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Category: Science

We have finished our year-long study of Life with REAL Science Odyssey this month. To create an enduring keepsake of our Plant Study, we pressed one of the lilies we had studied using this Microfleur Flower Press.  We did 30-seconds in the microwave, then open to the air, and repeat a few more times, with less time in the microwave each time. You want the petals to be stiff and dry, but not burnt or crumbly.

I thought I’d laminate the now dried flat flower, although by doing so the flower ovules part got squished and leaked out. It was actually pretty cool. I’m not sure laminating is the best way to preserve a flower, but it worked for now. I put little labels on the end result and Satori labeled the parts. I set it on white cardstock but later thought it would have been cool to see how it would turn out with just the lamination pages, as the petals were so translucent and beautiful.

We then ate our Celebration Plant Salad, eating all parts of the plant, from the flower, stem, leaves, seeds, fruit, and roots!

Satori loves cucumbers, chickpeas, beans, and berries, and mixed all together, she loved the salad. I wasn’t expecting her to eat the whole serving, but she did with relish!

Last week when we ate our Plant Salad it just so happened it was my birthday, so we finished it off with an indulgent dessert. 🙂

This past week we then moved on to the next REAL Science Odyssey program – Earth and Space. We did their Thermometer Exploration Lab but I doubt we will do the Rain Gauge, Wind Speed, and Weather Vane activities, as the weather here has been sunny and nice lately. If it isn’t, it will turn terribly windy and blow away any of our outside projects. Besides, I just can’t wait to start our Rock and Mineral study, as I loved studying geology in college!

We started reading their informational page on Weather Changes and then proceeded to the Thermometer Exploration activity. I set out two bowls, the first two hours ahead of time for the water to reach room temperature. Then I put ice cubes in the second bowl.

While waiting for the icy water to get cold, we headed out to the front of our house which faces north and is usually shaded. After three minutes of closing our eyes to sense the temperature ourselves, we recorded the temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Interestingly, during the minute I took a few pictures, the temperature dropped down to 65 degrees! Satori said she was too chilly to stay on the front porch.

Then we headed to our back porch which in the sun can get sweltering hot quickly! A few minutes of basking in the sun the temperature raised to 80 degrees on our thermometer.

We recorded these temps on our lab sheet, as well as recording the relatively comfortable in-house temperature of 74. We have no air conditioning, but if it gets too hot, we head to the basement where it is always nice and cool.

Next we headed to our two prepared bowls. Satori stuck this thermometer in the icy bowl and we recorded 38 degrees. She was to put her hand in to feel what this temperature feels like but could only hold it there for a moment. She said it felt ARCTIC COLD!

The room temperature water was a nice 66 degrees.

On our final sheet Satori filled out the various temperatures and her comments how she felt at each temperature.

Today we viewed a few Discovery Education Streaming videos on weather. One of the videos went over making a Rain Gauge just as described in RSO, so we probably won’t do all the included activities, as I mentioned before. We will probably visit the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder again, it was two and a half years ago when we first visited.

We are so looking forward to this year studying Earth & Space and will be concluding this spring with a vacation to the Grand Canyon.

Today is the last day to get 25% off REAL Science Odyssey and History Odyssey ebooks over at Pandia Press. You can view all my RSO posts using the tag RSO.

Over the summer we studied plants for our science program. I’ll summarize our whole study in two posts.

REAL Science Odyssey started us out with learning the parts of a flower. We learned about a flower’s pistil, stamens, ovules, sepals, and petals. Satori discovered the purpose of flowering plants and pollination. We purchased flowers with the ability to see these parts in detail.

Here’s the worksheet that Satori filled out – “Color the Flower”. We then watched several BrainPop and Discovery Education Streaming videos as well as books.

We now appreciate flowers so much more.

During our seed study we learned about the difference between dicots and monocots, and what cotyledons means. We found examples of each in our pantry. I didn’t take pictures of these lessons, but we studied various seeds such as dry beans, lentils, peanuts, rice, corn, and popcorn. We discussed the various ways seeds can travel and their purpose for wanting to travel away from the parent plant. With REAL Science Odyssey, we are not daunted by the big scientific words as you can see. We did not do all the included science lab activities and worksheets, I skipped some that Satori already knew.

The last part of the flower we studied was the stem and roots. We learned the difference between xylem tubes (transport water) and phloem (transport food). Of course we did the classic experiment involving using celery as a stem. We filled three clear glasses with water dyed with food coloring – two with red, one with blue.

