Monday, September 26, 2011

Sharing from Zoom

Oob (indignantly): Choclo won't share!

Me (wisely): Were you GRABBING and TAKING his stuff?

Oob (surprised I had to ask): YES!  I tried to MAKE him share.

And if that is not edifying enough, and it's not, try this delightful non sequiter:


I found it in a round a bout way from my new favorite internet time vacuum: The Kid Should See This.  If you haven't seen it, you should!

Friday, September 23, 2011

But He's Feeling Muuuch Better Now

I continue to be amazed at how quickly sprains heal in kids.

Mxyl sprained his wrist Monday evening, wore a splint Tuesday and Wednesday, an Ace bandage Thursday and a wrist brace today.

Me: How does it feel?

Mxyl: Pretty good.  Glad I didn't get the hook.

This means he will be going camping tonight with Zorg.  This will be Zorg's first camping trip as a Boy Scout, so, naturally, it's raining.  A lot.

Have fun boys!!!

UPDATE:  The campsite is currently flooded, so the boys can't come.  "A shame," Mxyl says.  "I still insist on packing up some swim trunks and going swimming."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Udvar Hazy

 This week we went to the Udvar Hazy Air and Space Annex!

We only visit once every few years because it's a bit of a haul for us (and they have a pesky $15 parking fee).  But it's SO cool!

This was a great visit for us because we've started the 60s and are knee deep in the Space Race, the Cold War and the Vietnam War.

Indeed we did see plenty of space stuff (OK, the Enterprise is from the 80s, but it was named after the ship in the 60s TV series!), and we saw plenty of Soviet MiGs, and American Hueys.

 The big excitement, however, was the WWII planes - a wide selection of Zeros, Messerschmidts, Hurricanes, and so forth (plus great American planes).

The most interesting, of course, was the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb. 

On this level (there are three levels you can see planes from), you could look right in the cockpit and it looked like the crew had just left.

To give you an idea of how large the Annex is, the Enola Gay, a B-27 "Flying Super Fortress," takes up less than half it's width.

Here's a shot Mxyl took from the upper level.
The other big draw is their SR 71 Blackbird, an amazing machine in any age.  We finally found out why it has a skunk painted on it!

This is the view when you first enter the museum.  If you look closely, you can see the Enterprise in the back ground.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Litte Too Much Pirateness

Shortly before dinner yesterday, Mxyl went for a bike ride, gave it the old heave ho, and ended up spraining his wrist.  It being International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and all, he decided just to amputate it and go for a hook!

But the emergency room personnel were very busy, so they just splinted it, made us wait an extra 3 1/2 hours (they are contractually obligated to make the visit last four hours), and sent us home.

On the plus side, it was his left wrist, leaving him free to create a new header in photoshop and redesign the blog! (Encouraging comments welcome!)

Pirate Update

 We had a preposterously piratical day!

Me hearties dressed for the part.  Instead of newspaper hats, I took 2 pieces of black construction paper and cut them into the pirate hat shape (rectangle with a bump) and then stapled the ends together.  It's actually open at the top, like a crown, but I thought they looked better than the newspaper hats.  The skull and crossbones were cut freehand from white paper and glue sticked on.

The pistols we just had lying around (I think from a costume party before we had kids...).

The kids did piratical paper packets (everything from alphabetizing pirate words to treasure themed mazes) adjusted to their ages. We went heavy on fmap skills

Then they made their own pirate flags (after looking up the meaning of the symbols and colors).  We also did the pirate web adventure, determined our pirate names, and listened to sea shanties.

Then it was on to the main event!

This time around, I didn't do a clue by clue hunt, but  instead did a treasure map.

They started on top of the mountain (upstairs), trekked through an alligator infested swamp (the boys bathroom), and you see them here making their way through a thick forest.



Then they went into a spooky cave with only a single torch to light their way...

The treasure was in the innermost cavern, marked with an X!

Gold, silver, chocolate, and jewels for everyone!!!

At the moment, we are finishing up by watching Pirates of Penzance.

I'll leave you with a sea shanty.  As you may know, there are different kinds of shanties depending on the kind of work they were sung to.  Different jobs used different rhythms.  This is a capstan shanty, used to keep everyone together while turning the capstan (the large horizontal wheel which raises the anchor) :

Monday, September 19, 2011

Avast, Matey!

It's Talk Like a Pirate Day!

