Thursday, March 10, 2016

Science in Action

The boys are each working on different sciences this year. JT has been studying ecology. We used a variety of materials, starting the year off with a text that was more like a workbook, worked our way through the CrashCourse ecology videos on Youtube, used a teacher's guide from PBS American Experience to look at the history of Earth Day and study the life and work of Rachel Carson, finally we are using material we borrowed from our local school district to look at the topics covered in Pennsylvania's Envirothon. That material was split into five components. We decided to save the aquatic ecology portion for the end of the year when the weather would be more conducive to working outside in water. This week, the weather was perfect for measuring the velocity of a local stream. We used worn out drum sticks (Finally a use for those things!) to mark two spots along the shore then dropped floats in the stream and timed their progress. It was a fun experience and we discovered that our stream has some tricky currents that snag your floats and mess up your data. The book we are using for this portion of his study is Rivers and Streams by Patricia A. Fink Martin. I really like the way this book is put together. It has plenty of hands on activities that are easy to do, but also challenging.

EM is furthering his electronics studies this year using Make: Electronics by Charles Platt. My husband is leading the study of this subject. They ordered some kits online that were designed specifically for this book. The last few weeks they have been building things around the house. The day I took this picture, we had some lemon batteries running on the kitchen table. EM has a good grasp of technical concepts so this is a great way for him to really get into a topic he enjoys. As I did this year, next year I will have EM focus on a different scientific subject for the first half of the year, and return to his electronics again after Christmas. He's not a fan of the life sciences, but we managed to get some of that out of the way with a study of anatomy this year. Next year I think we will look at Earth Science.

JT and I have been starting to work on his application for the community college where he hopes to take a class in the fall. He will most likely register for an introduction to chemistry class. Based on the course description, I don't think the material will be too challenging for him, but instead I hope to use this experience to help him learn how to take a class. The credits at this school are relatively inexpensive and I think it will be a great investment to let him learn when the stakes are low compared to later when he's paying much more per credit at his chosen university. Baby steps towards adulthood and independence are happening every day.