We stuck a celery stalk in the red glass (and eventually stuck one in the blue glass as well).  A white carnation’s stem was split and stuck in both a red and blue glass.

The next morning we noticed the first hints of color in both the celery and flower. The celery in the blue water had its leaves turn green and we could also see the xylem inside the stem all blue.

Below is a picture of our white carnation dipped in both colors, taken after four complete days. Half of it was blue and half was red.

I’ll be posting our final plant study event soon!

In the midst of our study of life this year, I thought it would be fun to create a Tree of Life. The more I researched, the more I realized that a six year old and her mom could not comprehend the entire classification of life in just a few months, plus there are so many different tree of life diagrams. So I decided to make something extremely flexible so that when we study life again in the next cycle and learn more about genetics, we’ll be able to add/modify our tree.

Here’s our simplified version of the Tree of Life! (click to see larger)

I pulled out my magnet pages again and printed out some images about 2″ in size. I got the images idea from a huge Tree of Life image that Michael D. Barton pointed out to me (11 MB jpg image). We learned how all life fits in together and cool tidbits like how a hippo is related to a sperm whale.  It shows the most fantastic Tree of Life all sorted out with and colorful images. I’ll talk more about it below. (I found that the images are available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA Licence.)

Soon our 4’x6′ white board was plastered with magnetic tiles! Can you find Charles Darwin? We printed out almost all the animals and some plants, including some species that are now extinct.

Hastily I drew up a simple chart and had Satori put the animals in their places. This is our second time studying the animal kingdom (fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, mammal), and recently studied yet more fascinating life types, so she knew exactly where to place almost everything. You can see a small print-out of the Tree of Life image that I used.

It is impossible to fit the images on a small 2’x3′ whiteboard so I took out some of the less familiar images and re-did the chart on our smaller, portable whiteboard. I love how flexible it is to make! Now all we need is a dry erase marker and we can organize it all!

I gave Satori a pointer stick and asked her to point to a few special things. Here she’s pointing out a Tiklaatik, a now extinct creature that was a link between fish and amphibian.

If there is interest, I could probably make a few sheets of images available free for download.

I also found Tree of Life posters available on Amazon, where you can choose from three different medias in nine different sizes. Although expensive now, they did give this poster away for free a few years ago for Darwin year.

Further googling led to this fantastic version of the online Interactive Tree of Life. You can zoom in on specific varieties of life and learn more about them, download a detailed image and more.

You can even do a search to pull up more information on the life samples included in their tree of life, and it includes links to research further.

We’re keeping in mind the statement below.


Another cool website I linked to earlier this year was Tol – Tree of Life Web Project.

I also have another idea for an interactive, flexible Tree of Life, this time with green window clings shaped as leaves and brown window markers. My idea to use a leaf puncher didn’t pan out though, as the vinyl cling is just too thick, so this idea is on the backburner for now. I don’t feel like cutting out dozens of leaves individually.

The past few weeks we’ve been learning about Mollusks and Echinoderms with R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey – Life. As always, I learned tons along with my daughter. Echinoderm comes from Latin and means “spiny-skinned”. I’m so glad we are studying Latin, it comes in so handy when figuring out words.

Today we used a banana to demonstrate echinoderms. Satori is forming a sea urchin below.

An extra info page gives us more information about echinoderms. Here’s where we learned they all have five major muscles. In most sea stars this is very obvious, but in not so obvious in sea cucumbers and urchins. With an urchin, the muscles fold back up and join at the top, like in Satori’s banana peel above. The mouth is on the bottom and has five parts.


For sea cucumbers, the muscles run along its body.

After we read the included pages on echinoderms, we supplemented with books and videos. Here Satori is watching a video on echinoderms from Discovery Education Streaming.

Last week we learned about mollusks. Now for RSO – Life you are supposed to keep several creatures as pets, such as earthworms, snails, roly-polies, and butterflies. We will not be doing so, so that’s why we’re supplementing with so many books and videos. So far, it’s been working out just fine!

Instead of keeping a snail, which I doubt we’d find in our area right now under the snow, we learned as much as we could about snails. Since snails are mollusks, as well as octopus, clams, squid, and oysters, they have a lab where we find the similarities between these very different creatures. The first page was a graph we filled out that compared a snail to a clam, oyster, sea jelly, earthworm, and beetle. Here’s the second page where we conclude that snails are most like the clams and oysters in the mollusk group.

