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

The Garden Mural Project

This series of posts will cover many biology topics, especially for Preschool and Kindergarten aged students, although all elementary aged students will benefit from this study. This is a great study to begin in spring. The posts will cover nature study, hands-on projects and written science journal opportunities. The complete project takes about 16 weeks to complete.

1. Begin the Mural and Make A Field of Sunflowers: covers basic botany topics
2. Insects: Bees: includes parts of an insect and bee hive
3. Insects: Ants and Bees, begins the study of ants and their home, includes discussion of social insects and their behaviors
4. Insects: Butterflies and Metamorphosis: begins the study of butterflies and their life cycle, activities on butterfly behavior and how they protect themselves from predators. Also includes a comparison of moths and butterflies.
5. Helpful and Harmful Insects: Includes a study of ladybugs and aphids.
6. Spiders: Compares and contrasts the insect with the spider. Study of spiders and their homes.
7. Finishing Up the Mural: Study of what insects do in the winter, crickets and night insects. Sunflowers bloom and the meadow is complete.

Garden Mural Project, Lesson 4: Insects: Butterflies and Metamorphosis

Lesson 4: Insects: Butterflies and Metamorphosis

Note: On day 12 there is an option to obtain a butterfly raising kit or bring home caterpillars to raise to adulthood. You will want to do this in advance and you can begin day 12's activities whenever you receive the kit.

Day 1: Explain that every insect begins life as an egg. The growth time from egg to adult may vary from a few days to 17 years! Most insects follow one of three patterns of growth and development: simple growth and development, incomplete metamorphosis and complete metamorphosis. Have resources for your student about insect life cycles. (Exploring Creation with Zoology I, by Jeannie Fulbright, chapter 10 is one such resource, or you may find books at the library.) Simple Growth and Development: Show pictures of a Silverfish and Springtail in the field guide. These are wingless insects and they grow and develop in three stages: 1. an adult lays an egg, 2. it hatches and looks like a small adult, 3, it's looks don't change as it grows and molts and it reaches adulthood with almost no change. Look for these insects in your nature walks.
Day 2: Incomplete Metamorphosis: Look up grasshoppers, mayflies, roaches, damselflies, dragonflies or cicadas. They go through an incomplete metamorphosis: 1. An adult lays an egg, 2. A nymph that hatches from the egg looks much like the adult but wingless, 3. The adult comes of to the last most with wings. Look for these insects in their various stages on your nature walks.
Day 3: Look at pictures of butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, bees, wasps or ants. These insects grown and develop in a complete metamorphosis: 1. An adult insect lays an egg, 2. A larva hatches that looks completely different from the adult, 3. After the larva is grown, it turns into a pupa. 4. The winged adult emerges from the pupa. It appears completely different from earlier stages. Make butterflies from construction paper.

Day 4: Find resources, read about the Order Lepidoptera and discuss what is learned. (Exploring Creation with Zoology I, by Jeannie Fulbright, chapter 14 is one such resource, or you may find books at the library.)

Day 5: On this week's nature walk, look for moths and butterflies. Begin making your own Insect Field Guide, like the DIY Bird Field guide at the Handbook of Nature Study's Outdoor Hour Challenge #7.

Day 6: Have your students glue eggs (navy beans) to leaves of the paper flower he has made to represent the adult butterfly laying eggs on the leaves.

Day 7: The larva of butterflies are called caterpillars (larvae of flies are called maggots, larvae of beetles are called grubs, larvae of mosquitoes are called wigglers, etc.) Make caterpillars from construction paper. 

Day 8: The pupa of a butterfly is called a chrysalis. Make an oval pocket to represent the chrysalis by folding a piece of tan construction paper in half and cutting it into an oval shape and then sealing it, leaving an opening so that you can slip the butterflies the students have made into the chrysalis. Have your student sponge paint to add texture. 

