NASA Rocks.

Last Saturday (and yes, I’m just now finding time to blog it!)  we checked out a rare NASA Open House.  Took a “journey into Tomorrow” where Geekboy got to play astronaut and do a Duplo experiment through the glove box.

NASA 1

After we checked out the Moon Rock, we caught up with LittleBlueSchool and the kids made a new friend.

Then we made slime, but not useable pictures, because it’s hard to take pictures and police three children making slime all at once.  However, I now know that slime is made with dishsoap colored green, and the stuff they put into a disposable diaper…  Hmmm….   I smell a future experiment. *S*  Then we walked through some exhibits, and talked to the wind tunnel guy, and then… we found them.

The robots.

NASA 2

It was actually pretty cool.  Turns out, the two guys running the exhibit were homeschooled.  It was really neat because the  older one got down on GeekBoy’s level and talked to him about the importane of Math, and how engineers may not like it, but they still need it.

After that, we wandered back to the Gym area and stood in line for roughly 30 minutes for some balloon swords and a pink poodle.  Oh yea.  Super fun!  By then the little ones were worn out, so we headed out.  ut we did check out the historic wind tunnel on the way back to the car.

NASA 3

We headed home, and the kids showed dad their goodies, and played with their slime.  And of course, you just can’t play with slime without making slime-boogers.

NASA 4

It’s all strategic.

Thursday we learned about eyeballs.  We read about the part of an eye, filled in a diagram.  Discussed what an Optometrist is and what he does.

It was a strategic move on my part, because Friday we visited the Optometrist’s office because GeekBoy had an appointment.  Turns out he wasn’t faking when he said he couldn’t read the Bible I gave him.  He’s mildly farsighted.  But we had a fun time at the optometrist office.  Geekboy got to check out a model of an eyeball.  It was cool!

Science and a field trip all wrapped up in a regular doctor appointment.  Awesome.  Just proves that teachable moments are everywhere.  The trick is learning to recognize them.

Star-gazing indoors

We inherited a big box of glowy type stuff from Aunt Nani while we were out visiting for Aunt MomoT’s wedding. It took us a few days to clean off the years-old funtac type stuff, but we, and by we I mean me, did it.

Then we, and by we I mean me, used double stick tape to put them all over the top of the room. We also created some constellations. Yes, GeekBoy helped with this endeavor by picking out the ones he wanted me to put up. Aspiring star gazers will find Cygnus the Swan, Taurus the Bull, Orion the Hunter, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, the Big and Little Dippers, and even Leo the Lion on the ceiling in GeekBoy’s Room. I used his book, Glow in the Dark Constellations, to create the ceiling motif. I even tried to make sure, as best I could, that things that are supposed to point toward something else kind of do. IE: Big Dipper points to Polaris in the Little Dipper, Orion’s belt points to Taurus. That kind of thing. It really fun, I learned a lot about stars, and GeekBoy loves that he can now ID several constellations on his ceiling and can’t wait for the sky to clear so we can try to find them in sky at night.

Here are the pictures. Can you find the Constellations?? Hints below.

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Need a hint? Scroll down.

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Ready for the hints??

1. See the cross in the middle? That’s Cygnus the Swan. The center of Cygnus forms the Northern Cross. To the left you will see the signature three stars of Orion’s belt. To the right, the face and legs of Taurus.

2. See the two big stars at the top of the photo about a third of the way in from the right? Those two are part of the tail of the little dipper. Follow them in to find the four that form the bowl of the dipper. See that little tiny star over the bowl of the dipper? That star makes the Littler Dipper into Baby Bear, aka Ursa Minor. Back to the top of the photo, about one third in from the left, you see the triangle of smaller stars? that’s the nose of Big Bear, aka Ursa Major. the four directly under the triangle form the bowl of the big dipper. Now do see the tail of the bear/handle of the dipper extending back toward the glow moon on the wall? The little stars under the bowl of the dipper form the Bears legs.

3. That’s all Taurus the bull! the big star is part of the face, the legs cross under him, and the horns stick out over. the seven tiny stars form the Pleiades which is pretty much the butt or tail of the bull.

That’s it! Enjoy! I know GeekBoy does. Thanks Aunt Nani!

the Snowspeeder dance, a lost art.

GeekBoy is taking dance class with thePinkDiva.  I know.  Threw the teacher for a loop too.  Although, I doubt his motives, still, it’s movement, it’s fun time, it’s social time, and it doesn’t involve a computer…  BONUS!

