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Category: Science

I purchased our current science program (RSO Life) long before we started using it. It was the Animal Kingdom portion that delayed me – you’d be getting your hands on little creatures like worms and snails and roly-polies. I was a little squeamish. We don’t have easy access to such creatures way up in high altitude dry climate. I also never hurt a living thing, and even though the program doesn’t have you dissecting or hurting animals, I don’t even feel right just borrowing them from their natural environments for a time.

So we’ll see how we get through the next few months in our animal study without actually keeping worms and snails as pets. We’re going to rely heavily on books, videos and zoo trips. We have some great places near us – Butterfly Pavilion, Downtown Aquarium, and Denver Zoo just to name a few.

So digging into the program, RSO had us do a classification exercise to demonstrate how difficult it can be to classify living things. They had Satori classify 12 Blobonians using her own judgement. Then, a scientist who had observed these Blobonians in their natural environment was able to classify them successfully and gave us a flow chart for us to do it correctly. Of course, it did not match up to our original sorting. (We used our dry-erase table for this exercise, love it! Thanks Grammy and Grampa.)

This just drove the point home that sometimes even though living things may look alike, we may learn more about them and have to re-classify them. Anemones and corals are an example of this. At first we thought they were a plant. Then we realized they were actually animals.

We watched Discovery Education videos to learn more about the Animal Kingdom, classifying living things, and then Invertebrates. Today we watched a video about Cnidarians, our first animals we’re learning about.

Just yesterday I started using the Discovery Streaming StudentCenter. It is super easy to use, and Satori now has her own login (no extra charge to your subscription). She was very excited to login herself and see what assignments she had.

She really enjoyed the video with King Philip to learn about the Classification of Living Things. We had to watch it twice and I’m sure she’ll ask again this weekend. 🙂

The past few weeks we’ve been learning R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey’s Growth and Genetics lesson. I wanted Daddy to participate, so we’ve been doing it on the weekends. Last week we looked at the traits Satori inherited from each of us. Today we played with fingerprints!

Here’s Satori’s little fingerprints, where we then examined arches, loops and whorls. At the bottom, we added thumbprints of Daddy, Mama and our cat, and then one of us did it one more time as a Mystery Print to figure out whose it was.

Looking at those identifying prints a little closer…

To make these colorful fingerprints, we used this fingerprint pad from Lakeshore Learning. It didn’t do the very best job, and neither did our Melissa & Doug ink pad, but we got our prints between the two. Further research led me to discover that there are special formulated inks if you really wanted to take some serious prints, but this was just for fun, so we were fine.

Additional resources on Fingerprinting include:

After our fingerprinting fun and a good hand-wash, we read a book appropriate for Satori’s age on genetics.

Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas by Cheryl Bardoe is an excellent book to delve more deeply into this week’s lesson to learn about Gregor Mendel and his discoveries with genetics.


What a great introduction on one of the more complex science subjects we’ve tackled!

I asked Satori is she was understanding the book, and she said “I totally understand it.” So I’m glad that we have this book in our home library now.  It’s definitely one we’ll want to read again the next time we study genetics.

I remember distinctly learning about this in high school, and it was great to have this review today. 🙂 Of course, the geek that I tend to be, I do have more adult books on this topic to read for myself, or when Satori is older. Here’s a list that older children might dig, they’re cartoon/graphic guides on Genetics and DNA.

The Cartoon Guide to Genetics by Larry Gonick
The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA by Mark Schultz

Amazing Schemes Within Your Genes by Frances R. Balkwill (ages 9-12)

We have been learning about the nervous system lately, so today we did the “I’m Sensible” lab for R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Life.

Two years ago when we did FIAR and rowed the Lentil book, we also did a similar activity involving the senses. I figured this would be fun to tackle it again. Laid out on our table are 10 bags, 2 of each sense. So hidden in the first two bags are a dinosaur and a mousepad. The next two are sight – an orange, and a tricky, sealed container of vinegar. The next two containers held Play-Doh and vinegar that will be identified by spell. And so on…

Here’s Satori using only her sense of touch to figure out what’s inside Bag #1. She thought it was a dragon figurine, but it really was a little Stegosaurus. 🙂

Satori also predicted her sense of sight would be most helpful in identifying the mystery objects. Like all RSO Labs, they provide a handy lab sheets to fill out. She got one wrong for all the senses except taste. The last sheet had her analyze her prediction compared to the end result of taste being the most accurate sense in her lab.

We are almost done studying the Human Body, and then it’s on to the Animal Kingdom! I have a lot of fun things lined up. 🙂

A few days ago I posted about the Scholastic eBook $1 sale, which sadly, has ended. I hear it was only three months ago since they had their last $1 sale, so I’m thinking they have this sale multiple times a year.

***UPDATE*** Their $1 sale is on again until February 25, 2011! ****

Since we are doing Life Sciences this year, and in particular, learning about the nervous system, today we took advantage of their Easy Make and Learn Projects Human Body eBook (grades 2-4). We did four projects, and three I will describe in more detail. Each project starts out with a little informative section that tells about the different body parts.

The first was the Cell Mobile, which illustrates six different cells. We colored them, cut them out, and hung them on a hangar.

Just to reinforce that lesson, we looked up these six cells on our iPad (Google images) and compared them to our Cell Mobile. Satori then made a diagram of the six body cells how she remembered them. We won’t be forgetting the various cell shapes any time soon now!

