Saturday, November 21, 2009

Learning Notes -- Dot Grids and Kitchen Chemistry

Incompetech is a neat site where you can custom-design graph paper and print it out. It's not just your standard old graph paper either -- you can do dots, or hexagons, or storyboards. I used it yesterday to print out some dot paper for Paddy. We are on to first grade geometry in his math book, which is very easy for him. His visual discrimination is excellent, which is probably why it was so easy for him to learn to sight read. However, his motor processing seems to be slightly lacking. He tanked on the assessment question which asked him to copy a rectangle that was drawn on a dot graph. He made several tries and got the most curious results. So I'm printing out the paper and we'll do some of that transfer drawing in spare moments. It might actually be good for Aidan, too.

That makes me think about all the traditional schooly activities that trained this kind of skill. My mom used to get us kids little activity books that had dot grids and many of that kind of thing. We did them for fun.

But there's also copywork, and map tracing or map-copying. The Bronte sisters used to carefully copy out masterpieces -- you know, paintings and drawings that they particularly liked.

Kieron did a couple of experiments for his chemistry unit yesterday. It was pretty fun for the whole family (we are sort of geeky around here). I really wish we had taken pictures. You can see a video of how the yeast and hydrogen peroxide experiment was supposed to work, though in our case, as Kieron points out, they missed a step in the directions and ours turned out different from theirs in a couple of respects.

As for the other one, which involved muriatic (hydrochloric) acid and zinc (from a galvanized nail) -- our results were interesting though not as dramatic as some of the things you can see on YouTube if you look up zinc and hydrochloric acid together (Kieron wants to do some of those... hmm).. You'll have to do your own looking though -- and CAUTION -- there were all kinds of safety warnings -- both these experiments involve flame, and releasing hydrogen, and you know what happened to the Hindenburg. (and lots of the YouTube videos, of course, have some language).

Anyway, Kieron loved being able to mess around with matches and dangerous acids, as any 13 year old boy would!

K12 gives you the experiments (for which I'm grateful since I never would have done it on my own) -- but they don't really tell you much about what you are doing -- for example, it would have been really helpful to know that muriatic acid is hydrochloric acid and that galvanized nails have a zinc coating and the zinc was what reacts with the hydrochloric acid -- we ended up having to drop about 5 nails into the muriatic acid before we saw anything happen. The lab notes hinted that something to do with hydrogen was going to happen but there weren't a whole lot of details. So that's why I decided to look it up and see if I could find out a bit more.

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