This week, at the end of class, he taught the girls in the class (including the teacher), his “Snowspeeder Dance.”   I’m not saying he’s obsessed with Star Wars or anything…

an Assessment

Geekboy. He’s the kind of kid you hated to have in your class. You know, the guy who could sit in the back of the classroom and sleep all day, and still bring home straight A’s.  The one who gets it all without really having to apply himself. Explain it once, it’s in there, ready to be spit back at you when you least expect it. My biggest challenge with this kid is, am I challenging him enough?

thePinkDiva. She is the kind of kid who would sit in the front of the room, take extensive notes, and still fail.  She is one of those kids who always seems a step behind, although reality is, she is way ahead of where kids her age are.  The information is in there, it just needs a few days or a week or so to bounce around in her before she can spit it back out.  The trick to this one – Don’t push too hard.  Present new information, then back off for a few days and let it sink in before you try again.

 Lil’Chicano.  He’s my tank.  He’s bright enough.  He counts to 8, and speaks extremely well.  He even recognizes a few letters already.  Reality, he’s not old enough to asses educationally, but…  Developmentally, he’s more like his big brother, always a step or two, or four, ahead of the crowd.  He is very physical, as he should be for a little boy.  He will tackle anything that isn’t nailed down.  He just lowers his head and “BOOM!”  It really doesn’t matter what he hits; mom, GeekBoy, tPD, Dad, the couch, the wall, etc.  As long as he hits something.  He literally bounces off the wall and keeps running.  My legs are black and blue from constantly getting charged at.  Motherhood:  the full contact sport.  But he is a sweetheart, and one of the best behaved kids ever out in public.  (They all behave beautifully in public, saving the inner demon for at home, behind closed doors.)  The trick to this little guy – make it a fun, physical game.  if it involves motion and hitting something, he’ll be happy.

Lego, an electrifying experience.

Yesterday we had yet another Lego League meeting. But this one was different. You see, BigGuy (the oldest kid on our 3 boy team) has decided he thinks it would be really cool to participate in the local JFLL Expo this January. No problem! We can do that. Of course, that means I have to actually figure out what to do for the challenge and how to do it. Uh huh. Alrighty then.

Well, we had a good meeting anyway. We talked about the different sources of energy in the kitchen here, and how I was wasting energy. (I purposefully left my coffee pot, clock radio, and microwave plugged in just for that reason.) In my research ahead of time, I learned where our power was generated and how, so we checked out the website. I had also found a short movie on the power company’s website that illustrated how a coal-burning power plant worked, so we watched that too. Then the little guys lost interest and ran off to play. BigGuy stuck around to ask questions about the challenge, and brainstorm ideas for our “Show Me” poster. He suggested right off the bat that since our team name is the Padawans, we really should do something with a Star Wars theme.  Dude read my mind.

Really, they are supposed to do the challenge.  They are supposed to do the research, they are supposed to come up with the ideas, they are supposed to to do the builds.  And I will do my best to make sure they do as much as they can.  But realistically, I’ve got two 6 year olds and a 9 year old.  And the 9 year old is more into it, the 6 yr olds just want to play.  So I’ll do the research to teach the kids about the different things, and then give them prompts, and try to steer them into a path in which I have an idea of what to do.  When they get stuck, I’ll push them along.  but really, they have to do the work.

So the BigGuy was sent home with the task of coming up with a way to build a part of the project.  I have an idea of something that should work in case he gets stuck, but it will be all him in putting it together.  It should be fun.

the Cotton Gin

Thursday (and I’m just now getting around to blogging this…  how sad is that?) we went on a field trip with members of our local co-op to a Cotton Gin.  It was fun!

We really started Wednesday, when mom got this lapbook on Eli Whitney from the HomeshoolEstore.  We learned a little bit of information about the man Wednesday, to get us ready for the trip on Thursday.

Then we went to go see it in action.  We almost got lost, but Mom followed the trail of cotton down the side of the road, and sure enough it lead to the right place.  *S*

The guide was great.  A little above most of the smaller kids who were there, but I think the parents had more questions then the kids did anyway!  He talked about how the plant grows, and the machine they use to pick it now, and then showed (from a window above the gin) how the machine worked.  There have been vast improvements to the technology since Whitney’s day.

Back then, the slaves had to pick the stuff, and the gin was pretty much a bunch of wire teeth that ran through the cotton picking out the seeds.  Today, there is a machine that picks the cotton, and loads it into a module.  The trucks pick up the modules, and bring them to the gin.  the cotton is then run through a vacuum of sorts, which fluffs the cotton enough to separate the bits of trash from the cotton.  Then it runs through a dryer, and into the gin itself.  After the gin, it gets cleaned, and there is a camera taking pictures every 15 seconds that allow the operators to determine if the cotton needs to be cleaned again.  The less cleaning the better.  Farmers get paid by the pound, and cleaning strips weight.  Then it goes over to the press where it is smashed down into a bale.  The machine spins and starts to load another bale, and the workers have 2 minutes to get wires around the first bale and get it out of the machine (not as easy as it sounds!).  Each bale is given a number, and samples are taken to send to the government.

