Monday, March 30, 2009

Academy of Science and Technology Blog Carnival--1 week late, but still up!

Welcome to the March 24, 2009 edition of academy of science and technology. I beg your forgiveness for posting this carnival one entire week late. I had a sick family all around and that was not conducive to blogging! I hope that these posts will make up for the delay. Next week's carnival will be hosted by Roberta at the Growing with Science Blog! It promises to be a fine treat. Anyone else who would like to host can contact me through the Blog Carnival contact form. Please submit your article to the next edition of
Academy of Science and Technology using our carnival submission form.

Roberta Gibson bridges chemistry, taste-tests, electricity, and life sciences in her post Weekend Science Fun: Loads of Lemons posted at Growing With Science Blog. Great ideas!


GrrlScientist presents Magic Tricks, Science Facts posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, "This educational video is an interview with and demonstration by science teacher and book author, Robert Friedhoffer, who likes to use magic tricks to help kids learn scientific principles."

Life and Earth Science:

Larry Ferlazzo presents The Best Online Science, Nature, & History Slideshows Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day... posted at Larry Ferlazzo's Websites Of The Day For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL.

GrrlScientist shares a couple of posts about Citizen Scientists. Either project would be interesting to share with students.
Report Reveals One-Third of US Birds are Endangered: "According to the most comprehensive report ever published in the USA, nearly one third of America's 800 native bird species are endangered, threatened, or in significant decline, thanks to habitat loss, pollution, climate change, competition from invasive species and other threats. This story summarizes the report, and includes video and a list of things you can do to help, as well as including links to the original report and other important reports on closely related topics."
Foldit: This Computer Game is a Citizen Science Project: "Would you like to play a new computer game and help scientists analyze protein chemistry -- at the same time? Here is a fun and interesting computer puzzle game that is designed to fold proteins -- the objective is to correctly fold a protein into the smallest possible space. This game, Foldit, which University of Washington biochemist David Baker helped create, is being played by thousands of people around the world. Baker is using Foldit to help him analyze the structure of proteins, because kids and adults are a lot smarter at this than supercomputers."

Physics and Astronomy:

I present Third Science Class for Elementary. Where I trace through the evidence the ancients accumulated to realize the world was round long before rockets and satellite images.

hall monitor presents Teens capture images of space with cheap camera and balloon posted at, saying, "A great idea with minimal resources!"

Roberta Gibson presents Weekend Science Fun: Loads of Lemons posted at Growing With Science Blog, saying, "The photos are all mine."

Sarah Scrafford presents 50 Awesome Open Courseware Classes on Space & Astronomy posted at Rated Colleges.


Mert Erkal presents Are We Really In A Golden Age Of Electronics? posted at Tech news and tech news videos.

On-line resources for science information:

Sarah Scrafford presents 100 Best Websites for Free Adult Education posted at Online Degree World.

Nancy Miller presents An Education in Photography Education posted at Photography Colleges.

Teaching using Technology:

Erika Collin presents 100 Tips, Apps, and Resources for Teachers on Twitter posted at Online College Degree.

And this post is not about teaching or mentoring, but it has fascinating information:

Edmund Harriss presents Surfaces 1: The ooze of the past posted at Maxwell's Demon.

Here is another post that has some interesting engineering considerations. Perhaps one could give older students some mock data and have them work through the math with it. Gin presents Alternate Energy and Conducting a Load Analysis posted at Sense Scribe, saying, "Learning the math and intricacies involved with choosing a Wind Turbine for cost effective energy use."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Another Show on

I know I'm about six years late in discovering Arrested Development. All three seasons are on It is so funny that I stay up much too late just to watch the next episode. I find myself wondering how much I might be missing because my slang may not be as extensive as the show's writers and also how much iconic imagery and parody I may miss because I have missed a lot of modern TV and movie culture. But I catch a lot and I find it remarkably enjoyable. There's talk of a film based on the series.

Academy of Science and Technology Blog Carnival

The time is upon us once again to ferret out (or write) a post about science and technology teaching, mentoring, or parenting. To find out more about the goals of the carnival, please see this post introducing the carnival about mentoring, parenting, and teaching science and technology. Here is the Academy of Science and Technology at BlogCarnival.

