Thursday, July 11, 2019

Apologia Biology: Equipment

Update: has an escience kit up for bids today.  It looks like a chemistry kit.  It’s a perfect example of the kits I like most: thermometer, test tubes, graduated cylinder, pipers, goggles, beakers, etc.  I canabalize these escience kits for supplies.  There’s a Galileo glass thermometer available, which would last five minutes in my classroom.  I am tempted to bid on the kit.  I’m not because I have two large bins full of these same materials.

Are your kids at church camps?  Are you prepping for fall?  Yes, I’m back promoting  Today there are loads of microscopes—even a full size skeleton.  I saw a pack of anatomy flash cards, too.  I encourage you to registar. Goodwill does NOT save credit card or PayPal information, just your name and address.  It’s important to check the shipping.  I’ve been using Goodwill online for several years.  Initially, I made that mistake a few times and did not check the shipping and was stung.

I always compare with Amazon and eBay, too.  I factor my max bid and shipping when I compare prices.  I have purchased graphing calculators, microscopes, escience kits, Microscope slides, molecular model kits, stethoscopes,and blood pressure cuffs. These purchases are a gamble.  However, whenever I have had a problem, the shop has been terrific.  For example, my husband is going to teach two teens how to play guitar.  I bid on a guitar; the shop emailed me that the guitar was not as described, but was pretty battered.  They issued a full refund.

Right now, we are using a plastic skeleton from Target I bought for $15.  (This one is similar and available on Amazon.). After buying several microscopes from Goodwill, this summer we’re using a digital microscope (available on Amazon) attached to a laptop.  We focus the slide, print a screen shot, and the kids have a static image to sketch.  One laptop serves three or four kids.  (I bought used chrome books from Goodwill, too.).

I shop local thrift stores, too.  I was all over the used book table at the Home School Conference. Many of the Goodwill stores are posting their best items online rather than in stores.  Take a look.    Try a search with “science kit” or “microscope” and see what pops up.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Human Biology: Circulatory System and Blood

I’m prepping my lesson for Thursday.  I want to finish Circulation, review how to take blood pressure, what is pulse, diastolic and systolic pressures, and flow of blood through the heart and body.  Chapter Six is Blood.  This hematology packet/lesson is a great introduction to blood disorders.  After the review of Circulation, we’ll sketch microscope slides of blood.  I’m using both microscope slides and Histology images(these, too.)Once we finish sketching blood, we will work on ABO and rH with this POGIL activity.  I plan to review Punnett Squares of ABO and rH groups, too.  Here is a tutorial.  I think all of the kids have performed blood typing before.  I’m ordering a couple kits in any case.  Then we have loads of vocabulary to conquer.  I need to break down Greek and Latin roots with the kids and get them in the habit of looking up the word’s etymology, such as ‘ology’ means ‘study of’.  I’m pretty sure we won’t finish everything.  If we do, we’ll work on blood disorders.  This activity with clay and plastic tubing demonstrates sickle cell issues.  The link has a case study, too.  I like to have four or five different activities each class.  The two hour class flies.  Fun!

Quick update: Only two kids attended class.  We quizzed on the bones in the skeleton and blood flow through the heart and body.  After we reviewed ABO blood groups and Punnet Squares.  We completed the ABO activity.  That’s it.  I did start reviewing terms.  One of the kids hadn’t done Punnett Squares.  The ABO lesson took most of class.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Apologia Chemistry: Periodic Table Cards

I just assigned the fall Chemistry Class summer homework: Periodic Table Cards based on this activity from the Journal of Chemistry.  The kids make cards for Groups 1,2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18.  Group 1 is red, 2 orange, 13 yellow, 14 green, 15 blue, 16 purple, 17 pink, and 18 black.  If the kids follow the same color scheme, they can play the game described in the article cited above.  Apart from the transition elements, most of the elements the kids need to memorize are here.  We’ll color blank periodic tables using the same color scheme.  This activity helps the kids to learn the names and symbols for the elements.  For each element, the child draws an image to help remember the element, such as a balloon for helium, a salt shaker for sodium, or a banana for potassium, nearly every single time.  The kids can write the information on index cards and mount them on to construction paper or simply color the edge of the index card the correct color for the family.  Kids can complete the research and the index cards in an afternoon—or stay up until midnight the night before class resumes.  Below is a photo example.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Human Biology: Circulation continued

Today we’re finishing Circulation, completing two labs, and starting ABO blood types and components of blood.  I promised Anna I would check on the Anatomy course offered through the local community college system.  She wants to be a nurse.  When I looked at the syllabus this morning I noticed there is no textbook for any of the A&P sections.  The college is using Openstax Anatomy and Physiology textbooks.  These resources are free under Creative Commons.  The reason I checked the community college offerings was to gauge the rigor of the local college class.  Anna invests many extra hours studying.  I want her to be ready for college and a medical career.

