Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Inclined planes

Hmm.... this was a fun project we did in Simple Machines class that is of course very loosely associated with inclined planes.... I believe inclined planes are most often used as 'machines' when you need to push a heavy object up a ramp and you're like,' Wow! This inclined plane just rocked my world!' Next time I do this class I'll have to think of a project that demonstrates that concept. As it was, I was able to justify doing this awesome Jack Mckee project (the marble roll.... scroll down) that I've wanted to do for years now. Jack Mckee is SO super cool... buy his book, it is one of my favorites and is chock-full of really great projects.

I also had the kids build their own little marble runs with some hacked-pieces of plastic bottle and TP tubes and whatnot. So reuse-y of me. I had them use velcro to stick the pieces onto the board.... so that supposedly you would be able to build it a-fresh as many times as you'd like. Unfortunately that idea was not really a winner.... the stick-on velcro lost it's stick a little too quick, if you know what I mean. Phooey. Next time we'll just stick with glue guns, the old standby.

I'm not very impressed with my blogging skills, these days. I'm just slapping up these videos if someone sends them my way, and not giving you those insights into my inner workings that you all love so much. I've designed myself quite a whopper of a schedule for this little stretch of fall.... I think this is the most classes I've ever taught at one time, and I'm really trying exciting new things (building a chicken coop with kids! Using a chop saw with kids! This is how I get my thrills!). For the first time ever I have all 3 of my kids squared away in school or preschool situations.... hello Freeeeeeeeeeeeee-dom! I have responded to this newfound freedom by filling up every last bit of my time with work, but, it's great.... I've been teaching classes all these years (three now, can you believe it?!?!?) with babies strapped to my body or balanced on my head, never the most favorable circumstances. Now if I can just find a rain-proof space I'll really be set. And I actually have a lead on that, so send me some magic and good tinkering juju. I will keep you posted, as per our blogging agreement (I write, you read). Good? Good.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Learning about levers with Bowie

For our second Simple Machines class, we explored levers. We played with a balance, made individual mini-catapults (that flung mung beans hither and thither), and, for a grand finale, we flang water balloons with a nice big water balloon catapult that I built. I need to get some video of that, it was pretty fun. The super sweet Autumn, Bowie's mom, took this video of me finishing up the catapult with Bowie. I'm amazed I was being so educational! I guess it just pops out, sometimes.

For those of you who are following along at home, if you do actually want to learn something about levers, I found two really fun youtube clips: Eureka! and Bill Nye. Eureka! has this great Schoolhouse Rock look, and as for Bill Nye, I just have to say, I knew him when. And when I say 'knew', I mean, I used to watch him on Almost Live!, this really great Seattle-based program that used to precede SNL when I was a youngster. Good stuff.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fun with pulleys!

First day of our Six Simple Machines class, and we all got to play around a whole lot with pulleys... and discovered that they are extremely interesting and cool. We had lots of pulley action going up and down from the fort. Everyone got their own bucket, pulley, rope, and carabiner. We also had a cool clothesline pulley to explore, which was used to send some secret notes back and forth... and then for the grand finale we used pulleys to lift a real actual child. One pulley... we needed several hands pulling on the rope to help get the kid in the air. Two pulleys reduces the effort by half, so, much easier. With this three pulley system in the video, Henry can pull his weight up all by himself!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ninth Street Schoolhouse!

I'm just overjoyed about Bruno's new school. His last school was so sweet and gentle and wonderful... we all loved it so much. But it was time to move on and after many heart-stopping adventures in paranoia and intrigue (putting ourselves on waitlists with insurmountably impossible waits, following leads that went nowhere, imagining a terrifying future with no childcare to be found, anywhere...) we found this new school that Caitlin was starting just up the street from our house. OK, OK, it's like a half-hour walk, but that equals a 10 minute bike ride and 5 minute drive! Anyway, even leading up to the start date of this amazing new school I was having loads of anxiety. She was allowing him to start even though he was 4.5 (the school is for ages 5-7). I was worrying that it was going to be too school-y for him, too learn-y (which I'm don't really care too much about), and too long of a day (it's a real 9-3 school day). Well, I'm so glad I rode that wave of neurosis until it crested and subsided and I stuck with it because this school, although we're only one week in, is like a dream come true. They go outdoors in all weather, lots of outdoor time every single day. They tend this huge community garden across the street. They prepare their own snack and lunch at school every day! You don't have to send a lunch! Can I hear a hallelujah! They are planning on going out on all sorts of adventures... there's a creek down the street, meet neighbors, go on field trips relating to what the kids are interested in. They're making an adventure playground! They make a newspaper every Friday about what they did all week! Oh yes, and the best part is... Bruno loves it. Whew. Wouldn't be much good for us if I loved it but he never wanted to go. You will be hearing more about this school. I plan to pitch in as much as possible. And there are three more spots still available! Though I'm thinking of enrolling myself, so there may only be two....

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A morning of lashing

Thanks to Sarah Bork Hamilton for these bee-yoo-tee-full photographs!