Science: Woolly Bear Zombies

science

Woolly Bear Zombies or

Science in a Relaxed Home School 

My kids love science, they just don’t know it.

If you were to ask them if they like science they would tell you a flat out NO. It is so funny to me because we do so many fun experiments but the kids do not consider it science.

Their latest science activity was collecting Woolly Bear caterpillars to see if they would form cocoons. My 13yo son had found a free aquarium and decided he would use it to collect creatures from outside and put them in it.

1st science activity’s related to this topic?

  1. Ask a question
  2. Do background research
  3. Construct a hypothesis.

He had done the first 3 steps in the Scientific Method without even knowing it.

1. First he asked a question, “Can I have Woolly Bear caterpillars live and form cocoons in my terrarium?”

2. Second he did some research by looking up what a Woolly Bear caterpillar eats and how often. He also looked up what else they needed to live.

3. From these 2 points above he constructed a hypothesis. His hypothesis was, “I believe that Woolly Bear caterpillars can live in my terrarium. But there are things I must do. If I feed them fresh leaves everyday and moisten the terrarium everyday they should live and form cocoons.”

At any point in time did he verbalize this hypothesis? NOPE

The quote marks above are for example only. We did talk about his project a lot but he never thought of it as science work. He is an average 13yo boy and just did these thing without even knowing he was working through the scientific method.

What are the next steps of the Scientific Method and did he continue to work through them?

Here they are:

  1. Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment.
  2. Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion.
  3. Communicate Your Results.

So, yes, he continued with the steps of the scientific method.

4. He collected a square of sod to place in the bottom of the terrarium. Next he started collecting Woolly Bear caterpillars and placing them in the terrarium. He added the leaves that they like along with some moisture.

We watched as they moved and lived and had a great time in the terrarium. We had a great time and had so much watching them just live in there. The terrarium was right in the dining room so conversations at the dinner table were always about those fuzzy guys.

Each day he added some new leaves and moistened the terrarium, except when he forgot… 😉 They ate and ate each day. He continued to learn more about them through books and online.

He found out they need sticks to climb up on in order to hang and form cocoons from. He collected sticks and placed them in various spots in the terrarium. He now had 7 or 8 caterpillars but no cocoons.

5. The next step of the scientific process started to take place. Honestly, at this point it was starting to look like the caterpillars were just going to die and well that would be that. His 17yo sister decided the caterpillars were dead and planted some corn seeds in the terrarium sod. We all watched as the corn grew and the caterpillars died. The corn grew to about 10 inches tall and then it decided to die also. The experiment seemed like a flop.

We talked about how maybe he had watered it too much or had forgotten to feed them too many times. Everyone had an opinion…

Then one day his 17yo sister saw movement. Under the ground at the edge of the glass wall there was a Woolly Bear alive.

My 13yo son said, “It’s the Woolly Bear Zombie Apocalypse!”

6. Communicate your results. Boy did he do that. Everyone who would listen he would tell them about how he had made this terrarium and thought for sure all the Woolly Bears had died and then… had come back to life. Well at least 2 of them.

These little guys are still alive, not sure how or why but they are.

Science is lifelong learning in real life not from a textbook or a teacher but what a kid sees that he or she wants to know more about. Those are the experiences the child will remember, that is true science.

Do I use textbooks for science, YUP, but not how they are written, we tweak them to fit our own way of learning. More on that another time…

 

 

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Week in Review & Easy Peasy Online Review

We had a very productive homeschooling week this week. We were able to actually stay home Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Guess that is why we got so much accomplished.

Our homeschool days fluctuate between a day of workbooks and a day of Easy Peasy online school. The workbooks we use will be for another post. Today I thought I would share how the Easy Peasy computer school program is working for us.

This week we were able to spend two days just on computer school and the other two days were on workbooks. Mondays are taken up by co-op classes. This weeks co-op Science class was the Respiratory System.  We also had co-op Choir and Career Readiness.

Princess (Kindergarten) She does a little bit of Easy Peasy “Getting Ready 1“. On that program she learns her letters with songs, worksheets, and the starfall program. She knows her letters very well and just has fun with the online learning. The sounds of the letters is what she is learning now so the starfall program is useful. There seems to be a lot of coloring pages with this Easy Peasy level. She does like some coloring but she, like my other children, detest busy work. She liked the project this week that involved making a movable animal for the letter of the week. Below is a link to one kind of project like that that she did recently. We do tend to just skip over the busy work stuff though. So she focused mainly on her workbooks this week and the computer program Reading Eggs which she really loves.

A is for Alligator.
A is for Alligator.