To submit an article for the next carnival (to be posted this Monday), please use this form.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Some Schools are Still Beginning Everyday Math

I was shocked to see that there are still schools beginning with Everyday Math. And Parentalcation proves another one of my suppositions: when it comes to public school, even though some administrations do their best to quash these innovations, many times it really does all depend on whether you get a good teacher. Public school parents have known this for ages and there is a cadre of parents who all compare notes and hope (and do more) for a specific teacher assignment. If you've heard any elementary school parents at the end of the summer, the conversation usually goes along these lines:

"Did you get your schedule?"


"What teacher did she get?"

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sesame Street as an Adult

So AJ has been aware that there is such a thing as television. Quite frequently this magic box shows some pretty awesome things, like the Wiggles, that are just great to dance and sing along with. For some reason I was fixated on the Cookie Monster song, C is for Cookie, lately, and wouldn't you know, they have it on You Tube. And another very favorite Sesame Street character of my own youth was The Count (ah, ah, ah). Now you may remember The Count's Song. If not, here's a refresher:

But, I just discovered that I can enjoy The Count's Song in a whole new light with some minor editing:

After watching Sesame Street's The Count in an unnecessarily censored video, the kids wonder why I laugh so much when I play the original video for AJ!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Terrible Spelling

As you have seen first hand, I am a terrible speller when I forget to use spell check (and even with spell check--if it's a homonym). I just got a third of these commonly misspelled words incorrect! I'm sure you can beat my number. (thanks to Kitchen Table Math).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Homeschooling Influences Child Custody Cases

Update 3/12/09: World Net Daily covers the case of Judge orders homeschoolers into public district classrooms. This is another case of a homeschooling family, Venessa Mills, and divorce. It is very similar to the case listed below. The father is no longer interested in homeschooling and the mother wants to continue, with the father footing the bill. The World Net Daily article compares the case to many cases where states try to negate a family's homeschooling at the desire of the state. This is completely different. The state has been appointed arbiter by the family as consequence of a divorce. As I point out below, if the parents cannot agree and it goes to court to be decided, then they are asking the court to step in and determine who's opinions to support. That the father had an affair is regrettable, but that doesn't mean that he cannot have a say in how his children are educated. The judge DID NOT order the children to public school on a whim. From what I can tell, the father is unwilling to continue with the home education.

There seems to be a number of websites that automatically assume that because the husband cheated, that the wife should have the right to any remuneration that would allow her to continue homeschooling. I don't agree with this at all. First, we don't know if there were other issues in the marriage. Second, having an affair does not mean that the husband should be treated only like a bank account. Third, since no custody arrangements had been made, both parents still have a right to offer ideas about raising the children (with disagreements being settled by the court--if they could agree it would not have been an issue with the judge), even if the husband cheated. The father's views should not be negated immediately nor should the mother's views be definitively upheld. That two of the kids were testing above grade level is wonderful, but, as homeschoolers know, grade-level learning is only part of homeschooling and may not weight heavily against other issues like cost (whether we like it or not).

Original post 1/13/09 below:

They aren't new, but they are new to me. Volokh Conspiracy blogger Orin Kerr notes two cases where homeschooling is used to help decide custody cases. In one case, the judge specifically states that the State should not assume that either method of schooling is preferable. The other case has been appealed because the judge entered a preference for public school in the official record while deciding the case:

    According to the record, the “lynch pin” of the trial court’s decision to send the minor child to a public school was MCL 722.23(j), which considers the “willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent ....”

    The record amply supports the trial court’s conclusion that the two parents simply “do not communicate,” and that the mother’s desire to homeschool the child would result in the father being precluded from having any “say or involvement in his child’s education.”
    In the course of rendering this decision, the trial court made the following observations:

  1. Public schools would offer the child a “wider exposure” than she would receive with homeschooling.

  2. Public schools would offer “much more diversity, many more opportunities with respect to the things that she would be able to do.”

  3. Although the court “appreciate[d] and respect[ed] [the mother’s] desire to have a religious-based schooling, we live in a very diverse society and it is not beneficial for children to be raised in a bubble where they do not have exposure to other people’s cultures and other people’s religion.”

  4. Public schooling would make the child “a more well-rounded person.”
My opinion? Both parents in joint custody should have a say in their child's education--with the needs of the primary caretaker having more weight. If the parents cannot agree and do not have a good relationship, then it seems that they are inviting the court to make such a decision for them. I would also like to see a parent be able to contest the other parent's decision when the child is obviously not doing well, be it in homeschool, private school, or public school.

