Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Home School Update and A Few Science Experiment Ideas

The school year is winding down (thank goodness) and we have learned quite a bit this year of home schooling.
First of all, we are using the Texas Connections Academy curriculum which is based on the State of Texas curriculum that they use in all the state's schools. 
We are NOT using this again.
It is extremely rigorous for a fourth grader and I feel that it just prepares him for taking the standardized tests that are called STARR this year. I am glad we tried it out though because it's free (since it's put out by the state) and we needed to try out something this first year. I personally do not feel that a child should learn so he can pass a test. I don't remember my curriculum growing up to be this way and I certainly don't want my child to continue learning this way. I felt it was rushed and as a result he didn't have a chance to explore things in depth. He loves science, and he placed high enough on their tests to be in a Science GT class this year.
Next year we will be using the ABEKA curriculum and self pacing. 
With that said, we feel our youngest son thrives in the home schooling environment and we have seen some great strides because of our decision. While he was in public school, we saw his self esteem plummet and he often referred to himself as "stupid and slow". I certainly did not want him to feel this way anymore. He just couldn't concentrate with all the noise and distractions in his classrooms. 
Of course, we have two older children who did just fine in public school. I recommend you put your child in public school first and see how he fares. Just remember that there are options for you as a parent and he, as a student. 
There is no reason a child should feel any less just because he learns differently. And our littlest guy does.
He does better typing out his answers and papers and is very visual. I have designed a system for him so that he can answer his questions by typing, but then copying that onto regular paper in his own hand to turn into his teachers (they require hand written work).
All in all it has been a great experience.
I have a few ideas for science experiments he did this year for you to try at home using simple home ingredients.
Melting point experiment:
one bar milk chocolate  (100 grams)
one bar dark chocolate (100 grams)
one bar white chocolate (100 grams)
food scale
§Measure the room temperature. In this case the thermometer read ninety degrees Fahrenheit.
§ Measure 100 grams each of the chocolate on a food scale.
§Place each pile of chocolate bars on surface and record time it takes for each to melt.
Record melting times on bar graph.
The hypothesis was proven correct. The darker the  chocolate, the higher the cocoa concentration, and the longer it took for it to melt.
The white chocolate, with the least cocoa concentration, melted the fastest.

 Chemical Reactions Experiment
Materials Needed:
 three slices of apples
lime or lemon juice
three plates
clock or timer
Take two small bowls and fill them with some lemon juice and one with water.
Take three paper plates and mark them "A" , "B" and "C".
Take one slice of apple and dip it in the small bowl of lemon juice. Place the slice on the plate labeled "A". Now take the other slice and dip it in water. Place it on paper plate labeled "B". Do nothing to the third slice and place it on paper plate "C". The hypothesis of the experiment is that the lemon juice (acid) will prevent the apple slice from turning brown. The other two slices will turn brown when the fruit comes into contact with air which contains oxygen.Record the time it takes for the fruit to turn brown. Record your observations.
 I'll post some more experiments we've done soon as well as a couple of projects that have to do with Texas History.
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Have a great day!

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