RSSArchive for the ‘science’ Category
Posted August 25th, 2009 by Jen in education, family life, features, parenting, science
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My favorite photo from last week is my 10 year old son putting together his “Snap Circuit Set.” He needs a more advanced electricity kit because he does this one by heart and so fast it would make Franklin and Faraday spin.
But he still loves it. What is it about boys and energy/power? Not that girls aren’t into this, I do have a daughter who loves to dabble with this electricity kit as well. But notice I said “dabble.” I certainly give my girls every opportunity I give my boys, and my 8 year old daughter rides a motorcycle right there with her big brother. But still.
Anyway, just look at his intensity and concentrated tongue as he eyes the invisible current; curious, so curious.
My blog theme this month was supposed to be something about mothers being present with their children. I haven’t written much, I’ve been busy. But a good sort of busy and doing what I can with the kiddos in the midst of busy-ness. I suppose I would just recommend to moms out there to include your children in whatever it is you are doing, and include yourself in whatever it is they are doing.
The jobs I give my children I do with them as much as I can. The girls are responsible for the kitchen. Since they can’t reach the cupboards, it means I have to be in there as the hand-to person, grabbing each plate and bowl as fast as they pass them up. As my boys tend the garden, watering and weeding, I will sit with my coffee and marvel with them at how tall the sunflowers have grown, and rejoice with them over the size of the squash.
I was careful to let my son know that I would love to take a picture of him as he constructed a current. This meant a lot to him. My daughter wanted to know that I took a picture of her, too, which I did. This wasn’t about them being proud of being in the spotlight, it was about Mom caring and noticing that they did something noteworthy.
Posted July 9th, 2009 by Jen in family life, parenting, science, the ranch
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“Mommy, can I cut the lizard open?” JJ questioned very matter-of-factly. She had just come in from checking on her latest lizard, a big fat one she was sure was pregnant with dozens of eggs. She had felt little bumps inside the bulging belly of the western fence lizard, and this eight-year-old child with a bent for biology made the expectant diagnosis.
Sadly, she discovered this morning that her lizard was dead. She was curious. And maybe she could save the eggs. Frankly, I know nothing about lizard anatomy and may not know a lizard egg if I saw one. But I’m sure this girl would know. She has an instinctive nature when it comes to the study of living things. She loves animals, and her desire to cut open the lizard is inquisitive not cruel.
“That’s a-skusting!” cried the little brother. “Not while we’re making muffins!” asserted the little sister.
JJ brought me a paring knife. She’s a persistent girl, a trait that alternately drives us crazy and makes us proud. Am I ready for a dissection? Do I let her explore?
Posted April 25th, 2009 by Jen in education, family life, features, science, the ranch
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We are watching the vegetable starts every day, the children with intense wonder at the new growth, me with a mix of hope and apprehension– will we succeed in this gardening adventure? The sunflower in this photo has been the subject of the greatest amazement, as my son was standing right in front of it when the shell of the seed popped right off the plant as the seedling stretched its tender leaflets in a show of force.
All of these cups of seed and soil are sitting in our sunny mud room, busily sprouting in preparation for the big move to the outdoor garden after the last frost. Whether we will time the transition correctly, have the proper soil amendments, possess a well fortified fence to keep out the ever encroaching deer and jackrabbits, and be left with sufficient growing time for full maturation of the vegetables, all remains to be seen. Central Oregon is not a gardening paradise and there are odds to overcome, but it’s not impossible (even though my neighbor says it is). This is our beginning.
He still needs to build the gate, secure the bottom with boards, and string some baling wire at the top to deter the deer which can easily jump a 6 foot fence. We also have to bring in a ton of compost and nutrient rich soil, but I can see the finished product, and it’s beautiful. I’m sure you are getting the picture that gardening can be a lot of hard work, but it’s best to know the challenges before you begin. For a no-nonsense look at this from someone who has years more experience than I, read The Joys and Trials of Caring for your Seedlings.