The judge in the case quoted is obviously biased against homeschooling, having so many old-saw stereotypes in his opinion, and that is a shame. He should certainly have been presented with good information about homeschooling, and required to weigh it appropriately, prior to making a judgment.

Objectivist Round Up!


From The Guardian:
[Ayn Rand] described her philosophy as "objectivism" or "the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute".

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Homeschool Carnival

Latest is here!

Cell Phones for Kids

I used to be sure that I wouldn't let my kids have a cell phone until, well, maybe never. My step-daughter got her cell phone at around 8 years old and I was appalled. Recently, with Hanover approaching almost 10, I have changed my mind.

I've been trying to figure out just why I was against cell phones. Was I against my daughter being able to call her friends? Definitely not. I'd practically beg her to phone her friends. Was I against technology? Certainly not. She already has a digital camera (her second, actually), a Game Boy, and a media player (video, pictures, songs).

Was I against them just because I assumed children would be too irresponsible to have them? She hasn't lost, broken, or destroyed any of her other equipment. She did not use those other devices in lieu of work or other responsibilities (just see how fast I'd snatch that stuff away if she shirked because of them). Did I think she would have too much privacy and do something stupid because I wasn't overseeing her use of it? I know it's not in vogue, but I think my daughter should be able to make some mistakes. I also can see a difference between stupidity (like taking a picture of your heiney just because you can) and porn. I think she should be able to make stupid mistakes while she's at home so I can help her realize how stupid they are.

Plus, we discuss guidelines for safety before she starts some new venture. Generally, once Hanover hears a rule-cum-strongly-worded-advice and the reason for it, she's very reliable. She is also not concrete-bound. She can figure out that if I say 'don't take naked pictures of your butt,' I also mean, 'don't take naked pictures of any part of you normally covered by clothing and don't take naked pictures of other people's butts either.' I can imagine that there could be kids who would spend time talking to inappropriate people. Although I can't imagine my daughter doing such things, she's not yet a loner and I will, at this point in her life, know more than I ever want or need to know about who she's talking to. Perhaps this will be something to revisit when/if she ever becomes a hermit in her room.

I think that leaves me with feeling that some things should be saved for adults or close to adult-age, and extravagance and being spoiled.

Should cell phones not be used until kids are nearer to an adult? By the time a kid is 16 they get to drive. That seems pretty darn responsible. Way more involved that owning a cell. So a cell phone would definitely come before car in the pyramid of adding responsibility and freedom for kids as they transition into their own. What about high school? By the time a kid is 14, they are making decisions about whether or not to go to college or get a job right out of high school and get vo-tech training to make that possible. That is very serious; taking responsibility for choosing and working toward a big part of their future. So I think owning a cell phone falls lower on the responsibility ladder.

I think cell phones could easily be given to kids in middle school. Middle-schoolers need to be responsible for their own schedule, getting to classes on time, remembering homework and books, going to dances for fun (at least in my middle school), puberty for most girls. A lot of responsibility and at a level that definitely fits in with cell phone ownership--or even ownership of any expensive gadget. Can I think of any other defining factors to help me decide? Not right now.

In thinking of the extravagance view, all of Hanover's other technology gifts were one-time expenditures no more than $100. About what I budget for birthdays and "big" Christmas presents. Cell phones, as I had initially conceived of them, were an initial expenditure--possibly free if you renew for a full-term contract--and $10 or more (especially if the kid goes over the minutes) a month, if added to a family plan, for the duration that the kid has the phone. Which would be many, many years when you start early. That becomes a very large monetary value, especially when you realize, as my step-daughter did, that you don't get cut off when you go over your limits on minutes--they just keep racking up at the $.40 a minute rate.

The plan of a friend of mine helped me to see this aspect quite differently. She bought her son a pay-as-you-go phone. If you are not familiar with it, the phones are bought separately from a plan. Then, to talk on the phone, separate cards are purchased to buy air-time--I assume for talking or data(?). In her case, the phone itself was a present and her son was responsible for buying any time using allowances or other sources of income. Now that was an idea with appeal.

So after much thought and a great idea gleaned from another mother's experience, since Hanover has asked for a cell phone for her 10th birthday, her father and I have agreed to buy her a pay-as-you-go phone and explained to her that she would be responsible for buying any time she needed. She can also hope for minute cards as gifts. She is perfectly accepting of this situation and thrilled at the idea.