Awesome fun fact – Everything that comes out of the Gin is used.  The cotton, obviously, sold to make cottony things with.  The seeds, sold to plant more, or to make cotton seed oil.  The garbage cotton, stuff that is too short to be of any use to most manufacturers, goes to fill furniture and make q-tips, that kind of thing.  Even the trash is used, as compost for future crops, or as feed for the local farmers cows.  Its really pretty awesome when you think about it.

Oh, and!!  Another awesome fun fact – Did you know that they can trace your shirt back to the farmer who grew it?  The US Government apparently has strict quality controls over the cotton.  The bale numbers are used to track it no matter where it goes.  Using that number, which is placed on the tag of the shirt somehow, your shirt can be traced back the gin that ginned it.  The gin can tell you which farmer grew it.  That way, there can be no hanky panky, and messing with the product, because they will find you.  Pretty awesome huh?

Anyway, the kids had a blast.  They got to take home a few seeds, and a handful of “dirty cotton” (seeds and all) and a handful of “clean cotton.”  They loved getting to touch and feel and everything.  Both GeekBoy and PinkDiva said that getting to take some seeds was their favorite part.  LilChicano gave me this quote,

“The cotton gin always get me freakin’ out!”

Too cute.  Here are some pictures from our trip.  Ignore the big white spots.  Apparently that’s what happens when you give a 6 year old a camera, and forget to clean the lens when he’s done.  *S*   (He helped me shoot the wedding.  I’m working my way through the photos and will be posting his on my other blog soon.)

Enjoy!

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View from the window above the gin.  Great flash, I know.  *S

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The cotton, being sucked into the dryer while the trash is blown outside.

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The seed shed.

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Modules all in a row.

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GeekBoy’s write up afterward.  See!  We glued the seeds and taped some cotton samples to the Gin diagram!  How awesome is that?

Talkin’ Politics

I keep seeing homeschoolers falling all over themselves for Ron Paul, because he likes homeschoolers. Honestly, I don’t like Ron Paul’s stance on the war on terror, and his record on education is shaky to me. Has anyone even looked at Tom Tancredo?? Here’s a quote from him:

“Having served as a public school teacher in Colorado and as the U.S. Secretary of Education’s Regional Representative, I have earned real world knowledge of how to best educate America’s children. Control over the education of our children must be in the hands of the parents. I believe in the ability of parents to choose the educational path best suited for their children. I support tax credits for families who choose to allow their children to attend any other institution whether it be a private, parochial, or home school. I oppose increased federal involvement in education, and broke ranks with my party to oppose the No Child Left Behind Act for that reason.”

Do you see where he says that control over education choices should be “in the hands of the parents”? And that he wants to give homeschoolers tax credits?

Have you looked at Ron Paul’s record on Education as a whole?? Did you see that he voted against letting low-income folks in DC have vouchers? His homeschool platform does not say that he would make life easy on homeschoolers. It says he would “veto any legislation that would require federal testing.” Huh? Wait, is this even an issue before congress right now? How come the community hasn’t been in an uproar about it if it is? Paul also wants to get rid of the No Child Left Behind. Newsflash: So does Tancredo! Paul is rated a 68% by the NEA, whose mission statement is:

“To fulfill the promise of a democratic society, the National Education Association shall promote the cause of quality public education and advance the profession of education; expand the rights and further the interest of educational employees; and advocate human, civil, and economic rights for all.”

Meanwhile, Tancredo is only rated a 8% by the same NEA… an Association out to maintain the public schools.

Ron Paul says that the War on Terror is bad, and has voted to pull our guys out. On the surface that sounds good, BUT we are winning! In a time when the worst news out of Iraq is that the low death toll is affecting the Iraqi funeral business (see story here) and people who are there say we can win this, the surge is working… talking about pulling out is giving aid and comfort to the enemy, and proving that when the going gets tough, America turns tail and run.

Tancredo on the other hand, truly supports our military. He supports the mission, and understands who we are fighting.

Also, check out Tancredo’s stance on immigration. Here’s a guy who gets it.

His website – www.teamtancredo.org seems to be down at the moment, but you can check out Tancredo’s Blog at Typepad. You can also find out where all the candidates stand on the issues at these sites:

http://www.ontheissues.org/

http://www.nationalplatforms.com/index.html

http://www.wmur.com/compare-candidates/index.html

Honestly, Tancredo is more in line with everything I believe. He is a Christian, rated 100% by the Christian Coalition, and I really like the guy. Just like Ron Paul though, he is considered “second tier” and therefore has a hard time getting any press to get his views out there. He’s been pegged as the “immigration guy” but he’s so much more than that.

What do you think? Who do you like? Leave a comment and let’s talk politics – Just remember to keep it civil. Save the drama for your mama, ok?

*Note: this is cross-posted from Random Thoughts of a Young Mother, because I can. Feel free to join the conversation there also. *S*