Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Week 20, day 2

Tuesday: Science. Today went much better than yesterday, thank God. Today's theme at Titmouse Club was "backyard gardening", which basically turned out to be what sorts of things you might find in your back yard. They had live bess beetles, stick insects, and millipedes for the kids to look at, and talked about how seeds grow into plants. The "craft" involved planting seeds in a cup of soil. We haven't watered them yet, so the seeds aren't likely to start growing until we do. Some of the seeds were milkweed, so we might transfer them outside if they get big enough and try to raise monarch butterflies. On the nature walk, there were 5 turtles sunning themselves - 4 in a straight line on one log, all looking in the same direction, and one on a separate log that found the approach of a dozen or so preschoolers intimidating and swam off with alacrity. Spring has decidedly arrived; the insects think so anyway.

Once home, we did all our review (P asked to learn the 2nd AND 3rd verses of "Holy, Holy, Holy") and it went smoothly. P's reader this week features Nat the "nightingale" (unrecognizable as such due to its cartoon nature) who lies down and naps on the job, to the chagrin of his porcupine boss. Recently, P has been attempting to get out of schoolwork by lying on the floor or under the table or on her bed and "napping". ("I can't put up 'Tuesday' on the calendar because I'm asleep.") After P had read, "Nat has a nap. Nat is bad.", I asked her whether napping during school time was any better. On the following page, in which "Nat's boss is mad", she decided it was a good thing I wasn't a porcupine, since she'd been doing the same thing as Nat had. I was amused. I think I was a porcupine yesterday, but today I was more of an owl (somewhat stern, with glasses, and mostly keeping my tone of voice to gentle hoots - maybe even wise, I hope).

My planned science experiment for today had involved planting seeds, and since the kids did that already at Titmouse Club, I decided to take us all to Space Center Houston instead (which I had planned on doing within the next 9 days while E is still 3 and thus gets in free). There is a 1:10,000,000,000 scale model of the solar system, with the sun the size of a grapefruit, and Earth slightly larger than a millimeter in diameter, with about 0.2 miles from the Sun to Neptune. We walked from the Sun to Saturn before going into the museum, but then both big kids had desperate potty needs so we went inside instead of continuing to Uranus and Neptune. We looked inside the Shuttle mockup and at the Space Shuttle Main Engine again, and I talked about how fuel needs oxygen to burn, but there isn't any oxygen in space so the Shuttle carries its own oxidizer. Once home after dinner, I performed a demo to show that fire needs oxygen, by lighting candles and then putting a glass over them so we could see the flames die down and go out once the oxygen was consumed. Most of the rest of the time at the Space Center the kids spent in the large, elaborate play structure getting lots of exercise. When they kicked us out at 5pm, we walked from Saturn to Pluto (they've relabeled it as "not a planet", but I'm sure the original display was made before Pluto's demotion). Seeing the scale of the orbits relative to the sizes of the planets is really amazing, as is considering that the Sun's gravity is strong enough from so far away to keep the planets orbiting it. I don't know if the kids understood the reason for my awe, but at least I communicated, "Mommy thinks science is really cool." Which is totally true (you'd hope so, since I spent 5 years earning a planetary science degree from Caltech).

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