Day 9: 
While your student isn't looking, slip their butterflies into the chrysalis pockets and tape them shut. Let your student help the butterflies emerge from their chrysalis.
    Butterfly Metamorphosis
Day 10: On a paper plate or piece of paper, have your student draw the arrows of the butterfly's life cycle, leaving a space for the four states between the arrows. Have your student glue dried beans to the plate for the eggs, spiral pasta for the larva, shell pasta for the pupa and bow tie pasta for the adult butterfly. Add leaves, a branch and paint to finish.

Day 11: On this week's nature walk, bring along a magnifying glass to look at the insects. You may want to follow the guidelines outlined at the Handbook of Nature Study's Outdoor Hour Challenge #8, Up Close and Personal.

Day 12: (Optional) Obtain a butterfly raising kit or bring home caterpillars to raise to adulthood. Make sure you know and have access to a supply of the caterpillar's chosen food. If you decide to do this, have your student keep note of observations in his science journal. Entries should be kept most days, noting changes that occur as the larva changes into the chrysalis and then into an adult butterfly. Tell him to draw pictures and record color, shape, size, texture and position of each stage. Encourage him to ask questions.

Day 13: Hungry butterflies go right to the flowers to gather nectar. Have your students drink nectar (juice) with probiscus (straws.)

Day 14: Learn how butterflies avoid predators. We learned that many butterflies have large circles of color on their wings called "eye spots." They are called that because they look like eyes of a large creature, like an owl, to a bird who might otherwise be a predator to the butterfly. This scares the birds away. Have your student add colored circles to his paper butterfly.

Day 15: Compare butterflies and moths. Make a Venn diagram in his science journal. (Butterflies fly during the day, have knobs at the end of their antennae, have thin, hairless bodies, rest with their wings held upright, etc. Moths fly at night, their antennae are not knobbed, have, plump, furry bodies and rest with their wings spread, etc.)

Day 16: For this week's nature walk, have your student rope off a small square of his backyard to observe what insects can be found in that area. You can use the guidelines Handbook of Nature Study's Outdoor Hour Challenge #9, One Small Square.

Building Lab

I am going through some of the activities we have done years ago and writing posts on how to do some of these hands-on projects to learn skills in a variety of topics. 

Starting soon I will be posting a series of posts all about building and some basic physical science concepts related to building structures. It is a collection of fun, simple hands-on activities for pre-K-8th grade. Here are the topics we'll cover...

  1. Compression, Tension and Torsion in Building Materials
  2. Shapes and Building
  3. Columns
  4. Paper Bridges and Loads
  5. Cables and Suspension Bridges
  6. Geodesic Domes: Triangles,Toothpick Structures and Dowel Designs 
  7. Towers
  8. Dams Under Pressure
  9. Building Tunnels
  10. Balconies and Awnings

Garden Mural Project, Lesson 3: Insects: Ants and Bees

Garden Mural Project, Lesson 3: Insects: Ants and Bees

This lesson is designed to last three weeks or more.

You will need to purchase an ant colony kit in advance or have available the materials to make an ant colony in a glass jar. (Instructions on how to make an ant colony with jars can be found here.)

Day One: Ants and Bees are both social insects. Research and discuss social insects. (Exploring Creation with Zoology I, by Jeannie Fulbright, chapter 11 is one such resource, or you may find books at the library.) Make ants to add to your garden out of black construction paper. Use 3 ovals, a small, medium and a large one, and 8 thin rectangles. Guide your student to glue the three ovals, with the smallest at the top and the largest on the bottom. Review body parts. Have them glue the legs and antennae on in the appropriate places. Review how many legs insects have and the word antennae.

