Saturday, May 30, 2009

Science Saturday Challenge #10

Buckyballs and Molecular Biology

I found this article to be an interesting if unusual connection between biology and math.

Buckyball Computer Simulations Help Team Find Molecular Key To Combating HIV

ScienceDaily (2009-05-25) -- Researchers have identified specific molecules that could block the means by which HIV -- the deadly virus that causes AIDS -- spreads by taking away its ability to bind with other proteins. Computer simulations were used to test more than 100 carbon fullerene, or "buckyball," derivatives initially developed for other purposes to see if they could be used to inhibit a strain of the virus, HIV-1 PR, by attaching themselves to its binding pocket.

You can build a buckyball with Zome, or use toothpicks with marshmallows or large gummy candies (yum!) If you look carefully at the picture you will see the model combines pentagons and hexagons in a soccer ball type pattern. Each hexagon has attached to it alternating pentagons and hexagons. Here is the Zome flyer with directions from the old web site should you get stuck.

For an extension, try building a molecule with a binding pocket into which the buckyball "fits" (or at least sits in.)

To help round out your lesson you can read more interesting information about fullerene.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Science Logic Curriculum

I recently saw this interesting science series. What intrigues me the most is that it is written by a science-teacher-turned-homeschooler mom that I "run into" at a lot of Charlotte Mason and Classical homeschooling sites.

Makita sees as I do a lack of solid middle school science for homeschoolers that is not written from a Creationist perspective. (It's great that such excellent Creationist material is available, BTW, since you are unlikely to find anything about it at your local library.)

As a result she created Science Logic: Sciences for the Logic Stage. While I have not seen the whole package, she has a free sample download of her first one, Earth Logic, and it looks excellent. You can order it spiral bound, unbound, or as a pdf file. She plans on releasing Life Logic and Physics Logic later in the year. Nice job, Makita!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Living media: The Way Things Work videos

Our family enjoys David Macaulay books, from Cathedral, Castle, and Underground to The Way Things Work; soon we will have The Way We Work on our home science shelves, too.

The Way Things Work introduces basic science concepts, often using brief stories involving mammoths. It then has wonderful illustrations of all sorts of inventions that operate based on the concept introduced. (See my review on the Shelfari widget.)

The book has an accompanying video series. We recently borrowed the Electricity DVD from the library. Instead of just being a reproduction of the work, the video is actually an expansion of the mini-stories introducing science concepts.

If these were books they would be excellent living science books. Instead they are great animated science tales. My kids keep asking to watch them, so we'll be renting more soon!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Science Saturday Challenge #9

Surface Tension

Water is an amazing molecule for many, many reasons, one of which is it's incredible surface tension. First read this article: Sticky Water from the Exporatorium to get an idea of why water has such adhesive abilities.

A great book about water, including surface tension, with stunning pictures is A Drop of Water by Walter Wick.

These experiments are easy to do and visually impressive, both of which make for favorite science experiments in our house!

A small bowl of water
Liquid soap (for hands or dishes)

Sprinkle pepper onto the surface of the water until it pretty much covers it.

Dip a clean finger into the bowl of water, and Ds#2 and Ds#3 are doing in the picture below.

Now rub your fingertip with a little of the liquid soap and dip it back into the center of the bowl.

Now try the experiment with milk and food coloring for a more dazzling display!

Soap has a polar "head" that attracts the hydrogen bonds of the water, but also has a hydrophobic "tail" that stick up at the water surface. When the water bonds to the soap the tails break up the surface tension. That makes the pepper and the food coloring scatter, and gets dirt off of surfaces!

Monday, May 18, 2009

New Nature Series

I regularly follow two fabulous blogs, In the Sparrow's Nest and Our Journey Westward. These two ladies have launched a fabulous new nature series called NaturExplorers available through their company, Shining Dawn Books.

To celebrate the launch, they are giving away six units from the series. You can enter to win three of them at this post from In the Sparrow's Nest and three of them at this post from Our Journey Westward.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

My dragonfly is the Zome Model of the Month!

I built this last year and it finally made it to publication as the Zome Model of the Month! Looking at a dragonfly made me think of the Golden Ratio, which made me think of Zome, and the rest is history.

I found this to be very interesting on the website:

"If you are a purist, you can skip the supports and suspend the model from monofilament fishing line, as we did in February at our stand in the international toy fair in Nuremberg, Germany."

I'm blushing, guys. The Divine Ratio in Nature recreated in Zome.

Science Saturday Challenge #8

I successfully completed my first webinar! It has all sorts of information about homeschooling science, resources, and lots of experiments regarding static electricity. Just click on the Science Saturday logo to view the show.

Thanks to everyone who attended, and to Homeschool Connections for making this possible!

Post a comment when you try some of these yourself.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Science, Faith, Angels & Demons

While this starts as a movie review, it addresses the myth about the relationship between science and the Catholic Church.

Monday, May 11, 2009

NatGeo on Pandemics tonight

Tonight NatGeo presents Swine Flu: The Science of Pandemics at 10pm EDT.

You can bet my DVR is set for it...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day with Magnets

Only Ds#2, the same child that makes happy birthday music out of snap circuits, could make such a beautiful and touching surprise for me out of paper clips, magnets, a compass, and a small knob. Thanks, Sweetie!

BTW, Ds#3 felt we should spend time together on Mother's Day so he went and got our M.E.P. math books for us.

God bless all us mothers out here in the blogosphere and those Twittering away!

Monday, May 4, 2009

What do you want offered?

Homeschool Connections is filling out its offerings of online courses, seminars, and free webinars and want to know what you homeschoolers want to see offered.

Please take the survey to let Maureen and Walter know!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Science Saturday Challenge #7

I know, it's Sunday, but I had to work all day yesterday...

Any guesses what this is a picture of?