Friday, February 21, 2020

Finishing Up Farming & Gardening

Continuing to focus on Soil Science... including some chemistry experiments.

Monday, February 10

  • play State Soil Interactive and look at the state soils of the 50 states
  • look at a sample of the Illinois state soil -- Drummer Silty Clay Loam -- from the IDNR Illinois State Symbols bin
  • play The Big Picture Game

The IDNR bins are all available at the visitors center of Giant City State Park and may be checked out for free.

Tuesday, February 11

Thursday, February 13

  • review and watch What is the Carbon Cycle? from NOAA
  • read about Carbon from "Chapter 4: Carbon" in The Book of Ingeniously Daring Chemistry: 24 Experiments for Young Scientists by Sean Connolly
  • walk around shaking everyone's hand like a really chatty person at a party -- "Hi, I'm Carbon!" -- since Carbon likes to form bonds
  • do Experiment 4: "The Good Conduct Award" on pages 38-39
  • read "Why is Carbon Important?" from NASA Climate Kids
  • look at 2018 CO2 emissions per capita infographic from Ville Seppälä
  • watch video clip of Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland (an amazing woman leader and the the youngest PM in the world), at the World Economic Forum Davos 2020 about Finland's goal to go carbon neutral in 15 years, which is twice as fast as the rest of the EU!

Friday, February 14

Monday, February 17

  • work together to make a grid of the yard and assign portions

I had expected us to make the Nitrogen Cycle booklets today, but it turned out that making the grid of the yard took much much more time than I expected! They did a really good job, though. It took an hour and a half.

The goal was nine equal portions of land! Each student will now be able to do in-depth Nature Study and observations of "their" portion, learning about the land and helping to be part of the decision about what to plant there.

There were two teams of 3 students each. We thought this would be easier than a group of 6 walking around as a cohort trying to make all these decisions. One team took the South side of the yard (drawing an invisible line through my house) to measure and portion, and the other the North.

Each team had a Team Leader, a Mapmaker, and a Pacer.

The Team Leaders were the ones who talked together and decided how to cut my yard in half. They also had to keep their teams on track.

The Mapmaker had a clipboard and a piece of graph paper and drew a map to scale of the half of the yard their team was responsible for.

The Pacer walked with measured steps to calculate the size of each piece of land.

Interestingly, one team had a scale of 2 steps = 1 square on the graph paper and the other had a scale of 3 steps = 1 square (in order to make their piece of land fit on an identical piece of graph paper). Were the "halves" not the same size? Were the steps not the same size?

The children decided that one team must have gotten a larger section of the yard. So the team with the larger portion simply divided it into more subsections, so that each of the nine children in our homeschool co-op now has a section which is roughly the size of the others.

It was fascinating to watch them work through this multi-step project!

In our Math block in April, we'll look at Linear Measurement and Coordinate Graphing in more detail and actually plan out our vegetable garden beds, taking into account some Companion Planting research. It was valuable for the class to have this experience with non-standard units of measurement (the pace of two children, one taller and one shorter, not being the same) before we get in-depth into the Metric System and conversions between units. I'm looking forward to doing more planning and, of course, planting!

Tuesday, February 18

  • put down corrogated cardboard and straw to improve the path to our four pallet compost bins, add new ingredients to each of the sections based on our observations from Friday (goal is 4:1 Carbon:Nitrogen)
  • read about Nitrogen from "Chapter 5: Nitrogen" in The Book of Ingeniously Daring Chemistry
  • discuss fertilizer N-P-K (Superthrive Label PDF 0.5-0-0)
  • begin Experiment 5: "Fixin' to Use Some Nitrogen" on pages 48-51

Thursday, February 20

Friday, February 21

We didn't watch this as a class because I thought it was bit too advanced for ages 9-10, but I highly recommend it for adults!

TED talk A simple solution to the coming phosphorus crisis by Mohamed Hijri

In March students will use Roses Love Garlic and Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte to research companion plants, and create the wishlist of plants (flowers, herbs, veggies) that they would like to plant in our garden spaces.

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