Sunday, 27 September 2015

Speedy chemical reactions

In science this week we were looking at how chemical reactions are affected by heat.

To prove our point we started with two identical glow sticks, we placed one in a cup of hot water and one in a cup of cold water - within a few minuets we could easily see that the hot glowstick was much brighter.

We allowed them both to adjust to room temperature then popped one in the freezer for just over an hour. Which again showed that the cold stick was less bright because the reaction was slowing down.

We then decided to see if heating the vinegar would make a difference to our soda and washing up liquid explosions - lots of messy fun.

Going to bed the girls decided to put the glowsticks in a glass of cold water on their shelf, when I asked why Rose responded 'cause it will last longer'. Glad to see the lesson stuck :)

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Fascinating Education Biology - TOS Review

I loved reviewing the Chemistry programme from Fascinating Education last year, so was very pleased when the chance to review Fascinating Biology came up.

Fascinating Education is an on-line curriculum that uses audio-visual techniques to teach science in an engaging way. Created by Dr Margulies (a neurologist) as a way to introduce and teach science to those with no previous knowledge - he presents the information slowly, in plain english and following a structured story line. He has created three courses, aimed at middle to high school ages, Biology, Chemistry and Physics, each is a complete on-line science program with lessons, scripts and tests.

Fascinating Biology is an 18 chapter biology course, the chapters include:

  • What is Life
  • Chemistry Review
  • Cell Membrane
  • Take in Nutrients
  • Take in Energy
  • Metallic Bond
  • Growth
  • Reproduce
  • Homeostasis
  • Adaptation
  • Protists, Animals and Fungi
  • Animals
Because chemistry is so important to understanding biology, Dr. Margulies has created a 6 lesson chemistry pre-course that is useful for students who haven’t studied chemistry yet.

Each lesson contains a series of images/slides displayed whilst Dr Margulies explains the concept in a clear, easy to understand manner. Each lesson includes a script as well as a glossary of terms and a test.

The lesson is divided into subtopics, which are displayed to the left side of the screen on a menu bar. This allows you to stop the lessons at any time, recap information you may not have understood the first time around and pause a lesson to come back where you left off at a later time.

The Script comes as a PDF of the lesson, we printed them out and they were really helpful for annotating and making notes on.

The glossary defines some of the terms. This was very useful for the girls as it helped them with some of the harder words. 

The review test at the end is a multiple choice test, there is the option to review the answers if you get too many wrong and then retake the test. There is also the option to print out the tests.

Both Lilly (13) and Sunflower (11) used this programme and I watched it alongside them. They found the lessons engaging and fairly easy to follow and once again I was pleased by breath of knowledge covered.

I was very impressed by this programme, I think its great that he designs the course so you can complete it with no previous science knowledge and I think it perfect for anyone who wants to learn science in an easy way. I think it would have been nice to see more hands on lab type work with the course (the Chemistry labs were great) and I think a nice touch would have been a link to the relevant video clip to correct a wrong answer rather than just showing what the right answer is.

Fascinating Biology is available for $79 for a year’s access (Chemistry and Physics are the same price) and the Chemistry pre-course is $20. You can combine any two courses for $125 a year, or have all three for $175 for two years. You can also see the course outlines and get a free sample lesson for each course.

You can see what my crewmates thought of this, Fascinating Chemistry or Fascinating Physics over at the TOS Blog

Sunday, 20 September 2015

School again

Our school year started again this week (we should have started last week but postponed so we could spend some time on the beach - the joy of flexibility), we took it fairly slowly just to get them back into the habit.

We explored shells (from our beach trip), picked and studied wheat and harvested our fruit trees for our nature studies.

The older girls were reintroduced to their math programs while Rose did some work on geometry. I also sneaked in an extra hundred square for her as she wanted to do a countdown chart to her birthday and knowing it was a hundred days or so until Christmas (thanks people for giving me nightmares-you know who I'm talking too) convinced her to do a countdown to Christmas instead.

For science we just watched some Mystery Science videos and because Sunflower wanted to know why clouds don't float into space we did some reading and investigating. We also managed a quick snail study.

Art was mud pie sculptures - my favourites were the snail with its stone trail and the pig.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Stinky Kid Math - TOS Review

We love finding new ways of learning math, so a chance to review Stinky Kid Math by Stinky Kid Math was welcome.

Stinky Kid Math is an on-line subscription program that is designed as a supplement to your regular math studies, like a tutor or homework helper (just much more fun). It is packed full of videos, games and worksheets

Created by teacher Todd Matia with the purpose of helping kids engage with, understand and visualise math concepts. Todd covers the topics of Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry - you can choose to watch the videos in that order or jump around different topics to match in with your studies (we jumped around).

Once you have logged in you click on the topic you wish to cover and it pulls up the videos, booklets and worksheets for the topic - it also suggests any games which relate to that topic.

The video lessons were a real hit (second only to the games), they are designed to present each concept in a clear and engaging manner. The smart boards and chalk boards in the backgrounds annotate the information in an easy to understand way and the teachers use fun examples to explain. My favourite aspect of the videos were they way they used real life examples as problems to solve. Each video varied in length, usually a couple of minutes long.

The books are basically a written chapter that covers the same material as the video. You can download them or just read on-line. We chose to download as it gave the girls something to take notes in and include in their math notebooks.

The worksheets can also be downloaded . They are a great way of checking the students really understood everything they covered. There is also an answer for each worksheet and they show the working out so if they get it wrong they can see why and where.

The games were the girls favourite section and really helped hone their skills. These were;
  • Geometry Runner –a good old fashioned arcade style game where you run and jump to collect the correct geometric shapes.
  • Geometry Playground – exploring and manipulating different geometric shapes.
  • Shifter – matching shapes and colours by converting fractions, decimals and percents.
  • Math-a-Mole –using graphing points to blow up mole holes on a golf course.
  • Integer Game – a game show where you practise math facts. 

We started using Stinky Kid Math by following their advice and creating a notebook to record information from the videos.

We chose to use it to back up our existing math work rather than following the order so I picked topics to match what we were already learning that day, then playing the videos on our TV (it would have been just as easy to play them on-line but I chose the TV because it had a bigger screen) while they took notes either in their notebooks or on the downloaded and printed books, then they worked individually on the worksheets or played the games.

I was impressed by the content of the videos - they explained it in an easily understandable manner and started everything at the very basics
. I found it worked really well as a group lesson for the girls as they all loved the videos. Lilly and Sunflower both worked on a couple of topics on their own online as some of the algebra lessons were too advanced for 6yo Rose (even though she still wanted to watch 'math TV' with her sisters). Overall its been a popular addition to our math lessons.

Stinky Kid Math is available for $9.99/month.

You can see what my crew mates thought over at the TOS Blog.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Edible Aquifers and Slinky Seismic Waves

We had a great Geography Fair at our Home Ed group yesterday.

They got to find their home on an ordinance survey map and plot the coordinates,

made edible aquifers,

learnt all about the four different types of seismic wave (P, S, Love and Rayleigh) using a slinky

Discussed tectonic plates using cake as an example

Explored rivers

Looked at the effects of earthquakes on Lego buildings (it was an upside down table resting on balloons) and explored the geographical locations of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

We also got to enjoy some fruity milkshakes donated by A2 milk (#sharethekindness)

 (and yes - the spotty cow balloons they sent were used under the earthquake table)

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Roman Town by Dig-It! games - TOS Review

 I don't think my girls have ever been as excited for a review as when I told them we were doing another from Dig-It! Games. We did their Mayan Mysteries game last year and the girls loved it. This year we got the Roman Town (iOS App) which is a investigative game-based learning app for the ipad that requires iOS 8.0 or later to run.

Dig-It! games is the brainchild of Suzi Wilczynski who has a background in Mediterranean archaeology and teaching. She has managed to create an amazing series of archaeology games that my kids love.

Once I downloaded the app, I let the girls loose - Lilly and Sunflower both started playing individually but soon had a helper each with Tulip and Rose joining in.

Roman Town starts with the discovery that Ladrone, the master thief, is at it again and It is up to you to track the villain whilst exploring and learning about Roman culture. You start playing (as either Charlie or Fiona) by visiting with tourists in Pompeii. Each time you talk to a different character there is a pop-up voice bubble that shares information and sends you off to complete tasks (games and puzzles) and gain clues. There are 4 different scenes in Pompeii; the Street, House of the Vettii, the Baths and Temple of Jupiter. 

There are various mini games or challenges which include identifying artifacts, translating Roman numerals, memory games, pipe puzzles, Calculi (a Roman board game), code breaking, knuckle bones, jigsaw games, dots and boxes, mazes etc. The great thing is you can try each game as many times as you need until you have 'won' and got the clue.

I loved that the mini games were great for developing problem solving and critical thinking skills but my favourite aspect was 
how historically accurate the information is and how much knowledge the girls have gained just by playing   : )

I felt the game was brilliantly designed and provides a great depth of knowledge as it is packed full of historical facts and information. It is a fun way to encourage a love of history and I can see most children really enjoying this method of learning through play.

The app provided the girls with several hours worth of fun learning and they seem to have retained loads of information. Lilly's favourite game was the artifact match and code cracking activities while Rose really enjoyed converting Roman numerals into numbers and playing 'five in a row' otherwise known as Calculi.

Rose even said it was the best game she had played this summer and she would happily play this again (always a good sign that it went down well).

Roman Town is designed for ages 9-11 but Rose (6) and Tulip (8) both enjoyed playing with a bit of help. The best news is the app is free although there are some in app purchases.

You can see what my crew mates thought of this and some of the other Dig It games over at the TOS Blog

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