Tuesday, May 11, 2010


We didn't do any formal school today, because I hoped that a day spent without rigid expectations would help us all get back on a more even keel. It seemed to work. We went to Titmouse Club in the morning. It was the last session of the year, and the theme was pond ecosystems. The kids got to fish around in the pond with nets, and someone had caught a crawfish (crayfish? crawdad?) for the kids to look at. They also got to touch a box turtle and a stick insect (gently), and they painted plaster figurines of frogs and turtles. Once home, I gave E a badly needed haircut, and read lots of books to both of them. One of the books I read was What's So Special About Planet Earth?, which we checked out from the library because we enjoy the author's other books, How Do You Lift a Lion?, What's Bigger than a Blue Whale?, and What's Smaller than a Pygmy Shrew?. This one discusses why none of the other planets in the solar system would be a good place for humans to live, and goes on to describe the water cycle, among other things. I came up with a fun experiment to do: E and I poured some water into a medium-sized bowl and added salt and food colour (to represent dirty sea water). In the middle of the bowl I placed a small ramekin, empty at the beginning of the experiment. I covered the entire bowl assembly with cling wrap, using a rubber band to hold it in place, and put a marble in the middle to create a slope on the cling wrap. We put the experiment outside. Several hours later, some of the "dirty sea water" had evaporated, condensed on the cling wrap, and dripped down into the ramekin underneath the marble. We noted that the water in the ramekin was completely clear. There wasn't enough for us to taste it, but hopefully by tomorrow we will be able to investigate the effectiveness of our small solar desalination plant. Later on, next time we go to Galveston, I'd like to get some real sea water and redo the experiment. I'd also like to see what difference the bowl colour makes - we have a navy blue bowl as well as a white one, and I imagine the darker one would be more effective. When we were in Bahrain, the tap water was clearly desalinated ocean water, and tasted distinctly odd. I don't know what desalination method they use there, and I'm curious to see how our water will taste.

I guess I'm such a geek, even on days we don't "do school" I'm still educating the kids in some way or another...

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