Tag Archives: Homeschool

Behind the Scenes…

…At the Field Museum! We were so lucky to get the chance to meet with Dr. Corine Vriesendorp who is the director of their Andes-Amazon program. She is a field biologist and a plant ecologist…. and may we say – super FUN! She had just returned from a research trip in Columbia so we were extra excited that the timing worked out for us to go to Chicago (who doesn’t love Chicago!?) and meet with her.

We started our behind the scenes adventure in the Rare Book Room. We saw the Audubon Ottoman, (well, it had a cover on it, but we were able to see one of the 4 Audubon Double Elephant Folio books), a rare, historical piece that was donated to the Museum in 1969.

From there, we went to the bird specimen area. There we learned about the consistent way nature solves problems, how species are collected and how huge the Field Museum’s collection of birds is. We loved seeing all the tiny hummingbirds and the birds of paradise. They are so dramatic!!!

We also revisited the beetle room. The room where hard, detailed, and wildly smelly work gets done by flesh eating beetles, who, for a place to stay, will eat birds and mammals to the bone, ready for organizing and storing by the most patient people on earth! They sort the freshly cleaned bones, some tinier than we could believe existed, tagged them and placed them in boxes to add to their massive collection.

After our tour was complete, we experienced the Specimens exhibit and the rest of the museum, including, meeting another scientist who is an entomologist. We held hissing cockroaches, spiders and a giant millipede.

A SUPER inspiring trip to meet some amazing scientists and hear about their work. A special thank you to Corine for taking us behind the scenes of her workplace!!! IMG_3532FullSizeRenderIMG_3533IMG_3540IMG_3544IMG_3548IMG_3549IMG_3550IMG_3551IMG_3559IMG_3557IMG_3555IMG_3560IMG_3552

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Getting to Know Mike Gallagher…

Mike is the Editor and co-founder of our local Newspaper, the Local Observer. We are working on a civics project to round out the school year (keep your eyes out for our newest adventure coming soon!) and we wanted to know more about how the press is involved in every day life in America.

We were impressed with how brave he is! It was hard to believe how daring reporters have to be and the lengths he goes to get the truth and all the perspectives of a story!! Until this week, we had no idea that a reporter is like a secret agent.

He has lived and worked in many places. We were happy to have had the chance to meet him! A special thanks to Mike for lunch and taking the time to talk with us about his job!

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Maker Time!

As one of our final end-of-the-year projects, we’re learning to create 3D PRINTS on our MakerBot!!! How cool is that?!?! We’ve been making “simple” things on the computer on a professional design program called SketchUp. We’re designing all kinds of things.

For her first print, Olive created a yacht for her minuscule Polly Pockets complete with outdoor seating, a kitchen and guest bedroom! I started by designing a cute character for my ‘cute character collection’. I have since started working on prostsetics for dolls with lost arms or hands. We are learning so many things about math… scale is a big one (no pun intended!)… when we built our first models, we had no idea that they were actually 64 FEET tall! We reduced them down to a size that would actually work with our toys. Can you imagine a 64′ tall Polly Pocket yacht !?

The fact that your own designs can magically appear in a matter of hours is so impressive! As we learn more about the complex program to create things, the next challenge is to create something that ‘fits together’. More on that when our project gets further underway.

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This is the MakerBot in action!

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This print took about 3 hours to print.

This is Olive’s Party Ship for her Polly Pockets!

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This little baby took over FIVE hours to print!

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Tippity Toppity Top!

As a fun school project involving rotation, inertia, torque and velocity, we made a couple tops! Made out of wood, these laser cut spinners are smooth to the touch and they are easy to put together. Adding color to the patterns was fun and it was cool to see how they changed once in motion. The faster they rotated, the more the colors blended. The tops are made by a company in Texas named Bright Beam Goods. Check them out, they also have cool puzzles!

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Check out these cool videos about SPINNING!

 

 

Sphero’s First Outing!

This week is all about Spinning! Interita! Friction! Momentum!

What a better test for all those concepts than to take our Spheros on their first outing to the beach. It was a very windy day at Lake Michigan, that is for sure!  We got Nubby covers for them so they could handle the terrain, but they didn’t work at all…. Sphero just spun inside the cover – a good demonstration of a very low coefficiet of friction – not what we were looking for, so it never really got any traction at all on the sand and therefore, never moved. So we came up with a different version of the cover – we call it the PLASTIC WRAP PROTECTOR!!!! Made with two simple layers of plastic wrap. Amazingly, the PLASTIC WRAP PROTECTOR worked better than the $15 nubby cover.

With tech in hand we began our grand journey up and down mini sand dunes, across the parking lot, jumping through mountains of sand, and (here’s the scary/ unnerving part) through the WATER!!! AAAAHH!!! Nuts, I know but as students, we seemed to handle it fairly well… seeing it going into the base of the waves, it just tempted us to jump in after it. The water seemed like it was in the mid 40’s, so a quick rescue would have to be in order. Technology in WATER. It was WILD! Happily, we never had to rescue it :0)

After the lovley morning at the beach with our both our Sphero friends, practicing our spelling words in the sand and getting plenty of exercise, we are looking forward to a morning when the wind is still, the lake has no waves and we can take them back to the beach and see them swim!

