Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chemistry, Conferences, and Cooking

I was planning to write a post last week, but time just kept flying by, and now it's Thursday again. I have a valid excuse. I went to the PDE Special Education conference on Thursday and Friday. Yes, I could have posted from the hotel room Thursday night, but I just couldn't get motivated enough to do that. Instead, I'll try to sum up two weeks in one post.

The beginning of last week was spent working on more of our chemistry unit. We learned the difference between exothermic and endothermic reactions. Then we mixed a little potassium permanganate with glycerin to experience an exothermic reaction. We did this outside to avoid fumes in the house. It was not quite as exciting as some of the videos we saw online, but it was still fun to see something burst into flame.

We also discussed catalysts and their effect on some chemical reactions. The chemistry book we are using gave an example using liver, specifically the enzyme catalase found in liver, to speed the process of hydrogen peroxide decomposing into water and oxygen.In the picture you can see me placing a lit match in the beaker with the liver and peroxide to show how the oxygen-rich air caused the match to flare more brightly. Having chicken for supper that night was more exciting when we realized we could use the liver for an experiment after we ate. Yes, we are a strange family.

Thursday morning I drove to Hershey to spend two days at my conference. There were two speakers I especially wanted to hear this year, Dan Meyer who blogs HERE and William VanCleave's website HERE. Mr. VanCleave's free downloads from his writing workshops are fantastic. I'm already using some of them with the boys. I also had time to catch up with some fellow parents that I don't get to see very often. My annual conference trip is usually a mix of learning and recharging. This year was no exception.

Have a seat.
Today we had a little more snow. Just what we needed. I tried to keep some kind of schedule going, but after all that shoveling, none of us felt like doing a full day of schooling. Instead, we bumped a few subjects to tomorrow and covered just what we needed to do to feel justified in counting it as a school day. JT had a practice test for his Thinkwell math course, both boys worked on their current composition assignments, and we read our American history book aloud. Plus, all that shoveling should count for gym class, right?

hot wings?
The final part of our school day was a little cooking instruction for JT. He's always wanting me to teach him how to cook. This week he's been helping me in the kitchen to put supper together. A couple days ago, a friend shared a recipe for chicken 'wings' that are really cauliflower made to taste like wings. The cauliflower is coated with a mixture of buttermilk and flour, baked in the oven, then doused with hot sauce or BBQ sauce. One recipe used Balsamic vinegar instead. We found that although the cauliflower did make a nice vehicle for the wing sauce, they weren't much like the real thing. At least they were fairly healthy. We also made bean soup to go with it.

JT is starting to understand how much work goes into making balanced meals every night. He was setting the table while we waited for the wings to come out of the oven and he asked what silverware we'd need. I recommended forks and spoons. He said, "Why bother giving EM a spoon? You know he probably won't eat the soup." I told him we should still give him one anyway since he would have to try at least a little bit. 

JT said, "Now I understand why you get so annoyed when he doesn't want to eat the things you make. It takes a lot of work to cook every night!"

Even if he doesn't turn out to be a great chef, that knowledge alone will serve him well in the future.

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