Here are some tips on gardening in Central Oregon from the Oregon State Extension Service:
Now, on to some fun seed activities to do with children. These three ideas are from The Family Game Book (1967, Doubleday-out of print). I think these are appropriate projects for all elementary grades. I just planted vegetable starters with my sixth graders (as well as my own children), and from ages 4 through 12, they all were totally engaged. One of my sixth grade students called me at home a few nights ago just to tell me how beautiful her new plants were!
1. See how seeds actually grow.
When a seed is buried in the ground, you can’t see exactly what is happening to it. Here is a simple experiment you can perform to watch the seed develop into a little plant.
Get a sheet of clean blotting paper or a small sponge. Put the paper or sponge in a drinking glass so that it is pressing against one side of the glass. Fill the other side of the glass with gravel or sand. This should press the blotting paper or sponge tightly against the glass.
Now get some fast-growing seeds like lima beans. Force them between the blotting paper and the glass. They should be pressing tightly against the glass so that you can see them through the glass. If the seeds don’t stay in place, you do not have enough sand or gravel in your glass, as its purpose is to keep the seeds in place.
Keep the blotting paper or sponge moist. In a few days you will see the seeds sprout roots. These are called root hairs. They help absorb food for the plant. After the roots become longer, carefully transfer your seeds to a dirt-filled flowerpot or even the garden–if it is warm enough. You will have a little bean plant. Just think how much you will know about this particular little plant!
2. How strong are seeds?
A rock is broken in two, and a healthy tree is growing in the split. Have you ever seen such a sight–a tree growing in a rock?
Perhaps you have seen a sidewalk with a crack in it, and a plant growing through it. Chances are that the seed of the plant split the sidewalk. It’s hard to believe, but here’s an experiment to prove that seeds can really exert great force.
Get a small flat bottle. An empty medicine bottle will do. Pack the bottle right up to the very top with dried beans, for beans are really seeds. Get a piece of cloth and tie it over the top of the bottle in place of the cap. Stand the bottle upside down in a glass partly filled with water.
Watch your bean bottle from time to time, and in a day or so you will discover that the bottle has burst. The beans soak up all the water and become swollen. As they swell they push against the walls of the bottle, and when they push hard enough the bottle bursts.
That is what happened to the rock and the sidewalk. Do you believe it now?
3. How important are the plant’s first leaves?
By now you have had some experience with plants. Have you noticed that all the different kinds of seeds you planted (flower and vegetable) start growing with the same kind of leaves? They all have what look like two thick leaves that dry up and fall off when the seedling develops other leaves. Have you ever wondered what these first leaves do?
A little experiment will answer this question. Plant three quick-growing seeds, such as bean or cucumber seeds, in a flowerpot. Water them and one day you will notice you have three little plants, all with the same two first leaves, which are called cotyledons.
Now, leave one seedling exactly as it is. From the second seedling, cut off one leaf. From the third, cut off both leaves. Continue to take care of your plants and you will discover something interesting. The seedling from which you cut off both leaves will be very small. The seedling with one leaf cut off will be a little larger. The seedling you did not touch will be the largest and healthiest.
From this experiment you can gather that the cotyledons are storehouses for the young plant and should fall off only when the plant is strong enough to get nourishment by itself. Losing first leaves too soon hampers a plant’s growth.
I hope you enjoy your seeds and seedlings this spring! Do your homework on best growing practices for your region, and don’t forget to have fun with the kids along the way. There are so many life lessons and spiritual truths to be learned from planting a garden.
Related post: Gardening With Children
Posted February 24th, 2009 by Jen in book reviews, features, religion, science
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Dr. John Sanford, retired professor from Cornell University, has done brilliant work in the field of genetics. His research and studies have led him to refute “The Primary Axiom” upon which modern Darwinism is built. The Primary Axiom is that man is just the result of random mutations and natural selection.
