Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Science Investigations that all students should do Before High School, #8: Dancing Raisins

#8: Dancing Raisins
This is a good one to do right after the Mentos and Coke reaction because the same principle applies to both and is easiest to explain using this demonstration.
Fill a glass with a clear, carbonated beverage. Drop 4 or 5 raisins in the glass. Watch the dancing raisins. Why do they dance?
Since the surface of the raisins is rough, tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide gas are attracted to it, causing it to be carried upward by the more dense fluid surrounding it. Once the raisins reach the top, the bubbles pop upon exposure to the air. This makes the raisins more dense, causing them to sink.

related posts:

2013...A Difficult Year That We Made Beautiful


The year began with my first lumpectomy on the 3rd and by the 18th we were back in Maryland again after staying in Tennessee for seven months, but before we left we went to Warrior's Path State Park (the best park in the world), Bays Mountain Park, Elizabethton's Covered Bridge and the local Visitor's Center.

We celebrated Chinese New Year at a local Chinese Restaurant. We celebrated Mardi Gras, starting with Fat Tuesday's breakfast for dinner and then a King Cake. We had a Saint Valentine's Day Teatime.
I also got the results back on my Oncotype (cancer test) and learned that I did not have to have Chemotherapy. :)

In the Schoolroom
We started back to school after a long break. We picked up our history studies with Business Tycoons of the Gilded Age and went on through The Great Depression. James and Quentin studied cells and DNA and how zoos work in science. Sam and Alex studied Invertebrates. In math, we began a unit called La Tostada Sabrosa, in which the boys pretended to be a business consultant while learning all sorts of math skills. James also worked with Unstandardized Units.

I had a second lumpectomy because the first one did not get all the tissue it needed to.
We had fun with Suminagashi. We celebrated Saint Patrick's day with a treasure hunt. Steven celebrated his 50th birthday. We went bowling with friends. We had a great Easter with an Easter Egg hunt.

In the Schoolroom
We studied the disasters around the 1900's and we had A Night to Remember with a Titanic dinner.

We started off April with an April Fool's celebration with candy sushi and surprise playdough. We enjoyed our favorite park, Turner's Creek Park in the springtime weather. Katie began plans for her garden. We began going to the beach. We made slime and played games. We began meeting with friends at a local park.

In the Schoolroom
Quentin and James began their study of World War I and then the 1920's, The Great Depression, WWII, Hobo camps. In science, the began their study of the skeletal system. James began learning about Coordinate Graphing and Origami.

They made May Day baskets and delivered them to the neighbor's doors. Katie and her grandmother made homemade tortillas for Cinco de Mayo. Katie also learned how to cross-stitch from her. Quentin turned 9 and had a Spy Birthday party. We went strawberry picking. We went to the ocean beach at Cape Henlopen. Sam turned 16. We had a cook-out on Memorial Day. The garden was coming along well. The Grandparents from California visited for a week, and all 9 of us went to dinner towards the end of their stay. We went roller skating and to the Galena Dogwood Festival. We went to The First Annual Burning of Georgetown, a War of 1812 reenactmentI had a lovely Mother's Day.  I started daily radiation treatments.

In the Schoolroom
Because we were learning about WWII, we went to Fort Miles in Lewes, Delaware for their Firepower Tour. We learned about horseshoe crabs. We went to the cemetery and learned some history there.

We went to a Celtic festival, a Railroad Day. We spent lots of time at the beach. We had an Exotic Fruit tasting. We went to a Mexican grocery and brought how cactus to try. We went bowling with friends. We took the Utz Factory tour. We had a Carnival party for James' 12 1/2 birthday. I had lunch with an old friend I used to work with, Angela. I finished my radiation treatments at the end of the month.

In the Schoolroom
We finished up our study of WWII.and went on to study the 50's.

