, Giraffe, Impala, Cheetah, Gazelle

North American Prairie: Bald Eagle, Prairie Dog, Pronghorn, Ground Squirrel, Mouse, Rattlesnake, Coyote, Butterfly, Canadian Geese, Badger, Fox Rabbit, Hawk, Ferret, Bobcat, Deer, Bison, Grasshopper, Great Plains Toad, Howdy Owl, Meadowlark, Sharp-Tailed Grouse, Sparrows

Australian  Rangeland: Kangaroo, Dingo, Sheep

Steppes of Europe and Asia: Lynx, Eurasian Otter, Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros, Przewalski’s Horse

Pampas and Llanos of South America: Anteater, Jaguar, Puma


There are over 9000 types of grasses growing the world! There are 200 in North America alone. Here are a few of the grasses we came across: Grama Grasses, Wheat Grass, Locoweed, Tumble Grass, Puffsheath Grass, Weeping Love Grass, Windmill grass, Big Blue Stem, Buffalo Grass. Other plants we encountered in out reading: Purple Coneflower (snakeroot), Clover, Primrose, Yucca Plants (soap weed), Bluebonnets, and Paintbrush.


Tall Grass Prairie, Short Grass Prairie, Mixed Grass Prairie, Crepuscular, Nocturnal, Diurnal (we looked this up after we learned Crepuscular and Nocturnal, we wanted to know what animals who were active in the daytime were called!), Migration, Hibernation, Aestivation, Semiarid, Herbavore, Carnivore, Omnivore, Photosynthesis, Sod, Decompose, Nutrients, Humus, Festoon and Biotic.

Fun Fact: Cheetahs are the fastest land animal, and Pronghorns are the fastest land animal in North America!


I created a few lapbook entries for the basics of photosynthesis, animal behavior, as well as the plants and animals of the world’s grasslands. We also used a blank map to color and label all the grasslands.


Coverpage, Animals Pt1, Animals Pt2, Plants, Map, “Circle of Life,” Animal Behavior (time), Animal Behavior (Diet)

Next time: Deserts!

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.

Science and History: Hand in Hand, by Lynne

Teaching Science at Home


I am a history nerd. I’ve always enjoyed history classes, historical fiction, and historical documentaries. I never considered myself a science nerd, though. As I’ve said before, The Well Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer changed my life. Of course, I knew that science and history did not happen independently of one another. And, of course, I knew that history influenced and inspired scientific discovery. I also knew that certain events in history often discouraged scientific advancement, such as when Mongol invaders destroyed libraries and universities during their rampages. What I didn’t know until using the four year history and science cycle described in the book was how much sense the history of science would make when studying science in conjunction with history.

“We divide the four years of science into subjects that roughly correspond to the history periods. First graders, who are studying the ancients, learn about those things the ancients could see — animal life, the human body, and plants. . . Second graders collect facts about the earth and sky, a division designed to go along with the medieval-early Renaissance period, when Copernicus and Tycho Brahe observed the heavens.”  (The Well-Trained Mind pp. 157- 158.  2009. W. W. Norton & Co.) The book goes on to describe how third graders learn about chemistry while learning about great chemists of the early modern period, like Robert Boyle. Fourth graders learn about physics and technology while they are studying the history of the modern age and all its exciting scientific and technological developments.

These cycles of history and science together are then repeated again in the logic and rhetoric stages, building on the facts learned during the grammar stage.

Before we started homeschooling, I had been afterschooling my kids in history by having us all listen to The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer in the car as we drove all around.  My younger son was in Kindergarten at the time, and my older son was in first grade — the year students study ancient history. The next year we were homeschooling full time, so I decided to move ahead with history and study the medieval period. Therefore, we didn’t do life sciences the first time around in our four year cycle. We went straight into earth science and astronomy.

I was amazed by the resources my public library had on these topics, so I didn’t even purchase a curriculum for science that year. We read dozens of library books about weather, geology, the solar system, etc. We also did experiments from Janice Van Cleave’s 201 Awesome, Magical, Bizarre & Incredible ExperimentsWe made a rain gauge and kept weather journals. We went to the planetarium and learned about the constellations. We searched for different kinds of rocks and labeled them.  We even put together our own models of the solar system. As we learned about the rotation of the planets in science, we were learning in history class about Hans Lippershey inventing the telescope and Galileo being excommunicated for his radical scientific views.  How cool is that?


In our second year of homeschooling, we were studying chemistry in science and the early modern era in history. Now, you could not have prepared me for the enthusiasm my older son would have for chemistry! I was not a fan of chemistry in high school, so I never imagined that my kids could like it so much.  I purchased this beautiful deck of element cards, and my older son would sit with them, and pour over them, and read information from them to me. We even used them to build a giant periodic table on our sunroom floor. In addition to the Janice van Cleave experiment book, we also used Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry Pre-Level I. This book was a great introduction to basic concepts in Chemistry, and my kids really liked how atoms were drawn with arms to show how they linked to other atoms to form molecules. The atoms were drawn with the same number of arms as they had available spaces in their outer electron shell. Such an easy way for elementary kids to understand the concept of how atoms could join with other atoms! There were numerous advancements in science during the early modern period, and it was interesting to see how the advancements in science instigated changes in world politics and history. The study of chemistry and physical properties of matter were at the heart of these advancements.


