Saturday, August 27, 2011

Anatomy, Plate Tectonics, Walking Stick and Thank-You Notes

It's been a wild week here on the top of the hill. On Sunday, Noor's birthday party was relocated to the indoor swimming pool at the hotel grandma was staying at, due to torrential storms. On Tuesday, Noor's birthday, we were treated to a rare 5.8 earthquake, and now we're awaiting hurricane Irene.

The kids didn't get to go fishing, they got to be fish instead!

Noor got this cool human body puzzle

And she finally found a walking stick

Halfway done writing thank-you notes

After the earthquake, we looked at lots of diagrams of the Earth's plates and talked about the different kind of plate boundaries.  To illustrate what happens when two plates collide and/or shift, we used a pan of pudding covered in crumbled cookies to model the flexibility of the Earth's mantle and crust:

Noor used two spatulas to replicate moving is hard to see, but the pudding (mantle) made the crust shift causing "mountains" and valleys"

Monday, August 22, 2011

Drawing with Feeling

Daniel, Noor's art mentor, suggested that Noor try drawing on the largest sheet of paper she could find and acting out the emotions of her subjects while working.

Having a cutting table in the basement studio, meant Noor got to work with a very large sheet of paper!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tuliptree Silkmoth Caterpillar

Ari found this guy on the ground outside and showed it to Noor

We went back and forth trying to identify it. On the one hand, it looks a lot like a tomato or tobacco hawkmoth, but it is missing the tell-tale diagonal white markings.  We decided it was a silk moth caterpillar, but weren't sure exactly what kind. We finally settled on a Callosamia angulifera, a Tuliptree silkmoth (it was found under a tulip poplar).  Noor posted it on BAMONA, and they just verified it!  It has already started spinning its cocoon.  We're hoping to keep it safe over winter.

Here's Noor's entry on BAMONA

New Speed Paint: "Power of Three"

Noor made a new Warrior cat speed paint:

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Noor's Page on Butterflies and Moths of North America

Noor has enjoyed photographing, IDing and making observational notes on the BAMONA website and having her IDs confirmed. Like these....

Snowberry Clearwing

Great Spangled Fritillary

Capillary Action

We've recently been enjoying the book, "The Case of the Graveyard Ghost, and Other Super Scientific Cases". It is a great story about two sleuthing science kids, which also has some exciting corresponding experiments. (Stay tuned for hardboiled egg launches through PVC pipe and optical illusions based on "Pepper's Ghost").

One of the experiments is an illustration of capillary action in plants: how water travels up from the roots, to the stem(s) to nourish all the parts of the plant.

I remember doing this with white carnations as a kid, and being fully impressed with the results.

We used celery and one of the white Roses of Sharon growing in our yard. We immersed the bottom of the stalks/stem in colored water and observed the results.
5 minutes

30 minutes

3 hours

look at the capillaries

Friday, August 12, 2011

Noor's Poem for Odin


Noor's nanny and first best friend

Shnuffle dog
Blowing air in your nose and you'd sneeze

Rolling on your back

Good dog
Playing tug gently with me

Scratching your stripe
Checking on me in the night 
Sleeping dog

My love you dog


Monday, August 8, 2011

One of our crickets molted!

We read that they will molt about 8-10 times, depending on the temperature of the house (more for warmer temperatures) before reaching adulthood.

The exoskeleton looks really cool under the microscope. Pictures soon.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

How Many Licks......

A recent conversation with Noor:

N: How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?
B: I honestly don't know.
N: Do you think anyone has ever counted?
B: I bet lots of people have tried, but I'm guessing most forget that they're counting somewhere along the line and loose track.
N: I think it takes more than a 1000 licks.
B: You could test your theory.
N: It takes a long time to lick it down to the tootsie roll......
B: How long, do you think?
N: I could time myself!
B: Oh, that's a great idea! You could see how many licks you make in ten seconds and then multiply that number by how long it takes you to get to the center.
N: I lick really fast at first, and then just kind of suck when it gets smaller.  How would I count sucking?
B: Hmmm......
N: I suck it when it gets small because it's more yummy. I don't lick as much as it gets smaller. No, mom, it wouldn't be the same amount of licks at the end as it is the first ten seconds.

We'll let you know if Noor conducts further tests.

But, in the meantime, it seems a few folks have had the wherewithal to see this question through to the end: George Waksman and friends found that, 
The data suggests that it takes approximately 508 licks to reach the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop when alternating the licking side. Since the procedure calls for equal licking of both sides of the Tootsie Roll Pop and completion is determined by core contact on either side, one could reach the core with fewer licks by focusing on only one side of the Tootsie Roll Pop. If one were to select the side closer to the core, it would theoretically require approximately 254 licks to reach the center.
There you have it.

(so, we talked about surface area, scientific inquiry, research methods, standard deviation, and means and averages, all thanks to a blue Tootsie Roll Pop.)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Praying Mantis Habitat and Gut-Loading Crickets

Our menagerie keeps growing!  Noor found a praying mantis last week, and since it seems that they are easy to keep, we're giving it a go.

Do you see him?

We're pretty sure it is a male, given his size and Noor's attempt to count the abdominal sections, of which she thinks there are eight (a female would have six or seven).  She hasn't decided which species it is yet.

Noor has spent time every day catching bugs for him to eat, but we decided that a trip to the pet store to buy crickets would also be a good idea.  We learned that crickets, straight from a pet store, are lacking in nutrients, so we're feeding them to increase their nutritional density.

It is amazing how much lettuce they eat, and how quickly they eat it! 

Keeping an Unschooling Portfolio with Evernote and EasyBib

After I sang the praises of Evernote as a tool for documenting the learning that goes on around here on a few home/unschool lists recently, I received quite a few emails asking how we use the application, and how to set it up as a portfolio for un/homeschooling.

Following are two tutorials I made that explain how to set up Evernote as a portfolio, and copy/paste information and how to use EasyBib as a dated reading/media log.

If you click on the subjects under "Bibliography" on the right-hand side of the blog, it will take you to my EasyBib notebooks and you'll be able to see what our log looks like.

Click here to see what one of our Evernote notebooks look like.

Wishing everyone fun and easy documenting!

Evernote as an Unschooling (homeschooling) Portfolio

EasyBib for generating a reading/media log
The one thing I failed to mention in the video tutorial I made, which I'll link to in a minute, is you can choose how to organize the entries. I suggest using the "add annotation" option at the bottom of the citation entry page to add the dates you used the source and any other pertinent notes, but I also suggest that when you print the document for your portfolio, you go to the "Sort Order" option (it is under the "Print as a Word Doc" button) and choose"Most Recent." That way, your list will be ordered by the date it was entered and not alphabetically. Of course, this will only work if you add entries as you go, instead of all at once at year's end.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Video "Surgery": Splinter Removal

Noor was super excited to get a splinter in her finger this afternoon, "I want to look at it under the microscope!" she said.

If that wasn't cool enough, she decided to remove it while Michael held the lens and I held the skin around the splinter taunt.

Warning, not for the faint of heart: