Sunday, April 27, 2008

Murderous Maths and Horrible Science

Previously I have expressed my dislike for framing things negatively when you really want them to be thought of positively.
For example, which image makes you want to read poetry?

So I avoided Horrible Science and Murderous Maths. But what about this?Yes, that is the reluctant-reader Noach reading a Horrible Science magazine. And no one told him to do so.

I don't remember why I even brought a Murderous Maths book into the house last fall but it was a fortuitous choice. Now we are reading through the math series together everyday. We often need paper and pencil to follow along but we have learned some handy math tricks. Doing sums may be derided in the text but the beauty and fun of mathematics is celebrated.

Since the maths books were such a hit, I ordered, via Ray, some science titles and, eventually, some of the magazines. Noach is especially fond of the magazines.

While studying evolution, we read Evolve or Die from the series and I thought the science was pretty accurate. I find the attitude in the science books a bit more annoying than in the math books but it is appreciated by Noach.

So far I have resisted Horrible Histories but maybe I shouldn't. PRM

Friday, April 25, 2008

Pesachdik birthday cake

Shoshie was born at the end of Pesach in 1992, and every few years, her birthday will fall during the holiday. This is a burden because she likes her birthday cake. And, of course, traditional birthday cake is not pesachdik. While we are not as observant as we could be, cake in the house during Pesach just doesn't feel right.

Shoshie made it clear, Pesach or not, she wanted a birthday cake on this, her 16th birthday, or she would be unhappy. And Shoshie does not suffer in silence. Or alone.

The thought of pesachdik cake brought up of visions of this
Not pleasant. The pictures on the boxes are misleading. The cakes tend to taste more like the box than any honey or chocolate cake you can imagine.

We told her that we could take these
stack them and pour chocolate sauce over the top for a chocolate delight. She was not amused.

I shared my quandary with friends last Monday and C told me about a flourless cake on, ironically, the King Arthur flour website. She had not made the cake but the picture wasmouth-watering.

So I tried it.
Not as pretty as the website picture but the taste was as good as you might imagine. I decorated it with a mint sprig and served it with mint chip ice cream. Yummy.

Bis a hunert und zwansig yohr, sweetie. PRM

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Northern Cardinal and Eastern Towhee

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

No further comment

From here via here.

2 days to Shoshie's birthday

Bad hair day

Lab 3 in Cafeteria Caper was an examination of hair samples from the 5 suspects and the evidence recovered from the scene of the "crime". One of the suspects had black hair, one red and three had bleached blonde hair.
The detectives learned to make wet prep slides and hair scale casts. I learned a lot about hair myself. The FBI site had some good info on basic structure of hair, identifying human and animal hair. I did wet preps and scale casts of Jasper and Krunk's hair to illustrate the difference to the young detectives.

The hair samples were provided by a mom, a detective and a beautician friend of the mom. It was clear that the black hair did not match the evidence which was light in color. The red hair sample was very pale and did not show the difference in the placement of pigment granules toward the medulla, rather than toward the cortex, as seen in other hair colors. The bleached blonde hair of suspects 2, 3 and 4 matched the evidence. The samples did not show the damage to the cortex that one would expect in bleached hair.

Next week will be our last lab. We will do the Lesson 4, Blood, Chromosomes and DNA Analysis. This will be a good review of Punnett squares and other things we studied last fall. Then we will have an end of lab lunch party here at our house. I hope the weather is warm enough to sit outside. PRM

Monday, April 21, 2008

Enjoyed by all but

one. No dogs allowed.
Proud afikomen finder showing off his prize.

Now for a week of matzah. PRM

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

Pesach, or Passover, begins tonight and I am pleased. I love Pesach. The special foods, the rituals, the fellowship. I love matzah. With leftover haroset for breakfast. With tuna salad for lunch. With melted chocolate chips for a sweet snack.

I have been cooking all morning for a family seder tonight and a seder with guests tomorrow night. The brisket for tomorrow is ready. Tonight's dessert is on the stove. Salads for both nights are made and chilling. I feel so competent. We won't go into the cleaning aspect of Pesach, since it's not as much fun and certainly, less well done. PRM

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Science for the secular homeschooling family

is always a challenge. Over the 8 years we have homeschooled, I have bought waaay too much science curriculum. We've tried Young Scientists Club, Singapore Science, Science in a Nutshell kits, TOPScience, Janice Van Cleave books, textbooks and some whose name I can't even remember. I have looked at even more - Noeo, MSNucleus, Real Science 4 Kids, R.E.A.L. Science. Not all of these are from secular companies.

Below are selected reviews with the caveat that Noach much prefers hands-on ,and frankly, I have given up on much writing. Until recently he hated to write anything. I think that the "too much writing" problem has been recurrent because I found the writing a burden as much as he and his siblings did. Blowing things up is preferred.

