New Science Crush

Where does the carbon on Earth come from? How does it make its way into all of the diverse life forms on the planet? How does body size affect the properties of an animal? How does evolution work? How do the laws of physics govern life?

My son and I have been watching lots of YouTube science shows and lots of documentaries lately.  The most striking one for me has been a five episode series called “The Wonders of Life”.  It seamlessly blends biology and chemistry and physics into an easy to understand, beautiful package. I wish this had been around when I was in school!

It also introduced me to my new science crush, Brian Cox. Watching intelligent men being passionate about science is pretty awesome- Neil DeGrasse Tyson has been my science crush for awhile, lol.

We have been watching on Curiosity Stream and I found some other documentaries by Brian Cox to watch soon.

Orchid Mania

We visited the Cleveland Botanical Gardens on Friday along with several other homeschooling families. The gardens were having a special orchid event and I had never taken the kids there before. Seemed like a great idea.

The entry was filled with all different kinds of orchids.

These ones looked like snake fangs.

Inside the glass house, we were surrounded by butterflies and birds. And also people. Lots of people. I expected the gardens to be fairly empty at 1:00 on a Friday afternoon. It was not-it was bustling and a bit difficult to stand out of the way long enough to really watch the animals.

 As we moved into the desert area, space opened up. I really enjoyed seeing the spiny plants and desert animals. This part was a big winner with the kids too. The chameleons, tortoises and hedgehogs were highlights.



Overall, we really liked it there and are planning to go back when the weather warms up enough to go outside as well.

Staying up all Night to see the Planets

This year the sky offered up an opportunity to view 5 of our solar system’s planets in a line for a few weeks in late January/early February. The whole family stayed up late to try to see them all. At first, we weren’t sure what we were looking at, but we used an app on the iPad called Sky Guide to help us out. It was fantastic! We had clear skies and a full moon.We easily saw Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn. Mercury and Venus unfortunately hid out behind our neighbor’s house.

This was the alignment we found in an image online:

Beautiful full moon

The moon with relation to Jupiter (bright object toward upper left)

Jupiter by Virgo’s head with Mars below her feet

The kids easily stayed up all night. J and I needed naps, lol.

Photos from 2014-2015 part two

These guys are sprites that my son created in Gimp

Some Gimp editing, digital art, and in-game character design.

Hands on  stuff-cookie day, building stuff, pottery.

Art exploration-Escher, sand design candle holder, Tangrams,3-Doodler, Magic Sand

Trips- Akron Zoo show, Kalahari, Metroparks, Food Bank, Christmas party, Nursing Home, Art show, Pet store, New York vacation

Gem Store tour, sledding, Stan Hywet, Lake Erie NBTS Day

Cedar Point

More Kalahari

Great apps and books


One of a Kind Pets, Outdoors, Science, Tea Time

Art, Spelling, building, life lessons

K’Nex Frisbees

The kids and I tried out another one of the K’Nex building ideas…Frisbees! It had been awhile since we last used the K’Nex and we went through the same painful 5-10 minute learning curve again. After everyone remembered/figured out how to pick the sizes and shapes that would work for what they wanted, things got smoother. Each of us made three designs and then we took them outside to see how far each could be thrown. We took guesses as to which one would win the longest throw.

Based on our totally unscientific study including 1 throw each by whomever made it, the football shape won.

I tried to rally them into a few more throws to really test it out, but the neighbor came out and got chatty and we called it a day.

Back to the Rain Forest part 2

When we visited the Rain Forest at the Zoo, we bought a venus fly trap in the gift shop. The kids picked out a perfect spot for it when we got home and proceeded to try to “trick” it into eating dropped ants. While they were doing that, I pulled up some web pages about venus fly traps and discovered their ploy would probably not work.

The venus fly trap got moved to a sunnier location near other flowering plants after our reading. It also caught two new insects the first day. Unfortunately, it kept getting tipped over in rain storms and some of the stems broke off. Kind-of fortunately, the trap’s seal is broken after it detaches from the main plant, so we were able to peek inside to see what it had caught…a huge ant!

K’Nex Cars

I found some great free resources for K’Nex online and printed off a bunch of neat ideas and reference materials.
I grabbed a variety of challenge cards to try out with the kids and perhaps some of the other homeschoolers we know.

I got out our box of parts and began to tinker. Both kids joined in and my son began building a motorized car while my daughter worked on finding all the body parts for the people. There was a bit of trial and error involved, but my son taught me a few things about how the wheels worked with the other parts. He made a working car and it was fast! My daughter decided to make one too and see which could go faster. Hers included a seat for mini figures. Much trial and error and a bit of frustration came with her effort as well, but in the end she persevered and had a great working car! My son’s was faster. The kids are trying to figure out if it is because of the difference in tire size or weight or drag from the seat contraption. After they raced them successfully, they moved on to building ramps and obstacles.

Some of the worksheets are math related.

Some of the printouts were challenges with multiple levels.

I am looking forward to trying more things out.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

J. is leaving for a business trip to Vegas today. My daughter made him this card.

In the spirit of the day, the kids wore green and ate green frosted cupcakes.

We also did some easy science experiments from a kit we had around. I thought the rainbow crystals one was appropriate 🙂

Here they are a day later. The colors definitely mixed a bit.

We also “grew” polymer worms in a special solution.

Then we topped off our holidayness with a Brainpop movie about St. Patrick’s Day.

Everlasting Evergreen

One of our stocking stuffers was a plant called an everlasting evergreen. It comes packaged in a dried up ball and when you add water it unfurls over the course of a few hours to reveal green leaves. The papers that came with it said the plants are from the time of dinosaurs and can last up to 50 years in the dried up dormant state between times with water present. It was pretty neat to watch it open up.

Incredible Growing Gator


Sometimes a science kit is better when it doesn’t work as expected. That would be this time.

Our polymer gator was supposed to grow rapidly over the course of a few days. We estimated how big we thought it would grow and measured it at the beginning and then on days after that for about a week. Based on the growing orbs and crystals we have used before, we had guesses of 6″ and 8″. The little guy started out at 2 1/2″ and only grew to 4 1/2″.

Definitely under our expectations.

It did open up our discussion about the scientific method and how you do tests to see if your hypothesis is right.

We decided there was something wrong with his tail and that he might have hit one of our targets if he had worked properly.

We definitely did not get this:

We got this: