Category: Science

Baking Soda and Vinegar Space Rocket

Age: 7 & 10

Science Co-op Session 1 Week 7: Baking Soda and Vinegar Space Rocket

Agenda:  Space Rocket

Materials Needed: baking Soda, vinegar, plastic bottle, construction paper, scissors, tape, duck tape, wine cork, plastic saran wrap, funnel, straw, paper towel

Two weeks into class, I asked Eclectic Mama is she would mind researching and running the last class.  I had a vague thought that ending our exploration of Astronomy by building a rocket was a good idea.   But I got overwhelmed by the rocket options available as I started researching so I pawned off the whole task to her instead.

Best decision ever and I will try to also ask someone else to do our last class for our next session.  They have 6 weeks to research and come up with a lesson plan and I will then have 2 weeks of recharge time.

Anyways.  As this was our last class, there was no real agenda other than to have fun building a rocket.  This took us the whole 1.5 hours because it was so so fun for the kids. (more…)

Toilet Paper Solar system 

Age: 7, 10

Science Co-op Session 1 Week 6: Solar System

Agenda:

  • Book on Neil Armstrong
  • Toilet paper Solar system
  • Draw your own solar system

This is week 6 of our first co-op session.  I’m reaching a point where I procrastinate prepping night after night until the night before class.   Next week Eclectic Mama will do a rocket ship presentation.  Everyone is thankful that we’re doing a 6/7 week on 1 week off schooling routine.

I’m kicking myself that I did not do this type of schedule earlier.  It gives us so much more breathing room.

This week the focus is on the planets.   Given our limited time I thought the best thing to do is to get the kids to at least memorize all the planet names in both English and Chinese.  If they want to follow up, they can do that at home.

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DIY Solar Oven

Age: 7 & 10

Science Session 1 week 5: The Sun

Agenda:

  • Picture book – 射向太陽的箭 Arrow to the Sun
  • Solar Eclipse Overview
  • DIY Solar Oven
  • Manga Encyclopedia – 星空大搜密 Secrets of the Sky

After the First Great Lesson and a quick overview of the moon, it time to focus on the sun this week.

I’m amazed we managed to pull off an interesting project for the children for this weeks focus on the sun. As the weeks progress it takes me longer and longer to prep for my science co-op.   I really need to plan it all out in the beginning.  Prepping takes a lot of effort and is easily side tracked by life.

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Montessori’s First Great Lesson

Age: 7 & 10

Science Co-op Session 1 Week 4: Montessori First Great Lesson

Agenda:

  • First Great Lesson Presentation
  • Van Gogh Starry Night Art
  • Break
  • Moon Log

After 3 weeks of background presentations, this week was IT, the First Great Lesson.  This presentation was already done two school years ago, in Fall 2016.   I’ve never quite liked the lesson the way it was taught to me because I don’t have the best classroom management skills yet and dealing with kids who go off script when you show them the experiments while you’re busy telling the story throws me into a loop, and then I start rushing and things fall apart.

This year, I decided to change things up by using the story as told in The Deep Well of Time.  The author advocates telling the story by doing all the presentations in the weeks leading up to the lesson, then make the story an oral story, without reading from the book.  Alas, I could not memorize the whole story.  So I did read from the book, but tried to tell it as much as possible without reading straight.

The other thing I changed was to tell the story in English so that I’m not stumbling over words and shortening the whole story because I don’t have the words for them.  Thankfully, all the children in the co-op actually could benefit from more English exposure. (more…)

Solids and Liquids are Dense

Age: 7 & 10

Science Co-op Session 1 Week 3: Solids and Liquids are Dense

Agenda:

  • 盤古 Pangu – Chinese Creation Myth
  • Solids are Dense Lab #1
  • Liquids are DenseToo worksheet
  • Lab from Daily Living Science 生活裡的科學

Density is a concept that is repeated very often in the First Great Lesson.  It wasn’t until training that I realized density had a big hand in how the Earth was formed (air in our atmosphere vs the heavy earth core).   It’s why I continue to come back to Montessori science even though I find it hard to implement, because it ties all the disparate scientific concepts together and show how they’re related to each other. (more…)

Properties of Solids, Liquid, Gas

Age: 7 & 10

Science Co-op Session 1: Week 2 – Properties of Solids, Liquids, Gas

Agenda:

  • Mayan Creation Myth
  • Nomenclature Overview – Solid/liquid/gas
  • Air Takes up Space Lab
  • The States of Matter Lab: Presto-ChangE-o water Lab
  • Supplmental for kids who are interested:
    • Radio Lab: Solid as a Rock http://www.radiolab.org/story/259774-solid-rock/
    • Radio Lab: Speed http://www.radiolab.org/story/267124-speed/

