Tuesday, January 31, 2012

National Zoo

We spent the day at the National Zoo yesterday. Some of the highlights were watching Bonnie the Orangutan play with her cabbage, seeing how the lion cubs have grown, and watching the pandas lounge and chomp. 

As usual, we learned a bunch of new things about the creatures who share our planet. Some of the most exciting new revelations were this diagram in the Reptile House that shows how similar human and reptile anatomy is, which helped Noor further her belief that she really is part dragon(cat). I didn't get a good photo, but there is a great close up one one here (scroll down to photo #83). 

We also learned that a cheetah's stride can reach 23 feet, and can sustain speeds of 60mph for a short time.  Noor weighed herself and then learned that at 53lbs, she'd make a good meal for a cheetah, who would probably leave a bit over for a hyena to finish off.

One of the most exciting things Noor said she learned was that the blue Poison Arrow Frogs loose the ability to produce toxic excretions when they live in captivity and aren't fed their native diet of a particular ant.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

DNA, Polymers, Art

Some of the things we've been up to lately......


water color pencils

crazy-eyed bowling

chalk pastels


look closely for thready fibers--they are Noor's DNA that she extracted from her saliva with the aid of dish soap, rubbing alcohol and salt (you don't need the pineapple juice)


driving lessons 

snow cones

and, in case anyone was curious, the blue gummy bear has only decreased in weight by 2/3 ounce


Plant Classification Walk

Last week Noor's Earth Explorers group talked about plant classification but they didn't have time to go on a hunt for all of the things on their list. We went for a walk today and were able to find a lot of items.

brown, dead grass

green plants, alive

tree with green needles

moss in rotting wood

smooth, peeling bark

vine with thorns

tree with brown leaves



green vine

And this is just a sweet photo from yesterday evening when Noor, Roman and I took Aslan for a walk.  Ah, free-spirited children: Noor in her bathrobe and Roman in his socks

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Acid or Base

We finally got our hands on some Borax, so we were able to use the testing strips we bought a little while ago.  Noor measured out a bunch of different household substances:

Tea leaves
Baking powder
Baking Soda
Citric Acid (instant lemonade)

First, she used her senses to make notes about the different substances: how did each one smell, feel, taste (not the borax), look?

Did any look like crystals with the naked eye?

Which ones had crystalline structures under the microscope?

Next, she mixed solutions with each substance to see which ones were water soluble.

And then, she tested each one to see where it fell on the scale of acids and bases:

Citric acid was the most acidic (red strip); our tap water was more acidic than neutral (yellow strip):

Borax was the most alkali:

Next, she explored which substances were reactive.  Citric acid, baking soda and baking powder (which is a combination of baking powder and baking soda) caused fizzing while the other substances did not:

And finally, Noor experimented with how heat changes a substance.  Glucose, when heated, becomes liquid and then caramelizes into a hard solid:

Flour burns but remains solid while salt doesn't burn at the temperatures we were working with.