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going for a nice dip in the lake… BRRR!!

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here are our two brave explorers! how nice!!

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The Great Sphero Challenge!

Quite recently, we heard of a programmable robot called Sphero. After trying one through our Tech Club connection we thought it was SO COOL we purchased one of these awesome robots for ourselves! As a week-long project we were assigned Challenges to test Sphero’s abilities (and ours!) by coding it through obstacle courses! These were the first 4 we were given.

Sphero challenge #1

CODE Sphero through the obstacle course: maze must have 3 left turns and 4 right|must have at least 1 ramp throughout the maze. Seems simple doesn’t it? Well sometimes simple is hard… and that was the case here it was outstandingly difficult to code directions… but we did it! WHOOP WHOOP!!!

Sphero challenge #2

Build a chariot for Sphero out of pipe cleaners, straws and tape that will hold two passengers – must have 8 turns 4 right 4 left|make the maze out of blocks| must have at least two ramps. BIG TIP!!! When sphero is driving by itself, the turning radius is different then when there’s a chariot on the back and it takes more power. We ended up making many different chariots but because of the turning radius we never made it through. But we did teach Siri to tell a story on command!

Challenge #3

Create a maze. Use measuring tape to define the edges, maze should have 8 turns: 5 right, 3 left, 1 at a 30 degree angle. Create a ramp. Sphero should be able to go backward through the maze.  That was proved too difficult to solve. The backwards part was impossible at the point of what we know, the maze was cool, but backwards… maybe next week!!

Challenge# 4

Drive Sphero up a 12″ ramp. We ended up making several different designs and at one point we were so desperate we tried to make an elevator to the top! With a little help from Mom, a little extra speed, a bit of traction and BOOM we made it to the top only to fall right back down the ramp! As you might imagine there was a whole lot of shrieks of joy, leaping, dancing and a couple of tears of happiness!!! It was really fun and we learned so much about slopes, coding, friction and velocity. Stay tuned for more Sphero adventures!!!

 

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1..2..3…..Hatch!

As many of you may know, about a year and a half ago we hatched chickens and gave them to a friend who wanted them for eggs. You can see that post here. That was so amazing that 20 days ago, we started a new project as part of our Life Cycle and Biology area of study….

QUAILS! Fourteen eggs – set, incubated, turned and finally after 17 days development time, they were ready.

As of Tuesday afternoon last week, they began to hatch. First one, then the next, then it seemed like popcorn, one after another, after another. The first one came at 1:37PM. The last one emerged around 8:35PM. 11 baby chicks out of 14 eggs. We had 2 that didn’t pip but were fully developed and sadly died in the shell, another wasn’t viable and the last one which strangely, was the first one to pip, couldn’t make it out of the shell, so a recovery mission was set into motion to get it out of it’s shell.  The membrane had started to ‘shrink’ around the baby quail which happens when the air from the original pip opening starts to dry out. Without help, the baby will get stuck and die. Here’s the thing. The last part of a healthy chick’s formation is once it gets outside air, it begins to absorb the blood and all the nutrients in it from the vascular system in the membrane. It’s final process is to absorb the yolk, (which will serve as a protein pack for 2-3 days) into it’s tummy. If you help a chick too soon, those things can’t happen and some tragic results can occur. We waited about 10 hours and saw the lining of the shell drying up before we decided to start a rescue mission. Happily, it was a success and that last chick out into the world is fine!!!! WHEW!

The quails are TINY!!! The chicks only weigh about 6-7 grams when they hatch. It’s like holding air!

So! We have 11 babies in the house. :0) We love every single one of them and they are little pooping machines! Their wings are growing by the day – time for a cover on the brooder so they don’t start flapping their wings and take off… This week they will fly our coop (brooder) and head to their new, forever home a few miles away at a friend’s farm.

Another awesome adventure here on Water Street. Thanks for checking out our post to learn more about the amazing world of quails!!

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This is the quail development chart we referenced each day.

On the 14th day, the egg turner is removed from the incubator, the humidity is raised and the eggs are set on a cloth for hatching. We color the water in the channels blue so we can see when it is running low. A duck family offered to oversee the hatching since they were familiar with the process ;0)

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The first pip! This was the chick that had to be rescued from it’s shell 10 hours later.
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The first one!

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Many friends and neighbors came by to meet the new chicks and see them hatch.

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It was a busy afternoon having all those eggs hatch over 10 hours time! The next morning, after spending the night in the incubator, we saw the rescued chick needed help getting the now dried membrane off. Under a heat lamp, a little water, a towel and a gentle touch was about all it took to get this little guy to fluff up like the rest of the crew. Once it did, it was time for the brooder box.

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What fun nature can be!!!!