Saturday, December 10, 2011

Reverb #11 Day 5 and 6: What is the best science experiment/art project you did in 2011?

I am trying to catch up on my reverbs in little snatchets of time!  I'll be combining #5 and #6 today, as sort of a "yin-yang" post.

Science and Art are like opposite ends of the spectrum sometimes, and this is true for my kids.  For them, science is like a curiosity, best taken in small doses, while art rocks the house!

The kids enjoy science if we keep the subject matter more on the superficial side, so we cover a wide range of topics in small doses.  They have seen many NOVA shows, and most recently, they became completely overwhelmed by The Fabric Of The Cosmos- a great multi-episode show on quantum mechanics.  I highly recommend it, but I digress...

pumpkin plants in the grow box

We do experiments of homemade design mostly, from our everyday circumstances.  So this year, we have discovered things like borer larva in our pumpkin plants.  We had a great gardening project, experimenting with growing pumpkin plants in a Grow Box, instead of the ground.  Everything went well till the plants started looking cut off at the stem base, and were dying.  Upon researching, we discovered we had insect larvae inside the main stems, munching the life out of the pumpkins.  We also read that the plants can sometimes be saved if the larva are carefully cut out of the stem, and the stems are sealed with a wrapping of foil.  So I, enthusiastic Cavemomma, went to work, digging out terrified larva, as the kids squirmed as they looked on.  (well, they sort of half-looked...)  Some plants actually survived the butchery, but their growth was stunted, and they never got beyond a small size, producing a flower now and then.  This was my favorite eperiment of the year, even though the pumpkin project was halted.  We learned more about the life cycle, and interaction between plants and insects.

wooly aphids under the microscope at 30X

If you ask my kids, they preferred the next insect project we took on a few months later: aphids in the neighbor's apple tree.  (we were house sitting, and felt a responsibility) We talked to our favorite friendly ACE Hardware garden expert, who told us how aphids eat, grow, and spread, and the mechanics of the products we could use  for getting rid of them.  We even took a sampling home and looked at them under the microscope.  Then, the kids choose the most fun option for ridding the tree of aphids- putting on bathing suits, and spraying the tree with soapy water. (using Dawn dishwashing liquid, the garden hose, and an insect sprayer)  The results were instant and permanent! 

But there was our baby bird project too, and reassembling George the skeleton, and the Happy Scientist experiments.  I think the kids' all-time favorite experiment this year is the Happy Scientist's examining trick birthday candles versus regular birthday candles, and observing why the trick candles relight.  When I asked them just now why this was their favorite science experiment this year, they both replied it is because we made a batch of brownies to serve as the candle holders for the experiment!  That's science in our house- it's all about the treats!

Daughter's melt and pour soap on display at the county fair

On the other hand, arts and crafts projects seem to effortlessly spring out of nowhere at my house.  I asked what Daughter's favorites have been this year, and she said making clothes for her Webkinz, making soap, making polymer clay jewelry, and drawing pictures for her stories- mostly about gymnasts.  These are just her favorites.

one of Son's most recent videos

Son would say, hands down, his animation movies with legos is his favorite art project.  I think he has made over 50 movies this year.

So there you have it; some yin-yang, science/art happenings, favorite or not , that we have engaged in this year.

You can participate in Reverb 2011 too- click on this  button to participate, or read the other responses to the daily prompt:

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