Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How We Do Science: Exploration of the Human Body

I hated Science when I was a kid.

When we made the decision to homeschool, Science was the subject I was not sure if I could teach.  How could I encourage interest and exploration in a subject that I did not understand, despite countless classes at the college level?

Our first year of learning at home, we tried many different Science programs.  We found that we most loved Science kits, but we needed more of an explanation, more facts, more reasons WHY we did these experiments.  I discovered that the reason that I had not understood science was that my own science classes were sorely lacking in the experiment area.  I can probably count on one hand how many experiments we did, even at the college level!  I am a visual learner and I need to SEE what happens to understand it.

After trying a lot of programs, we found Janice Van Cleave's Books for Every Kid.

I can not say enough good things about these books.  I have looked through all of them at the library and we purchased several copies of The Human Body for Every Kid from Amazon for super cheap!  (Why did we purchase several copies?  1.) Because they are cheap and 2.) I find my girls understand concepts better if they are reading along).

We all read together.  Then I may ask them to list several facts they found interesting from our reading.  Often, I ask them to define the bold-faced words in their Science Notebooks.  Sometimes I ask them questions on the reading and encourage them to write paragraphs answering the questions in their notebooks.  Frequently, I have them write a paragraph summarizing the concept in the pages we read.  My girls love to draw, so I usually have them copy important pictures from the book.

Janice Van Cleave's books have several experiments and questions at the end of each chapter and we always do those.  Since we love science experiments (I credit science experiments with my newfound interest in and love of science!) we have also purchased these kits to go along with our Exploration of the Human Body.

Warning: Everything beyond this point may not be suitable for the squeamish.

During our study of the skin, we conducted several experiments.  We took an apple, rolled it on the ground and then sealed it in a Ziploc bag.  We took another apple, scored the skin, rolled it on the ground and put it in a Ziploc bag.  What do you think happened?

The apple with the intact skin was just fine two months later.
The apple with the scored skin was rotten and gross and mushy.
This showed just how important our skin is in keeping bacteria and other organisms OUT of our body.

We also did an experiment with bread.
The bread on the left, Piper rubbed her hands on.
She didn't touch anything special, just rubbed her hands all over the bread and sealed it in a Ziploc.
The bread on the right was carefully placed in a Ziploc with very minimal touching.
Do you see the difference?

Ok, I am sure some of you may disagree with what I allowed my kids to do here.
But, well, anyway....all in the name of science, people, all in the name of science!
We needed to really dirty up a piece of bread in a WET place.
Where do you think they chose??
The toilet, of course.
They rubbed that bread on the left all over the inside of the bowl and the seat and the ring.
The other piece was rubbed all around the kitchen sink.
The one on the right looks toasted, doesn't it?  It's not, just sink germs two month later.
The one on the try not to linger on that one...

Here are the other sides of the above pieces.
The one on the left is the sink bread.
The one on the upper right is the toilet bread.
'Nuff said.

This week we learned about preparing petrie dishes.
We made our own Agar.
We tested the effectiveness of antibacterial soap, by rubbing our finger tip on one side of the petrie dish, then washing our hands and rubbing a finger tip on the other side of the Agar.
We tested if our toothpaste was effective by swabbing our mouths, rubbing the swab on the Agar and then rubbing toothpaste over half of the Petrie dish.
We also compared who had the cleaner toes :)

I have also bought these books to go with our study.
As we learn something in the Janice Van Cleave book, we do corresponding activities in these books.

We bought this cool kit for when we start studying the Skeletal system.

So, that is how we do Science.  It's what works for us.  It may not work for someone else.  But for us, right now, this is what works.  I am SO grateful that homeschooling allows us to find things that work for us.