Okay, today we finished the Heart Beat Lab and learned how to measure blood pressures.  We also quizzed again identifying all the major bones in the skeleton and flow of blood through the heart.  Then we reviewed the answers to both quizzes.  The next time we meet, the kids are having a quiz about systemic blood flow and are coloring the scheme in their anatomy coloring books.  One of my kids still needs to memorize the names of the major bones. Sigh.  Next time, I want to review a bit more in Circulation to make sure the kids understand what a heart beat is and what the blood pressure measures before we start blood.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Human Biology: Circulation Beginning with Heart

The class is working on circulation.  First the kids took a quiz to trace the flow of blood through the heart to the lungs, back to the heart, through the heart, and out to the body.  I want the names of the arteries, veins, atria, ventricles, and valves.  After the quiz, we reviewed their answers.  We'll need to quiz again.  After the quiz, the kids used a paper heart model, glued it to a paper plate and thread blue and red yarn through the heart to represent the flow of deoxygenated and oxygenated blood through the heart.  (I did this is Apologia Young Explorers Human Anatomy a couple of years ago.)  The kids labeled the heart and thread the yarn through.  I find any hands-on activity of this sort drives home the concept, in this case, flow of blood through the heart.  We went over this Circulation slide show and began the Pulse and Blood Pressure Labs.  The kids had trouble locating their pulses on the carotid and radial arteries.  Huh.  So, I sent them outside to run and jump.  Then they could locate the carotid pulse.  We barely began the Pulse lab before we ran out of time.  The homework is to locate a pulse.   Next week, I'm quizzing on the skeleton and flow of blood again.  I find I need to quiz on the skeleton or muscles fairly often for the kids to learn and retain the information.  Here are a few pix of the heart model.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Apologia General Science: Kits

I was just browsing for science materials.  Right now they have a chemistry kit and a CSI kit.  On the surface these kits look tempting.  The CSI kit is basically a DNA extraction kit.  A CSI kit might have blood testing.  This Eldon card blood testing kit is better.   Some CSI kits have finger print information.  A police officer can come to your Co-op and demonstrate free.

 I do buy chemistry kits to cannibalize their contents: goggles, glassware, etc.  Good Will often has escience kits available.   The Anatomy escience kits may have dissection specimens; others may have test tubes and micro scales.  Good Will offers loads of pictures.  Price the pH probe, glassware, goggles on Amazon before you buy anything.  I don’t mind spending $20 if the kit has lots of equipment like test tube racks and glass ware.

If you are shopping for summer science lessons, Inquiry in Action from ACS and Adventures in Chemistry are better.  What about Wonder Science?  Are you working on science this summer?  My favorite among the Young Explorer series is Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics.  You won’t be tempted by those kits again.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Apologia Biology: Watersheds

In another life, I taught AP Environmental Science and had 75 kids or more in an environmental club.  Believe me, I am not an environmentalist.  I believe in stewardship of God's creation, not radical environmental goals.  The club was for the kids.  They planted hundreds of trees, built raised beds, a green roof, bioswales, did a wetland enhancement, and created rain gardens.  I wrote grants to fund our projects.  One of the most successful projects (apart from the hundreds of trees) was the rain garden.  The band field flooded regularly.  We planted trees around the perimeter and installed the rain garden.  Problem solved.

Our present neighborhood is having a flooding problem.  My husband is on the HOA board; he and I have looked at the areas in the neighborhood with erosion and standing water.  I've been lobbying to install rain gardens.  I finally realized that unless people could see one in action no one would be interested in trying a garden in their back yards.  BTW, June is a terrible time to plant a garden.  Fall is the best time to plant.  Sadly, few nurseries have loads of healthy plants, shrubs, trees, or even bulbs available in October.  They stock plants in spring.  We’ll have to baby our little garden all summer.  Happily, our yard has not been professionally landscaped—especially in the back.  We bought this house three years ago; it had no landscaping.  Zero.  There was a small raised bed in the back.  Period.  Two large trees in the back shade nearly the entire yard.  We added a few shrubs, a tree, some perennials, and roses since moved in three years ago, in June.  The back yard stays wet for a week after every rain.  So, we were ready for a solution.