Looking back after we finished the session, I planned too many activities.  Everyone is still getting used to the schedule of arriving at 10:30.  So if we don’t start on time, then the kids start loosing focus by 11:30 because they’re hungry. (more…)

Cold and Very Cold

Age: 7 & 10

Science Co-Op Session 1 Week 1: Cold and Very Cold

Agenda:

  • Norse Myths
  • Cold and Very Cold
  • Blow up Balloon with Dots

After a whole year of gap year traveling, we are back to doing our science co-op.  This is the only way I’m able to squeeze in science, by forcing myself to meet with other homeschoolers once a week.

After talking to Eclectic Mama, we decided to change the format of the class now that the kids are older.  Namely:

  • Limit to age 7 and up.
  • Limit to 4 kids in the beginning
  • One person teach
  • $10 material fee per person.
  • A scheduled start and ending time
  • Bilingual science/history class

The format of the class got set once I realized that I really do want to teach the class because I wanted to do Montessori science.  I’m partial to it because it ties all the different disciplines in science together.   The other thing I really need, because I now have a 4th grader, is a class that doesn’t just have fun activities, but more thoughtful discussion and perhaps some writing.

In order to do that I had to limit it to a group of similar age kids (3 year difference max).  To help with the prep and to encourage people to arrive on time, we also added a $10 material fee and I even wrote up a class description.  All to make it feel like a class that you need to commit to.

Lastly, now that the children are older, we can add English into the class.  In fact, most of the kids actually need some English instruction to help with English exposure.  This, along with the material fee, would help make prep easier, as one reason I kept procrastinating was because I did not relish the painstaking task of translating something like the First Great Lesson story into Chinese.

Thankfully I have cool friends who are easy going and willing to go along with my always overly ambitious plans.  Eclectic Mama even spent an afternoon with me while I babble through my lesson plan options.  Because I can only think through problems by talking about it, rather than thinking in my head. (more…)

Video: 生活裡的科學 Science Around Us

Age: 6.5 & 9.5 (Suitable for Kindergarten+)

For recommendations on other books/videos/audios, I’ve indexed them all under the Chinese Books Page.

We’re making our own sourdough starter and tonight the kids watched an episode from Science Around Us 生活裡的科學 to give them some of the vocabulary they are encountering.   Though it turned out that’s not what the episode is about, I was reminded just how great this series is for elementary kids.  I need to let them watch this after we’re done with 甜心格格 Sweetheart Princess.

Science Around Us 生活裡的科學 is a series put out by Daai TV, owned by Tzuchi Foundation, a Buddhist organization based in Taiwan.  But the series is secular.  This is the description on their website:

Science around Us is a children’s program that solves the mysteries behind all sorts of phenomena in people’s everyday life.

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Science: Volcanos 火山爆發

After weeks of slacking off in science due to move, I finally did a presentation today on volcanos.  It’s actually because our Story of the World chapter had an activity on volcanos and I signed up for it.  We’re trying a new thing in our co-op where we each sign up to host and present a history chapter so it’s not so hard on the two members who had been hosting most of the time.  Thankfully it nicely segwayed into layers of the earth and volcanos in science, planned presentations months ago before I veered off course.

Before we started on volcanos, first we had to continue from our First Great Lesson story about how the earth was created.   (We’d already done a few presentations on the states of matters but I also skipped a few presentations in the Creation of the Earth section of my album.)

First we read a picture book on the layers of the earth.  It’s a story about two animals who decided to dig their way to the other side of the earth.  From the picture book we learned some layers of the earth terms. (more…)

The First Great Lesson

Last semester, we started our Science co-op and used Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding (BFSU) as a guide.  Because I was the only Montessori mom, and most of the kids were still 5, we ended up doing some lessons like the Long Black Strip from my album, and then more primary level activities like exploring what solids, liquids, and gas is and The Earth’s Rotation
However, by Spring semester, most of the children turned 6.  As I was planning our spring curriculum, and contemplating how I keep referring back to the earth’s history for certain lessons, I realized that to reset our Science curriculum, we really need to start from the beginning with the First Great Lesson.children universe

The First Great Lesson is why I like the Montessori science curriculum and really also underlines the philosophy of BFSU.  It basically tells the story of the earth’s creation from the Big Bang onward.  There are 6 great lessons in all. All of these serves to tie your science curriculum together so that you’re not just studying individual topics.  Instead you realize that all scientific knowledge is inter-connected. Children of the Universe is a really great book that talks about all 6 Great Lessons and how/why you present them.

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