We had a wonderful Fourth of July celebration with games, a picnic at the beach, and fireworks, of course.We enjoyed weekly sports nights with friends at a local park. We went to a Bastille Day party. Alex turned 19. We began learning to whittle. Katie's garden flourished.

In the Schoolroom
We learned about types of clouds. James and Quentin began a unit called Oceans of Ooobleck about scientists and astronomy. We continued with our modern history studies. We read Watership Down.

We started out the month with our town's celebration day. Sam went to an elegant Sweet 16 party for his friend, Laurel. Quentin and James made some pocket change with a Lemonade Stand. We had a Gillian's Island Fun Night. The boys enjoyed Sport's Night. We went to a Pirate Festival. We had a family reunion at my mother's house. We visited a dear friend, Genevieve. We had a Seafood Boil and Tie-Dyed T-shirts. The boys flew in a plane with the Young Eagle's program and James got to pilot the plane this year. We made funnel cakes and went to Sonic for their half-price shakes.We went to Amish Country, Pennsylvania, rode in an Amish buggy and went to an Amish Village museum. We went to the Pennsylvania Train Museum and rode on the Strasburg Railroad. We camped. We played miniature golf and went bowling. We took a ferry to Pea Patch Island and Fort Delaware, a living history museum. We went to Alapocas Run State Park's Paw Paw and Folk Art Festival and the Can-Do Boundless playground. We had game nights and a sundae bar. We visited with friends.We went to the Air Mobility Command Museum and DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum. We went to Assateague Island where we saw wild ponies. We went to Ocean City and Frontierland.

We finished up our annual vacation, Camp Bergenholtz by going to the Salisbury Zoo, Ben's Playground, The Battle of Caulk's Field (War of 1812) celebration, letterboxing, canoeing and Renaissance Faire. We continued our sports nights. We went roller skating. We went to an Ice Cream Social. We went to a Revolutionary War Re-enactment. We went to Cherry Crest Adventure Farm with friends. Katie turned 22! We went to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. We met some really wonderful beekeepers.

In the Schoolroom
We began our first day of school with our traditional school cones. We began going to a Co-op with our homeschool group and the kids began classes in Drama and Art, so we called it Fine Arts day. We began our history studies at the beginning, including archaeology projects. We learned about Gilgamesh and the Fertile Crescent. Alex began studying Africa and we had an East African dinner to celebrate his learning.Quentin and James had a wonderful learning experience aboard the Schooner Sultana, a replica of a British schooner.  Quentin and James learned about angles.

We went roller skating, played at the park with friends, went to a pizza party. We went to a Fall Festival at Turner's Creek Park. We celebrated Passover. We went to Adventure Aquarium with friends. We celebrated Halloween. James had a seizure. 

In the Schoolroom
We learned about Babylon, the Sumerians, the Indus Valley civilization, Hittites and Assyrians and Base 6 math. James began learning about signed numbers

I had my 52nd birthday. We went to College Park Aviation Museum and reviewed some physics concepts. We went roller skating. We went to Turner's Creek Park and played Indian Paintbrush and learned about Willows. We had a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving snack time. We made rolled beeswax candles for Thanksgiving dinner. We went to a pizza party and game night with friends. We tried Peruvian food.

In the Schoolroom
We learned about the Persians and we began our study of Egypt. Sam balanced chemistry equations.

We celebrated Saint Nicholas day. We went roller skating and ice skating. We baked, we shopped. We made a gingerbread village. We went to a Kids Christmas Party where we made wreaths and salt dough ornaments and a Parent's Christmas party. We made all sorts of Christmas crafts. They went to The Nutcracker at the Maryland Hall of Fine Arts. Our drama class put on scenes from three plays, Macbeth, A Christmas Carol and The Worst Best Christmas Pageant Ever. We had a movie night. Katie made me a Kissing ball. Quentin and Katie made a Chistmas-Monopoly game for us to play. We made lots and lots of cookies at a Cookie Bake. Steven and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary.  We had a blessed Christmas. James turned 13. Now I have 3 teenage boys in the house!