Day 2: Have your student look through books on ants and then write about one species of ant or draw and describe an ant colony in his science journal. 
"Children should be encouraged to watch, and quietly, until they learn something of the habits and history of the...ant..." -Charlotte Mason, Home Education, Vol. 1. p 57
Day 3: Set up the ant colony kit or make one in a glass jar. Have the student fill a large glass jar full of dirt and tape dark construction paper around it. Wait until tomorrow to add the ants. (Full instructions can be found here.)
Day 4: For this week's nature walk, focus on finding and observing ants. You can follow the guidelines at the Handbook of Nature Study blogOutdoor Hour Challenge, Ant Study. Look for an ant hill, and observe the ants coming and going on the hill. Discuss what they are doing. Carefully dig up the ant hill, including the surrounding dirt and place it all in the jar you have prepared. Place wet piece of cotton on the dirt and keep it damp to provide moisture for the ants. The ants may be fed by adding ant food or tiny table scraps twice weekly. Make holes in the lid and secure. To observe the ants, remove the dark paper. Have the student draw a picture of what he sees.
Day 5: Most insects have two antennae. The antennae are used to feel and smell and sometimes taste and hear. Ants and bees rely more on their sense of smell than their sight to tell who belongs in their colony. Give everybody in the family (or group of friends) cups with cotton balls - half scented with strawberry extract and half with vanilla extract. The strawberry scent represented the ants and the vanilla represented the bees. Have one student play the role of the sentry bee of the bee hive was responsible for letting in the bees (vanilla scented cotton balls) and stinging the ants (strawberry scented cotton balls). 
Day 6: Have your student make paper tunnels and chambers and have your student add this to the mural.
Day 7: Using the mural and the paper ants, act out stories of insect behavior. The hungry ants go searching for food and sometimes invade a beehive because they smell the sweet honey. They try to get in to get the honey but the hive's sentry bees won't let them. 
Day 8: The foraging ants can discover aphids on the flowers. Make paper aphids to put on the paper plants. These look similar to the ants, but are made from light green paper. Ants love to get honeydew that the aphids excrete from their bodies, and the aphids like the protection the ants can give. This is a symbiotic relationship.
Day 9: When a scout bee finds a good source of nectar, it dances a special figure 8 dance. The more rapid the dance, the nearer the food. The angle of the dance indicates the relationship of the nectar to the sun. Have the student pretend to be a bee that has just found a garden full of flowers containing nectar. Place a picture of a flower somewhere in the room and have the student do a dance of body language to show another student or family member where they can find the flower. Make sure the student knows he cannot point or look at the flower picture. 
Ants also forage. If you have a large enough group, you can have the ants forage and bring back food to their nests, too.
Day 10: Once bees are old enough, they follow the forager bees' instructions to find flowers and gather nectar and pollen. After having your paper bees visit the paper flowers on the mural, add pollen bags (of construction paper) on the back legs of our bees and glue pollen (cornmeal) to them, simulating the pollen they would have picked up from visiting the flowers. Give your students Cheetos for a snack and show them how they get the orange color from the Cheetos on their fingers just as the bees get the pollen on their legs.
Day 11: On this week's nature walk, have the student begin a list in his science journal of all the insects he finds and identifies. He may add to this list each week. (See Handbook of Nature Study blog's Outdoor Hour Challenge #5.)

Day 12: Give your student the seven hexagons that you made in lesson 2. Have him write a fact about bees on each hexagon and then glue the hexagons together in his science journal to make a honeycomb.

Building Lab: Balconies and Awnings

Have your students ever thought about what makes balconies and awnings stable and safe structures? 


Cantilever A projecting structure supported at only one end, such as a shelf bracket or diving board.


Place a heavy book in a bag with straps. Have students first place the bag straps over their arms near the shoulder, and then over the tips of their fingers. Is it equally easy to support the weight in both places? 

They should see that it is much easier to support the bag close to the shoulder, near the fixed base of the cantilever, then at the unsupported fingertip end. A cantilever, such as in balconies and awnings, can support more weight closer to its fixed end.

Have various household materials available and have your students build a business front with a balcony or an awning and make sure that they use something to serve as the cantilever.

Building Lab: Tunnels

Building Lab: Tunnels

One challenge of tunnel engineering is to be precise to ensure that teams building from each end of the tunnel come together in the middle. These activity shows students the importance of communicating precisely, and then an activity on measuring accurately.