This year, I planned ahead (meaning, thought about it the day before) and so have a great list of resources for you!

This was my favorite site: Talk Like a Pirate Wiki, put together by New Zealand teachers.  Don't miss their pirate vocabulary list! Kiwis, I salute you!

This is a great math pirate adventure.

This is a fun piratey web adventure with lots of extra fun information.

And here are tons of fun lesson plans and teaching ideas - don't miss the one submitted by a home school captain (halfway down).

We will also be making our own pirate flags, going on a treasure hunt, and maybe doing a bit of orienteering or compass navigation. Oh, I suppose, we'll make pirate newspaper hats, too.

And we may yet squeeze in a viewing of Pirates of Penzance!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

US History: the Fabulous 50s

This week we've been cruising through the 50s in our big cars and rock and roll music.

Sure, we've talked about the Cold War and the Korean War and the Space Race and the Cold War and the H-bomb and television and the Cold War and the Baby Boom and McCarthyism and, well, the Cold War... but really, it's all been about the music.  And the Cold War.

Have you noticed how much of the 50's seems to be directly related to either the Cold War or music?

It kinda makes you want to shout!


One surprisingly helpful cultural artifact: Leave it to Beaver.  That show speaks volumes about cultural differences between then and now.  Do you ever see a woman wearing pants in that show?  How about a man without a hat?  Actually, watching what people are wearing in the  music videos is a similar experience. 

Listening to all the 20s, then 30s, then 40s music and then the 50s music has been a a bit of a revelation.  It seems to me that the culture, and the music, get progressively less complex and more direct.  Things scarcely hinted at in the 30s are alluded to in the 40s and suggested in the 50s (nowadays, of course there's TMI!).  This is not just in music, but in everything from clothing to greetings.  I used to think we'd just gotten less formal, but there's more to it than that.

In the 50s, there were specific patterns to interactions with people, and to not use them was considered rude.  I recently heard an interview with parents who text their kids and one of the benefits they cited was that they didn't have to bother with "hello, how are you" type interactions with their kids.  Um, really?  I can see why many of the social conventions were dropped, but, you don't want to have to say hello to your child?

I always thought of our culture as getting more and more complicated, but it seems to me now the opposite is true.  Our lives are more complicated because we are busier, but our culture is getting simpler, and perhaps the one is driving the other.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Space Side

 This week, we went to the space side of the Air and Space museum.

Leena decided the perfect fashion accessory this trip was gigantic glasses.  The frames are empty, incidentally, and I have no intention of admitting that  they were the frames I wore in the late 80s.

Moving right along, this section was called something like Observing the Earth from the Sky, but actually, it's all about spy cameras and satellites (with some weather satellites thrown in).  Great stuff for our study of the 50s and the Cold War!


 All the space race stuff really fed into our topic, but, really, there's nothing that says Cold War like an ICBM.

Zorg asked the saddest question about ICBMs when I explained what they did: "Why?"




Happier are the moon flight artifacts!

 Choclo and Zorg loved that section (after two years of finding the dim lighting too scary!).




Of course, the best is the lunar lander!

A close second is going through Skylab.  If you are ever at the Air and Space Museum, go through Skylab and look up!  It is so cool!  I probably went through it 20 times (Choclo went through a stage...) before I thought to look up, and I have never see anyone else do it, but it's fantastic, especially if you think about it being in 0G.










We also really enjoyed the telescope section (Exploring the Universe).  They start with astrolabes.

And they go through the full spectrum of telescopes, if you'll pardon the pun.  This is us in infrared!



 The one thing we did do about air was the How Things Fly exhibit.  So many cool experiments!  Plus, really, who can resist a paper airplane contest?

The answer is Klenda from now on... she's won too many times!




 Speaking of fabulous achievements, did I mention Mxyl got his Scout Aviation badge?

Plus he met one of the Tuskeegee airmen!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rocketing Along

 We did the second law of motion today: F=ma!  This means, Force equals motion times acceleration.  Which means if something is twice as heavy, you have to push twice as hard.  To which you respond, I knew that.

It also means that if it's not twice as heavy and you push twice as hard, it'll go twice as far (not counting pesky things like friction and such).  Which I'm sure you also knew, but doesn't it look nice dressed up as F=ma?

This is a fun one to demonstrate, but first, (IMHO) it's important for kids to learn the difference between mass and weight. I tell them that mass is how much stuff you have inside you, and weight is the downward pull (from gravity on your mass).  Then I show them the difference between a scale and a balance.