Science Investigations that all students should do Before High School, #8: Density Explorations

#8: Density Explorations

Rainbow Density Column

Make a rainbow with different densities of sugar water.
Using six heat-safe containers, add 1 tablespoon of sugar to the first cup and add an increasing amount of sugar to each cup, adding an additional tablespoon each time. 
Add food coloring to each cup, according to the colors of the rainbow.
Dissolve the sugar and food coloring  in one cup of boiling water for each container.
Move from least dense to most dense, releasing each new layer on the bottom of a test tube, with the straw, instead of trying to pour it onto the top.

Density Column That Holds Objects

Add three liquids to a glass: corn syrup, water and oil and they will layer naturally by density. Then add a rock, a grape, an ice cube and a cork are. The rock lays on the bottom, the grape sits on top of the corn syrup, the ice cube sits on top of the water and the cork sits on top of the oil.
Here is another one we did...maple syrup, rubbing alcohol, dishwashing liquid (purple colored), water dyed blue and vegetable oil.

Density Layers in Soil

You can also apply the concept of density while making a soil profile test of the soil in the backyard. To make a soil profile, fill a vial (we actually used an clean, empty spice bottle) with about one inch of dirt. 
Add a pinch or so of alum. This acts as a dispersing agent, helping the soil  particle to break into smaller part and settle out into layers by density. Fill to the top with water. Cover and shake vigorously and then let stand. The hard part is getting them not to touch it again at this point, to give it a chance to layer. While they are waiting, I asked them to make predictions of what they would see. 
Once it layered, we talked about what was in each layer and that some layers were larger than others. The floating layer is organic matter. The top layer is clay (usually mixed with the water), the middle layer is silt and the bottom layer is sand. It is fun to compare two sample to see the difference in the ratios. If you let the soil profile sit on a shelf for several days, the layers become even more pronounced.
You can compare two types of soil to compare and contrast the differences.

You can also make a treat to have when you are studying soil layers.The top layer, representing the organic material, is a mixture of nuts and chips on a layer of  top soil pudding. A gummy worm added to represent the living things in the layers of soil. The next layer down, the topsoil (pudding) is mixed with gravel (cookie crumbs). The next layer, the subsoil, is made up of some larger pieces of cookie to represent weathered rock and then at the very bottom, (cookie) bedrock.

Archimedes' Density Discovery

The most widely known anecdote about Archimedes tells of how he invented a method for determining the volume of an object with an irregular shape. A new crown had been made for King Hiero II, and Archimedes was asked to determine whether it was of solid gold, or whether silver had been added by a dishonest goldsmith. Archimedes had to solve the problem without damaging the crown, so he could not melt it down into a regularly shaped body in order to calculate its density. While taking a bath, he noticed that the level of the water in the tub rose as he got in, and realized that this effect could be used to determine the volume of the crown. The submerged crown would displace an amount of water equal to its own volume. By dividing the weight of the crown by the volume of water displaced, the density of the crown could be obtained. This density would be lower than that of gold if cheaper and less dense metals had been added. Archimedes then took to the streets naked, so excited by his discovery that he had forgotten to dress, crying "Eureka!" meaning in Greek "I have found it!"
With this story in mind, we set up a simple demonstration to show this concept. Don't worry no bathtub involved. We took a bowl and set it in a baking dish. We then filled the bowl to the brim with water.

We then took two objects of identical weight.We determined that the rubber ball symbolized the lump of gold, and placed it in the bowl of water. It displaced a certain amount of water.We then placed our candle, which represented the crown, and we saw that it displaced some more water, showing that although its weight was similar, its density was not.
I have found out that both 4 quarters and 5 Hershey's Chocolate Kisses weigh 1 ounce, so these can be used. You can use a postal scale if you have one, to prove this as part of your experiment. Carry out the experiment the same as above and you should see that the candies have more mass and displace more water.

