Friday, April 8, 2011

Let's Have a Moment of Science!

One of our favorite places to visit in Los Angeles was the California Science Center near U.S.C.. We have many special family memories exploring the exhibits there. This is one reason Quinn and I were so excited to get our membership established at the Boston Museum of Science last week. It is just a short hop for us on the "T", (Boston Public Transportation), so it will be easy for us to spend lots of time there. Because of school and work, our visits to the California Science Center were usually among the weekend crowds as we tried to cram in as many exhibits as we could, plus lunch, in a short day. Fun, but at times overwhelming. With the Boston Museum of Science being close and having mid-week time available, Quinn and I are going to change our visit strategy, each week, maybe every other week, we will visit one exhibit only, Quinn will read the exhibit placards to me, (something that is impossible in a crowded museum), take notes, then come home and write about our trip. Our first day was a day of exploration as we tried to familiarize ourselves with this magical new place. There were so many great exhibits, we are both very eager for our adventures here to begin.

George Brown Class Clown: Trouble Magnet

-by Nancy Krulik

I liked this book very, very much, because it is really funny. George is a fun kid who has five friends. He is a normal kid except for his super burps that sneak up on him and make him do things that get him in trouble. Sometimes the super burps make him dance around like an ape or roll around on the floor. Another time he climbed a tree pretending to be a nut. The worst time was when the super burp made him put to much erupting powder in his volcano and it made a giant mess in his classroom. Mrs. Kelly didn't like that at all. By the end of the story he started getting control of the super burps, but he really wanted them to just go away so he could be a normal kid.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gas Math

New truck tires -------------------------------------------------------------------------- $   521.20

Tune up and oil change -------------------------------------------------------------- $   158.95

Gasoline ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- $ 1575.78

Twelve days of Father / Son time driving across the country -------------- PRICELESS

As we drove across the country Quinn and I kept a log of miles driven and gallons of gasoline purchased. While it is frightening to face the actual totals of dollars spent and miles per gallon achieved, it was a great opportunity for a math lesson for Quinn. We divided up the totals by state and I listed them on paper for Quinn to do the addition. I then explained to him how if we take the number of miles driven and divide it by the amount of gallons of gas used the answer will be the miles per gallon we achieved. All of Quinn's addition was written on paper and done by hand, but I had no expectation for my second grader to be performing long division, so I taught him the process on the calculator and let him go. Here are the totals;

State                                          Miles Driven                              Gallons Used                        M.P.G

California                                 117.1                                           14.1                                       8.3

Nevada                                      195.6                                           19.8
                                                       96.5                                             8.9
                                                     292.1                                           28.7                                    10.2

Utah                                            179.0                                           20.1  
                                                     153.4                                           13.8
                                                     130.0                                           14.0
                                                     462.4                                           47.9                                       9.7

Colorado                                   129.6                                          14.4
                                                       70.8                                            8.4
                                                     163.0                                          17.0
                                                     126.9                                          19.0
                                                     490.3                                          58.8                                        8.3

Kansas                                        155.0                                          20.3
                                                      124.7                                         18.6
                                                      120.8                                         18.8
                                                      400.5                                         57.7                                        6.9

Missouri                                     121.9                                         15.2
                                                      121.8                                         16.8
                                                      243.7                                         32.0                                        7.6

Illinois                                         140.1                                          14.9            
                                                      178.7                                          18.7
                                                      318.8                                          33.6                                       9.5

Kentucky                                     177.8                                          21.7                                    
                                                       111.1                                          14.4      
                                                       288.9                                          36.1                                      8.0

West Virginia                             136.1                                          18.7                                      7.3

Maryland                                    133.6                                          20.9
                                                       114.8                                          12.0
                                                       248.4                                          32.9                                       7.6

Pennsylvania                              146.5                                          20.6                                       7.1

Connecticut                                 150.3                                          17.4                                       8.6

Massachusetts                             183.3                                          20.7                                       8.9
TOTALS:                                   3478.4                                       419.2                                       8.3

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Across our Country; 17 of 50

Our drive across the country was an unforgettable experience for Quinn and I. Our route, which changed as we went based on weather, points of interest, and road conditions, led us through 17 of the 50 states, most of which neither of us had ever been to. Our intention was to write about each place as we travelled to and post about them while we were on the road. However, free internet connections are not all they are cracked up to be and while they were free at times they were hardly what I would call a connection. Posting text via my cellular phone was possible, but when you compare the size of my thumbs with the size of the phone's keyboard, it was not really practical. Instead Quinn and I worked together to create bubble maps to keep track of information about each location. Now that we are back home in front of a computer, Quinn is using his maps to write about our stops.

Las Vegas, Nevada

The first place we went on our trip was Las Vegas. Las Vegas is a city in Nevada. We went and played in the arcade at Circus Circus. I played games and won prizes. It was fun! We went to the Hoover Dam, it uses the power of water to create electricity. It was one of the largest construction projects in the United States. I almost got to go on a helicopter ride, but it was closed because of wind. At night we drove around on the strip to see the lights, they were very colorful. There were even pirate ships that shoot cannons at each other.