Basically, by demonstrating that the human genome is deteriorating, and always has been since its origin, the theory of human life arising from random, beneficial, and increasingly complex mutations simply can’t be true. If we take an honest look at the human genome research, we will discover profound implications about our views of life, and we must conclude that The Primary Axiom is false.
Dr. Sanford begins his book with this Prologue:
This reminds me of the battle of wits about the poison in The Princess Bride. If Darwinian evolution is true, life is meaningless and therefore the doctrine itself is meaningless. If it’s false, it’s more than meaningless, it’s been a catastrophic blow to the sanctity of human life.
Sanford ends the Prologue with a grave remark about the consequences of our thinking.
Exactly how Dr. Sanford unravels the mystery of the human genome, the “book of life,” I will leave for the author to reveal to you. As I said, the book is readable for a lay person, but the complexity of biological and genetic information that is built up chapter upon chapter is too much for this space.
Sanford covers topics such as how mutations consistently destroy information, how selection capabilities are very limited, and how mutation/selection cannot realistically create a single gene. There is a helpful glossary of terms in the back of the book. And most importantly, Dr. Sanford ends with a personal postlude giving an answer to replace a false axiom – Jesus Christ, our only hope.
Posted February 8th, 2009 by Jen in education, features, religion, science
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The story and person of Benjamin Carson makes me so happy because he is just one more amazingly brilliant and talented individual in the field of science and medicine to blow a hole in the tired argument that Christians who believe in God the Creator and not evolution are just uneducated, fundamentalist religious whack-jobs who don’t know what they’re talking about.
Dr. Benjamin Carson is one of the world’s best neurosurgeons. He made history in 1987 when he accomplished what every neurosurgeon before him had failed to do: he successfully separated Siamese twins who were joined at the back of the head. Many other “firsts” followed this, and Dr. Carson continues to blaze a trail in the field of pediatric neurosurgery. He is currently a professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery, and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and he has been chief of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center for nearly a quarter of a century.
Dr. Carson has been a leader in scientific research his entire career. He has over 120 major scientific publications in peer reviewed journals, almost 40 books and book chapters, and grant awards of about one million dollars. With his clear intelligence in the fields of medicine and science, I think his opinion on the origin of life deserves to be heard.
Does evolutionary theory have any direct bearing on his daily work as a neurosurgeon? Only philosophically, I would say, but can you tell me one field of science where evolutionary theory actually makes a tangible, measurable difference in how that scientist works and contributes to society? It merely plays out in a theoretical or metaphysical or political way.
A lot of people believe in evolution because most scientists do (or at least it’s the common perception that most scientists do). I don’t know the statistics, but I suspect the number of scientists who do not believe in evolution is large and growing. I am not speaking of microevolution, but the general theory of Darwin that all life originated and evolved by gradual and chance advantageous mutations – which is entirely void of factual support.
Back to Benjamin Carson–I’m more than pleased to know that this distinguished man speaks openly and honestly about his faith in God and belief in a Creator and Designer. He looks to the facts and wonders at Darwin’s own assertion that within fifty to 100 years of his lifetime fossil remains would be found of the entire evolutionary tree, displaying an indisputable step-by-step evolution of life from amoeba to human. As Carson points out, this does not exist:
Dr. Carson is certainly a risk-taker in more ways than one. In fact, his latest best-selling book is called Take the Risk. In his surgical field, he continually pushes forward with innovation and new techniques. For example, with hemispherectomies (removal of half of the brain to prevent untreatable severe seizures), he significantly increased the safety of the procedure by coming up with better ways of controlling bleeding and infection, as well as developing a system of incrementally removing specific brain parts.
In his willingness to explain his creation views, he is also a risk taker. He addressed the National Science Teachers convention in Philadelphia and the very prestigious Academy of Achievement, which includes many Nobel scientists. Dr. Carson’s basic message was that “evolution and creationism both require faith. It’s just a matter of where you choose to place that faith.”