I brought out 4 scales: an old one which shows the most clearly that it's the push that moves the needle, an old postal scale, an old dial stand on scale, and a new digital scale. I think the kids could have spent the entire half hour weighing themselves and random objects.

Then I built a simple balance (as in triangular block topped by a bar of wood simple) and showed them how that worked.  Weight doesn't have much to do with it, really, you are balancing equal masses (in my case rolls of tape).  My simple balance would work on Neptune, or the moon, or even the sun (OK, maybe it would burn up on the sun, but in principle it would work!).  None of the scales are any good except on Earth!

Next we lifted weights so they could feel twice as heavy means twice the work.  It was a little difficult to get the boys to admit that twice as heavy was twice as hard...  Usually I use a medicine ball and a playground ball for this (which would have been better, I think), but I couldn't find the medicine ball. :(

Then we rolled toy cars off a ramp, adding pennies to increase their mass.  Sure enough, the more mass, the farther it went!  Here is where things started to go wrong, however.  I hadn't thought of the issue that I was using Choclo's cars.  He took great umbrage (and most of the cars) before he was done and I had to banish him to his room.

Alas, that did not put him in a good frame of mind to start cutting and taping the Puff Rockets (printable pattern and instructions here).

I had hoped that the older Zoomlians had done this recently enough to help out the younger kids.  It was not so.  If I had it to do over, I would have done it with the older kids the day before so they could really assist.  As it was, everyone was lost in the sauce and wanted HELP! RIGHT NOW!  while I needed to help the two youngest kids whose mom would be arriving real-soon-now to take them home.

At this point, Choclo and Oob began chasing each other at top speed in laps around the house (through the room we were working in) while shrieking loudly.  Yes, we do have days like this.  Not many, but some!

We did get everyone's rocket done, and everyone loved them, and went outside to play loudly with them there, so I guess all's well that ends well!

But now I need a nap.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Happy Birthday, Zorg!

 For his birthday, Zorg wanted a Mario Day!

The Zoomlians dressed up, of course.

We did Mario packets with mazes, word searches, and so forth, as well as Super Mario fun blocks, in which they rotated every Mario game we own and several online.

And Mxyl and Klenda drew on the big window with window crayons.  (They actually work as advertized and I now officially love window crayons! I have not had the clean up problems that others have had.)


 Meanwhile, Klenda had been working on a Bowzer pinata for the past week.  This is totally her design and artistry - Zorg loved it!

And whacked it, naturally!

 So we had a party with friends.

And a party with family.

And we'll have another party today with extended family...



Happy Birthday, Zorgio!
Wa-Hoo!!

US History: WWII Part 7

We actually finished on schedule!  We watched the footage from The Last Days of World War II, specifically, the last week leading up to VJ Day... Very thought provoking, especially as it was juxtaposed, in my mind, with the commemoration of 9/11.

What surprised me most was that, initially,  the Japanese army felt that the atomic bombs were not substantially more damaging than the firebombings of other cities.  One expert said that if he gave us a pile of pictures from Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and several other fire bombed cities, we would likely not be able to tell which was which, the damage and injuries were so similar. The big difference being the number of bombs.  And the radiation, of course, but they didn't know that yet.

It was the emperor who grasped the problem and insisted they surrender before more harm was done.

As a child, I believed that a nuclear war between the US and USSR was nearly inevitable, and the meaning of that was very clear to me.  Do you remember The Day After?  My family had a specific plan in the event of a nuclear attack, and we prayed the Rosary for peace every night at 7:00. 

More than that, I remember the fall of the Berlin Wall, and what that meant to me,  a mere 20 years after my birth in Western Germany.  It meant that my own children would grow up out of the terrible shadow of the mushroom cloud. 

Back to the end of WWII, the most amazing thing to me was the phenomenon of people who survived both blasts.  One man was on a business trip in Hiroshima, and then returned to his home in Nagasaki... Talk about unlucky...  Or, maybe, talk about lucky - he lived into his mid nineties!

Next up, the post war world, the Cold War, the Space Race, the Baby Boom, Rockin' Robin and the Lone Ranger.  Yes!  We are headed into the fabulous 50s!

Also, I don't know why Blogger does this sometimes (cuts off all older posts on the page), but there is another new post published today, but you'll have to click "older posts" to get it.