Dihydrogen Monoxide Awareness

This is really important. I know so many people that are hooked on this stuff. Please help spread the word!

As always, I am very thankful to team up with Steve Spangler on this important mission. Please visit his site to learn more about how you can help:
Please Take Action! Understanding the Dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide

New Mythbusters Science Kits

A few weeks ago the boys and I were poking around Borders and we spied some new science kits from Mythbusters. We all love Mythbusters in this family. It is one of the first shows that I recommend to homeschool families, especially ones with boys. It is no secret that I am a science geek but the messaging in Mythbusters is what I truly love. The show promotes the message that it is not only OK to make mistakes in science, but sometimes it is preferred. So many of our inventions have come from ‘mistakes’. But in a world where kids are constantly drilled the ‘right’ answer I fear we have created a generation of kids afraid to make mistakes. Public schools don’t have time to let kids figure things out on their own, so when they do have ‘science’ they have to make sure that the kids get the ‘right’ answer all wrapped up in a 45 minute class period. Which of course, usually means spoon feeding them the answers. This is where we, as homeschoolers, have a real opportunity to change things for our kids. We can let them wonder, ponder, try, fail, leave it, come back to it, and try again as much as we like. It is precisely this reason that I love Mythbusters for showing kids that the way real scientists work. But, yet, I digress off on another tangent….

OK, so even with my love of Mythbusters, I was not about to shell $19.99 for a kit. So, I filed it away as something fun to look at later, when they went on sale! I was surprised that week when I got an email from Marie at Team Mom Media asking if she could send me one to review (funny how the universe does things like that) and I readily jumped.

She sent us the Weird World of Water kit. This is what the kit contains:

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The kit contains most things you need for the experiments. The boys wanted to do this one:

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which is essentially a bottle rocket but they were sad to find out I didn’t have any baking soda in the house. They settled on creating a vortex. I have done this one plenty of times in the classroom and surprised they had never done it in public school. It is so easy to do. You just take two 2-liter bottles and connect them together. You use a fancy little screw cap that comes in the kit (or you can buy for $5 at any teaching store).  I have even heard tale that duct taping them together real tight works. This is the effect of putting momentum on the top bottle (giving it a little swirl)

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The boys were fascinated with it and kept it going for a while putting in glitter and then beads that came in the kit.
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I promised them that I would go get baking soda so they can do the pantry rocket soon. So, would I recommend this? Yes! With the caveat that I think the price point is too high. The book is the best part of it and does a wonderful job explaining the concepts in true Mythbusters style. $9.99-$14.99 is probably a better price point so if you can find it on sale, go for it! I know Target, Walmart and ToysRUs are selling it as well as Borders. The age range of my boys was just about right (11 and 13). It is made for kids 9 and up. Just be sure to have baking soda on hand….

Steve Spangler Science

OK, I admit that I am a total science geek. Kid science though. Guess that explains the whole stint as a 4th grade science teacher :P So, I was beyond geeked when I found out that one of my twitter pals @colosciencemom worked for Steve Spangler Science. I was even more geeked when Steve and Susan asked me to come in and talk homeschool science with them last week.

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I tried to play it cool but come on, the offices are so freakin’ fun I was like a kid in a candy shop. I mean where else can you go to work, get paid to blow things up, mail mannequin body parts to people for fun and decorate your space like this?
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Steve is known as a “teacher’s teacher” and we had a very interesting conversation about teaching homeschool parents to be “cluster leaders”. Building off the theory that by teaching teachers and parents HOW TO TEACH science we are able to give our kids a much better experience, we brainstormed how best to reach out into the homeschool world. Steve had a great point that sometimes we do these really great little science tricks with the kids but they don’t really walk away with the lesson of how to use the scientific method- how to be curious about their world, test their hypothesis, learn that failing and retrying is not only OK but sometimes preferred.

Steve gave me some awesome experiments to do with the boys. We just did Jelly Marbles and Water Cubes and really worked through the scientific method with them. I will be posting that soon along with lots more in my homeschool science section.

One of the things I really like about Steve Spangler is that he truly loves what he does and is passionate about reaching the next generation of scientists.   His teacher training classes look amazing and are pretty break even for them. Apparently you leave with so many take home items. But I wonder even at a break even price, would YOU go to a one day bootcamp for around $200? I probably would, but am I in the minority here? What do you think? and did you know that you can sign up to get an email for the experiment of the week which USUALLY is stuff that you have in the house? Pretty cool, free way to get some fun science in your week.

Steve also asked me about the money we get from the state for homeschooling. I know that Nevada did not give any funds directly to parents and I am pretty sure that Colorado does not either (PLEASE correct me if I am wrong and tell me how to get it). Does your state? If they do, what do you spend it on?

I really want to know what you think so lets get the dialogue rolling!