If you’d like to find out more about Benjamin Carson, there are some fantastic resources available. Just this past Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009, TNT aired Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. Superbly played by Cuba Gooding, you will be inspired to learn of Carson’s upbringing in extreme poverty in Detroit, raised by a single mother with a third grade education. Ben Carson’s story is also told in his autobiography, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. Visit the Carson Scholars Fund for information on Benjamin Carson’s education initiatives and scholarships.
Posted January 22nd, 2009 by Jen in family life, religion, science, the ranch
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What element of God’s creation speaks to you today?
Posted December 2nd, 2008 by Jen in features, religion, science
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I felt like a modern-day shepherd, or maybe a wiseman, as I drove home last night, the brilliance of the convergence of Venus and Jupiter juxtaposed next to the crescent moon causing me to breathe deeply at the magnificent sight. What a perfect and fitting way to herald in the holy season as we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
My children noticed, I noticed, people around the world noticed this awesome spectacle in the night sky. Did you see it? Look tonight…it won’t be nearly as perfect as last night, but it will be there.
Posted October 12th, 2008 by Jen in education, features, science
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An “inventor’s box” full of odds and ends that has a permanent place in your home play area or in your classroom–this is the child’s invention kit, the perfect tool for science exploration and innovation. The idea is to create the atmosphere of an inventor’s workshop, where there is no fixed set of materials and no particular goal established in advance; rather, the bountiful collection of materials is there for the child to explore, experiment, and give creative expression to his ideas. And voila, an enthusiastic and independent science mind is being created in the process.
I. For the frugal and simple approach, here is a list (in no particular order) to get you started. These materials can be gathered over time from a craft store, RadioShack, around your house and garage, thrift stores, garage sales, lumber yards, and more. Let me know what else I should add to my list, and some simple experiments to go with this list!
Now, what can you do with all these materials? Here are some ideas cards to keep handy, if your child/student wants a specific activity:
For more amazing science activities for the home or classroom, visit The Exploratorium.
II. A more high-tech and a bit more costly approach, but nonetheless an excellent option, is the PicoCricket Kit. This is an invention kit that integrates art, music, and technology, and is especially attractive to girls as well as boys.
The PicoCricket Kit uses a tiny computer which allows the student to make things spin, light up, and play music; you basically make your creations come to life with simple robotics. The price tag is $250 for the complete kit, which includes the following: motor and motor board, display, beamer (send programs from your computer to your PicoCricket), resistance sensor, sound sensor, colored lights, sound box, PicoCricket programmer (to control your creations), touch sensor, and light sensor.
Also included in the kit is easy-to-use software for programming the Cricket (PC and Mac compatible), USB cable, a collection of craft materials and lego bricks to create motion modules, and ten project placemats with sample Cricket activities.
This is a reusable kit–only the craft materials are consumable, but are inexpensive to replace.
Mitchel Resnick, an MIT professor who worked on the project, made an important point about the accessibility of the PicoCricket kit:
We knew that lots of kids are interested in art and music, so we wanted to make sure that there were lots of ways for them to be able to use art and music as an entry point to explore math, science and engineering.
Wow~whether your budget is small or large, there are options. The basic inventor’s box is more time consuming to put together, but cheaper; and the pre-packaged kits offer efficiency but at a cost. I hope you’ve been inspired to provide some creative science outlets for your child or classroom!
Posted October 5th, 2008 by Jen in family life, science, the ranch
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Our first October hike around the property began with a surprise greeting from this rust-colored fast-crawling spider. If the image is fuzzy, it’s because my hand was shaking a bit as I took the photograph. I’m not a big arachnid fan, however, I’m always fascinated with a new species, especially if it’s going to be my neighbor, and especially if it’s a potentially venomous creature.
Can anybody make this out? No further pictures available, as the elder daughter poked it with a stick, immediately followed by the dog having it for snack.
