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Science and children
Posted: 20 February 2009 05:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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BTW, my son just told me that everybody in his classroom wants to become an archeologist now.

Isn’t it impressive how responsive kids are to real education? It’s a wonder that they learn anything in the atmosphere of the classroom. (I’m not denigrating teachers here—if you dumped 20 or 30 kids in my lap and said “Educate these!”, I know I couldn’t come up with anything better.)

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Posted: 20 February 2009 07:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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George - 20 February 2009 05:53 PM

BTW, my son just told me that everybody in his classroom wants to become an archeologist now. Call me Carl Sagan! grin

That is too cool, Dr. Sagan!

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El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

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Posted: 20 February 2009 07:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Lots of great info in this thread. Thanks Dan and Chris!

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El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

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Posted: 20 February 2009 08:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Love the link! Thanks a lot!

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Church; where sheep congregate to worship a zombie on a stick that turns into a cracker on Sundays…

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Posted: 21 February 2009 10:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Some Ideas for making science fun for kids.

Biology: it is simple to show some basics things about ecosystems while taking a hike or visiting a wetlands. Look for various interactions between species. Look for trophic layers. Explain why the environment selects for certain organism and not others. Get a taxonomic guide and try identifying some plants, often some pretty interesting plants can be found on hikes.

Chemistry: Only awesome explosive type chemistry will be fun for kids obviously you should do it with them standing back if need be! LOL  Make a concentrated solution of sodium acetate and drop a few chrystals in, it will instantly turn your liquid into a solid mass of sodium acetate.  To make sodium acetate just mix some white vinegar with baking soda and then reduce the solution on the stove. Make one concentrated solution and do a second batch to get crystals.

If you really did want to do some explosive chemistry without getting anyone hurt ... Sugar has a lot of energy trapped inside but it doesn’t burn very well under normal conditions. To release that energy all at once use the oxidizing agent potassium chlorate which can be found at hardware stores under the name solidox. Simply mix the sugar and solidox together and you will create a substance that will burn through a steel plate if you have enough sugar. Mix a one to one ratio of powdered sugar and powdered solidox, you may need to grind it with a pestle and mortar. The solidox is dangerous so use gloves and don’t breath in the powder. Once they have been mixed you have something more powerful than gasoline so avoid sparks, friction and flames. I would suggest not mixing them until right before you light them. If you really want to make it impressive find some old steel and light the mixture on top of it. (never tell them how you did it) This is a good way to explain calories too.

Physics: Their are tons of fun physics experiments out their. You can buy a kit to build an electric motor for under ten dollars. You can explain resonance by turning a speaker on its side, placing a thin peace of platic or wood on top and then puting sand on top of that. Then by playing the right frequency of sound you can create standing waves in the sand. You could create Rube Goldberg machines and then try to explain the forces.

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Posted: 22 February 2009 08:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Hmm, I could try to turn one of my son’s birthday party into a science fair. I could dress up as a crazy scientist and have the kids guessing the outcome of some chemistry experiments. (As long as I don’t have to guess what happens when I mix A with B, this could be a lot of fun. grin)  Thanks, Dan.

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Posted: 22 February 2009 02:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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George - 22 February 2009 08:52 AM

Hmm, I could try to turn one of my son’s birthday party into a science fair. I could dress up as a crazy scientist and have the kids guessing the outcome of some chemistry experiments. (As long as I don’t have to guess what happens when I mix A with B, this could be a lot of fun. grin)  Thanks, Dan.

George, there is a lady in the New York area well known for doing children’s “Mad Science Birthday Parties.” She did a party for friends of ours, and it was a big hit. But it was nothing that could not be recreated at home - minus the $300 party fee… Just put on a lab coat and silly glasses to make the kids giggle. A few of the things she did with the kids were:

- Face painting with “invisible paint” in basic shapes of stars, hearts, etc. She turned the lights off, and turned on a black light, and all the kindergartners faces glowed, much to their delight. Then she explained how the blacklight works.
- Kids got to mix their own glow in the dark ikky sticky goop that changed from liquid to solid as they mixed it. The kids learned about solids and liquids.
- Punch was served with dry ice, making “fog” and the kids were taught about gases.
- The big finale was a toy rocket launch in the backyard. The birthday boy got to press the launch button, to the jealous ooo’s and ahhh’s of his little friends.

There were a few other neat tricks she did, but I don’t recall them all as it was almost 3 years ago. Hey, with a couple of practice runs, you could put yourself out for hire and charge the $300 party fee yourself!

On another note, the same family had a “Paleontology Party” for their son the next year. The local museum director did the parties for hire, and brought plaster casts of fossils, like a giant skeletal foot with raptor claws, a giant thigh bone, dino eggs, etc. The funniest one was a giant cast of “dino poop” which had the kids giggling hysterically. “That’s a big poop!” Her talk was very informative and filled with lots of “scary dino stories” and roaring and fun. Then she brought a plastic kiddie pool, filled with sand and a dozen plastic shovels and paintbrushes, in the back of her SUV. She had hidden within it old shark’s teeth, seashells and trilobites. The birthday party kids got to dig for their “own real fossils” with brushes and it was so very cute. The birthday cake had red icing volcanoes and plastic dinos on it. Adorable. All the kids were thrilled, especially taking home their plastic sandwich bag with “real fossils” from their sand dig, and a toy plastic dino keepsake.

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Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.    - Lex Luthor

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Posted: 22 February 2009 03:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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BTW, those shark teeth, sea shells, and trilobites were probably real. They pick those up by the thousands.

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Posted: 22 February 2009 03:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Chris Crawford - 22 February 2009 03:20 PM

BTW, those shark teeth, sea shells, and trilobites were probably real. They pick those up by the thousands.