Our little plot is a demonstration rain garden. (Our plot has about four hours of sun.)  We bought pea gravel, play sand, top soil, mulch, humus, and plants from Walmart for under $100.  First my husband, Rob, removed the sod.  This sounds so easy; it took about an hour.  Next, he turned over the soil, meaning clay underlayer.  Afterwards, Rob spread a layer of pea gravel, then a layer of sand, and dug holes for our plants: one rhododendron, two black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia sp.), one cone flower (Echinacea sp.), and three Caladium plants.  These plants love moist soil and can tolerate some shade.  We added Canna bulbs, too.  Evidently, Canna love water.  We have several plants I use for decoration.  Our house is in Zone 7.  We might be able to overwinter the Canna outside under six inches of mulch; other wise we'll have to dig them out of the garden.  (We keep the other Canna plants in pots we drag into our sun room over the winter.)  No, this is not a lush garden.  We plan to see how these plants grow before we add any plants or add another rain garden.  
I'll post updates on this little garden.

                                  See the red paint circle?  We planted the garden near the drain.

                       Yes, sand, top soil, mulch, humus, all from Walmart.
                                                        Here Rob is removing the sod.
                                            Here is the plot.  See the clay soil?
                                        Next is a layer of pea gravel to improve the drainage.
                                                Following the gravel is a layer of sand.

                                           Here are a few pix of the plants before adding mulch.

                                            In this last image is the drain and the garden.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Apologia Chemistry: Fall Prep

I’m not going to lie; I visit nearly everyday.  Here I bid on glassware, calculators, microscopes, escience kits, anatomy models, etc.  Before I make a bid, I check Amazon and eBay to compare prices.  Right now, I’m bidding on used Xsplore GLX data loggers. 

I can hear the groans!  More tech!!!  This type of apparatus (GLX) links to sensors to collect temperature, pH, voltage, etc. data.  Pasco produces several interface devices which are compatible to most sensors.  Right now I have aSparkling Airan Airlink 2, and a Spark Learning System.  I bought most of my sensors from eBay—after comparing prices with Pasco.  Yes, I did have training on these devices.  Kids, however, seem to pick them up and use them.  Pasco provides excellent training videos on their web site.

The GLX devices on Goodwill are exceptionally robust.  Often even used data loggers have been lightly used.  People (read teachers) are intimidated by them and they sit on shelves in schools all over the country.  This Heat Curve Lab is one of the labs I plan to do the first week of class.  (The Sparkvue software and the Spark Learning System has heat labs preloaded to try.)  The easiest way to use any of these data loggers is to plug in a temperature sensor or probe.  The device will detect the sensor and start recording the temperature data.  Kids can manually record data at 30 second intervals.

Is all this talk about data loggers too much?  The TI 84 graphing calculator has software for data collection preloaded on the TI84 calculator.  The EasyTemp probe connects directly to the graphing calculator.  Once connected, the calculator recognizes the probe and collects the data, which is stored in the Stats list on the calculator.  Again, the kids can use the digital display to record the temperature manually on paper at 30 second intervals.  Truthfully, we use the TI 84 with a temperature probe the most often whenever we need a thermometer for labs.

BTW, Vernier probes are compatible with the TI 84 and CBL data logger)—not Pasco.  I have both.  Usually, I introduce the different interfaces at different times.  I’m using graphing calculators and my CBL Week One.  Later, I’ll drag out the Pasco devices—all different, all purchased used.  It is so important for home-schoolers to get exposure to tech before they do off to college, especially if they pursue a STEM career.

