Thursday, September 1, 2011

They're Blinding Me with Science

My house is full of science experiments. Mindie has taken over the pseudo-foyer (a weird dimple off the living room that is in no way separated from that room except by shape) for a plant experiment. She has document boxes with shop lights clamped to them, each sporting a different 85 watt colored halogen bulb. Inside the boxes are zipper bags with wet paper towels and peas. The basic point of this experiment is "How will the color of the light affect the germination and growth of seeds?" She didn't want to use peas; she wanted pumpkin seeds because pumpkins are just way cooler. Unfortunately, she's public school and this experiment is on a deadline of 14 days. Pumpkin seeds can take that long to begin germinating. So she's using peas which germinate in about 7 days.

Nearby is the beginning of Shannen's science experiment. Hubby wants us more structured in science; I want us unschooling. Our compromise was to look at the objectives for the year in science and let Shannen figure out how she wanted to meet them. Ecosystems was a major theme in the objectives and Shan thought it would be great to design one of her own. She's scrubbed out a 10-gallon aquarium (we have tons of the things) and is researching to figure out how to build an ecosystem. She's off to a great start but doesn't want to put it all together and fill it with plants and critters until she's pretty certain of what she's doing. Luckily we're homeschool and her deadline is "When you're ready."

Meanwhile, an assortment of other less-formal science tools and toys are sitting around the house. A rubber band gun is handy to demonstrate principles of physics (and inflict pain on siblings). Sugar water is forming crystals on a string in a corner of the kitchen. A bowl full of mineral and rock samples rests in a prominent place in the living room for anyone that wants to observe properties of minerals (or just fool around with pretty rocks). The telescope is set up and a pair of binoculars hangs nearby along with a couple of constellation and star identification guides. They've recently been used to observe an annual meteor shower. They'll be used again in November to observe "Mindie's meteor shower" (the Leonids usually peak on Mindie's birthday and she has adopted them as a right and fitting tribute to her birth from the heavens). In between whenever anybody is interested in the night sky they're welcome to head out and star watch. And many, many more.

My kids have never seemed all that excited about science classes at school. They're interested enough in "real" science but reading science textbooks or listening to endless lectures or filling out vocabulary worksheets has pretty much dulled any enthusiasm for the sciences. It's nice to see a home alive with science.

1 comment:

  1. Yay for Science! It is definitely more interesting hands on.