JJ discovered a new juniper, we think. You need to look closely, as the earthy colors blend into the ground. Seeing that the sapling is right next to a mature juniper, and seeing that junipers are the only naturally occurring tree on the entire property, it’s safe to say the kids made a good assessment.
An interesting tidbit on juniper berries:
I love this lone juniper tree inclining over the cliff at the east end of our property. It seems to grow straight out of the rocks, showing the strength and hardiness of this ancient evergreen.
Just beside this last juniper, I discovered a moss covered rock, its variegated colors indicating countless seasons of moss-growing, which I hadn’t observed before–not that unusual being that there’s thousands of rocks on this land. But I never noticed the handy little hole, and the smaller rock sitting in there, just ideal for pounding corn or something. We know the Northern Paiute Indians inhabited this land before us, and I I can’t help but wonder, has this been there since then?
Tawny was out for his first explore to the edge of the cliff, and left the children screeching in terror and delight with his kittenish antics of racing up trees and scampering down rock crevices. Just when they were certain he was down to eight lives and lost over the precipice, he would meow his way calmly back to the family.
A fresh rain left this exhilarating scent in the air, and the cat and dog both seemed to understand that this was the perfect October day. Other than an occasional stray onto a neighboring property, the animals were fabulous scouting companions.
These three explorers likewise recognized an ideal day, and with Mom armed with bags for the hunt, we gathered moss, owl pellets, bones, feathers, and chips of obsidian (more Paiute relics) unearthed by the recent downpour. Analyzing the artifacts later will add to the experience. Little L would squeal with glee whenever he found a complete little rodent skull–”Look, Mama, it’s got teeth!” And a particularly large chunk of obsidian found by JJ was met with “it looks just like a canoe!”
One of my young adventurers sums up our October Exploring perfectly:
Pure fun. What do you or your children enjoy doing this time of year? And tell me, what do you think of that hole in the boulder and the small rock sitting in there?
Posted August 20th, 2008 by Jen in education, family life, features, parenting, science, the ranch
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Local field trips for children are lurking around every corner, even in some everyday places if you recognize the opportunity. Every town will have its own unique chances for family excursions, but here are a few around my Central Oregon town for the budget-minded.
Many greenhouses offer organized field trips for school groups, and this one was no exception. While my group (my family) just walked in as customers to make a purchase, they were still very accessible and education-minded. It’s important to note that this was a small, locally owned nursery, and these are the best ones, in my opinion, to approach for an educational tour.
If, like me, you’re not looking to schedule a full-blown field trip, just try asking questions, and you’ll probably discover that the employees are fairly eager to pass on some knowledge, especially when you have children asking their own questions as well. You may want to take a few minutes before entering the greenhouse to prep your kids for the experience, and “plant” some questions in their heads to get them thinking, and encourage them to be inquisitive (but polite).
So, our friend Alisha invited my family and a few others out for a “horse lesson,” as my daughter said. This daughter is my equine lover and longs for her own trusty steed. My girl was counting down the days until this trip, dutifully marking her calendar. I only wish the cowboy boots from Grandma had arrived before this trip–but it’s okay, the boots have seen plenty of action since. Alisha did a fantastic job of walking the kids through her stables and introducing the children to the various horsey things that seem to enchant young ones.
Before the kids left, they had all helped to groom several horses, feed them, pick their hooves, ride around the corral, and choose their own horseshoe to take home.
I think this was the favorite field trip of the year. All the families involved were so thrilled to have this visit to the ranch. I know this isn’t a feasible option for many of you who don’t live in the country or know ranchers/farmers. But I’ll bet if you sat down and really thought hard, you’d come up with someone you know in an interesting field of work who just might welcome a few kids into their daily routine, and maybe even enjoy it as much as the kids.
The State Park
If you go to this particular state park in the summer (Smith Rock in Terrebonne, Oregon), plan an early start to avoid heat stroke, and pack a picnic lunch and a sketch pad/pencil.
