Happy New Year – Return to Normal?

Frosty Field

All of us have this definition of normal.  With the holidays completed, there is this sense that we are going to return to normal.  But, what is that?  Really, what we are saying is that we are returning to that ordinary state of routine.  For families with children, this means that we are returning to a school routine.

January is also a time when we reassess our school year goals and set some new goals as well.  So, what are your goals for the remainder of winter and into spring?  Have you though about adding some science activities?  January is actually a great time to look at your science curriculum.

The homeschooling catalogs will be coming out soon.  So, it is a great time to start thinking.  But, there are other resources that come out during January.  Here are some good ones to start your creative juices flowing:

Astronomy

Sky and Telescope has come out with their 2015 Observing Calendars and Information.  There are other sites as well – the Sea and Sky has their Celestial Events Calendar  out as well as Stargazing Tonight.

Science Fairs

It is time to think about those science fair projects (if you haven’t already started).  The International Science and Engineering Fair is in May – and students are required to participate in qualifying fairs.  You can find information about affiliated science fairs here. Many local fairs are in February – so if  you haven’t found your dates – it is time to look.

Global Science Events

Every year there are a number of scientific and medical meetings held around the world.  And while, they may not be directed toward you and your family personally, many of these meetings have auxiliary events.  For example, the American Chemical Society which will be meeting in Denver in March and in Boston in August usually supports a science activity for families and school children as part of their meeting.  Thus, looking to see if one of these events is coming to your area may inspire an activity or a lesson plan.  You can find one listing of Science Events here.

Weather and Climate

In addition to astronomy, there is also sky watching as related to weather, clouds, climate, etc.  Winter is a great time to look for the Aurora Borealis – you can find the forecast for viewing here. Of course there are a number of sites that follow weather – there is the NOAA.gov and Weather.com.  These should provide you with lots of activities.

Check out the Calendar

Earth Science Week  – has extended their celebration to the entire year.  National Engineering Week is February 22-28, 2015 and information can be found here.  Earth Day is April 22 and many professional societies have activities planned.  Pi Day is March 14 and this year is special because of the year.  (You might also search STEM activities – UCF is holding a STEM Day on Jan. 30, 2015, and STEM Saturdays are being held at Northern Illinois University. There are a host of other Colleges and Universities that are doing STEM outreach – so checking your local community college, or other higher learning institution may also provide you with inspiration.)

Finally, watch the museum and library calendars you never know what might turn up there.

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The School Year is Here

Now that Labor Day Weekend is here – School is officially back in session. It is time to get back into the swing of things. Do you need science lesson plans? Do you need some interactive ideas? Looking for free resources? Here are some places to start:

From Discovery Education – http://www.discoveryeducation.com/ – In addition to their usual offerings – there is a new package from the Navy.

From National Geographic – http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/?ar_a=1

From the USGS: http://education.usgs.gov/

From the American Chemical Society – http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education.html

From NOAA: http://www.education.noaa.gov/

From NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/ specifically from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/education/index.cfm?page=115

Have a great year in Science.

Continue the Love of Science Over the Summer

The 2013-2014 school year is winding down (and in some locations already done). But, that does not mean learning or the enjoyment of science stops – in fact this can be the best time of year to explore and build upon what your students have learned (or you for that matter).

My husband and I recently took a trip to part of the United States we had never been before – the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the “North Woods” area of Wisconsin.  Having just taught Earth Science – I found myself looking at the geology and the weather with a different eye.  We even had discussions about the true technical names of various features and debates how to categorize various items.  Here are some examples:

* What is the name of a rock or boulder left behind by a glacier?  – An erratic

* What is the name of the hillocks left behind by a glacier? – Moraines

* Where is the ice age trail?  The North Woods area of Wisconsin

* Just where does the Mississippi-Missouri drainage basin fit in terms of drainage basins in the world?  It is number 3 – the Amazon is number 1.

Questions like these come up while you are traveling place to place.  You may also have the fun mythology of the formations as well – why is Minnesota the land of 10,000 lakes?  They are the foot prints from Babe the Blue Ox.  Or, from geology – they are the result of glaciation.  PS – the name comes from the Dakota word for “clear water”. It is an easy way to bring in literature, folklore and science – without the stuffiness of a text book.

You can use the time to enhance observations – just check out these pictures – taken during our trip. The following are two different examples of cloud formations.  They were interesting to the eye.

The sky above Lake Erie

The sky above Lake Erie

Ponca City Oklahoma

Ponca City Oklahoma

Here are some other observations from the North Woods – are they mushrooms?  What is the plant going to be?  Fungi

New Plant

And look at how the dew decorates the fir tree.

Dew

All of these – are just observations – but lead to questions – and questions lead to exploration.  Use this time to explore.

 

Exploring Weather and Other Fluids

It is spring time in Oklahoma – so that means weather (severe weather) is just around the corner. And, it also means some really cool science that can be done to explore concepts like Archimedes’ Principle, Bernoulli’s equations and principles, and Pascal’s Law. Here are few links to keep you busy:

Here is a quick weather book of experiments

One for Archimedes’ Principle

And another for Pascal’s Law