Tag Archives: hands on learning

Flower Tracking

Spring is such a fun time to be outside and see things growing before our eyes. It happens so fast! One day there is snow on the ground, the next tulips are in full bloom. We used this opportunity to track the growth of bulbs we planted last fall. Every other day, for 10 days, we observed the changes, measured the plant and documented the process. We were amazed that on average, the flowers grew in overall height 1/2″ per DAY! That’s a lot of work from a little bulb!



*Featured image found on inhabit.com


How Sweet it is!

Hey! So it turns out that we forgot to put a post up from 2015!! It was finished we just forgot to post it… so we thought “now is as good’a time as any! So without further ado, Go forth brave soldier! Learn about sugar and its glory!!!!

Sugar has been a topic of discussion this week. We were also covering changes in states of matter. Combine the 2 and you get this experiment!

Our materials for this experiment were: domino sugar cubes, a paper towel, a big flat bowl filled with warm water and food coloring.  The first round of fun was putting 2 single cubes of sugar into the shallow bit of water and quickly placing a single drop of coloring on each. Within less than a minute they had completely dissolved!

We then make it even more exciting: we stacked 3 cubes and put one drop of food coloring on it. Then we quickly transferred the tower into the water of the bowl and a rainbow explosion of color went everywhere! {not the walls and ceiling just the bowl. :0) Less than 1 minute later the dots had dissolved and we were left with some dishes to do…

A cool experiment. Fast. Fun and very colorful!!


notice how much better the iPhone 7 camera resolution is rather than the iPhone 5’s! Amazing!!!



Spinning Dirt!

For the past several months, Olive has been taking pottery lessons with Jeff Blanford, a Nationally recognized ceramicist. We have admired his work for years and are most grateful to be spending time with someone with his creative and positive outlook on life, creativity and nature.  What fun it has been!! We will try and do a better job of keeping up with future projects, each one is more exciting than the next. In the meantime, we will take a trip back in time and post some of her work for you to see until we catch up with where she’s at :0)

The focus of the studio time is learning how to throw pots on the wheel but we have taken many side journeys, learning about crystalizing metals, glazes, glass and many other forms of art. Take a look and let us know what you think!

Always by her side, Jeff is an incredible teacher, always attentive and grounded, but allows Olive the freedom to explore clay in ways she will learn the best. 


Practice, practice, practice!!
The first try at painting stripes. Tricky!
Learning how to paint near perfect stripes on the Griffin Grip! 
A lovely cup with stripes – ready for the kiln!

Magnetic Oobleck!

Along with magnetics, we also learned about non-neutonian fluids. (Those are fluids that behave either like solids or liquids – they’re tricky that way!) What a better way to understand them then making the awesome, oobleck goo… But this was no ordinary oobleck – we made ours magnetic!!

We made this magic oobleck with the following things:

20 mule team borax, elmers glue {preferably white}, water, magnets, magnetite or iron shavings, two\three plastic cups {to mix things together} and stir sticks.

The first thing you do to make this amazingly clean slime, is mix a half a cup of glue and water together then mix a full cup of water and a teaspoon of borax. Once all the ingredients are together, mix it with your hands until it stops being gooey and drippy. if you want to make it magnetic, then add iron filings or magnetite bits to the mix. Fold it in well and get out your magnet!!!

If you are feeling really wild, you can ball up your goo, insert a straw, close the hole around it and gently BLOW! Now you have a non-neutonian bubble… let it pop and it turns back into liquid. Now, that is COOL!

Click on the movie at the end of the post to learn more about non-neutonian fluids.


Magnetic Fields…

Check out this experiment we did with the magnetite we found at the beach the other day. If you don’t know, this mineral has the highest level of iron which makes is a lot of fun to experiment with! Check out more information on this mineral on geology.com.  We were amazed by the patterns and responsiveness of the tiny bits on the tray!! We also tried putting it in water to see if it responded differently.

We moved on to conduct a density experiment using oil, corn syrup and 2 temps of water and a neodynium magnet… The density of the liquids definitely had an effect on how strong the magnetic forces were!

Further refining the magnitite from the sand we collected at the beach.


See the 2 ‘circles’ in the middle? Those are the magnetic fields from the horsehoe magnet underneath the tray we were using.



That magnet had to work pretty hard to get through the dense corn syrup, but it finally made it!

The Migration Begins…

For the past 4 years, we have been finding Monarch caterpillars in the wild and raising them. This not only increases their chance of survival, but we get to see their amazing life cycle up close.

This year we found, not one, not 2, but THREE monarch caterpillars! We also found a swallowtail caterpillar, but we will post that process once it emerges (which has no specific time frame…). Now, back to the Monarchs.

Their life cycle starts with a tiny egg on the underside of a milkweed plant. This is the only food they will consume during their entire life. Once it hatches, the bitty, bitty caterpillar will eat its egg and then begin on the leaves. It will continue to grow through 5 ‘instars” (shedding of its skin), the final instar is when it turns into a chrysalis (not a cocoon – those are what moths create). Check out the gold dots on it!! It is AMAZING! From there, we wait about 2 weeks until it emerges. Just before it comes out, the chrysalis turns clear and you see the wings of the butterfly right through it!

The monarch pictured here, is a male (see the black dots on its lower wings). It will be one of millions that migrates all the way down to MEXICO! Hasta luego Señor Mariposa!



The Sugar Roll….

So! We have covered the infestation of varroa mites in this earlier post. After 7-10 days of treatment, we needed to see if we had overcome the little parasites by doing a mite count. This is done by conducting a “sugar roll”. It’s a little like a baking class. First you take out a frame of bees. Shake them into a bucket. With a 1/2 cup measure, quickly scoop the bees until level (about 300 bees). Gently dump them into a ball jar with several tablespoons of confectioners sugar, cap the jar with a screen on top and begin to roll them back and forth until they are sufficiently covered in sugar. Let them sit while you reassemble the hive.

Now! Gently shake the jar, upside down, into a white pan with water in it. The sugar will dissolve, leaving only the mites visible. The bees will be adequately alarmed and once all the sugar is out, can magically be returned to their hive to tell their sisters of their incredible experience! They will have help cleaning off all the powdered sugar and will be back to gathering pollen and nectar in no time!

Why this works: Some super smart human discovered that the grain size of powdered sugar is just small enough, that when a bee is covered in it, the varroa mite can’t get a grip on them and fall off. Since sugar is not foreign to the hive (albeit, this is highly refined sugar) it does not harm the hive in any way other than the surprising experience for the bees captured and rolled.

For each hive we saw 2 mites. That is a great count (none would have been better of course!). Check out the photos. The lighting was lovely that day for me and my little beekeepers!