Since we’re currently learning about the Nervous System, we focused on the brain and nerve projects they offered. Here’s our Brain Hat! There are two sayings on this hat, the front, as you can almost see, says “THE BRAIN IS YOUR BODY’S CONTROL CENTER”. The left side shows the three major parts of the brain – Cerebrum, Cerebellum, and Brain Stem.

If you look on the other side, it shows the various control centers, which Satori glued on the hat in the outlines provided.

Lastly, we made our Nerve Necklace, complete with “nerve” beads to transmit electrical signals from nerve cell to nerve cell. We were provided with a whole sheet of nerve cells to print, cut, fold, and then tape them around our string.

What a great method to remember how our body transmits messages!

I’m joining the “Yes! We Did Science!” Friday bloggers, as an incentive for everyone to do science more. To see other homeschoolers blogging about their Science Friday, click the image below.

We actually started this on Tuesday of this week to learn about the respiratory system. Using R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey, we did a Lab Activity where we measured Satori’s breath after different activities, just like we did when we learned about the circulatory system.

We read a few books on respiration.

Satori filled out her breathing chart.

We compared it to our Circulatory Chart where we did the same activities. I now see I should’ve used the same colors, but you can see they aligned up for the most part.

Today (Friday) we did the second RSO Lab on respiration was to make a 10-foot Giant with four major parts: Nose to inhale/exhale, lungs, heart, and a foot for walking.

David was the Giant who inhaled and exhaled. Satori acted as a little red blood cell. She moved the red counters (oxygen) around, through the nose as Daddy inhaled, down the trachea, to the lung, to the heart, down to the foot, dropped off the red blood cell, picked up a blue disc (carbon dioxide), went back up to the heart, and to the lungs. Then the Giant exhaled, so the blue carbon dioxide went up the trachea tube, and out the nose. We did this cycle five times, so Satori got a great workout!

That was just a warmup!

Earlier today I ran across a free download on Ellen McHenry’s Basement Workshop page called the Circulation Game. The target age group is 8-14, but I knew Satori and our whole family would have fun with it. It took maybe an hour to print off on cardstock, tape the back together, color it with markers, make the spinner, and all the other little game pieces. Here it is all finished and on the floor! (You can click the image to see it larger.)

It combines many body systems – circulatory, respiration, digestive and even skeletal systems, and demonstrates how they all work together. Here is the game setup before we started, the Sugar & Protein (food) is in the intestines, and CO2 and waste are in the hands, feet, and head.

Satori and David were Team Orange and I was Team Green. Satori took a spin on our spinner. This was printed on cardstock, colored, laminated, and the arrow was fastened with a brad. It spun perfectly!

The number you land on specifies a move through the circulatory system, and with a 20 you can get pretty far. To generate your red blood cells, you start from your femur bone, as your bone marrow produces blood cells. From there, your red blood cell marker can go up to the lungs to pick up oxygen (O2), then off to either the feet/hands/head to drop off oxygen and pick up CO2, and then back to the lungs to drop off the CO2. You could also select a Sugar&Protein to travel to the feet/hands/head, drop off, pick up Waste, and then travel all the way to the Kidneys. All this time, you have to follow the arrows through your arteries and veins, making a fun twist through the heart’s aorta artery and Vena Cava vein.

The game was amazingly fun for the family! David and Satori won, by just a little. They got all the oxygen and food to the right places, and all the CO2 and Waste to the right places first. Here is how the game looked once we were all done.

Our RSO science lab this week was to make blood! Ask someone what blood looks like, and they’ll probably say a red liquid. But blood is made of different components, and this activity shows us the main components of blood. Below we have everything measured and prepared. Our light corn syrup will be our plasma (1/2 c), the red hot candy the red blood cells (1/2 c), dry lima beans the white blood cells (5 pieces), and the dry lentils as the platelets (1 T).

Red Hot Candies were very hard to find, so I settled for generic hot cinnamon candies I found in Target’s bulk candy section. Of course we had to get a few jellybeans while we were at it, we rarely eat candy, so this was kinda fun.

Pouring the Plasma!

After mixing it all up, our final blood mix! All those red blood cells are what makes our blood look so red.

Topside view.

Satori knew about blood already because she’s fascinated with the human body, but this was helpful for her to also remember what roles plasma and platelets perform in the blood. She colored and labeled this diagram.

After the activity, she also drew her own blood model, and she remembered to include all the parts.

Over the weekend the entire family did our science lessons from R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey – Life. Continuing on with our Human Body lessons, the first activity was learning about our muscles. Using the included cutouts, we made our own arm with muscles that demonstrated how muscles work. We learned that muscles shorten (contract) in order to move. Muscles don’t push your bones, they only shorten and pull.

Also included are the RSO lab sheets, where Satori wrote down the measurements. Here’s she’s using her newest pencil grip that she seems to enjoy using (so far).

We plan to combine a bunch of science labs together, so we can do them with Daddy (he needs to learn science too)! So our next lesson was about our heart. Satori and David did 5 different physical activities and then we took their heart rate. Activities ran from just sitting, walking, situps and pushups, jumping jacks, and running around the house.

We used a real stethoscope that I think I got from Lakeshore Learning for a few dollars (although I can’t find it on their website). Be careful with these things, they really work! I only let Satori use them with careful supervision and had to warn Daddy not to yell when someone had them on.

Here’s Satori’s graph she colored in of our various activities. As expected, sitting had the lowest heart rate per minute, and running had the highest. Activities that the body was mostly laying down (or that Satori didn’t do properly and only gave a half-effort), were not as high as jumping jacks that used the arms.