December 28, 2009

Reason we homeschool # 4

We decided to take a couple of weeks off from school for the holidays, but when your everyday life is about figuring things out, and learning how things work, it's hard to really take a break, especially with gifts like this!

For Christmas, Mason received this wonderful gift - a Skyrail Rollercoaster building set.  Mason is my inventor, builder, creator kid, so this is perfect for him.  This Skyrail set is awesome!  It comes with a book filled with diagrams of possible designs - not actual instructions like Legos.  The back pages are priceless.  There is a two page spread on speed, acceleration, deceleration, gravity, centrifugal force, kinetic energy, friction, and inertia.  It offers ideas to experiment to really learn what these terms are. 

For example, for Speed it says:
The speed of a marble depends on many factors: how steep is the descent, the size of the marble, its weight, what material it is made of.  Make this experiment:  drop 3 different types of marbles together from the top of the track and notice in which way they run down.  If the first marble is slower than the other ones, the perusing marbles will keep bumping into it.  If it is faster, it will leave the chasing marbles more and more behind.  Now place the marbles at the starting point in the correct order, from the fastest to slowest, then notice their sizes and materials.  This observation should suggest to you some clue on the reasons of their different speeds. . .
There are experiments using stop watches, inclined planes, and on and on.  Can you think of a better teaching tool for an introduction to physics?

This brings me to another reason we homeschool -

When a learning opportunity smacks us in the face, we can jump on it! 

We aren't bound by a list of what we can learn about and when.  As you can imagine, I didn't plan to teach an introduction to physics when our normal school routine picks back up in January, but guess what - that is exactly what I will be doing!


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