The Peanut-Butter Sandwich Activity

Their first challenge is to give the instructions for a simple task, such as making a peanut-butter sandwich. Have one person, such as the teacher, stand in front of the class with the materials to make a peanut-butter sandwich. Have your students, one at a time, give instructions on how to make the sandwich, but make sure you follow their instructions exactly. For example, if they say, "Put the peanut-butter on the bread," then you take the jar of peanut butter and place it on the loaf of bread. Though this hilarious activity, your students will get better at giving precise instructions.

The Building Activity

Break your students into pairs and give each pair an identical set of a dozen or so blocks of different shapes and colors. Have the pair sit back to back and have one in each pair build something with the blocks.

Once the first student has built something, he next has to describe to his partner how to make the identical project without either partner seeing what the other is doing. Once they are done, they can look at the projects and compare them and, if they are not identical, identify where the communication broke down and what they could do in the future to prevent this error. Have them switch roles and do it again.

The Measurement Activity

For this next activity, you will need two plain white paper plates for each student. Students again pair up and sit back to back. Each student marks a circle of the size of his choice (under 3 inches) on their first paper plate at any place he wishes. Give them some time afterwards to consider how to accurately explain how to describe where his circle, or the entrance to the tunnel is, so that he can be able to help his partner make an identical sized circle in the identical place on his second paper plate. Provide rulers and have them make measurements so that they can effectively give accurate descriptions to their partners.
Once they are finished with their preparations, have the students give their partners descriptions and measurements and have the partners make as accurately as they can an identical circle on their second (blank) paper plates. Are the circles identical and in an identical place? Have them switch roles and do the activity again.
If your students are having a difficult time, suggest to them that they make some way of dividing the paper plates (such as dividing the paper plates with straight lines to make 8 identical sections and shade one of the sections in so that they each have a starting point) so that they have the ability to give more descriptions. Do their tunnel circles meet up?

Garden Mural Project, Lesson 2: Insects, Bees

This lesson should last for two weeks.

Day 1: What insects live in a particular location?
Make a can trap to capture the insects of a particular location, such as a part of your backyard. 
Punch holes in the bottom of an empty, clean can. This will make sure that the can does not fill up with water if it rains. Dig a can-sized hole in the location of your choice and place the can in the hole so that its top is at ground level. Put some food for the insects in the can, such as fruit or meat. Cover the top of the can with a board, and put rocks around the edges of the board to life it a few inches from the ground. Check the can regularly and identify the insects that come to your can. Have your student count the number of each type of insect and record all of this in his science journal.
Day 2: Learn about the parts of an insect. 
Lead the student to identify the three body segments common to all insects: head, thorax and abdomen. Discuss how most adult insects have wings. 
Have your student make some aphids out of construction paper and put them on the leaves of the flowers he has made. 
Study the different mouthparts of insects by looking at pictures of insects in books.

Day 3: Insect Symmetry
Have your student make a paper adult butterfly. Fold a piece of construction paper in half. Open the paper and lay it flat on the table. Cut out a butterfly shape. Have student paint details of the butterfly on one side and fold the paper over again. When the butterfly is completed, both sides of the butterfly are exactly the same. They are symmetrical, mirror images of each other. Discuss the concept of symmetry.
Day 4: Nature Study
For this week's nature walk, encourage your child to look for insects. Take an insect field guide with you on a nature walk. Help the student look for and identify insects that you find. What physical characteristics do all insects have in common? Have the student draw a picture of the insect with every feature that makes an insect and insect. Allow the student to refer to the field guide to make an accurate drawing of the insect. Encourage the student to add the natural environment in which the insect was observed. Write any of the student's comments on the page. 

Day 5: Compound Eyes and Nature Walk
Many adult insects have compound eyes. Compound eyes are made up of thousands of tiny separate lenses that work together to complete a picture. Notice the eyes in the insects you find and record on your nature walks.

Day 6: Exoskeletons
All insects have a tough, shell-like outer covering called an exoskeleton. As an insect grows, it sheds or molts one hard shell that is replaced by another. Point this out for observation on your next nature walk.