On a side note, I did not even think of the practical implications that cell phones have. I can call her all the time. She doesn't know that yet! I can trust that she has a way to get in touch with me should we be separated for any reason. If I drop her off at a lesson, I know that she can call me if something comes up--like getting dismissed early. These are all asides compared to figuring out the more fundamental reason I had my initial revulsion to the idea.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Little Red Book about Getting Your Period

As the mother of a tween girl, it is never far from my mind that my daughter is beginning puberty. She could even get her period in the next few months. My husband's family has a history of starting at 10! From 5 Minutes for Mom, I just read about "My Little Red Book."

My daughter knows that she could get her period anytime from this year to three years from now. The idea is exhilerating for her (being closer to 'grown up') and scary (not knowing how, when, or what to expect). I love the idea of a book that is an anthology of many different girls' stories and experiences with their first period.

If it sounds intriguing to you, then head over to the link and enter a comment and you could win a copy of the book.

Update: I just realized that I didn't point out that this book is NOT to give to girls. Some of the stories have language or situations that may not be appropriate. Some of the stories can be shared, but by no means all.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Academy of Science and Technology 1

Ring Nebula photographed by my husband through his 10" telescope.

Welcome to the Academy of Science and Technology, where we can share our experiences teaching and mentoring science and technology with children.

The nexxus of school and policy:

Sean Cavanagh, of Curriculum Matters, presents Science and Math in the Stimulus. Curriculum Matters focuses on curriculum in math, science, and other areas. He lays out some of the "STEM" education spending in the Obama stimulus plan.

Life Sciences and Biology:

At the Growing With Science Blog, Roberta Gibson tells us about Weekend Science Fun: Anticipating Spring With Flowers. After getting 8 inches of snow on March 1st, I could really use some spring.

Eryn presents Garden Science - The Great Sunflower Project - Free Sunflower Seeds posted at The HomeSchooled Year.

GrrlScientist presents ScienceOnline09: Meeting the NCCU's BRITEs at Research Triangle posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, "This is my photoessay documenting one of the many interesting field trips I went on while speaking at Science Online 09 in North Carolina. This photoessay is about my visit to North Carolina Central University's Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE) facilities at North Carolina's famous Research Triangle, where their main focus is discovering new cancer pharmaceuticals. They often invite local schoolchildren to explore the facilities and they actively recruit minorities and underpriviledged college students."

I would also like to direct your attention to Exploratorium. It has a lot of resources available on-line. I found this cow eye dissection to be interesting. As the squeamish sort, I like the walk through of what to look for and what to expect.


Christina presents Teaching Space with Bookflix posted at Early Childhood Teacher.

I submit Science Course for your perusal. I covered this material with a couple of homeschoolers I invited to take part in a science course. I am presenting science using history as the guide for how to introduce concepts. This is the session where we discuss some of the views Ancient Greeks had about what constituted the world around us.

Here is my husband's photograph of Saturn, again using his 10" telescope.


This article about the endangered hobby chemist, from Wired, has stayed with me since I first read it almost three years ago. The article discusses how difficult it is to find chemicals and lab equipment since the government has decided that the parties most interested in that material are meth labs and terrorists. The article includes links to the science supply company profiled. Most interestingly for this carnival, they also include directions for two experiments for the careful.


I wanted to include this post about snacks that look like electronic components from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories because I think it is so clever. Use graham crackers as the board, gum drops for LEDs, licorice laces for wiring, and other foodstuffs to represent batteries, capacitors, resistors, etc. They have even more complicated circuit board snacks!

Teaching Resources & Independent Learning:

Sarah Scrafford presents 100 Awesome Open Courses and Lectures for Digital Artists posted at Online

GrrlScientist presents OpenLab2008: It's Now Available! posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, "OpenLabs are anthologies of the finest science, nature and medical writing published on the blogosphere in the previous year. This year's edition, OpenLab2008, is now available for you to enjoy. These books make a fine and affordable gift for kids and adults who are fascinated by science (and I recommend them to libraries too)."

Joe presents Streamline Parental Involvement with Twitter posted at RnL Sometimes new technology can make getting parents involved easier.

A big thank you to all who contributed! I have discovered a new blogs and ideas.

Please submit your blog article to the next edition of The Academy of Science and Technology using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page. If you would like to host (and I hope you do!), please use the contact form on the Blog Carnival homepage and let me know if you have a date that would work best.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Brief Hiatus

I'm in NJ visiting my maternal grandmother unexpectedly. She had her leg broken while her nursing home was transferring her. I'll be back after the weekend with our science and technology carnival!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Round Up of Objectivism

Free markets backed up by a philosophy that respects individual rights and pursuit of happiness. The round up highlights the best posts from a number of bloggers inspired by Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, and rest of Ayn Rand's works.

