Friday, October 31, 2008

Science is beautiful, too

The Hubble is sending pictures again. PRM

Oops, I forgot

to mention in my post yesterday, how much we enjoyed listening to the Periodic Table of videos.

Noach and I were reading about sodium and lithium so we watched the sodium video where you get to see sodium burn in water. There was lots of popping, flames and bits of metal flying. The best part of the video was the background laughter of the scientists as they reacted to the explosions. I swear it sounded just like the videos Yakov sand his friends make when blowing stuff up.

Science is fun. And in 25 years, Yakov could have that hair.PRM

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Singing the praises of

The Elements by Ellen McHenry. I first heard about this science curriculum last spring from Lorna at Socks and Books. She often commented on it on the WTM boards and that's how I found this and her wonderful blog.

Noach did the sample chapter at the end of last school year and then continued with the rest this fall. We have enjoyed it. Currently we are in the process of painting a periodic table onto a pillowcase. Noach is not fond of crafts so it is a slow process. We have had difficulty finding glow-in-the-dark paints for the radioactive elements, but there is one more store to try.

Here it is. A work in progress.

Doing high school level chemistry, Shoshie is using Chemistry Matters from Singapore this year. I found their explanation of atomic structure to be inadequate and unclear and so did she. Thus she is reading several chapters of The Elements this week and next. Yesterday I heard her exclaim, "Oh, that's what a valence electron is." Noach responded, "Yeah, you didn't know that?"

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I voted early

JP and I went to vote yesterday morning. The wait was about an hour. It was an interesting assortment of people, white, black, Asian, Latino, skinhead, dreds.

There was an older gentleman (I use that term out of politeness) in the line, who used to work with JP, a man I think is responsible for the regular Messianic mail we get at the house because he was always trying to share the word with JP. JP is more polite than I who would have told him to cut it out the first time. This man came over to speak with us, mostly to bad-mouth the organization that both he and JP have subsequently left, but also to make sure that we had heard that Obama's Kenyan birth certificate had been found. JP reminded him that McCain was born in Panama. PRM

Thursday, October 23, 2008

In the works

So many IMPORTANT ongoing projects-

1. Yakov has to apply to colleges SOON. This is our first homeschooler to do that and it is vedddy scarrrry. How to present him, this very special boy, who has never met a stranger, reads Machiavelli for fun. He can play practically any instrument but no longer wants a career in music. He loves blowing things up and videoing it. Maybe I should keep some of that to myself.

2. Yakov has to apply to colleges SOON. He got his SAT scores this morning so maybe he will finally start applying. He has been rather unmotivated and I'm hoping his good scores will change that.

3. Noach will be Bar Mitzvah next summer. We finally made a decision on the place. Now I have to get everyone's schedules for next summer and find an available weekend when his siblings will be in the US. I expect the window of opportunity to be narrow, perhaps 2 or 3 weekends. And then, what kind of event, where, ...?

It never seems as overwhelming when you write it down. So why am I waking up in a sweat many nights? PRM

Monday, October 20, 2008

Funday Monday

We didn't quite get to Fun Friday last week. Just one of those weeks, I guess. So we decided to start the week with Funday.

The Think! challenge for this week uses 12 straws and 12 inches of tape to raise an egg at least one inch off the table. We only have bendable straws and raw eggs so the tension was high.

Noach created this. It's a little over 1 inch high. PRM

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sukkot and parenting

Many years ago, before my conversion, JP and I were walking in NYC, close to Battery Park. There were all these little booths, canvas-sided most of them, small, with tree limbs over the roofs. Lots of black hats around and lots and lots of children. JP explained that it was Succos, a Jewish holiday with which I was unfamiliar.

Sukkot was not a holiday I was particularly educated about as I was converting but it has become one of my family's favorites. It is holiday to celebrate the harvest, the bounty of G-d's world.

Most years we have built a sukkah on the deck. For years we had a latticework and beam contraption that we stored under the deck during the rest of the year. It was hard to assemble and required extensive scouring of the neighborhood and beyond to get enough schach, or leafy stuff, to put on top of the sukkah. You should be able to see the stars through the leaves at night but there should be ample shade during the day.

A few years ago, we switched to an aluminum frame, one made to be used as a canopy at the flea market. We hang canvas tarps for the sides and I sewed strips of burlap together to form a top, which can be thrown over the aluminum support pieces. It is wonderfully easy to put up. And to take down, sometimes weeks after the end of the holiday.

We eat in it, serve guests in it and sleep in it. Some years it is too rainy to enjoy. Some years the nights are bracingly cold for sleeping. Some years it is too hot to sleep comfortably. This year the first 2 nights were warm and the weekend nights have been rainy.

Last year we missed putting one up because we went on a family trip to Chicago. The year before that was one of the best years. We slept in it several nights and I read The Trumpet of the Swan aloud each night.

I want my children to remember Sukkot. I want them to think about sharing the sukkah with their children, hanging decorations from the roof and walls, and sleeping in the cold. I want them to think about what they will miss if their own children do not grow up as Jews. PRM

What if he is?

I have to remark on Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama today because it was so eloquent. Powell said he had heard prominent members of his own party spread rumors about Obama's religious belief and Powell said,

Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, “He’s a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.” This is not the way we should be doing it in America.
Powell went on to say,
I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards—Purple Heart, Bronze Star—showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life.
Finally, someone needed to say it. What if he is? PRM

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Shhhh, don't tell Dad

but we have put up the sukkah as a surprise for his birthday dinner tonight. PRM

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fun Friday

Fun Friday was limited yesterday as I was recovering from a bit of arthroscopic knee surgery. I had to keep my knee iced and elevated so Noach moved a tray table to my bedside to do his work.

He did Think! Challenge Week 6. His bridge held 161 pennies. The challenge was to be measured in quarters but we didn't have that many quarters so we had to do some MATH! Quarters weigh 5.7g and pennies weigh 2.5g. He converted the 161 pennies into 70.6 quarters-weight.

Noach was a good and enthusiastic helper yesterday. He has gone on a scout camping trip today and I will miss his help. But I am MUCH more comfortable moving around today. PRM

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

The Queen does not walk around to the pet door. She will wait patiently for her royal attendants.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Energy lab

The physics lab students learned about potential and kinetic energy and the transformation from one to the other.

The pop-up toys, with their springs,were easy to illustrate this.

Then they played with Darda cars. They store energy in a spring also and this can be used to race through a loop, or loops.

Finally you can use gravitational potential energy to do the same.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Well, gosh,

You, too, can sound like a hockeymom, you betcha *
*only works if no follow-up questions are allowed AND expectations are low. PRM

Thursday, October 2, 2008

This could be another book to buy

It certainly sounds good. David Macaulay has not failed to entertain and educate with his earlier books and I suspect this one will continue the trend. May have to spring for the prepublication discount at Amazon. PRM