Wednesday, November 10, 2010

All I Want for Christmas Is...

All I want for Christmas is a planetarium, a chameleon, a box of rocks, a hedgehog, a solar powered grass hopper, a beehive, and alpacas. Actually, I already have all these things and I can't wait to share them with you.

Is that really what you want for Christmas?

Honestly, these have given me and my students loads of fun this school year! I didn't want to be selfish and keep all these great secrets to myself so I thought I'd continue the Christmas tradition I started last year in helping folks find what I think is the best in science related gifts for their children. Click here to see last year's prized items.

Let's start with the box of rocks. In my home state of South Carolina one can order a really cool box of the most common rocks found in the state. The box also contains a nice handy guide that provides interesting facts about the rocks and more importantly, WHERE TO FIND THEM! Now don't you think this could make family vacations really exciting and meaningful? You could make it like a treasure hunt to match the rocks in the box with the ones that you find in the locations noted in the booklet. Maybe I'm just a little weird about stuff like this but I think it would be really cool plus you and your children can learn so much about geography, science, math, history, and all kinds of subjects in the process. If you're interested in purchasing this item, click here for more details. The first box I ordered came quickly but was damaged in transit. I emailed the SCGS (South Carolina Geological Survey) to tell them of my troubles and within a week they sent me another box that was in perfect shape! As I mentioned earlier, I really appreciate the booklet that is included with the box because it explains so much about the history, location, intrinsic value, and uses of these amazing rocks.

All I want for Christmas is a Chameleon!Chameleon, you say?

Oh yes. I'm sold on them. I think they make the perfect classroom pet. Last year I took the plunge and purchased a veiled chameleon from screameleons. At first, I was terrified and thought, "Oh no, now I've really done it, went off and blew the budget on a reptile that is going to die in a week!"

When "Arthur" arrived via FEDEX I was ready. His screen cage with lights and plants were waiting just for him. I even got a fog machine for him to add moisture to the cage. Screameleons sent me enough helpful information to make it easy. Arthur arrived safe and healthy within the schedule hour I was told he was to arrive. Trudy, our school librarian gave me some really great advice. She had a chameleon that died (she thinks) from being handled too much. Chameleons are solitary creatures and like to be left alone. For this reason, we don't hold him or take him out of the cage. Here's what he does that is SO cool. The students put some crickets in a clear jar and hold it about 8 inches from Arthur's incredibly long tongue. Arthur's long sticky tongue grabs the crickets head first and, quick as a flash, down the hatch they go. This has been one of the most exciting thing for students to watch! I never grow weary of watching Arthur's long sticky tongue secure his victim to certain doom. Arthur has been a great addition to our Science Lab.

Next stop... All I want for Christmas is a planetarium!

A planetarium you say??Oh yes. I have one and it is not housed in a dome :) It is actually quite light weight and I absolutely love it! The Celestron Sky Scout even shows where the planets are located during daylight. This is exactly what I needed to learn more about astronomy. It is great for children and amateur astronomers alike. Here are some of the amazing things it can do:
  • Identifies celestial objects with the click of a button.
  • Locates over 50,000 stars, planets and constellations from built-in celestial database and provides scientific information for each object (requires free update to firmware to version 1.3).
  • Provides comprehensive text and audio descriptions providing history, mythology and other entertaining information for the most popular objects.
  • Tonight's Highlights: A customized list of the 20 best objects to view for your exact date, time and location anywhere in the world.
  • Constellation Lessons: If the star you identify or locate is part of a constellation or an asterism like the Big Dipper, you can actually take a guided tour through all the stars in that constellation and even see an onscreen map of the constellation.
  • Built-in Field Guide Includes:
    • Introduction to Astronomy: A six part audio lesson on the origin and history of Astronomy.
    • Glossary of Terms: Text defining popular Astronomy terms including planets, comets, galaxies and more.
    • Great Astronomers: Text bios on some of the world's greatest astronomers including Galileo, Einstein and Copernicus.
    • Man Made Space Objects: Text description of some of the coolest objects man has sent into space including the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Space Shuttle.
    • Comet Guide: Text descriptions about history's most famous comets including Halley's Comet and Comet Hale-Bop.
  • SD card slot: For optional “SkyScout Expansion Cards” audio presentations that provide hours of entertainment on a variety of topics.
  • USB port: Allows database to be updated with new objects as they are discovered, comets, etc.
  • Simple enough for all ages; just turn it on and it's ready to use.
  • Built-in Help Menu: Includes a quick start instruction guide for using the SkyScout
  • Bring it anywhere: Compact and light design makes it easy to carry and durable construction makes it safe for rugged environments.
  • Backed by Celestron's 2-year warranty.
I purchased the microphone to attach to it so that the entire class can hear the Planetarium make comments about what we were viewing.

