Monday, May 27, 2013

The good and bad of science intervention; and the taste and smell senses

This week we learned about nuclear power plants and GMO. I am one paranoid person after a week like that.

We learned about nuclear power plants, because I felt the Chernobyl meltdown was an important part of modern history for my children to learn. I learned some things too.  Like how there's nuclear waste in the UK that will take 250,000 years before it will be safe.  250,000 years?!? What the freak! Or how the whole town of Pripyat is a no-go area for the next 20,000 years.  Hmmm. SCARY!

Anyway, we learned how nuclear waste can cause mutations, and made our own mutated creations like birds with three eyes or whatever. The boys just liked the play dough.  I don't give them it often (messy.)

We then learned about GMO. I have a sister-in-law who has very much educated her family about GMO and is trying to live a GMO-free life. Those cousins have already taught my kids a bit, so this was not new.  "oh yah, it's where seed's DNA is mixed with pig DNA to create something really bad for you." Maxwell said at the beginning of our GMO learning journey.

I tried to show why scientists do it by a demonstration.  I showed what corn normally looks like.  Bugs are eating it, there are weeds, and there's not that much food grown.

Then we changed the DNA of this corn. We made it bug resistant. We made it herbicide resistant. And we made it create more food which also meant thicker stacks.

Then we talked about the risks of the unknown and the actual history.  AHHH! I need to say that again. AAAAHHHHHHH! GMO scares the begeebees out of me!!!!  But really, when I think about trying to go GMO free in a country where they don't even label GMO, I get exhausted. My sister-in-law thinks there are only about ten crops she has to avoid (soy, corn, sugar, etc) and I don't have the heart to tell her that she's dreaming. I think her kids would hate me if I told her "no, actually. You're missing tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, apples, etc."

I'm so glad that GMO is being brought to light. I have some Kellogg's corn flakes I bought from the states, and you can tell they are getting defensive.  On the back, it says how it's made from only four pure ingredients, and all their corn come from the fields of Nebraska and Kansas. They're trying so hard to sound pure...humph.

Serendipitously, there was a big world wide GMO march against Monsanto yesterday. Too bad I didn't find out about it until today :( It would have been perfect for our homeschool experience.

Anyway, moving on to science. We learned about smell and taste. What a yummy science day ;) These were some highlights: We had some food samples, and blindfolded ourselves and smelled them. We then blindfolded and plugged our noses and ate them.

We "mapped" taste buds by putting solutions of sugar, salt, lemon, and baking cocoa on our tongue where your taste buds of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter are.

And we also talked about how vision effects taste and ate some really green eggs.  Fun fun.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Women's Rights, Nelson Mandela, and the coolest bird field trip ever!

This week we learned about the feminist movement.  I read a really interesting article that went along with this.  It was one of those times when I kept thinking "ha ha, they don't have to listen to anyone else's agenda except for mine!"

We had a devotional about the Family proclamation to the world as part of learning about this.

I truly believe that there is a balance in women's rights, and the world has swung to one extreme. The boys didn't find it that fascinating, but I made a poster with a pendulum to represent this:

On one extreme side, the women is a slave to her husband and children, the boss doesn't give her money for all her hard work.

On the other extreme, the husband is the slave (I explained that this doesn't happen much, but some women might think that this is what should happen and get upset when it doesn't) The children are farmed out to daycare, and are not brought up by their own parents. Parents who both work are too exhausted to do all the housework and give proper attention to their kids. Women get the money while the men work (I explained that this doesn't happen, but that sometimes women get the job over the men just because they are women in an attempt to make sure they are not chauvinistic)

And then there's the happy medium.  If women work, then they get treated equally and get the fair amount of money. Men help with chores, women support their husband's jobs, but neither is a slave to the other. Fathers help raise the kids/take the burden of craziness at times, and mothers who choose to raise kids actually RAISE THEIR KIDS!

Not the brand of feminism you get in society.....I love homeschool.

On to Nelson Mandela. We learned about his life.  A good picture book about this is "Long Walk to Freedom" abridged by Wyk.  It's Mandela's own words.  We have already hashed out anti-segrigation, so the topic was nothing new, but it was still good to hear how problems are world wide, and not just in north america.

We made people chains of white and brown and combined them. I should have done something with rainbows instead.  I had forgotten that Mandela called South Africa the Rainbow nation.  Too late for creativity I guess.

And last but now least, we went on the coolest Field trip ever with the homeschool organization.  We went to Birds of Prey in Coaldale.  It was awesome.  We got to feed the ducks:

PET A BALD EAGLE!!! (yes, you read that right!)

And HOLD owls (too cool!)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

McDonalds before and after, and lots of other stuff

Before I catch up on all that's been going on in our homeschool world, I had to post the results of our McDonalds experiment.  Awhile ago I wrote this post about how we learned about McDonalds and then we learned about preservatives. I took pictures of the McDonald's hamburger and fries, and I took photos of my homemade hamburger and fries. We then waited a month and studied the results. Check this out:

 These are the pictures when everything was fresh and new:

These are the pictures when everything was one month old:

Let's take a closer look at the one month old specimens, shall we?:





McDonalds claims that the reason their hamburgers are always perfectly preserved is because it dries out before bacteria can form, and any other hamburger and fries would do the same.  YAH RIGHT!

These burgers and fries were stored under the exact same conditions.

I will say this though: Two weeks into the experiment, we took a peek.  At that point the homemade burger and fries smelled REALLY bad. When you opened the box, you could practically see and feel spores pouring out.  It was very alive and disgusting.  On the one month mark, however, it was like the fungus had reached a stopping point. The food AND the fungus was all dried up.  But it did a lot of damage before it got to that point.

At first, my boys were "yuck, the homemade stuff is bad!" and I had to say "No, the McDonald's stuff is SO bad, not even the fungus will eat it!"

Haha, oh fun.

Okay, now for a semi-quick overview of the last few weeks.

Last science class we did, we learned about the ear. A couple highlights were the ear model:

It vibrated the ball when you clapped close to the drum part.

And the game where we changed the direction of sound, but you had to try to guess where sound was coming from:

For History, we wrapped up learning about segregation, by studying Martin Luther King Jr.  We watched his speech, a couple cute books were "Martin's Big Words" and "I Have a Dream" from Scholastic.  We drew pictures of dreams we had that would make the world better.  Maxwell kept inventing things that would not let out pollution.  It was quite cute.

I noticed something though; Hyrum didn't even notice the colour of people's skin before this unit, and now he does. All we did was talk about the evils of racism, but before we did, he didn't understand why there would even be such a thing.  Hummm.

We studied the space race (did you know they only spent 2 1/2 hours on the moon the first time?) and made our own lunar module out of marshmallows and toothpicks

And we learned about the Vietnam war, which of course includes the Hippy movement.  So we made tie-dye shirts of course! FUN!

AND it was Daniel's birthday, so we had a party and invited all the Daniels and Hyrums we live by (yes there are three Daniels and two Hyrums who live within a few blocks and are all friends.)

AND we went on vacation to the coast!  Nothing like hands-on learning, right?

We learned all about marine biology:

And how to fish:

Yes, that is Daniel thinking he could eat his fish right then and there.

Just another glimpse of my homeschool life!