Our third year of homeschooling corresponded to the fourth year of the history/science cycle- the Modern Age. This year, we used Real Science for Kids Physics Level I.  We also used the corresponding lab book.  I liked how the lab book had students conduct their experiments by using the scientific method. We learned about electricity and simple machines. The kids took a class at the Metroparks about how light and sound waves work.  We learned that there was such a thing as nuclear physics. We had interesting conversations about the historical implications of nuclear physics, such as the devastation caused by atom bombs, and (an event my kids remember) the damage caused by earthquakes to the nuclear reactors in Japan. We also had some laughs when a physics discussion would be prompted by a family TV night watching The Big Bang Theory.

This year, we are in the Logic Stage and have gone back to the first year of our cycle. We are studying Biology, using Pandia Press R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Biology 2. This is a fascinating book, with lots of hands on experiments and many chances to look at things under a microscope. We are also taking a second look at ancient history.  So much was happening in life sciences during the ancient times.  Egyptians were mummifying bodies, Hippocrates was busy establishing the study of medicine in Greece, and people in India were busy working on a classification system.

Obviously, during all periods of history, all kinds of science was happening in all sorts of areas. The study of chemistry wasn’t limited to the early modern period any more than astronomy was limited to medieval times. People have studied the world around them since the dawn of time. You can’t have biology or physics without chemistry. It’s all interconnected. So, even though this four year cycle breaks down the different disciplines of science to correspond with different eras in history, it doesn’t limit us to these four designations. If you are studying modern times, you are going to learn about the newest discoveries of the latest satellite or Mars Rover, right along with your physics lessons. The four year cycle just provides a consistent backbone to pursue historical AND scientific scholarship simultaneously. When my kids had to temporarily go back to public school this fall, giving up this four year cycle was, honestly, the biggest regret I had concerning their academics.  I am relieved we get to continue on this path, and so are the kids.

Lynne–Lynne has enjoyed homeschooling her two sons for the past three years, after their brief lynnestint in the local public school.  Her older son is a humorous fellow with high functioning autism who thrives in a home education environment.  Her younger son is a sensitive soul with a great deal of patience. The boys, Mom, and Dad, along with the two guinea pigs, live in Northeast Ohio.  Lynne holds a Master’s Degree in French Language and Literature.  She is also a Harry Potter fanatic, enjoys line dancing and Zumba, spends hours scrapbooking, and loves organic vegetables.  You can visit her soon-to-be revitalized blog at www.daysofwonderhomeschool.blogspot.com.

Science At Our House: Elementary Through Graduation, by Apryl

Teaching Science at Home


As a family, we tend to really enjoy science. We watch science documentaries. We love shows like How It’s Made and MythBusters. We get excited about trips to science museums. Our dinner time is often filled with discussions about science and technology. So what does science in our homeschool look like?


Over the years, my methods for teaching science have shifted according to the needs of my children. During the elementary school years, our studies were very relaxed and exploration based. We watched the Science Channel and checked out books by the basketful from the science section at the library. The girls did some notebooking and we also did a lot of hands-on projects. We picked up a curriculum occasionally, but usually drifted back into the informal science we loved.


As we moved into the middle school years, we started using more formal curriculum. I was enticed by a textbook science program for my oldest, but looking back, I think it was too soon and too dry. We limped through science in middle school for her, but by the time the younger two hit that age I had a better idea of what we needed for science. For them we chose more historical science texts like the Joy of Science series, did some hands on experiments, and filled the last year with Rainbow Science with labs. We also did many of the labs with a fellow homeschooler.


High school science has presented us with a lot of choices and opportunities.  My oldest was able to spend a year working on a Anatomy and Physiology course that I put together myself. She also studied Biology at home, and is currently working through Chemistry while doing labs with another homeschool family. And while this isn’t typical, she has spent several years volunteering at a raptor rescue center learning about the science of veterinary care for birds through hands-on experience. My younger two are taking Biology I at co-op. This has been a great experience for them, and has pushed their abilities. Their teacher is a former Biology professor and hasn’t taken it easy on them! They have also benefited from learning to take notes from her lectures and forming study groups.

I am not sure what next year will bring for our family in the subject of science, but here are our tentative plans: My oldest, who will be a senior, technically doesn’t need another science credit for graduation but is thinking about taking Astronomy.  She will be taking a portion of her classes at the community college as a dual credit student, so her science choice may change. One of my soon-to-be 10th graders is planning on taking Astronomy next year as well, and we will make sure there are plenty of labs to make it credit worthy.  My other 10th grader is planning on taking a high school Forensic Science course next year at co-op. She is extremely interested in the field and I think this will be a good intro for her.

The nice thing I have discovered about high school science at home is the opportunity you have to tailor it to the interests of your child.  Think beyond the typical high school science classes and explore what is out there in the field. Give your child the opportunity to specialize in a branch of science if she has a passion for it. Explore the options in your community for your child; you may be surprised at what is available. Seek out volunteer opportunities and mentors. This will take some leg work (and in my case a lot of driving) but the rewards are worth it.

Apryl–Born and raised in Tennessee, Apryl is a southern girl at heart.  She lives out in the aprylcountry with her husband and her three daughters. After having an unfulfilling public school education herself, and struggling to find peace with the education her girls were receiving in the public school system, she made the choice to homeschool.  When they began their homeschool journey, the girls were in the third and sixth grades.  Now she is happily coaching three teenaged daughters through their high school years.