Young Scientists Club
Pro - Noach LOVED getting these kits in the mail. He could not wait to do the experiments. I was happy to find all the supplies in the box so we were never without the needed material. He did not want to do the writing in the kit but who says you have to follow all the instructions. We are homeschoolers, right? We can do it our way.

Con - I wanted more reading with the experiments so I had to plan ahead to have the right library books available to flesh out the experience. Also cost.

Science in a Nutshell from Delta Education
Pro - Complete kit with 10 - 12 activities per kit. Each kit has enough material for 3 kids. Rock Origins, Electrical Connections, and Ponds and Streams were favorites.

Con - I needed to coordinate the reading and there was too much writing for my kids. These are pricy but I have gotten most of ours on ebay. Watch for incomplete, used kits, though.

Pro - cheap. We did the Electricity unit for younger kids many years ago. It was fun. The circuits were made with tape, folded aluminum foil and paper clips. The worksheet/instructions were perfect. Draw your results, answer a few pertinent questions. Also we did Green Thumb:Radishes and Oxidation. I have to say that I really liked these units. I have some to use with high school chemistry next year.

Con - More reading needed.

Janice Van Cleave books
Pro - Cheap, if you can get them from the library or buy used. Many have lots of good reading material with the experiments. We have enjoyed Physics for Every Kid and Biology for Every Kid this year.

Con - I can't really think of any unless you want worksheets and I don't.

So, what did we do for the 5th Grade? For the early part of the year, we did Cub Scout science. Noach needed to complete some of the pins so we did weather, astronomy, engineering and science requirements. I added in some relevant Van Cleave experiments.

We studied evolution for a month, reading The Voyage of the Beetle and Horrible Science, Evolve or Die. We do the reading aloud rather than having him read to himself.

We have done Science in a Nutshell kits, The Human Machine and Vision and Hearing and Biology for Every Kid most recently.

Next year? First I have to decide whether I will do a group lab for 11-14 year old kids. I am thinking positively. Yesterday the mother of one of the biology lab kids asked me to do a chemistry lab next year. I'm not sure I can do both.

I'm still thinking. PRM

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What's wrong with this picture?

Poor lab technique- no shoes. PRM

Thursday, April 10, 2008


It is finally coming together. A few reservations made.

I'm ready. PRM

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

I'm a squirrel watcher,
I'm a squirrel watcher,
Watching squirrels go by,
My, my

Thanks to the O'Kaysions. PRM

Monday, April 7, 2008

Who Dun It, Pt 2

Continuing with the Cafeteria Caper, we need to determine if the culprit is a member of the Philophiles, a club of science geeks who revere Philo T. Farnsworth. The club website explained that the initiation ceremony requires each initiate to eat raw liver and drink a large quantity of soda. So we will be interested in determining if the "stomach contents" found at the crime scene contains liver and soda.

All labs will run control experiments with known substances before examining unknowns, in this case the "stomach contents". This is what we did today.
Prior to the lab, Noach and I prepared the monosaccharide, disacharide and polysaccharide solutions. We did not want to make the full 700ml solution as described so we had to figure out how much solute to add to 150ml distilled water.Then we had to measure and add.We used Benedict's indicator to show the presence of monosaccharides. The light blue indicator turned orange, test tube #2, in a large amount of monosaccharide after warming in a hot water bath.
Iodine, normally orange or brown, turns black in the presence of polysaccharides, test tube #4.

We did not complete all of the control tests this week. We will finish next week and do the "stomach contents" then.PRM

They made it home

They had to leave their convention 10 hours early but otherwise their adventure was okay. And the rest of Sunday was spent in a near coma. From the standpoint of the mom, a coma on Sunday is better than a coma on Monday.

Because biology lab must go on! More on that later. PRM

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Well, this is a problem

Dear Skybus Customer:

We regret to inform you that Skybus Airlines will cease all operations effective 12:00 a.m. Saturday, April 5. As a result, your Skybus flight has been cancelled.

Shoshie and Yakov flew Skybus to Ft. Lauderdale yesterday for a Young Judaea convention, expecting to return via Skybus on Sunday.

Wonder what we'll do now? So far they think it's quite an adventure. Hope they don't change their minds. PRM

Friday, April 4, 2008

What I've Been Doing

Playing with my birthday present. PRM

Addendum I know, I know. It lacks a lot in photographic technique but I have been trying to get this pair together in a picture all week. I was reading about Cardinal behavior yesterday and discovered that the male often brings food to the female. Seconds before I shot this picture, he was feeding her a seed. I missed that one but I still am happy to get this one. PRM again

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad - Wordless Wednesday

This is from his 90th birthday party last year. Today he is 91.
Love you. me

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April is

National Poetry Month. Noach and I have signed up for a poem a day by email. But the logo suggests medicine and unpleasantness.

Not really the message I was looking for. I think I'll try to find a more upbeat logo.

My kids love poetry. And yet it seems to fall by the wayside too often. PRM