Next year I hope to get:

NexStar 4SE Computerized Telescope
Nex Image Camera and the
Registax software to process the images that I capture

I've heard it said that "the difference between men and boys is the price of their toys". What does this say about me??? Oh no! This is why we moved into a smaller house and why we have a carport and not a garage...

All I want for Christmas is a hedgehog!I have two hedgehogs now. They are African Pygmy hedgehogs which I purchased from Dreamflower Meadows. Shannon Orth is the proprietor. She does a great job caring for her offspring and educating her clients in the care of these wonderful animals.

My hedgehogs eat Purina One cat food. They are nocturnal but mine will spin in the wheel during the day if they are taken out of their cage. They are curious creatures and love to inspect everything. Handle them with gloves at first. Later, when they feel comfortable it is possible to hold them without gloves.

Hedgehogs are amusing little animals that require very little care and minimal food.

All I want for Christmas is a Solar Powered Cricket...This year we are focusing on the sun for our November Space Lab. I did a little research and decided to purchase this cute little solar powered grass hopper to show the children what solar power can do. I also plan to use it for the Electricity Lab.

This wiggling, jiggling, critter is sure to be the hit of any solar science unit! The Frightened Grasshopper requires no tools to put together and no batteries… he runs by the power of the sun. Kids will love snapping the pieces together to make their own insect creation. Once assembled, just take the Grasshopper outside and watch as he dances his own remarkable dance, even his antennae sways in the sunlight! The pint-sized Frightened Grasshopper will delight children young and old! Recommended for children ages 10 and up. I highly recommend taping over the wires at the soldering points to make sure it stays kid proof.

If you are in the market for something inexpensive but educational and fun check it out at Steve Spangler Science. I attended his Science Boot Camp several years ago. It was fantastic and I highly recommend it to any teacher who is looking to improve their skills. I also use the Alka Seltzer Film Canister Rockets

and many other products from Spangler Science. This company is a remarkable blessing to science teachers, parents, kids, and our planet!

All I want for Christmas is an Alpaca...

What more can you say about these wonderful creatures? We started out with seven and now we have 14! They are truly amazing, cuddly, gentle, environmentally correct, low maintenance, and useful. Unlike their nasty cousins the llama, Alpacas are not spitters. Now I'm not saying I've never been spit at, but alpacas are much more gentle and sweet then llamas. Alpaca fiber is not itchy like sheep's wool, it is naturally self-wicking and hypo-allergenic. Alpacas require very little pasture. They have three stomachs that churn up hay and grass all day long. They get every drop of nourishment from their food. Alpacas do not climb fences and trees like goats!
Alpacas are easy to contain.
If you are interested in purchasing your own alpaca or some scrumptious yarn from my herd, please contact me. I would love to show you all my friends and their beautiful yarn. My alpacas are unregistered as I raise them primarily for the fiber and not for showing so they are very inexpensive especially when compared to the registered ones.
All I want for Christmas is an observation hive...

This style observation hive won the gold medal for equipment at the Apimondia meeting in Australia. This observation hive is actually a 5 frame nuc, which converts to an observation hive with the addition of the upper section. To do so, find the queen, put her into the upper section, and replace her frame with a division board feeder. (Feeder included, frames not.) The bottom is fully screened, the colony will not overheat as they process the syrup and care for the queen, and they can stay like this for days.

I used this hive for the Insect Lab earlier this year. Students could observe the bees safely from two sides. I was thankful that not one of my students got stung and neither did I!! Now that the lab is over, I plan to order a set of bees and start beekeeping in the spring. The feeding tray has a very unique design. A dad of a student of mine even borrowed it to use in his bee hive. He was so impressed! This hive is a great value, the construction is excellent, and for children (and adults) viewing the bees safely makes this observation hive a "gotta wanna must have" for me.

From my family to yours, I wish you all a very, very blessed Christmas. May your days be full of gratefulness for all the wonders to explore and may the peace of Christ fill your heart now and always.


Anonymous said...

Wow... what a great post! I wish I had a science teacher like you when I was growing up :) Great work Mom!


Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you aren't up in the tree with those Alpaca's singing "I feel good"!! ;-)

Great post! Maggie

Susan Wells said...

Thank you for including Steve Spangler Science in your gift guide. I hope you get everything on your list. That is a lot of fun stuff. I'm looking into a pet Hedgehog myself.