Saturday, May 11, 2013

Homeschool Stuff: Science Edition

Every time I sit down to write this post, I.....don't do it. I have no idea why. It may be because it requires pulling pictures off of my phone, and I hate doing that. But not for any particular reason. So anyway, if you're reading this, I actually managed to write the whole thing this time. Yay!

The thing about procrastinating is that I now have WAY MORE STUFF to write about than I did back when I first thought about writing it. We keep doing science-y things. So this is just a collection of resources we've enjoyed/things the kids have done/etc. 

1. Radiolab: We all love Radiolab. It's a radio show (but we have the app and listen to episodes from there, not actually on the radio); in each episode there's a theme and then a bunch of stories related to that theme. Like This American Life only science-y-er. Usually. Sometimes not very sciencey.  The website says, "Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.
" Doesn't that sound fun? It was in an episode of Radiolab--the one about Speed--that we learned about #2.

2. Pitch Drop Experiment: Radiolab told us about one of the longest running science experiments in the world:

The first Professor of Physics at the University of Queensland, Professor Thomas Parnell, began an experiment in 1927 to illustrate that everyday materials can exhibit quite surprising properties. The experiment demonstrates the fluidity and high viscosity of pitch, a derivative of tar once used for waterproofing boats. At room temperature pitch feels solid - even brittle - and can easily be shattered with a blow from a hammer. It's quite amazing then, to see that pitch at room temperature is actually fluid!
In 1927 Professor Parnell heated a sample of pitch and poured it into a glass funnel with a sealed stem. Three years were allowed for the pitch to settle, and in 1930 the sealed stem was cut. From that date on the pitch has slowly dripped out of the funnel - so slowly that now, 83 years later, the ninth drop is only just forming.

Okay, so they have this stuff, and once a decade or so another drop of it falls. Exciting! But it sort of is, because you can go watch the livecam on their website! And, if you're lucky, you'll be staring at it when the pitch drops, which everyone expects to be ANY DAY NOW! (This is why putting this entry off so long has been so dangerous. The pitch might drop while I'm typing). We check on the pitch a lot.

This guy has been watching the pitch for DECADES, but he's always missed seeing it drop. We're rooting for him this time.

3. Apple Pop Up Museum: We went here a few weeks ago. It was only open for the weekend, but now the website is saying it's going to be open again May 18 and June 8. So if you're anywhere near Roswell, Ga, you can go check it out. I'm not exactly sure what the deal is with it--I'm assuming they're hoping it will be a traveling exhibit in the future. We kind of stumbled across it on some homeschool list or other the day before it opened and decided to check it out.

We were impressed; it was really well done. The museum is all about the history of Apple, with different rooms explaining different aspects of/phases of its history. And then, once you got through the museum, there was a Vintage Computer Festival going on (I'm guessing that won't be happening for the additional dates), where people had displays of old computer stuff (hello Vic20! It's been so long!), there were speakers throughout the day, an ongoing soldering workshop that the kids did, could play really old video games, like Pitfall and Pong. Ari played Pitfall for a long time. 

Here are pictures:

 Dave explaining floppy disks



4. Ari and Lula's Presentation: Ari and his friend Lula (and some other kids) take a class on the history of science at our local homeschool center. For the final class next week, they had to come up with some kind of demonstration or experiment related to something they've studied this year. The experiment they decided on is pretty simple: basically, they set up a cup with a playing card and coin on top of it, then yank the playing card out. The coin falls in the cup, and that demonstrates inertia (Isaac Newton!)

But then they also wrote a script for themselves, explaining the experiment, and it's HILARIOUS. So I thought I would share (it's color coded; Ari says the parts in red and Lula says the parts in blue. Purple is for both):


Science is weird.
Inertia is science.
Inertia is weird.

Inertia was discovered by Isaac Newton. Inertia basically means that stuff likes to stay where it is and keeps going if it already is. Here, children, is an example.

(I'm guessing this is where they actually do the demonstration)

Why does that happen?


So, the coin's like, "I wanna stay here." And the creepy card's like, "I'mago, bye coin." And the coin's all, "Oh, wait. That's cool dude. I'll just stay right here." And then gravity's like "Come down and join the club." And the coin's like "Yeah, 'k. I'ma gonna go down now. B-bye card!" And then it like, goes down. Cause gravity. So, basically inertia made the coin stay there, and gravity made it go like, down. So, yeah. Inertia!

I think that this might demonstrate (even more clearly than in demonstrates inertia) that my kid (and Lula, too, apparently) cares more about humor than the history of science. But, hey, I'll take it. How often do you get to combine history, science, AND comedy writing?

So there you have it: a post many weeks in the making for some reason. 


  1. I am glad you got around to posting this because I am always trying to find new educational resources to bookmark for my beans! These sound outstanding! I sure hope he and you guys see it! I admire you for teaching your kids to love learning!!! Bravo!

    1. Thanks, Nicole :). Ari is the most likely to see the actual drop; he checks in a lot more compulsively than anyone else...hope it pays off for him!

  2. 1. So putting Radiolab on our curriculum tomorrow morning. Thanks for the resource.
    2. I am rooting for that guy. And we will be tuning in and checking that out tomorrow as well. (cause why do today, that you can perfectly well put off until tomorrow, right?)
    3. Wish we lived closer. We would SO go to this.
    4. Hahahaha... right now I can't decide what I love more. Inertia or that script.... ok I can: the script wins big time. Love it!!!

    1. Hope you guys enjoy radiolab....I need to download a bunch of episodes for the drive to Disney in a few weeks! And maybe the Apple museum will come to you eventually--it seems like an awful lot of work for just a few weekends, so I'm sure they're hoping to tour with it.

  3. Ha! I wish we had video of them doing this in class.

    1. I know, right?! I said the same thing to Ari. did you hear that only two other kids did presentations? Our kids win!

    2. All day, every day!


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