Cedar City, Utah

Our next stop was Cedar City, Utah. We did lots of hiking while we were there. The first day we went to Cedar Breaks. It had lots of big red rocks. We spotted some fossils while there and even a bear in a cave. There was a big tree with lots of shoes hanging on it. We called it the shoe tree. The next day we went to Red Cliffs. It was the best hiking place I have ever been to. We hiked up a river. It was very, very, big and there were lots of caves and waterfalls. We also visited Harrisburg while we were there. It was a mining town in the 1800's. They mined silver and Turquoise.

(To Be Continued)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Measuring America Two Feet @ a Time

Quinn and I flew back to Los Angeles from Boston on Monday. We are here for a week to finish packing up our house and moving the lot to storage. Although there has been much work to accomplish on this trip, we have had a great time feeling the California sun on our skin again and visiting our beloved Wonderland Avenue Elementary School in Laurel Canyon. It is the school where I have taught Art since the 2005/2006 school year and have been so fortunate to have Quinn in attendance since Kindergarten. It is more than a place of work or a school to us, we consider it a home and leave behind many wonderful friends and family members. It was a gift to Quinn from one of them that inspired one of our homeschool lessons. Echo has been in class with Quinn since Kindergarten and on his last day at Wonderland she scored 100% on her Spelling Test earning a prize, a small tape measure / level keychain. She told Quinn that she wanted him to have it and now we will put it to use. Instead of flying back to Boston, Quinn and I will once again be hooking up our trailer. Along with our dogs Lola and Bessie we will be traversing the country in 12 days. In each city we visit I will be giving Quinn a list of objects he must find and measure. After finding each object's width, height, or depth in total inches he will convert each measurement to feet and inches and then log his findings into his journal and make comparisons between objects. Because the tape measure is only two feet long Quinn will be exercising his skills in addition, subtraction, fractions, comparison, and writing.

Los Angeles, California

1. The Width of the Front Door ----------------- 36" or 3'

2. The Width of the Bedroom Door ------------ 32 " or 2' 8"

3. The Width of the Kitchen Sink -------------- 33" or 2' 9"

4. The Height of the Toaster ---------------------- 9 "

5. The Height of the Front Door Step ----------- 7 "

6. The Height of the Front Porch Step ---------- 5 "

7. The Height of the Back Porch Step ---------- 7 "

The Width of the Kitchen Sink   >   The Height of the Toaster

The Height of the Front Porch Step   <   The Height of the Back Porch Step

The Width of the Bedroom Door   <   The Width of the Front Door


Las Vegas, Nevada:

1. The height of the trailer step ---------------------------- 9"

2. The width of the trailer step ----------------------------- 24" or 2'

3. The height of the bedroom doorknob ----------------- 36" or 3'

4. The height of the table ------------------------------------ 24" or 2'

5. The height of the inside trailer step --------------------- 6"

The width of the trailer step  =  The height of the table

The height of the bedroom doorknob  >  The height of the table

The width of the trailer step  >  The height of the inside trailer step

Cedar City, Utah:

1. The width of the tree ---------------------------- 14" or  1' 2"

2. The height of the barbecue --------------------- 20" or  1' 8"

3. The height of the table -------------------------- 29"  or  2' 5"

4.  The height of the fence ------------------------- 36"  or  3'

5.  The width of the barbecue --------------------- 7"

The height of the table  >  The width of the tree

The height of the fence  >  The height of the table

The width of the tree  <  The height of the fence

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Messenger With an Important Message

Moving from our sunny mid 70's to the frigid 17 degree weather that greeted us in Boston was a bit of a challenge for us, but we are quickly acclimating. I never thought I would care to live anywhere but California, however Boston has captured a piece of my heart. It is a beautiful city and there is History all around you at every corner. We have been having a blast exploring every alley and street of the North End, Boston's Italian neighborhood. The food is amazing! Soon we will be moving to the house where we will be living for the next six months in South Boston, the Irish neighborhood. I am sure we will enjoy exploring it as well. I will do my best to keep Quinn out of the many pubs.

During our first week in Boston we learned about Paul Revere. He lived in Boston with his family during the late 1700's. We walked all around his neighborhood and visited his house. It was made of wood and bricks and the doors were very small. I think someone tall like Abraham Lincoln would have had a hard time getting in the house. There were no bathrooms in the house. At night they would go to the bathroom in a pot under the bed. The oven was made of bricks and they burned wood to make it hot.

Paul Revere was a silversmith and goldsmith. He made forks, knives, spoons, and cups for eating and drinking. He even made bells for churches and cannons and bolts for the U.S.S. Constitution, one of the U.S. Navy's first warships.

Paul Revere is most famous for his midnight ride on April 18, 1775. He rode on horseback to the towns of Concord and Lexington to warn the Sons of Liberty leaders, Samuel Adams and John Hancock, that the British troops were coming to arrest them and to seize all of the weapons hidden in Concord.

Paul Revere's Ride

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
>From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.