Collector (3rd Grade) He does Easy Peasy Third Level. This week he worked on xtramath to practice his math facts speed and knowledge. (Easy Peasy suggests the use of that program.) In Math he worked on adding +10 and +11 and adding one more to a large number. In Language Arts he worked on poetry. This weeks topic in poetry was rhyme and alliteration. He understood the rhyming but the alliteration didn’t sink in, I don’t believe. No big deal. He worked on a spelling with the worksheet below (the first picture will show a larger image and the second picture links to the worksheet itself online). He really enjoyed it. He enjoys spelling anyway but this worksheet was fun to him. He worked on current events in History. He read an article online and then rewrote it in his own words. His choice was the clean-up from a recent hurricane in the south. In Science he played an online game about the states of matter. It was fun and really brought the point home. In PE he worked on learning how to stretch properly. All in all it was a great week. This program works all right for Collector but I do prefer that he does most of his work away from the computer screen. He enjoys it but the reading is more difficult on a screen than in a book that is in his hands. Overall he seems to be learning a lot from this program.

spelling 1spelling 2

Pilot (5th Grade) He does Easy Peasy Fourth Level. I choose this level for him because I liked what was being taught in this level, not really a grade level so much as I liked the things he would be learning this year. This week he also worked on xrtamath to practice with his math facts. (As Easy Peasy suggests.) In Math he worked on estimating to the hundreds place and adding the estimated numbers. He also did online timed division facts which he enjoyed. The Reading was a crazy huge amount this week. All the reading this year is from McGuffey’s Third Eclectic Reader. I even have a hard time figuring out this book. The language is not easy nor are the stories. I spend so much time explaining these stories to him that I think I am going to reconsider him doing the reading with Easy Peasy starting next week. For example yesterday we was supposed to read 5 different stories. Now the vocabulary he does with this he likes very much and he enjoys learning new words. Also this week he learned about a Limerick and wrote one. In Science & History he learned about Alexander Graham Bell, did an experiment with sound, and watched a video on Bell. He also did Bible work, learned about junk mail, and looked at the life of the composer Pfitzner. This program, except for Reading, works really well for Pilot. He is having fun and learning as he goes. There is never a complaint to have to do school. The picture links to the video he watched this week.

Alexander Graham Bell Movie Link
Alexander Graham Bell Movie Link

Tech (7th Grade) He does Easy Peasy Sixth Level. Just like Pilot I choose this level for him because I liked what was being taught in this level, not really a grade level so much as I liked the things he would be learning this year. This week he worked on xrtamath to practice his math facts also. This year he is working on Language Appreciation. He watches a video with part of the voices in Latin and the rest in English then he has to make his best guess as to what the Latin words mean. He has a lot of fun with it. Next week he will use this list to look up the French and Spanish words for these Latin words and look for similarities. His Math is Khan Academy and this week he worked on negative numbers and comparing absolute values. I like that on Khan Academy I can look and see what each of my children is working on right from my “Coach” page. He is enjoying his Robert Frost poetry this year. He also worked on Bible, Alexander Graham Bell, and Pfitzner, but at a higher level than Pilot. This program does not seem challenging enough for Tech. Not sure what I need to specifically change yet but something needs to change. He is kinda bored with it except for the games. Here is a link to a History game he loves. It is actually from Directors school lessons but he enjoys playing when he is done his schoolwork.

History Game Online
History Game Online

Artist (9th Grade) She does Easy Peasy Eighth Level. Just like Tech I choose this level for him because I liked what was being taught in this level, not really a grade level so much as I liked the things he would be learning this year.This week she worked on xrtamath to maintain her math fact skills. This year she is taking Sign Language and loving it. She laughs throughout the video as the teacher is just a fun guy. She has Vocabulary, Reading, and Writing. I never hear complaints from her. She is able to do all this Easy Peasy work on her own without me really. Her statement to me was that this was her best homeschool year yet. As an artist she enjoys the Art section of Easy Peasy so the link below is from her art lesson. For Math she is doing Khan Academy also. She worked on complimentary and supplemental angles, circumference, and multiplying decimals. She did Bible, History, Science, and Health. In Science she is working on chemistry and the periodic table. This program is an excellent fit for Artist. She enjoys this curriculum and seems to be learning so much. I am so glad she has found something that fits her so well.

How to Draw a Shell Link
How to Draw a Shell Link

Director (11th Grade) She is doing Easy Peasy High School. She is doing lots of classes from this site. Here is her list: xtramath, Literature and Compostion, Biology with Lab, US History 2, Art Appreciation, Music Appreciation, PE/Health, Spanish, and Khan Academy. Her favorite subject from Easy Peasy is Music Appreciation. She says she likes this best because, “I think I am learning more in this than in any other subject. I also like that I can watch the videos of all the instruments.” She also likes Literature and Composition because, “I learn new words and their meanings. There is this site that you go onto that has a story and you then answer questions about it.” She feels that for her Easy Peasy is a good fit, “There are some boring things but most of it is interesting.”

Music Appreciation Link
Music Appreciation Link

I hope this review of Easy Peasy was helpful. Have a great weekend.