Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Cow's eye dissection

Blood and Guts is a great book for 9 to 12 year olds to study human anatomy and physiology. It's inexpensive, fun, and filled with all sorts of activities, like a cow's eye dissection. Today I dissected cows' eyes with a 10 and 11 year old, who have been using Blood and Guts for science this past year, and two 8 year olds (one of which was my son) that happened to be interested. This is an easy and inexpensive dissection for beginners since most parts are very easy to identify and not very delicate. You can get everything you need from Home Training Tools (see links section) including the eyeball and guide, though we found a way to save some money. I suggest you get the dissection kit and tray, costing $15 combined (these are reusable) from HTT. You can throw in the eyeball for an additional $2.50 or you can, like we did, call a local slaughter house and get them for free. The fall is the best time when the slaughter house is the busiest--we were lucky to get 4 over two days this week. Since they are fresh you don't need to worry about any formaldehyde or it's accompanying smell. Dissection guides are readily available for free online. Here's just one:

The kids all did a great job, and the dissection helped the older kids to better understand and remember the anatomy and even some of the physiology. The mess wasn't too bad to clean, either.

Monday, June 11, 2007

NASA TV on the web: watching the crew live

NASA TV has streaming video available from this web site:
You can watch it with a variety of media players. You can even download the TV schedule from that same page. Yesterday we watched the shuttle dock with the space station; today they're scheduled for an EVA (extra-vehicular activity.)
We happened to have Mission From Mars and Floating in Space by Franklyn Branley (Let's Read-and-Find-Out) from the library. Very popular reading in our house after watching NASA TV!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Why teach science to younger kids?

Why do we need to “do” science with preschool and early elementary children? Shouldn’t the focus be on the four R’s: Reading, Writing, ‘Rithmetic, and Religion? Yes, it should—all the more reason science should be less formal and more about great reading and fun activities that expose kids to science concepts. Charlotte Mason homeschoolers begin a rigorous reading schedule, as well as nature studies and journaling, at age 6. Why exclude short pieces of science literature, or fun activity books, dealing with other aspects of the world around us?

Early science education has many benefits:

- It fosters a love for God's world, and an eagerness to learn more about it
- Growing up with science makes it less intimidating
- Learning basic concepts early makes formal science learning easier later

I encourage you to look at the books tagged ”Preschool” and “Beginner” at the LibraryThing site and borrow them from your local library. Some are literature and others are activity books. Simply reading these books and performing some of the experiments, in no particular order other than what appeals to you and your children, is the perfect way to learn early science. Of course, you can also take a more planned approach or use a literature-based curriculum like Noeo Science, too.

Interestingly enough, as you use this approach with young children, you will become more comfortable using it with older children such that you will find less dependence on those expensive, boring textbooks. Who reads textbooks once you finish school, anyway? At Home Science is the foundation for life-long learning.