Television Shows On-Line

Not the television I like to watch, which would scar my children for life if they joined me. The kind of television that can lead to learning and "Wow, Mom! You're going to let us watch TV?" Well, maybe.

PBS has a lot of videos on-line. They have a lot of full episodes of NOVA. The page is broken down into categories like Earth, Nature, Physics and Math, and Space. Many of the videos seem interesting.

I'm looking forward to watching a few with or without my kids. Please remember to take the context of your child's knowledge into account. Basically, that's a warning that political views in particular will operate on assumed premises that many kids won't even understand enough to question. Politics, in particular, is a very abstract field that requires a lot of living, reading, and learning of human action and history to even begin to grasp.

I found out about the free shows on PBS from a local homeschooling support internet group.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Twitter Again

When you do a Twitter search you can use # in front of a term to eliminate that term (including other hashtags).

If you have a search that you are interested in keeping up with, you can put the RSS feed for that search in your reader (it's a link on the right-hand side of the page). Since my reader and I are fairly inseperable, it's a pretty good deal and then I also don't need to 'follow' everyone who is also interested in similar things or read all of their unrelated content. Works for me!

Objectivists should have their own hashtags. How about #obj?

Twitter and Homeschooling

I signed up for Twitter. Twitter sounded pretty meaningless at first, but when a friend of mine told me she was on it (thanks, LB!), I decided to give it a shot. The best way to describe Twitter is that it's like an RSS reader where you get only the summaries. You have to 'follow' people in order to get their updates (their posts). The updates are limited to 140 characters, so many people use or to shorten their links, so you have to click to know where the link heads.

There is also a search feature on Twitter. People who have posts specifically relating to a certain topic will include a tag. For homeschoolers the tags are #homeschool, #hsc, and #homeschooling. You can search Twitter for those tags to get a quick low down on all of the homeschooling related updates. I've found some interesting links and ideas.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Carnival of Homeschooling!

I think it's early, but it's definitely up! Carnival of Homeschooling at Nerd Family.

Physics Videos

I found the following playlist on YouTube. This guy, Khan Academy, has put together a number of videos. This particular playlist includes 140(!) videos on physics. It includes a number of subjects and you can look at each subject or watch the all of them at once. So if you want to review Newton's three laws of motion, you can find those particular videos. Videos are also available for vectors, projectile motion, simple machines, angular momentum, cicuits, magnetism, and even cross products. I have not watched them all myself, but some of the subjects covered seem a little advanced for high school level.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Secular Homeschooling Magazine Give Away

Homeschooled Year is giving away a year's subscription to Secular Homeschooling Magazine. Go to the post and leave a comment saying which of the Secular Homeschooling Magazine article titles you find most compelling.

Letting it All Hang Out

When I tell new people that I'm homeschooling, I often hear "That's so hard. I couldn't do that." My replies to this have varied from "Oh sure you could" or "It's not as hard as you'd think" or "I wish I didn't have to" and even "I'm not sure I can do it either." I'm not like other homeschooling moms who have always known they were going to homeschool. It is an option that I am glad that I have and have decided to use for my children's benefit.

It is inevitable that people compare homeschoolers to public school teachers. I understand that desire since the academic goals are similar--teaching kids subject matter. It is wholly unwarranted on so many other levels. The differing number of kids, the different environment, the ability to make curriculum choices are all extremely different. While comparing the roles comes naturally, it seems 'apple to oranges' to me.

In my own homeschool, I have a very distinct opinion about one way that I feel homeschooling can be harder. I only have my two children to educate at home (and the toddler to try to work around), so you would think classroom management would be pretty easy. Unfortunately, that can be one of my biggest challenges. Without the example of all of the other kids also working, it seems to be a constant battle to keep my kids focused. In a school situation, surrounded by peers, kids exercise a higher level of self-control.

At home, when they are out of the visibitlity of peers, or of a nice, but non-family, teacher, things are quite different. But the biggest issue is that when the kids are unhappy, upset, frustrated, or challenged, then the sparks fly. Being at home, in their comfort zone, with me, leads to full-fledged waterworks. I have found that homeschooling can be harder than teaching other people's children at least this way--my kids have no compunction about letting all of their raw emotions out.