I haven’t taught owls since 2011 and every year I say I’m going to do it again. It was so much fun! I can’t resist another year. Three friends have owls that visit their neighborhoods regularly. We will go out one early evening and try to call them in. It’s called an owl prowl and with the right loudspeaker equipment and owl sounds they will come. It’s fascinating! In this lab your child will learn the sounds of local owls and all of their unique characteristics. We will also examine owl pellets, nesting habits, and flight. You don’t want to miss this lab!
September: Butterflies, The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, or Papilio glaucus
Students will learn all about our state butterfly. They will choose a caterpillar of some sort to take home, raise and observe to adulthood. Students will be given live plants for their butterfly eggs or caterpillars to eat. We will observe caterpillars and butterfly eggs outside in the Butterfly Garden. They will learn about their life cycles, their habits, and the many interesting aspects of these most amazing creations. Microscopes will be used to observe these beautiful creatures up close.
I collect ants every morning to feed the lizards, toads, the salamander, and the leopard gecko in the lab. I love them all. If you've ever examined an anthill and wondered what's beneath the surface. I will teach the children how to create their own ant farm at home. This will be a fascinating learning experience. Introducing an ant colony to a student's own farm will give them a first-rate view of ants building intricate tunnels and paths, then scurrying through like they're on a mission. We will also observe ants under the microscope, study their life cycle, anatomy, and find out about all the interesting ants all around the world. You do not need to purchase ants for the lab. There are plenty of ants outside in the spring and summer for free. If you do decide to purchase ants here is where you can get a good deal:
Learn about the universe, our solar system, rotation and revolution of the planets, propulsion, gravity, and more. Explosive experiments occur in this lab! Every year we choose to study a planet or a star in depth. This year we will focus our attention on the constellations and the planet Mars since there has been so much happening there lately. We will learn what constellations are and how to find them in the night sky for each of the seasons of the year. Every year we experiment a little with rocketry. I am developing an online constellation course and hope to find an observatory nearby where we can all meet to find out more.
December: The Periodic Table of the Elements
I was scared to death to tackle this subject last time I taught it. I wondered how this would work with younger students. Not to worry. It was amazing. The periodic table is an essential part of any science course. Its simple chart-like appearance belies the wealth of information that it contains. In this lab, students will learn about the origin of the modern periodic table of elements and explore some of these elements hands-on. Some exciting experiments will be performed.
Aquaponics or fish farming is the raising of fish and shellfish on special farms. This is the subject I chose for my National Geographic Education Certification so you can imagine a lot of work went into this one. Aquaculture can take place in the open ocean, in bays, in ponds, in greenhouses, and even in buildings, The Japanese raise a special type of fish similar to goldfish that can sell for thousands of dollars. We will learn about environment conservation and responsible consumption.
February: Human Body of Evidence
We are all so unique, similar, and yet very different! Students will learn what is unique about their very own bodies. They will discover what kind of fingerprints they have and learn how fingerprints are formed and how to test their family for genetic fingerprint similarities. They will see their hair under the microscope, identify their blood type and pH levels, blood pressure, weight, height, and other data. Students will check for colorblindness, ocular dominance, and try the Brock String Test. They will place samples of the bacteria from their skin or tongue onto Petri dishes for inoculation and incubation. I will grow their bacteria for 48 hours then send them the results of our findings. My son Nathan is a microbiologist and he is going to help identify what we find! At the end, we will display the information on the “big screen” and have a guessing game to see if we can identify each student by these findings. All this information will be collected on a card for parents to file for their child’s DNA identification.
March: The Science of Sound
People keep sending me more exciting sound experiments, so this year will be even better than when I taught this three years ago. The capacity for speech is divine. Unlike animals, humans are capable of speaking out into the atmosphere our deepest thoughts. How amazing is that? This lab is going to be crazy! If your child likes to play with unusual gadgets this lab will truly entertain them. I have a machine that makes sound visible through cymatics. We are going to speak into a contraption I built to see our voice make beautiful patterns with a laser pointer. We will play with a corrugahorn and “see” how sound travels through a flexible spring. We will play sheet music with palm pipes. We will watch sugar dance by using a cell phone, and learn how vinyl records produced sound by using talking vinyl sound strips. We will learn how to make a screaming and groaning cup. A bent hanger can produce all kinds of sounds. Students will be surprised to learn and experience the sounds produced from bent and unbent hangers. Your child will learn how to make laser cannons. I have two “singing” rods that are sure to grab the attention of every person and dog in the neighborhood.
April: South Carolina Amphibians
Can your child identify the night sounds they hear from the chirping frogs and toads in your backyard? Now they can! This year we will learn all about South Carolina Amphibians. Does your child know what types of amphibians inhabit our state? If not, this is the lab for them as we discover these creepy, slippery, and amazing creatures that live among us! Students can choose a tadpole to rear at home if they desire. I will send instructions home before the lab.
If your child owns an amphibian they would like to show off to the class please bring it in a child safe cage.
May: Life on the Farm
Spring is a wonderful time to study and explore all the life that the farm has to offer. We will study chickens, rabbits, goats, baby goats, and our farm dogs. Students will see how much work goes into maintaining a small farm and garden. We will milk the goats, bottle feed the babies, check out the baby rabbits, and learn all about chicken incubation. You don’t want to miss this egg-citing lab!!