Oh I’m sure they get them by the truckloads! Sorry, my emphasis on “real fossils” being in quotes was trying to mimic the kids stating repeatedly “We’ve got real fossils! They’re REAL!” It was very, very cute how amazed the kids were.

smile

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Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.    - Lex Luthor

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Posted: 22 February 2009 07:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Chris, and others with kids;  this is fabulous - just the way kids should learn.  Well done!

Can I refer you to something that might be of both interest and use to you and your kids: The International Education and Resource Network (IEARN): iEARN is the world’s largest non-profit global network that enables teachers and youth to use the Internet and other technologies to collaborate on projects that enhance learning and make a difference in the world.  (A few of us began the IEARN system in 1988 using old BBS systems and linking them together - the first project was between the NYS Education Department and the Moscow School System.  I stress that the projects are not impinged on kids, but chosen and designed by them.  There are no age restrictions.  We hoped when we started this system that kids would learn to work and talk together across national borders and, therefore, not kill each other as adults.) 

See: http://www.iearn.org/

You, Your kids and their teachers can use this system to work together across the world with other teachers and students on projects of their choosing.  In their 2002/2003 Project Description Book (in PDF Format), in the section, Science, Environment, Math, Technology….................................61, there are two examples of collaborative projects which might be of interest:
Dinosaurs Project…...........................................................................................................................65
Students will gather, organize and share information about the discovery of dinosaur fossils in their country.
If Rocks Could Talk…What Would They Tell Us?..............................................................................67
Students collect and analyze different types of rocks in their community.

Collaborative learning among students across the world, particularly where such things as fossils, rock samples, and individual local studies involving these items can be shared, can really enhance their learning process.

For example, it would probably be possible through IEARN to create links with school kids in or near Barberton, South Africa, where some of the oldest rocks and fossils in the world are found (http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=35970) and a collaborative project might be organized (these projects sometimes also include shared site/dig visits for kids and teachers and parents).  Other countries and their kids could also join in:

See Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barberton,_South_Africa  “History: Prehistoric: The Barberton Mountain Range, 2001 image from NASA’s Landsat 7 satellite.  The mountains around Barberton are the oldest in the world dating back 3.5 Billion years, and these mountains include some of the oldest exposed rocks on the planet (only rocks from the Isua greenstone belt in Western Greenland are older). These volcanic rocks, which scientists call the Barberton Greenstone Belt, have given up direct evidence of conditions of life on the surface of the very early earth.

“In the satellite image, the bare rocks of mountain peaks appear as a pale gray-green, accentuated by the sharp relief of sunlit slopes and their shadows. Deeper shades of green indicate vegetation, including some vegetation on the lower slopes. In the mountain valleys, bright green areas suggest well-watered grassy areas and crops. Deeper green areas are probably forests. The series of bright green circles north of the town of Barberton result from center-pivot irrigation systems. The area north and west of Barberton appears slightly pale and fuzzy compared to the rest of this image, probably the result of low-lying haze. [1]

“The first form of life on earth, a bacterial micro fossil Archaeospheroides barbertonis was discovered here and has been identified as being 3.2 billion years old.”

Barberton Schools (South Africa does not have Middle Schools):

High Schools
Barberton High School
Emjindini High School
Lowveld High School
Uplands College

Primary Schools
Barberton Primary School (includes elementary classes)

A cousin of mine is an exploration geologist (he lives in South Africa) and he used to work for one of the American companies mining copper in the Porphery Mines - his last big study was looking for uranium in the Kalahari Desert.  He might be persuaded to help if an IEARN project on rock sample and fossil sharing between kids could be worked out.

Anyway, well done, and if I can help with this just let me know.

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Posted: 23 February 2009 07:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Those are some great ideas, Jules. Thanks!

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Posted: 19 October 2009 09:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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I was asked if I wanted my children to participate in a study being done by the McMaster University examining the benefits of musical training (they play piano) on their cognitive abilities (e.g. memory, language skills, memory, etc.). This is a topic that interests me greatly but I am not sure if I really want to have my kids tested for their I.Q.  hmmm

Would you do it?

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Posted: 19 October 2009 09:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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It depends.  If the study appears of value, why not?  However, if you feel that information would bias you or your kids, you could tell the investigators that you don’t want to know the IQ test results.  And definitely the kids shouldn’t know, at least until they’re adults.  That’s to prevent comments like, “Ha, I’m smarter than my brother (or my friend or classmate) because my IQ is five points higher.” 

There were seven of us who were close in middle school.  We were interested in science, math, politics, etc.  We were all given IQ tests in the eighth grade.  Although the school thought they kept that data confidential, they were no match for bright kids, even pre-computer.  We figured out where the data was and learned our IQs.  One friend who, I felt was as bright as I was, had just come down with a cold which was turning into pneumonia which would have him out of school for six weeks.  He took the test his last day before his absence.  When we learned the data his was 106 while the rest of us were thirty to sixty points above that.  Four of us became scientists, one a judge, one a multilingual translator, and one a TV repair man.  I believe that if he had not been discouraged by thinking his IQ was only average, he would have done just as well as the rest of us.

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Posted: 19 October 2009 10:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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I guess I could ask them not to tell me how my kids did…

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Posted: 19 October 2009 11:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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I can’t see that being tested for IQ is a bad thing, as long as a big fuss isn’t made about it or the results. I had to take an IQ test at 8 years old to get permission to go to school outside the district I lived in (which had a really scary school in it!), and while my grandmother slipped and told me the number, I told remember it meaning much to me or affecting me. It’s easy enough I suppose to just avoid knowing the result if you’re concerned, but I can’t imagine you’d really feel differently about your kids or treat them especially differently based on something like that.

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