Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Physics Fair

Last weekend, the girls and I decided on a spur of the moment trip to a physics fair at a nearby university.  It was crowded, but a lot of fun and the girls got to do a lot of hands on experiments which were all explained by college students and some professors that were manning each station.

Here's Sedona walking on water (and cornstarch):
She was scared to go up and try it at first, but when she played with a bowl of it and realized what it was, she couldn't wait for a turn.  Sierra didn't want to get messy, so she didn't do it.
I couldn't get a good angle without people in the way, but they also learned how to do the "disembodied head on a table" trick.
Sierra did have a fun time checking out a floating arm trebuchet:

She also enjoyed the lesson on levers:
Sedona lifting a stool with a flat rubber disc and learning about how differences in air pressure can push two objects together.

I didn't get pictures, but they also enjoyed a demonstration of Bernoulli's Principle, which is what allows airplanes to fly.  They had a set up of two bowling balls hanging near each other and then aiming a leaf blower at the space between them, which causes the bowling balls to move towards each other instead of away, like most kids guess.  The best part was demonstrating the same principle by shooting and entire roll of toilet paper over the audience in a few seconds though.

One of Sedona's favorites was getting to safely check out the sun and learn a little about sunspots.  She loves all things telescope (though I sometimes wonder if that's because using a telescope generally involves staying up late).

They also enjoyed learning about the density of planets in our solar system as well as what they would weigh on each of the planets (different scales had their face plates changed so they showed the adjusted weight for different planets).
And a square-wheeled bicycle!  Not every day you get to ride one of those.  Sedona wouldn't take a turn since it involved being helped up by the students, but Sierra loved it
If you look very very closely, just to the left of the silver bar in the mirror, you can see the one and only picture of Secora.  Being around so many people was really stressful for her, so I carried her the entire two hours we were there.  This was the only picture I could get of her since the mirror was right there.  It's a spinning surface with ping pong balls, she loved to hit them as they came by.
We did tons of other things too, just couldn't catch pictures of it all.  There were a lot of laser experiments set up, a tornado made with a humidifier and fan, a Ruben's tube (where flames are used to visualize sound waves), synchronizing metronomes, giant bubbles, a Van der Graaf generator (which they wouldn't go near, but were all about pushing me towards saying, "touch it momma! you do it!"), and about 100 other things.  If you're interested in learning some similar things with your kids, there is a pretty good page at the University of Minnesota site.  They do some of these same experiments in shows.  There are videos of some of them and if you click on the heading of each section, it will explain why the experiments work the way they do.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Camping Trip

It's been a while since we've had a regular ol' daily life post around here (and a blog design update, but I'm working on that).  A few weeks ago, the girls and I went on a girl scout troop camp out.  This was their first real camping trip with the troop and they were incredibly excited
I don't have a lot of pictures to share because it was raining the entire time, so the camera wasn't out much and most of the pictures have other kids in them.

The big girls were working on their camping and junior aide badges, so when we arrived, I just handed them their tent and they set it up mostly by themselves.  Unfortunately, it turned out they didn't actually sleep in it, we played musical tents to make sure there was an adult in every tent since the weather just deteriorated as the day/night went on. 
The little girls were doing their last journey before they bridge from Daisies to Brownies.  At one point, a hike was necessary.  Sedona really likes hiking through nature, which you can tell from her reaction as the troop leader explained that the next activity was a hike:
This whole journey involved a lot of talk about dirt and plants, Sedona was pretty much thrilled the entire time.  She was definitely in her element.
The big girls had to do some of the planning and cooking.  I took them to do the grocery shopping for the trip and they helped make cowboy stew for dinner
A quick dinner in the cold rain, a pitiful attempt at s'mores, and everyone was ready to head to their tents to change into warm clothes and bundle up in their sleeping bags

Until they decided they needed to run to the bathroom, anyway.  Let me tell ya, it was super awesome to get out in the rain and run through the dark woods, twice, in my dry clothes.  I was proud of the girls though.  They've done a fair bit of camping, but never in the rain.  We ended up with rain most of the night, 10-15mph winds, plus it got down to 40 degrees.  Camping in the rain is okay, camping in the cold is okay, camping in the rain and cold is less than pleasant.  They stuck it out though.  I told them they had the option to go home, or if only one wanted to leave, Josh could come pick them up.  They wanted to stay though and are even looking forward to their next camping trip!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Media Resources for RSO Chemistry Level 1

Here is a last media resources list for RSO level 1 courses. This one covers chemistry and even if you don't use Pandia Press* curricula, you'll probably find some useful links in this list. Earlier in the week, I posted a free list of media resources for Life Science and Earth Science and Astronomy.

Here is the link where you can download the RSO Chemistry resource list for free.  Feel free to share with friends, but please share the link to this blog post rather than sharing the download directly.  Enjoy!

*Affiliate link, but it just so happens they're having a 25% off March Madness sale!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Media Resources for RSO Earth Science and Astronomy Level 1

Earlier in the week, I posted a free list of media resources for RSO Life Science.  Here is a similar list for RSO Earth Science and Astronomy.   Some of the videos here are a little longer, but there are still some entertaining songs and cartoons as well.  Even if you don't use Pandia Press* curricula, you'll probably find some useful links in this list.