Human Biology: Tissue and Beginnings of Heart (Chapters 4 & 5 in 14th edition of Mader)

Today went as planned-almost!  We began with a quiz: four types of tissues, difference between endocrine and exocrine, what connective tissue is designed to do, and three function of connective tissue with examples of different types.  After the quiz we discussed the answers to these review questions.  (Scroll down in the document for the questions.)  We talked about the face plant article in the textbook. (Here is access to the 12th edition.)  Then the kids completed a comparison of the main human body systems activity.  I downloaded page four and had the kids brainstorm as many systems as possible; then they did as many structures and functions as possible.  I like the kids to list these without the book, discuss them, and then use their textbooks.  (The link to this activity has a key.)  We used the eleven systems described at the end of Chapter Four.  The kids are going to read the Chemmatters article on pain and OTC meds.  Their homework is to study the path of blood through the heart (Chapt. 4), color in their anatomy textbooks the heart, and finish any work.  We concluded by making clay hearts.  I baked them.  The only problem was the ACS sunscreen article was too hard.  Below are a few pix of the kids making the hearts.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Human Biology: Tissues

Today we finished the nerve or skin lab, muscle lab, and reflex with ruler lab.  None of these were complicated at all.  It was one of those days where none of the labs worked particularly well either.  In the nerve lab, the kids make calipers with large paper clips and lightly stab different parts of their body with different calipers until they can sense only one prong.  The recorder marks the caliper size (1 cm -- 4.0 cm) at which the kid feels only one prong.  Typically, the nerves in the scalp are further apart than the nears in the tip of your fingers.  We did it and the kids basically felt two prongs with all of the calipers.  The muscle lab involved stretching rubberbands.  Okay.  We tried to make an arm model with straws and rubberbands unsuccessfully, too.  Lastly, the kids had all done the reflex lab before.  It just wasn't fresh.   We just discussed them together.  Then, we toured the Google Classroom page and started Chapter 4.  My kids are using every resource available: Lecture Outlines, (Another tissue slideshow), YouTube (Chapter 4)flash cards, reading, and notes.  Everything.  Chapter 4 is particularly important because it introduces loads of terms and systems.  I plan to quiz them next time on the basics of tissues and review questions.  Here are the lab photos.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Apologia Chemistry: Fall Preparations

Yes, summer is the time to prep!  My husband, Rob, is planning to teach a Physics and a Statisitics class this fall.  My plan is to offer Chemistry.  We are going to need calculators.  My husband needs to use graphing calculators for his Stats class.  I like to introduce graphing calculators to my Chemistry class, too.  I think exposure to graphing calculators is important before the kids go to college.  Rob is using an older edition of The Practice of Statisitcs for AP next year.  This series of  Stat books require the use of graphing calculators.  Rob loathes them.  He and I are working on problems sets to help him get more comfortable.  The first week of class next year, both the Stat and Chem kids are going to do a few labs to generate data and learn how to use the graphing calculators.  We are using the TI 83/84 calculators.  (The Chem kids use TI 30 calculators for pH, conversions, stoichiometry, etc.  I have nine or ten I bring to class.  Rob keeps a few on hand for Physics, too.). Yes,  I bought most of the calculators from Good Will.  I’m paying about $15 for a used TI 83 from  I bid on TI84 calculators often.  I refuse to spend more than $35 for a used calculator.  Consequently, I own one TI84.

The first week of Stats and Chemistry, we’re doing an accuracy and precision laba density lab, and a hearing curve lab.  This is a bit of a departure; typically, the first few classes include measures, equipment, and inquiry-based activities.  Instead, we’ll review safety briefly, use safe equipment (water, coins, electric burner, and thermometers) and teach about lab practices, graphing on paper, calculator graphing, percent error, significant figures, and basic stats, such as mean, median, and mode.  Happily, we know the kids; they usually do not horse around in class.

We’ll do all of the labs together because Stats requires the kids to collect and analyze data.  This way, I can teach the kids how to graph with the Stat function on the graphing calculators.  The first thing I’m doing is to analyze the precision lab data.  They will calculate the mean, median, and mode.  Rob will explain mean, median, and mode; I’ll show the kids how to enter and calculate the data with a TI83.  We’ll graph scatter plots for the density and heating curve labs.  Lastly, we’ll learn how to create linear regression models.  The kids are going to do some curve fitting, too.  Kids learn how to use the graphing calculators quickly.  I think a few lessons will be enough for the Stats kids.  I can help with calculator emergencies.  In the mean time, Rob and I are doing calculator problems together almost everyday.  Really.

Apologia Biology: Equipment

Update: has an escience kit up for bids today.  It looks like a chemistry kit.  It’s a perfect example of the kits I li...