Salinity and Temperature Densities

Sometimes you will see little currents in the straw as one type/color of liquid passes another.
This is a bit more challenging. The task is to create four distinct layers in straw cylinders using only colored water and salt. The ocean is made up of layers of water of different densities. Cold water is denser than warm water, water with salt is denser than fresh water. The more closely packed the molecules in a substance, the denser the substance.
Please excuse the messiness of our school table.
 I usually clean it off after every activity, but has been one of those crazy weeks for us.

For this experiment you will need: - 4 Styrofoam cups or insulated containers, kosher salt, plastic straws, medium raw potato, medicine droppers, a package of food coloring

Have students write in their journals a key to the colors:
red-hot and salty
blue-cold and salty
yellow-hot and fresh
green-cold and fresh

 Have four containers to hold water and label them as above, adding about 15 drops of the appropriate food coloring to each container. Fill the containers with water, two with hot water and two with cold. Add 1/3 cup of kosher salt to both the red and blue water. Stir. Add ice to the blue and green containers.

Cut potato into 1'' thick slices. Cut two straws in half for each student. Insert straw into the potato at a 45 degree angle.

Sometimes the water will leak out of the bottom. You can ignore it if it is a small amount, or you can take the straw out of the potato over a sink, rinse out the straw and start over again at a new place in the potato, trying to push the straw in deeper.
Have your students decide what order they think the liquids will layer according to density. Have them try out their predictions by adding a tiny bit of the liquids to the straws so that they fill the straw about 1/2 inch, starting with the most dense and adding them one at a time.

 Your students should have layers, starting from the bottom, or the most dense, blue (cold and salty), red (hot and salty), green (cold and fresh), and yellow (hot and fresh).

We got a different result however, in ours. That happens sometimes. In that case, we explore why we got discrepant results. Our layers were, starting with the bottom, or most dense, red (hot and salty), blue (cold and salty), green (cold and fresh), and yellow (hot and fresh). The best explanation we could come up with is that our hot water may have allowed more of the salt to dissolve into the water than the cold. Do you have any other possible explanations?

related posts:

Advent Activity: Snowflake Bentley and Snowflakes

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Book: Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

"Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated., When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind." - Wilson A. Bentley 

Observe Snowflakes

Have you ever really looked closely at snowflakes? To make this easier, take piece of black construction paper and slip it into a plastic protector sleeve. Put this in the freezer to get it good and cold or the snowflakes will melt on contact. The black construction paper gives good contrast so you can see the snowflakes and the plastic sleeve keeps the snowflake from melting into the paper. More instructions on how to do this can be found at the Handbook of Nature Study blog links here. You can see some flakes with the naked eye, but a magnifying glass reveals even more. If you look closely enough you can see that the flakes are in different shapes, such as hexagonal plates and stellar plates. What kind of observations can you make between the type of snow and the shape of the crystals?

Once your kids have learned to look at snow crystals, they will begin to notice them more and more about them at other times too. Noticing new things becomes natural.

Make Paper Snowflakes

 If your paper isn't already square, fold your paper into a triangle, which will leave a strip along the side.
 Cut that strip off. If your paper is already square, also fold it into a triangle, but you will skip this step then.
 Fold that in half to make another triangle.
 Now fold this into thirds...
 which will leave some "fox ears" showing at the top.
 Cut off the "fox ears" by cutting straight across.
 Now, here is the creative step. Remember anything you cut out of the point will be in the center of your snowflake. Also, a good rule for young ones to remember is if they cut in on one side, be sure to come back out that same side. It prevents accidently cutting your snowflake so that it falls apart.
 Once you are satisfied with your cut-outs, carefully unfold your snowflake.
Each one is unique.

Crystal snowflakes

They look lovely hanging in the window or on a Christmas tree.
You could also make crystal snowflakes as a science project.