Sunday, October 19, 2014

Erosion - Science Fair Project

Earth Science Unit Study
Week 33:  What kind of ground erodes the fastest?

Several types of soil were tested by pouring water on equal amounts of soil to determine which erodes the fastest. The following is my 10 year old son's science fair project.

One type of erosion is when ground gets broken off by a river or a stream. This is sometimes bad because it can change the rivers course by clogging it up. Sometimes erosion happens right under houses. If that happens you should pack up your belongings and leave. If you don’t have time, pack up your valuables and leave. Erosion is bad for farmers because it washes away their lose ground. Erosion happens fast or slow on different kinds of ground.

My hypothesis is sand will erode fastest because it is only little rocks. Mud and leaves will erode the least because the leaves will slow it down.

sand, mud and leaves, compost, shovel, watering can with water, scale

First I got a scale, then I got one cup of compost, sand, mud and leaves. I weight the compost, sand and mud. Then I got a watering can. After that I got a shovel for a hill. I poured water five seconds on each kind of soil then I waited for the soil to dry. After it dried I weighed it to see how much eroded away.


It turned out I was partially right. Sand eroded the most. Sand lost one hundred eighty grams. Mud and leaves lost seventy grams. Compost lost sixty two grams. I was surprised that mud and leaves eroded the second most. I thought mud and leaves would erode least. The little sticks in the compost must have slowed the erosion down more than the leaves.

The results could be different if the amount of erosion was calculated based on volume instead of weight. Other ground coverings may erode more or less than the tested materials. Maybe next time I could test clay, rock, smaller rocks, wood chips, dirt and grass, and plastic like the type at Donnelly Park.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Brunelleschi's Dome - Weight Distribution Activity for Kids

Renaissance History Unit - Week 3: We did a weight distribution, engineering activity in conjunction with a study on Brunelleschi's Dome.

Brunelleschi was a Renaissance artist and engineer from Florence, Italy. Although he lost the competition to design doors of bronze for the Florence Baptistery, he went on to design a fantastic dome.

Construction of the Santa Maria del Fiore was nearly complete, but there was no plan in place for the construction of the dome. Brunelleschi won the contract and his design from 1420 still rests atop the Cathedral. 

This video from the Khan Academy explains the double dome construction and the herringbone design on the outer shell.

Weight Distribution Project
Heavy Books or Weights

The challenge was to support as much weight as possible using four egg shells taped around the middle and broken in half.

The kids were given the eggs and free to arrange them how they thought would best support weight.

The kids discussed the foot print of their eggs.

The designs were tested by placing a clipboard atop the egg shells and putting weights on top until the shells cracked. 

In the most successful layouts the eggs were in a square pattern. This was a great project to learn about weight distribution. I'm encouraging my kids to repeat it to see how much additional weight can be supported using six egg shell domes with different layouts. In addition, since we have a seemingly endless supply of toilet paper rolls I'm encouraging them as a substitute for egg shells.

Check out these great blog hops. They are filled with activity ideas for kids.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

History After Story of the World

Many of us have enjoyed A Child's History of the World, or the Story of the World series of books to introduce children to world history, but once the series has been read, what's next?

These books lay the foundations for further in-depth history study. Mentally, world history timelines begin to form and major events become connected with geographical locations. The next logical step in a history study is to cover a geographical region's history in more detail. By systematically focusing on new regions and time periods, more of the timeline which began to form with the living history books gets filled in. But, there are so many countries and time periods to study that selecting a few can seem overwhelming. America, India, Australia, China, Greece and Rome, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, South America, Mexico, South Africa and so many more places have stories of their own. Basic knowledge gained by reading the stories can help in selecting a region. Personal interest and family history can focus studies.

The history stories of many regions begin with the people learning to farm and forming communities. The communities grow and eventually rulers such as Kings emerge. There are times of war with neighboring lands, conquering, periods of peace, civil wars, and golden ages. Further, there are periods when outsiders mix with natives and periods when great changes occur. There are many cycles which repeat themselves in different cultures and time periods. By selecting any one geographical region to study and following the study with new regions, empires and time periods, these cycles become evident. Knowledge of multiple historical time periods increases the predictions of how actions and events of our politicians will influence future outcomes.

Fortunately, the format of learning history through stories is not new. Though the Story of the World is very popular today, there are many other history story books which cover specific regions and/or time periods. Here is a list of books which can serve as history spines for covering one geographical region or time period. They are all written in a story format. I have read several of the books on this list, but not all of them. Many are on our future history read list.