Second lab was examining snail parts and labeling the diagram. By this time, we were familiar enough with snails to fill out the anatomy page.

The next month we’ll be learning all about arthropods. However, due to a trip to the Grand Canyon that we’ll be taking in May, we may simultaneously add in R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey – Earth and Space as well. I’ve heard great things about it, so we look forward to digging in!

We want to make an Animal Kingdom Tree of Life (we did this two years ago), but this time including all the phylum and in a tree-like structure. I’m still figuring out how to do this best, if anyone has any ideas, please let me know!

For now, I’ve found some fascinating websites, such as the Tree of Life web project.

I can’t believe all the information they have regarding Cnidarians (our study for the week), much of it very kid-friendly. For example, head to their Cnidarian page and click on “Treehouses”. It shows kid-friendly stories, games, quizzes and more. Here’s one on “The Adventures of Squishy the Jellyfish”.

Want more? Drill down into “Collections” and watch 17 Cnidaria videos or view hundreds of images!

Creative Commons ShareAlike license, (c) Tom Murphy VII

New pages are added to this amazing resource every week. I’m still exploring the site and finding amazing new cool features. For example, check out their related web page, Tree of Life Interactive.

I’ll be coming back and writing a more detailed Blog Page review soon!

In our RSO studies, we are starting from the simplest animals and this past week we’ve learned about cnidaria and worms. We also added our own sponge study. The animals start off extremely simple, and slowly they are getting more complex. The most primitive animals have even been thought to be plants until scientists discovered certain characteristics that make them true animals.

Satori and I checked these books out at the library. I was giddy with excitement to discover all the different books they had on worms and sponges and stuff. I just grabbed a few of each phylum and hoped for the best. I was pretty worried Satori wouldn’t enjoy reading over a dozen books on simple creatures, but I was wrong. We had an absolute blast yesterday and didn’t even get to any other subjects!

Each book gave us different and fascinating knowledge about sponges, cnidaria and worms. Satori also found a $5 bill on the ground at the store, and when she tried handing it to the cash register lady, she was told “finders-keepers”. So we headed to our local nature store and she picked out a $5 toy – a jellyfish!

Anyway, Satori was absolutely delighted with her new sea jelly. She carried it in her hands all day yesterday. I doubted that it would float, but today we discovered that it does! Introducing Jella! (of course her new animal has to have a name)

From our books we learned that the outer things are stinging tentacles and then the feeding arms bring their food to their mouth. They are carnivorous. They cannot go after their prey, they just float along and whatever gets stuck in their tentacles is their food. Sea jellies are 90% water. We actually are going to call the jellyfish a sea jelly from now on, as fish have backbones and sea jellies do not. They don’t even have brains.

She’s now taking a bath with Jella, her lucky favorite new toy. Move over Ariel the mermaid, make room for Jella the Sea Jelly!

We were also surprised to learn that the Portuguese Man-o-war is not a jellyfish, but it is a relative in the Cnidaria family. The Man-o-war is actually a colony of polyps living together. For those of you living near the ocean, are these things common to see?  I see one of these washed up on the shore a few times now. They’re so pretty.

Daddy made it back from his two-week Mexico trip at 1am this morning. Satori begged for him to wake up early. She then proceeded to teach him all she knew about Sea Jellies and Men-o-war (plural). I woke up to a list of everything David learned about sea jellies and friends. 🙂

Satori just got done with her bath and she quickly dressed and ran to yank Daddy out of his office. She roped him into reading her sea anemone book. I’m listening to him read aloud now. 🙂

Today I am documenting a lesson from our RSO (R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey) Life program. Satori learned more about the Cnidaria phylum of the Animal Kingdom. We read the intro last week and watched a few great videos on Cnidarians. Today we completed the Cnidarian Lab #1: Sea Jellies Change Shape. First off, we read a blurb about sea jellies and then colored in the life cycle page they provided.

Then we got out the scissors and tape to model our own sea jelly life cycle, which you’ll see in our video.

She then wrote what she knew about Cnidarians on this page. We are supposed to make an Animal Kingdom notebook, but we haven’t done that and not sure if we will.

Here Satori explains the sea jelly life cycle herself.

A closer look…

RSO Life didn’t cover all the animal phylums, so we also watched a few videos on Sponges and I showed her some examples of sponges. We both felt sorry for the little animals that were sold to art stores and ended up in our art room.