Here is the link where you can download the RSO Earth Science and Astronomy resource list for free.  Feel free to share with friends, but please share the link to this blog post rather than sharing the download directly.  Enjoy!

*Affiliate link, but it just so happens they're having a 25% off March Madness sale!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Homemade Larabars

Winter is on its way out (no really, it must be...if I keep saying it, it's bound to happen one day).  That means it's the time of year for longer runs, rides and swims.  It's also the time of year when we're generally eating a lot of larabars.  Larabars give us the calories and carbs we need to fuel those training sessions and have a great ingredient list without a bunch of preservatives or artificial flavors.  Unfortunately, they're about $1 each even on sale and that can quickly add up.  I decided to try making my own.  A quick google search didn't find me quite what I wanted, so I set out to experiment and came up with my own recipe.  My favorite flavor is chocolate chip cookie dough, so that's the flavor I started with.

1 1/2c choc chips
1c walnuts
8c dates
1/2c water (I used Mariani brand dates, other brands may need less or more water)
2T cocoa

Finely chop chocolate chips in food processor
Finely chop walnuts in food processor
Process dates and water in food processor.  I just did this straight (in small batches), but in hindsight, I think it'd probably work best to use hot water and let the dates soak in the water for a little bit first
Mix all of the ingredients along with the cocoa powder (I used my stand mixer for this)
Scrape the whole mixture onto a sheet of parchment paper.  And look, let's just all admit it looks like a giant turd. 
Place another sheet of parchment paper on top and use your hands to mash it into a rectangle shape

If you want your bars to be more uniform, use a rolling pin to smooth out the top
The parchment paper will peel right off
After letting the slab o' fruit bar sit for an hour or two to dry out a bit, you can use a pastry cutter to cut the bars. 
After they were cut, I flipped them over and left them to dry for a while on the other side too.  Then I stacked them in an airtight container with parchment paper between each layer.

I purchased my dates and walnuts at Sam's, so I ended up spending about $10 total.  That made 27 bars that were the same size (by weight) of store bought larabars.  Only 37 cents a bar, that's like getting a whole box (of 5 bars) for $1.85!  When you eat as many larabars as we do, that's totally worth putting up with the image of a turd on parchment paper that may occasionally spring to mind.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Media Resources for RSO Life Science Level 1

I have a biology degree and Josh has a PhD in microbial and molecular pathogenesis, so we're kind of picky about our science. We've been using science curricula from Pandia Press* for the last three years.  Overall, we've been very happy with it and we have already purchased level 2 biology to use next year.  A few weeks ago, someone posted on their facebook page wondering if anyone had come up with a list aligning science programs available on netflix and youtube with the lesson plan.  No one knew of anything like that, so I decided to fill in the gap.  I am working on creating a list for all of the level 1 programs and will probably get the others up next week.  Because we do life science first, when the kids are younger, I kept the resources for this one a little more on the entertaining side.  The other lists include more documentary-type resources along with some fun songs and short videos.   

Here is the link where you can download the RSO Life Science resource list for free.  Please share the link to this blog post rather than sharing the download directly.  Enjoy!

*Affiliate link, but it just so happens they're having a 25% off March Madness sale!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Triathlon Hiccups

Remember how I set a goal to finish top 10 in my age group at a triathlon this year? And then how the triathlon I planned to do got moved up 3 months?  Along with that, we've had one of the coldest winters in recent memory (I don't do cold unless absolutely necessary, I can't breathe well in cold), I've been sick for about 4 weeks out of the last 2 months (complete with sinus infection and double ear infections) and had a root canal to boot. 

Basically, I've had a lot of excuses to only train very sporadically, and I've taken all of them.  My swimming is in pretty good shape and I have been doing some strength training at home, which I was pleasantly surprised to discover translated into a decent (though not quite top 10) bike ride.  Now that I'm feeling better and the weather has warmed up, it's time to really buckle down and get to work.

This weekend was going to be the start of my new, "no, I'm getting this done, regardless of what else is going on" attitude.  And then I remembered that Josh and I had decided he should referee soccer games for most weekends in March.  For this weekend in particular, that means he's out of town all day Saturday and Sunday.

I can't tell myself, "no more excuses" and then make excuses on the very first day though.  So I loaded up all three kids, the jogging stroller, and lots of water bottles, then we drove to a nearby neighborhood that has an ideal layout for a family run.  We had a relatively straight road 1.5 miles long with good sidewalk all the way, so the big girls could run ahead, take breaks, hang out in one spot while I went to the turn around and headed back and generally set their own pace while staying in sight.  I pushed Secora in the stroller the whole time and sometimes Sedona too (70 pounds in a stroller into a 10mph head wind is just improving the quality of the workout, right?)  

Today my "no more excuses" plan was really put to the test when I was facing a bike ride in the rain with a wind chill of 23 degrees.  I shortened the ride, but I did get out do it.  I actually stayed pretty warm and now I have a little experience in how to handle rain and/or cold on the bike.  The rest of the week is supposed to have yucky weather, so we'll see how long my determination lasts.  I might manage to just flip flop swim days with bike/run days (I have a pass to do a few swims at an indoor pool).

I've only got a month to get my act together and I'm not sure I'm going to be able to manage it.  I have my eye on another tri in June, so worst case scenario, I'll complete this first tri as a warm-up and have a head start on training for the next one!


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