Day 7: The Beehive
Cut out seven circles, nine squares and seven hexagonal shapes out of yellow construction paper. Allow the student to explore which cell shape is the most efficient building block for a beehive. The cells should fit together without wasted space. Lead the student to the conclusion that the hexagon's six-sided shapes are best because they fit the bee's body shape and fit snugly together. Save these hexagons for a later project.

Day 8: Adding a Bee Hive to the Garden Mural
Have your student make a bee hive out of a paper bag for our mural. Cut a hole in the paper bag for the hive entrance. Glue egg cartons inside the bag for the honeycomb.

Day 9: Bee Stings and a Nature Walk
Talk about bee stings and what is the best behavior for a person near a bee. 
For your next nature walk, focus on your student drawing a sketch in his science journal of a bee or other insect in his science journal. If your student is having difficulty with this, you can follow along with the Outdoor Hour's Getting Started Challenges found at the Handbook of Nature Study blog. Challenge #3 helps guide the student to draw in his journal and #27 focuses on Bees.

Day 10: Paper Bees and Honeycomb
Make bees out of paper and add a Queen Bee and Worker Bees to the hive. Review the parts of insects and compare them to the aphids. Discuss how newly hatched bees work inside the hive first, keeping the hive warm, making wax and feeding the larvae. 
Look at real honeycomb from a jar and taste the honey.

Building Lab, Part 8: Dams and Water Pressure

Water pressure increases with the depth of the water. In deep water, there is more water "piled up," which causes the pressure to be greater at the bottom than at the surface. A dam's design must enable it to withstand greater pressure at the bottom than at the top. As a result, many dams are built in a triangular shape. The wide bottom withstands the great load of the water deep below the surface, while the top of the dam can be built thinner so as not to use unnecessary costly materials.

Water squirts further at greater depths
For greater details on this demonstration, see School for Champions


Poke three holes in the side of a milk carton and cover them with a single strip of tape. Fill the carton with water. Hold the carton with one hand and quickly pull off the tape. The water will stream out of each hole with different force. Explain that water behind a dam is a live load pressing on the dam. The greater the amount of water built up, the greater the pressure–so the water coming from the bottom hole has more force than the water from the top hole.


Water discharging from the bottom of a dam has great force. Have your students brainstorm ways in which to release the pressure and have them illustrate their ideas. They may suggest using multiple spouts, a triangular spout to release the water, or using a "diffuser", which is a structure that is used to break the stream of water, sometimes as simple as just a mass of large boulders.

Build a Dam
You are part of a team of engineers given the challenge of building a system to dam up 5 liters of water in a classroom trough. You'll have lots of materials to use such as cardboard, pvc pipes, tape, foil, plastic wrap, cups, straws, paper clips, wooden dowels, cotton balls, plastic sheets, clothes pins, wire, string, screen, fabric, springs, other readily available materials. You have a base of gravel at the bottom of the trough which simulated the rocky or sandy bottom of a river bed. You'll need to not only stop the water, but develop a system so that you can release a little at a time in a controlled way. You'll need to stop the water, let a little come through, and stop it again. Plan and build a dam model, using the instructions found at Try Engineering. 

The Atmosphere, Physical Science Topic for Middle and High School


Atmosphere exerts pressure on everything that is in it. You can easily demonstrate this by putting a thin layer of water in a small bowl. Take a glass and invert it over the bowl. You should have no more water than is necessary to cover the lip on the inverted glass. Now you can take the glass away and add a few drops of food coloring to the water, so you can more easily see the water. put a candle in the center of the water in the bowl. Light the candle. Invert the glass over the candle and into the water as before. As you already know, the candle will eventually go out, but this time observe what happens to the water level within the jar. Because the candle used up all the oxygen (so there are less molecules), the air in the glass could not exert as much pressure as it did before. There becomes more pressure on the water outside the glass than on the water inside the glass. As a result, the greater outside pressure begins pushing water up inside the glass. Eventually, however, the water level goes back down because the extra water added to the force from the air pressure, and at some point this weight makes up for the lost air pressure. This is really the principle that makes barometers work.