There is a perfect covered overlook with several large picnic tables which looks down on this breathtaking view you see here. I love this spot for the chance to have the kids sit and sketch the scenery and really notice the amazing rock formations and the gentle curves of the river.
Sometimes, I’ll have the kids stop and gather some leaves to look at later, but mostly it’s just a tremendous location that we never tire of.
The kids will of course discover caves and rabbit trails and rocks to climb. There are several large boulders they routinely climb up, nearly giving me a heart attack, but I forget what I was like as a child. The older I get, the more cautious I become and the more afraid of heights I get!
One nice feature about most state parks are the plaques of geologic or historic information planted along the way. Don’t rush past these if you want to get the most out of your field trip. I usually have a different opinion about some of the geologic timelines given in the typical state park plaque, but what a great learning opportunity to discuss these issues.
My kids often ask as we drive by Smith Rock, “Mommy, how did that get there?” and I can remind them of the plaque we read, with the illustrations of the volcanic explosion, and it all comes back. My older son now stops to read the plaque aloud to the other children and plays tour guide.
Oh my, there are so many other wonderful little trips we make around town. I may have to do another post to tell you about the museums, the free concerts, the goat farms, and even how to turn a trip to the grocery store into a field trip. I spend very little money on these outings, and I mostly stay local, but I’m discovering that what makes a valuable experience for one’s family is an eager attitude about learning. The ability to spot a teachable moment paired with an inquisitive spirit will bring many frugal field trips to your front door.
What frugal field trips does your town offer?
Posted April 28th, 2008 by Jen in humor, religion, science
12 Comments »
Now, that was pretty simple, and it only took me about 4 billion years to figure out. Or not.
p.s., the lady of the house was really freaked out to see her little girl’s pet lizard taking over her laptop computer. My sincere apologies and lizardly regrets for causing such a commotion. Well, being so evolved and all, I enjoy the cinema as well as computers, so I’m off to the movies.
Posted April 13th, 2008 by Jen in arts & crafts, book reviews, education, family life, features, giveaways, science
17 Comments »
Spring is here! It came, then ducked under a series of freak hailstorms and a blanket of snow, only to emerge this weekend for good. The kids and I basked in a perfect April day on Friday, obeying the chipper call of the season to go for a hike.
I present to you today the fruit of our outdoor adventure. We made several ziplock-bag-books yesterday, full of specimens of Central Oregon, in particular, Smith Rock State Park, where we had our outing. For those of you who already have your children keep a nature journal, you’ll find this project to be a perfect companion. (I’m giving away two of our books – an Oregon one and a blank one; leave a comment below by next Sunday if you’d like to enter!)
The Zip-Lock Bag Book
Assembling the Book:
Voila, you have a lovely child’s spring book! One neat thing about this style of book is that it allows such easy access to the items. Each piece of cardstock can be taken out and handled (as children can’t help but do), and easily returned to its proper place. And of course, the see-through ziplock bag is an essential as well, giving full visual stimulation.
JoJo is so proud of her book, and slept with it last night. She couldn’t wait to decorate the cover with the foamy letters she received for her birthday. The other kids chose to use markers and pens to create their cover art.
Some other ideas:
The hardest part about this project was the identification. Now, is that an arnica mollis or an arnica parryi? Sometimes, we just made our best guess. The rest of the project took no external motivation at all – this was such a delight for them. But certainly, the identification was one of the most valuable pieces of this book. The kids learned to look critically at a plant and really notice things they hadn’t before. The shape of a leaf, the texture, the number of petals. By the way, we are not done with the identifying – we need to check out a few books from the library.
Like I said above, I’m giving away two of our homemade books, one filled with Central Oregon specimens and the other one blank for your region. Keep in mind that when I do crafts, it’s a fairly practical endeavor – just whatever is on hand – so these books will not be perfect, beautiful things! My 8 year old son will probably be doing most of the work.
