Friday, March 21, 2008


This week, we shared our astronomy lesson with another family. It made the fun lesson, even more fun. We read about the planet, Mercury. Some highlights from the lesson: Even though Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, it is not the hottest planet. It has no atmosphere to keep the heat in like Venus and Earth do. The temperature ranges from 700 degrees F to -300 degrees F. Mercury is covered with craters as a result of being hit by asteroids. Of course, if it had an atmosphere, most of the asteroids would have burned up before making it to the surface. However, one thing that baffles scientists is the areas that are flat with no craters. If the universe has been around for billions of years, what are the chances there would be so much crater free area. Things that make you go hmmmmm. For our experiment, we made a model of Mercury. We had to make homemade dough (like playdoh). The recipe is in the book. We made one for each child, but we probably could have done it with half the amount. They formed their dough into a ball and then had to fill it with craters. The kids had a blast, and by the time we were done, we had 3 models of Mercury. We started with 6 kids. The boys thought it would be more fun to combine their dough and make a mess out of it. But the important part is that they learned Mercury is covered with craters. Can't wait to see how the lesson on lava goes next week.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Sun

The sun is some very amazing evidence of God's creation. We started our unit on the sun. We had to compare to scale the size of the earth to the size of the sun. I had no idea how big the sun really is. The demonstration we did was use a basketball for the sun and a peppercorn for the earth. Then we got to go test the power of the sun. We went outside with a magnifying glass and some chocolate candy bars. The goal was simply to melt the chocolate by concentrating the power of the sun through the magnifying glass. We concentrated the sun a bit, and the chocolate started to melt. We concentrated a bit more, and it started to bubble. Then, we actually managed to light the chocolate on fire. No, they were not big roaring flames, but there was smoke and little bitty flame. The boys thought that was absolutely cool. Of course, that opened up a whole can of worms to try to find other things to light on fire. Not going to happen. The magnifying glass should be used under close supervision at all times.

As I was reading ahead in the book a bit. I also learned that the sun is growing brighter and hotter each year. At the rate of increase, if you were to go back billions or even millions of years, life on earth would not have been possible. The sun would have been too dim and cold. Things that make you go hmmmm. It also does give some credence to the theory of global warming, but not in the way it is portrayed by the media.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


We just started using a new science curriculum that we are loving. It is published by Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc. The book we are using is part of their "Young Explorer Series". It is called "Exploring Creation with Astronomy". We are having so much fun, so I thought I would share a little of what is making it so fun. First of all, as you can tell from the title, it is taught from a creation perspective. The book is divided into 14 lessons. Each lesson is designed to take about 2 weeks doing science 2 or 3 days per week. It is designed for ages 6-12. I personally love the immersion approach. Study one topic and learn it well before moving on to the next one. Here's a sample of what we have done so far.

Unit 1 was about the solar system in general. We spent about 2 days reading the lesson. Then we were instructed on how to build a model solar system. We did not use their directions, because I had bought my children a model solar system kit for Christms. It is just a bunch of various sized styrofoam balls with some wires to attach the planets to the sun at the appropriate length. I got it at Michaels, and it was under $10.

Unit 2 is about the sun. We just started today, and had soooo much fun. Halfway through reading the lesson, the book suggested we act out the earth's orbit. Since we don't have much space inside, we put the books down, put on our shoes and ran outside. We went over to the sand volleyball pit in our community. I liked the sand, because I could draw out the earths orbit for someone to follow. One person was the sun, and stood in the middle of the orbit. One person was the earth, and had to walk slowly around the sun while spinning. We skipped the spinning part, because that was just a little too much. Then, one person had to be the moon. This was the difficult job. The moon has to run around the earth while the earth is walking around the sun. I got dizzy just doing that. You see why spinning could get a little much.

I am super excited to see what is still to come in this book. I will try to keep posting the experiments as we do them. I know one of them involves a magnifying glass and some chocolate. I will try to group the posts together so they are easy to find.