Previous Knowledge

Topic Questions for Research

  • What are the layers of the earth's atmosphere, and what makes each layer unique?
  • What are the layers within the homosphere and what are the differences between these layers?
  • What are the layers and unique characteristics of the heterosphere?
  • Discuss atmosphere, atmospheric pressure and the barometer.
  • What ate jet streams and where do they exist?
  • Discuss the difference in temperature and air pressure in the layers of atmosphere. 

Sources and Resources

Garden Mural Project, part 1: A Field of Sunflowers

This project is a great spring activity to do with preschool, kindergarten or mixed age groups. Students of all elementary grades can benefit from this study. You only need to raise your expectations on how much they can learn and remember and how well they can express what they have learned. They can write their own narrations, for example.
This portion should take a preschool or kindergarten student two weeks to complete.

Mural: Obtain a very large piece of paper or tape several pieces together in order to get a wall-sized mural. Have your student paint the background brown on the lower half for the ground level and blue on the upper half for sky. 

Nature Walk: Weather permitting, take a nature walk with your student each day. It is beneficial for you to read the first part of Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study, The Teaching of Nature-Study, if you have no experience in nature study and its goals. For your first nature walk, have your student just spend time outside and allow him to play in the dirt and point out the blue sky to him. Once inside, have him sketch his experience outside with the earth and sky. For all his nature journal entries, he may choose to just sketch or he may want to include some observations with the sketches. If he is able to write these observations himself, he may, but this is also a good opportunity to have him narrate verbally while you write these down for him on the page.

“...the teacher should have in mind clearly the names of the parts which she wishes to teach...When talking with the pupils about flowers let her use these names naturally...-Handbook of Nature Study, page 456

A Field of Flowers: Learn about the parts of flowers while making the blossoms from paper plates and stems, leaves and other parts from colored construction paper. 
Prepare for this project by gathering together plain white paper plates, tan and green construction paper and sunflower orange-yellow paint. Your student will paint the paper plate with the yellow paint. Then he can glue a tan circle made from construction paper in the center of the plate and glue strips of green construction paper to form the stem. Lastly, he can glue green leaves onto the stems. You must determine in advance whether you need to cut these parts out for him in advance or whether he should cut them out himself. It all depends of the development of the child and what you are working on with him. It is no less his project if you have to cut the parts out for him and he glues them together.
As you are working with the student, making the flower, casually use the correct terms for the parts of the flower. (See Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study, pages 456-457 for details on how to do this.)

Seed Germination: In advance, purchase some sunflower and some bean seeds. You will also need a plastic cup, some potting soil, a glass jar, paper towels and water.

Have them observe the seeds, perhaps with a magnifying glass. Have him compare and contrast the seeds and sketch his observations in his nature journal, including his narrations, if desired.

Next. have him push sheets of paper towel, one at at time, into the glass jar. Once full, add water to wet the paper towels, making sure to dump out the excess water. This will allow more room for additional paper towels, which you can pack in the middle to soak up any excess water and will make sure that the seeds will stay in place.  Now have your student place the seeds in the jar between the wet towels and the glass of the jar. Have him draw this in his science journal. He can view the development of the seed and journal this during the weeks to come.

Have your student plant sunflower seeds in plastic cups of soil. Have your student observe and sketch the plant's development regularly in his science journal. Be sure to include the dates. 
Nature Walk: During this week's nature walk, look for some garden flowers in your own yard or neighborhood. You only need to spend 15-20 minutes on this nature walk. Compare and contrast the flowers that you see. Begin to use the correct labels for plant parts that you have learned. Give your student an opportunity to make a journal entry after each nature walk.

Additional Resources:

    Snapshot Summary: April 2018

    Note: I will be archiving the Snapshot Summary posts to my family memories blog, Bergblog after one month. See the Our Homeschool What Our Homeschool Looks Like tab at the top of this blog to find the links to the archived Snapshot Summary posts.
    We had a lovely Easter.
    We made three kinds of homemade candy eggs. These are the chocolate covered homemade marshmallow eggs.
    Katie, Hope and I went to a local Empty Bowls event.
    I am still painting a lot and Peter is my buddy while I paint.
    Despite the chill, we have been down to the beach a few times.


