Tag Archives: real science

Been on vacation…

…more or less. It was one of those “vacations” that you need a vacation to recover from!

We had three days of Outdoor School (ODS) last week.

I had never heard of Outdoor School until we moved here, so perhaps it’s a local phenomenon. Outdoor School is a program in the schools, a kind of school-camping for sixth graders.

We’ve been aware of several ODS programs for home educators in our region. We’ve had the privilege of participating in the W.I.S.E. Science program. W.I.S.E. stands for “Wisdom in Science Education.” Do you know where wisdom begins?

Here’s a link with more on the W.I.S.E. version of Outdoor School:
Outdoor School


Wisdom in Science Education

We’re just about finished with the Chemistry unit in our homeschool science class. Tonight was the unit review game, in a Jeopardy-like format where the students were divided into three teams and the parents cheered them all on.

One of the remarkable features of this class is that it is solidly based on Biblical principles. In our science explorations, we’re viewing Creation through the lens of Scripture. Part of the classtime and homework is devoted to Bible and character studies, and part is devoted to learning science, and the two go hand in hand.

Take chemistry, for example. The theme for the unit was “Ye are the salt of the earth.” We learned about all sorts of uses for and properties of salt (along with lots of other info, like memorizing the elements and their symbols, the order of the Periodic Table and properties of the different periods and groups, energy shells, ionization, atomic and molecular bonding, acid-base reactions, and more).

The “final Jeopardy” question asked the teams to name three properties of salt, and apply a spiritual analogy to each, and then to state how to “shine your light before all men.” The answers from all three teams were amazing, and showed that the students had learned a lot, both about the chemical properties of salt, and about the spiritual application of the lessons throughout the unit.

More about this later, if you’d like to hear more. (Just let me know in a comment.) It’s nearly midnight and I need to head off to bed. I’d been managing a regular bedtime, the past few days, but the coffee I drank tonight sort of threw me off.

Going to the birds!

We had a hummingbird in our butterfly bush! She (we’re pretty sure it was “she” as the colors were pretty dull, but we haven’t looked her up yet) was delicately drinking from the blossoms, and at a couple points actually perched to drink. We got lots of pictures and if I can just find the cable that connects the camera to the computer, I’ll post some pictures.

I didn’t know hummingbirds liked butterfly bushes!

A little later, Eldest saw a house finch. His head was really bright red. Beautiful. We may have to revive our running list of bird visitors. We had lots of bush tits and goldfinches earlier in the year (and the goldfinches stayed longer than I remember them staying, perhaps because of the long, cool, wet spring), and chickadees that we can still hear singing on occasion. There’s also a nesting pair of English Sparrows, and what beautiful songs we hear, even drowning out the robins’ songs that used to dominate our yard.

Thanks, Mrs. S., for making us so much more aware of the birds around us in your science class.

Make Way for Ducklings!

I am so grateful for the W.I.S.E. science class units where we studied birds. It has made us much more aware of the presence of birds in the world around us.

On our way back from the W.I.S.E. field trip to the aquarium last Friday (we’re studying sharks this term), we spotted a bald eagle, wheeling above the Interstate median. And then yesterday we saw a mother duck and her five or six babies (again, Interstate driving, so we didn’t exactly have the chance to take a good look).

This plucky mama was walking along the inner shoulder on her way to the river, her little ones following, while cars whizzed by at 40-50 mph only a few feet away. How in the world did they get to the inner shoulder, anyhow, without crossing three busy lanes? The girls hypothesized that she was a wood duck and had laid her eggs on a ledge under a  freeway overpass, perhaps.

We called it in as a traffic hazard. Can’t you just see someone slamming on their brakes and a line of cars behind them piling into each other?

We didn’t hear anything on the news, later, so hopefully Mama Duck got her brood safely to the river. I have no idea how, as the Interstate Bridge is so high above the river that people wanting to take their own lives jump off that bridge. However, in our studies of wood ducks a few months ago, we found out that the babies jump out of the nest to the ground within a day of hatching.

According to the All About Birds website, they can fall as much as 290 feet without injury! This is with little, stubby, down-covered wings, not the sort of thing a bird uses to fly!

So maybe they were able to jump off the high bridge into the river without any problems, after all. I hope so. They were awfully cute.

Wish I could post a photo of the mama and her babies making their way along the freeway shoulder but… we were one of those cars whizzing by at 40 mph in building rush-hour traffic…