Monday, August 21, 2006

Little scientists

We're not doing school at home, preschool or using a set curriculum or schedule. However, it's pretty easy to keep Holden and Camden happy. We do a little bit of everything from coloring, painting with Crayola watercolors, markers, and crayons, reading books from the library or that we own, cooking (AKA science ya know), watching movies, documentaries or cartoons on video/dvd or TV. Throughout the year we do a lot of outdoor exploring as well. We love to be outside in our area and way beyond our back yard. Maybe in a future post I'll highlight some of those places. We like to think BIG and by this I mean we use the whole world as our classroom. This includes people, places, and things. We never know where our open and curious minds will lead us.

Presently and over the past year one of Holden's biggest requests is, "Can we do an experiment...PLEASE?" Over the past year we have done at least 50 or more planned "experiments" we learned from library books, the internet, and at the Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines. Two photos are from a year ago when we did a volcano eruption experiment on our back deck. The other two photos were taken at the Science Center in Des Moines. We have a membership and try to go at least once a month or more. We have dozens of websites in our computer bookmarks we reference for ideas on what to do. Some are videos we watch on the computer as well. Here are a few sites we have enjoyed over the past year:
~Easy Fun School experiments
~Hunkin Experiments
~Steve Spangler Science: streaming videos
~Movies on how the body works

We've done the whoosh bottle, rubbed pennies with salt and vinegar, grown things from seeds, and talked about bugs, found bugs and snakes in our yard and done many other things I can't even remember. And he absolutely loves the Science Center. Every time we go there Holden notices something new and immerses himself in that one thing. Then he moves onto something else.

The past few times we have gone to the S.C. he spent at least half an hour alone at the water power station. It's a station with wheels powered by water. The wheels spin around by water falling onto it. There's four wheels and rubber blocks to be strategically placed to make the wheels spin faster by forcing more water to fall in a concentrated area of the stream. So different wheels can be placed in various areas of the stream below falling water. There's also a screen that shows how fast each wheel is spinning or in other words "whose wheel is going the fastest." There's so much to see at the Science Center and they change the exhibits every so often and they have "Kitchen Experiments" they do everyday as well as several other talks they give. Some we have been to: Zap2: Investigate the world of electrons and electricity for a hair-raising experience; Fire and Ice: “Fire and Ice” puts a whole new spin on states of matter at extreme temperatures. Join us for this amazing program where experiments are hot and chemistry is cool, and be prepared to have a blast; Inventors Inventing Inventive Inventions: A great play for all ages! Discover the keys to success when it comes to creating ingenious solutions to everyday problems.

The last two times we went to the Science Center the Titanic exhibit was going on as well as an Imax show called "Titanica." We went thru the exhibit and also participated in a sink or float experiment. One part of the experiment was making a very basic boat with tin foil and see how many marbles we could place in it before it would sink. Holden told me how he wanted the boat to look and how big. Ours held the most marbles. Now our favorite bath time question is "sink or float?" We use all sorts of small toys and try to guess.

During spring break 2006, the Science Center offered one hour classes for toddlers and parents. We had to pre-register and it cost money too. Some of the classes sounded very interesting: Butterflies, Earth Day, and how things grow were a few of the classes. Well I wanted to check them out so we signed Holden up for a few of the classes. He was so incredibly bored to tears!! The other kids seemed to like it but Holden could have cared less. It was very structred, controlled, and planned. He was one of at least 15 kids in the class. Cliff stayed with him the whole time. Camden got restless so lucky me, I left with Cam. Holden and Cliff didn't make it through the whole class either. Holden was not used to having to raise his hand to be called on. The teacher could only hear one kid at a time. He was not comfortable with a group setting. He is definately the type of kid who enjoys one on one or small groups. He was very frustrated with the classroom approach to learning and I doubt we'll try it again any time soon, if ever, unless he asks. I suppose he got a small taste of what school is like and Cliff and I got a reminder.

My kids are excited about learning. Learning happens all the time, planned or unplanned. I am not their teacher, I'm just their mom and learning facilitator. Not to mention, their dad and I are their biggest fans and supporters. Together we know we can learn anything and we know there are a lot of things they are learning when we are not looking or noticing. We're thrilled with our little scientists and the interesting places science will lead us on this awesome adventure! We know science is all around us; not just in classes I used to dread in public school. Science truly is "wherever WE find it or wherever IT finds us!!"

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