    James has been to a few tournaments at his MTG gaming club. As far as school goes, this is what he has studied this month:

    American History II: Key topics: Railroads; Civil War fashions; The Compromise of 1812; Abraham Lincoln and the rise of the Republican Party to oppose slavery; Secession; Ft. Sumter; Generals of the Civil War; Gettysburg Address; Crosby, Dickerson, and Moody; Frances Willard’s crusade against alcohol; Baseball, football, and horse racing; A ship full of women; Wagon trains; The lure of gold and land; Western territories become states; Carnegie’s railroad and “iron horses”; The Washington Monument; Alexander G. Bell’s telephone; George Washington Carver

    World Geography: Key topics: Africa Madagascar, Sinai Peninsula, Strait of Gibraltar, landlocked countries, Sahara Desert, Atlas Mountains, tectonic plate, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Ras Dashen, Ethiopian Highlands, Nile River, Lake Victoria, Rift Valley, Niger River, Zanzibar island, Persians, apartheid, Swahili, Afro-asiatic languages.

    Integrated Physics and Chemistry II: Key topics: x-rays, radioactivity, electrons, protons, neutrons, isotopes, subatomic particles, half-life, radiation sickness, artificial radioactivity, fission, nuclear reactor, Albert Einstein, nuclear weapons, particle accelerators, detectors, conservation laws, nuclear energy, Rutherford, Becquerel, Marie Currie, Chadwick, Klaproth, Newton, Bohr

    English 10: Composition Skills: Key topics: the basics of writing, repairing sentences, constructing a composition—prewriting, planning, drafting, editing, and proofreading; cause and effect, comparison and contrast within composition, and comparison and contrast between compositions.

    Basic Math Skills: Key topics: fractional metrics, English to Metric System, conversions, prime, mean, mode, median, range, scientific notation: multiplying and dividing, estimates, interest, temperature conversions


    Quentin has been very busy with voice lessons and rehearsals for two productions he will be in. This has taken over most weekends and every evening from 5:30-10:00 or so. 

    In terms of school work, he has mostly working on a large writing project, a book on a role-playing game his is creating. This project has required a lot of research as he is making it historically accurate. He has also worked on biology, physical science and Bible.

    The College Kids: Katie and Sam

    Both Katie and Sam are doing well this semester. Sam just finished an interesting paper for his Psychology class on the Unibomber, and Katie interviewed a local small businessman, Doug Sassi, a master potter.

    How was your April?

    Building Lab, Part 7:Towers

    Many forces are at work on towers. Gravity and the dead load of the tower push down, the ground pushes back up, and small air movements push from the side. A foundation distributes the load into the surrounding ground material and can help balance the sideways wind force. The size of the foundation depends on the strength of the supporting ground. A foundation placed in rock can be smaller than a foundation placed in sand or mud.

    Challenge your students this week to build the tallest tower they can. You can use any materials you like, such as blown up balloons, uncooked spaghetti or newspapers and tape.  Remind students to think all the ways they can alter the materials they are working with. Encourage them to think about shapes and stability. Reinforce that this is not a competition between groups, but rather a chance to learn from others' discoveries so that looking at what other groups are doing is good. Remind them that they may use the tape to stiffen the materials such as paper, particularly at the base, or to hold stable shapes such as triangles or columns together.  

    As groups finish and measure their towers, everyone should be encouraged take a group tour of the results, thinking about the creations in terms of what forces are affecting these towers. The dead load of the tower are pushing down, the surface is pushing back up, and small air movements are adding forces from the side. What different solutions did groups come up with to counteract these forces? What is similar about the taller structures? Encourage students to point out creative uses of shapes, fastening techniques, wide bases, and other solutions to balancing and stiffening their towers.