This is my plan: I’d like to give these two books to someone with a child who’s interesting in learning about Oregon plant life, and who will use the blank book to create his own regional book. I’m hoping that this child will then create an extra ziplock-bag-book from his region, and another blank one, and pass them on as well. And so on. Leave a comment below by next Sunday, April 20, if you’d like to win these books. My son will draw a random name and I’ll email the winner.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about our spring ziplock-bag-book! I think this is an ideal science/nature/art project for students of all ages. If you have any ideas to add, let me know.
Posted March 26th, 2007 by Jen in education, politics/world news, religion, science
5 Comments »
Pebble Chaser has covered this superbly, so I won’t go into the whole terrible ordeal; go see what Heidi said.
I did just want to add that I found it incredibly ironic that a brief glance back in history shows that the Butler Act, 1925, prohibited teachers from teaching anything but the Divine Creation of man as set forth in the Bible, and specifically banned teaching that man was descended from a lower order of animals. (Of course, the ridiculous publicity stunt of the Scopes trial changed that.) But here we are, just 80 some years later, and those same teachers are prohibited from teaching anything but that man was descended from a lower order of animals.
photo by: Gary Albertson
Posted March 19th, 2007 by Jen in arts & crafts, education, science
I love a picturesque, rural landscape, and my kids adore trains. I caught this scene a few days ago, as we were stopped at a train crossing in Terrebonne, OR. You can see Smith Rock in the background, and if you could hear, you’d be listening to my kids whooping in delight above the loud cry of the train whistle.
We were too inspired to pass up Smith Rock after seeing this, so the next day we headed over to the climbing mecca of the Northwest. Yeah, we go here a lot, and you would, too, if this was in your backyard.
Here I am with the kids, about to head down into the gorge where you see the Crooked River running through.
This was part of our school day, and so here we are sketching the amazing spires of rock (…how did this get here, the kids ask). A local artist happened to be hiking by as the kids were happily engaged in their creative drawings, and had some kind words to offer.
What you see here is a wonderful little snapshot of the flexibility I love about home education. An inspiring moment with a train can lead to an afternoon of hiking, exploring, discussions about volcanic origins, creative art, and more nuances of my children’s development than I can know.
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Posted March 16th, 2007 by Jen in education, family life, science
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Our adventure began nearly two years ago, when we first saw the owl. My husband and I, along with our children, were looking at some real estate in Central Oregon. We fell in love with this big juniper filled parcel the minute we set foot on the rugged soil. The rock outcroppings, the tall, scraggly juniper trees, and the untouched feel of the land had us mesmerized. Then, suddenly, a screech, a whoosh, and gone in a flash. We knew we had an owl.
I’m not sure I realized it at the moment, but as parents, we were shaping and developing our children’s scientific thinking. Our owl hunt was just an everyday activity born out of natural curiosity, but more valuable than any classroom science lesson.
The kids and I visited the Museum again last week, and spent most of our time with the Birds of Prey exhibit, naturally! We decided that most likely (but we could totally be wrong!), our owl is a Long-eared Owl. He sounds like a Screech-Owl, but those owls nest in natural cavities in trees, and ours has a nest. He looks a bit like the Great Horned Owl, but their strongest Oregon habitat association is grassland with fir and ponderosa interspersed. And the Long-eared Owl has a high nest, typically an abandoned nest of another large bird of prey, and their strongest Oregon nesting habitat association is in western juniper woodland.
That fits! At first, we nearly discounted the great nest we discovered, because it looked old and abandoned. Yes, exactly what our owl likes – these nocturnal creatures do NOT like to build their own nests. And of course, the juniper woodland describes our property to a “T.”
I can’t stress enough the idea that when families pursue scientific inquiries together, and when children are carrying on their own intellectual quests, a natural and deep science foundation is taking root. If you’re lucky enough to have an owl, all the better.