Author H.E. Marshall
Germany - The History of Germany
United Kingdom - Our Island Story
United Kingdom - Through Great Britain and Ireland with Cromwell
England - Our Empire Story
Scotland - Scotland's Story
Europe - The Story of Europe
America - This Country of Ours
France - The Story of Napoleon

Author Mary MacGregor
The Netherlands
Stories of the Vikings
The Story of France
The Story of Rome
The Story of Greece

Author Eva March Tappan
Middle Ages - European Hero Stories
Middle Ages - Heros of the Middle Ages
Greece, Rome and Persia - Old World Hero Stories
Greece - The Story of the Greek People
Middle Ages - When Knights were Bold

Author M.B. Synge
Europe, Reformation - The Awakening of Europe
Explorers from Babylon to the South Pole - Book of Discovery
From Romans to Spanish Conquest - Discovery of New Worlds
Europe - Middle Ages - Brave Men and Brave Deeds
England - Great Englishmen 
England - Great Englishwomen
England - Growth of the British Empire
Mediterranean Sea (Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, etc) - On the Shores of the Great Sea
European Colonization - The Struggle for Sea Power
England - The Reign of Queen Victoria
England - The Tutors and the Stuarts

Author Robert VanBergen
The Story of China
The Story of Japan
The Story of Russia

What have you done for history studies after Story of the World or A Child's History of the World? Have you read similar books not on this list? If you have recommendations for history story books especially those on Egypt, Australia, India, Aztecs, Incas, Mayans, South Africa, or Africa. Please leave me a comment.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Home Spun Knitted Hats

These home spun knitted hats were created from dyed merino wool near a worsted weight and knitted on size 10.5 needles.

Finding knitting projects simple enough for kids and entertaining enough to motivate them can be a challenge. This simple hat fits the bill. Although I spun the wool for the hat, purchased yarn would work just as well.

Spinning wool into yarn and knitting are two of my favorite hobbies. I learned to spin when living in Colorado after visiting a history event which had a spinning demonstration. It just so happened a lady who lived a few miles away was willing to teach my daughter who was five years old at the time.

We spent three 30 minute sessions with her learning to spin on a hand-held spindle, and then bought ourselves a wheel. It is a very rewarding and creative hobby.

Just as knitters have a natural tendency to knit loosely or pull the stitches very tightly, spinners have a tendency to spin thick yarn, or thin yarn. The yarn I make tends to be close to a worsted weight yarn and I knit loosely.

The yarn for these hats was created by spinning balls of solid colors (lavender, aqua, raspberry, gold and pink - magenta, purple, lavender and aqua) and then spinning the balls together into plied yarn which contained two strands of different colors.

The hat pattern:Cast on 60 stitches and join into the round
k1, p1 for 1 inch
knit 6.5 inches then decrease as follows
k8, k2tog - 54 stitches
k7, k2tog - 48 stitches
k6, k2tog - 42 stitches
k5, k2tog - 36 stitches
k4, k2tog - 30 stitches
k3, k2tog - 24 stitches
k2, k2tog - 18 stitches
k1, k2tog - 12 stitches
k2tog - 6 stitches
string the yarn through remaining loops and tie off hat

Hat 1:
Topper Loops:

To create the loops on top of the hat five 4" snakes were created. By casting on four stitches and pushing the stitches to the opposite end of the double pointed needle and knitting, instead of knitting back and forth, a small circular tube was created. Each of the tubes were sewn to the top of the hat in a loose pretzel shape securing both ends to the inside of the hat by tying the lead and cast-off yarn pieces together.

Hat 2:
Flower Pattern:
Cast on 6 stitches
*cast off 4 stitches, knit 2
*knit 2, cast on 4 stitches
Repeat two starred rows 15 times
sew the flower into a circle

Flower center
Cast on 3 stitches
knit 3 two rows
knit 3 with tail two rows
cast off and sew into a semi-sphere

Next, the flower was sewn onto the hat and center of the flower was added on top of the flower.

To find more simple knitting projects for kids and beginners, please see our Arts and Crafts page.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Measuring Distance, Area and Volume

Day 2: Measuring Distances, Areas and Volumes

We decided whether to use distance, area or volume when measuring.

