Monday, October 6, 2014

Middle School Monday: Science

Middle School Monday

Welcome to Middle School Monday! Although Kennady worked on all of her subjects last week, we focused a little more on Science. The previous week we hadn't done any because we had family visiting and had to prioritize our school time accordingly; so it felt like a little bit of catching up was in order. This year Kennady wanted to study weather (and I apologize for repeating myself a bit, because my post for last week's ABC Blogging was about Weather) so we chose to use God's Design for Heaven and Earth - Our Weather and Water from Answers in Genesis as our main textbook, along with Weather and Climate from Moving Beyond the Page. Of course we'll be looking at plenty of other resources along the way as well!

We are still at the beginning of the course, just laying some foundations. In the first lesson, we got a brief overview of Earth Sciences, and learned that God created the earth with reliable laws in place. We tested the Second Law of Thermodynamics (all objects tend to go to a state of rest or disorganization) by making a tennis ball pendulum. If the law was reliable, Kennady could trust that even though she let that tennis ball swing from a starting point right near her nose, it wouldn't smack her in the nose on the return trip!

The second lesson was a discussion of the earth's origins, and why we believe the Genesis account of creation, and that our observations support that belief. We made a Flood in a Jar so we could see for ourselves how soil, sand, and debris settles after a "flood" event.

Last week's lessons were about the earth's atmosphere. In Lesson 3, we learned about the structure of the atmosphere and did a fun demonstration showing how much oxygen is in the air. We placed a lighted candle in a pan of water. Then held a jar over the candle so that the mouth of the jar was in the water. As the candle burned, it used up the oxygen in the jar and then went out when the oxygen was used up. As the oxygen was used up, there was a vacuum created in the jar, and the water was pulled in to fill the place, giving a good visual representation of how much oxygen had been used. This was impressive enough that we had to do it several times!

Then in Lesson 4, we were introduced to meteorology as the study of the atmosphere, and got an overview of the five major conditions that meteorologists study and why. (Kennady found it necessary to read the text with her nose covered, because a stinkbug had left its malodorous mark inside the book. Eeeeew.)

Need proof that heat causes air currents? We did this super-simple demonstration to see it happen. Cut a circle of paper into a spiral, and use string to suspend it above a lamp. Turn the lamp on and you should see the spiral start to spin, or at least spin faster. An incandescent bulb works better (faster?) than a fluorescent for this. You could use a candle as well - just make sure the paper is high enough above it so it doesn't catch on fire!
There was some extra reading Kennady did as well, and then she reviewed what she'd learned with the book's first quiz. So today we are ready to move on!

I think this study will work perfectly for Kennady this year because the book strikes a good balance with text and hands-on activities that provide interest and a bit of a challenge, but are easy and quick to set up and get results. And it helps a lot that Kennady chose the subject herself - it was what she wanted to learn about, and that makes a big difference especially since Science isn't usually her favorite subject.

Do you have a favorite Science curriculum or resource that's just right for middle schoolers? What branch of science are you studying this year? Leave a comment and let me know!

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Gentle Joy said...

Wonderful lessons! We love learning about the weather and we do a lot of weather watching (weather "noticing" also) at our house.... there is so much to learn... and this is stuff they will use all of their life. Thank you for sharing this. :)

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