Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Science and History, yippee!

Have you ever heard of the event called Punkin’ Chunkin’? It is an event where people load the big orange pumpkin into various launching devices and see how far their launching device can throw the pumpkin. Ok, now that you know what it is, did you know that it is both science and history?
I know, you are looking at me strangely about this point. How can that be, you might ask. Well, there is the science of physics that studies the mechanics of flight, trajectory, mass, velocity. How far will my pumpkin fly, if “x” amount of force is applied to it? How fast will it make the trip from point A to point B? What is the optimum size for my big orange gourd?
And this event also is a study in history. Most of the contestants use catapults, trebuchets, and cannons to chunk their pumpkins. The catapult and the trebuchet are medieval siege weapons used to hurl stones or flaming balls of “stuff“ at castle walls.. Cannons are also historical weapons used to punch holes in things.
For modern students seeing these ancient weapons in use can engage them in the study of history and science. Who knew how much fun it could be to study medieval siege weapons, mass, velocity, and the agricultural product known as a pumpkin? Ain’t it great?!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hands on science

What are you doing for hands on science? My daughter loves hands on science. And I dread it. Don’t get me wrong, it is not that I hate science. I actually love science. The problem is doing the hands on stuff.
Let me explain further. Doing hands on science, such as experiments requires planning ahead on the part of the teacher or parent. One of the most frustrating things for both me and my daughter is when an experiment comes up in her curriculum. Part of it is because I am, ok, I’ll say it, lazy! I trust our curriculum, and it plans the lessons for me, so I don’t have to.
The problem comes in when, in the middle of a lesson it says to “try this experiment”. Invariably, I don’t have the materials to do the experiment right then. So I print out the supply list, hope I don’t lose it before I go to the store again, and we discuss the possible outcomes of the experiment instead of actually doing it.
My daughter hates this. And I feel bad because I feel like I am cheating her out of part of her science curriculum. I guess the moral of this story is be prepared! I will have to do better, because it is a shame to deprive my child of even one hands on science experiment!