Trip to the Air & Space Museum

It’s been raining here since last Thursday (March 5th)  Today was the first day it hadn’t rained!!!  But, yesterday we escaped the house and visited the Air & Space Museum nearby.  It fits really well with our chosen Science curriculum, Apologia’s Astronomy.  Plus, It was Military FREEdom Days, so we got in free!  Awesome!!

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Anyway, we got there around 1130am, after eating our PB&J’s in the car in the parking garage – hey, it was a nice change of pace from the four walls of our home!    Well, apparently it was Field Trip Tuesday or something.  There must have been like 4 schools there!  The place was packed with rowdy kids running every which way & teachers yelling out to stop them, with the occasional line of highly disciplined kids who weren’t able to see anything other than what the Docent showed them, poor kids.  So it was hairy there for a few minutes, but the schools all left to go get lunch around noon  & we had the place to ourselves.  Well, about as much as you can have a big museum to yourself.  There were people, just not the huge crowds of annoying kids anymore.

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We checked out almost everything!  I’ve got a set of photos, but it was fun.  The kids really loved the play area, & the big walk-through plane with all the flight simulators in it.  We also checked out this huge model of an aircraft carrier and talked about some of the things Daddy sees and does everyday at work.  We even checked out this “Mars transport” thing, which was more along the lines of a bad movie with light effects, where you are “along for the ride” as all kinds of craziness goes down on your trip to Mars.  Then the side door opens into the Mars exhibit with the rovers and stuff.  It was kinda cool, but WAY too loud for my bunch.  They lasted like 2 minutes in the video and we hit the button to open the door.   But we had fun, wandered around,  then we hit the gift shop, where we picked up some “Astronaut food” – freeze dried ice cream bars.

After dinner, while they were eating their Astronaut Ice Cream Bars, GeekBoy said he wanted to throw his in the trash.

“I thought I would like it, until I tasted it and remembered how bad it is.”

A funny end to a great day.

Monkey Butt!!!

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We went to the Zoo. It was fun. The kids had a blast, and couldn’t help but compare the real zoo to their Zoo Tycoon 2 game that they all love so much. There were several times the Diva would comment, “Mom! They need to put in a girl camel so the Camel will be happy!” The Mandril (pictured above) was the favorite. And to prove the kids actually learned something, once we got home and checked out the photos, GeekBoy declared, “His butt is so colorful so his family can follow him through the jungle.” See… they do learn! And the best part… I didn’t tell him that! He read it off the sign in front of the monkey cage. Learning from everyday life. It can happen folks.

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The Emu was pretty pissed about having his sleep disturbed.

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Check those birds with the weird red things! “Uh, it says they are ‘Hornbills’ Dad!”

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The GeekBoy even took some photos of his own.  Lookie!  Art class!  Photography practice.

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“Look mom!  Elephant butt!”

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No trip to the zoo is complete without a chance to feed the goats.  Immediately after this photo, thePinkDiva completely lost her marbles because a goat’s tongue had dared to touch her hand.  She insisted on washing her hands, right that second.  The best we could do was a purell dispenser on a post at the end of the fence.  *Note to self – next time we visit the zoo, bring wipes!

And of course, I just couldn’t post this without this most excellent shot of the day…

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Monkey Butt!!!   Ha ha ha!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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?

Field Trip Friday: Beach Edition

Day started off good. thePinkDiva was up at 7am, and did her math. She aced her Cumulative review of Chapters 1 -3!!! I mean aced it! Awesome!!! Next week we start learning how to write our numbers… oooo! Should be fun. Then the kids helped me get us ready for the beach. During the drive, we discussed the 2 rules of the beach. #1 – do not go in the ocean without mommy. #2 – Come to mommy right away when she calls.

Took us about 45 minutes to get there… the beach is great, and is sooo the place to hang out next summer. We set out blanket out… and really, I’m not sure why I brought it… I think it was to catch sand, because once GeekBoy saw the waves he about did a backflip begging to go in. and Lil’Chicano, of course, wanted to follow… so down to the water we went. And that was about all the action the blanket saw the rest of the two hours we were there. The next two hours were spent shouting instructions to GeekBoy, and teaching him to never ever turn his back on the sea. (something my Uncle taught me the first summer I visited his beach house and knocked over by a wave.) Then helping thePinkDiva over her intial fear of the water… she was cool with it till one wave surprised her and knocked her over… after that she mostly played tag with the waves – because another little girl introduced her to the game while I was busy corralling Lil’Chicano…

The boy has no fear. None. He ran straight into the water at full steam and did not care that it would knock him back. I had to stick to him like white on rice because he literally did not stop. So I spent most of the time helping him jump the waves. Toward the end, my arms got really sore, and I convinced him to play tag with the waves with his sister. But I had to watch him super close.

Finally, after the group photo, I talked the kids into leaving to get burgers (since it was 1pm and they hadn’t touched the sandwhiches, which had pretty much cooked in the sun)… so we left… On the way out, I said goodbye to P. – the leader, and C. – the woman who organized the trip (she has like 7 kids now and has homeschooled all of them!) C. informed I had the “most spectacular bucket catch” she had ever seen.

See… early on, The kids had taken their buckets down to the water to gather water to wet sand to build a sandcastle (they never did really, but whatever)… GeekBoy had wandered about 3-5 yards down the beach… but he lost the bucket in the water. He tried to get it back, but the waves pulled it out of his reach. I saw it just as the waves snatched away from him… I grabbed Lil’Chicano and thePinkDiva out of the waves, and stood them up, out of the reach of the water, and told them, “Don’t Move.” tPD grabbed Lil’Chicano’s hand and held on. (Sometimes the “Mommy” in her works to my advantage.) GeekBoy was running back to get me and I hollered for him to stand with his brother… then I sprinted down the beach (good thing the wet sand is packed well) and jumped into the water just in time to grab the bucket before it got swept too far out. Then dumped the water and sprinted back, just in case Lil’Chicano broke loose and headed for the sea again. But I need not worry. The kids were awesome and stood right where I told them and didn’t move. How totally awesome!

I can not stress enough that it was only possible because we have taught these kids to OBEY. If I had known that they would not stay where I put them, I would have had to chalk it up as an Oh well! and lose the bucket to the sea. As it was, I am still unsure about the little guy. He obeys very well, I wasn’t worried that he wouldn’t stay put. But I was concerned that excitement over the ocean and the waves would take over and he wouldn’t stay put long.

Then we left, got some burgers, and went home to wash the sand off. The little guy wasn’t too bad, cuz I had to dust him off to get a diaper on him before we left the beach. thePinkDiva wasn’t so bad either, seeing how she pretty much stayed out of the water. But GeekBoy. I swear, GeekBoy’s suit looked like he had crapped sand. Ick. He was sooo full of sand, it must have been a painful ride home!

All in all. It was great fun. I have a few pictures.. but it’s late. I’ll have to dl them tomorrow.