Here are the items we chose to measure.
height of the chair
distance from one kid to the next
size of the face of the book
how much the block box could hold
size of the chair seat

First the kids decided whether to measure in inches, square inches or cubic inches.
Next, they decided how they would measure the items, and began. The first time the seat was measured, one square inch squares were slid across the surface and counted. The second time, they switched to a rectangle of paper which contained 12 square inches.

Finally they realized they could use a tape measure to make the task go even quicker. Since the seat was perfectly square, measuring and calculating the area also provided an opportunity to discuss estimation, accuracy and rounding.

 Check out these great blog hops. They are filled with activity ideas for kids.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mountain Making Activities for Kids

Week 32: We used dough to make a mountain forming model and silly putty to learn about the three stages of deformation.

Geologists search for clues to discover how the Earth was made in the How the Earth Was Made series of videos. Items such as rocks, fossils, ridges, and soil boring samples hold keys to the geological past. Mount Everest, The Alps and The Rockies episodes all feature the history of mountain making so were the perfect trio to accompany this lesson.

How Mountains Are Made (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) is a children's book which explains how mountains are made with lots of pictures.

One way mountains are created is when tectonic plates push against each other forcing them to rise where they meet. To play with different scenarios we layered modeling clay and pushed the ends together 


Elastic, plastic and fracture are the three types of deformation. All three are part of the mountain formation process.

Elastic deformation is best demonstrated with a rubber band or a piece of elastic. After it is stretched it returns to its initial form.

Plastic deformation can be demonstrated by gently pulling silly putty apart. The putty changes shape, but does not break.

Fracture deformation happens when putty is pulled quickly apart.

To see more of our hands-on science activities please visit our Science Page.

Check out these great blog hops. They are filled with activity ideas for kids.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Weapons of the Renaissance - Make Your Own Cannon

Week 2: We made and fired cannons.

Gunpowder had a profound effect during the Renaissance. It changed fighting tactics, weapons and armor, and fort construction. Gunpowder was invented by the Chinese during the ninth century, but didn't reach Europe until 400 years later.

Although the trebuchet and catapult were both used during the Renaissance, the cannon gradually took over. The Warwolf was a grand trebuchet belonging to Edward Longshanks and used to fight the Scots in 1304. The Battle of Crecy, which took place in 1346, was the first major battle in which the cannon was used. King Charles VIII of France used the cannon in 1494 to defeat the Italians, which lead to the exile of the Medici Family in Florence.

The top secret formula for gunpowder contained charcoal, sulfur and potassium nitrate. The mystery ingredient, potassium nitrate also known as saltpeter, was produced from the dung of barn animals. Experts who became skilled at producing saltpeter from horse dung were known as Petermen.

Once water was added to gunpowder and it was made into "cakes", it became easier to transport and cannons began to develop. The first cannons had large barrels made of bronze and could shoot heavy stone balls great distances. Improved processing techniques of saltpeter resulted in more powerful cannons. Later cannons were loaded from the rear (breech loading).

Cannons rendered armor nearly useless, and thick walled forts were no longer sufficient defenses. In addition, spots surrounding the outer castle circular towers were dead zones, much like blind spots for drivers operating motor vehicles. Archers could not reach the areas and enemy could safely launch attacks from dead zones. In an attempt to improve defenses, Michaelangelo redesigned the footprint of the castle to have pointy corners. The new castle layouts were known as star forts. Although they improved defense, the invention of the cannon was responsible for the destruction of many medieval castles.

The invention of the cannon lead to the invention of the hand cannon which is much like it sounds. A scary to fire cannon small enough to be held. The hand cannon led to the arquebus, or an early version of the musket. They were first fired with a match, and later improved by using a device similar to a lighter to ignite the gunpowder. Further advance led to arquebus which were lit by flintstone.

After learning about gunpowder and cannons, it was time to make and fire our own cannons.

Make a Cannon

water bottle
baking soda
duct tape
 The first step was to cut two wheels from cardboard.

A pencil was poked through the wheels and taped to the base of the water bottle so the cannon could be aimed upward.

Next a paper towel was cut in half and the two ply layers were separated.

A tablespoon of baking soda was scooped into the center of the paper towel.

Then it was wrapped up.

Vinegar, the secret ingredient, was poured into the cannon (about 1/2 cup).

The baking soda, cannon ball was dropped into the bottle.

A tight fitting cork was placed in the mouth of the bottle.

The cannon was gently agitated.

Then aimed..........
and boom.

The kids really liked this project. It was simple and I highly recommend it!
Check out these great blog hops. They are filled with activity ideas for kids.

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