Saturday, July 30, 2011

Part 3 - Science Camp!

While you can turn pretty much any adventure into an Edventure, we had the added help of having along our Nancy Larson Science curriculum, as well as our Connect the Thoughts history and a little math thrown in for good measure.  We had a lot of fun doing "block learning" with our science, meaning that we spent a large block of time working with only that subject for a couple of days.  Although this curriculum is designed for lower elementary students, we are using it with Matt as well as he had huge gaps in science, with lots of base knowledge garnered from things we had done together at home and a smattering of public school information, but not a consistent, steady progression of building skills, so together we decided that he would do this along with the other kids to fill gaps, and then do some outside things with physics and electricity that were more at his level in terms of reading.  He has been surprised how much he has learned from this program, despite the fact that technically it is at a far lower grade level.  It is just a super solid program which builds quickly on skills and exposes kids to a wide variety of science areas.  We love it, and it is so easy for me to teach because everything you need comes in a box...I don't need to go buy things for any experiments.

So we were learning about the physical properties of matter, the three states of matter as solid, liquid and gas, and we were doing experiments and labeling things.  Check it out!

Beautiful morning outside!

This was learning about the luster of a solid.  See?  Diet Coke cans come in handy sometimes!

Learning about mass and weighing what we had on hand... salt shakers and rocks.

We all could get used to this Big Bertha schoolin'!

The politically incorrect version of "gas"...he IS 12 guys!

The Yummy version of a solid

Joshie and his liquid, but the better one is yet to come...

Ok, so the more socially acceptable version of "gas", oxygen in a ballon

Here is where the fun began, turning solids into liquids...

Melted Hershey Bars!  What better way to end a science lesson?
It was great fun getting out of the house and learning in a new environment where we could study awhile, take a break and go bike riding and have water fights, then get back to work.  There was an intriguing quality to the newness of studying in Big Bertha, and everyone loved finding their own little space to study...
Sometimes it was at the table...

Or doing math on the top bunk (or the Loft if we are being fancy!)

Sometimes it was sprawling out on Mom and Dad's bed...

Sometimes it was reading a book under a sleeping bag...

Or reading outside as the sun set
Sometimes, the learning took us away from the camp site, as we all went geocaching together for then first time!  We hadn't been in a long time, but it will definitely be a family favorite now, as all the kids LOVED it and we found some cool caches.

For the uninitiated, geocaching is like treasure hunting.  You log on to the web site: and you can create an account, then look for caches hidden in your area.  There are over a million caches throughout the world, with hundreds right here in our own area.  A cache can be as small as a tiny log book inside a film canister or medicine bottle, to as large as metal ammo box filled with trinkets.  All you need are the coordinates and a GPS, and you are set to go treasure hunting! 

The caches basically give you an excuse to go visit some place new that you have never been to.  If you get to the location and find it, you then write in the log book and if there are trinkets you can take one and replace it with your own. The trinkets are not intended to be valuable, usually McDonald's toys, wooden nickels and the like.  We had done it a few years back, and then just hadn't gotten around to doing it again.  However, we are hooked now and will be on the prowl everywhere we go!  We discovered there is an app you can use for your phone that is free and will tell you where any caches are located nearby, and also provide a google map for it.  Very, very cool and you can find it at  While it is NOT as good as using a standard GPS, it got us close enough for success and we were able to pull in all the hints and the actual web page where the cache was logged in. When you find one, you can go online to the web site and log it as a "find" and it will keep track of all the ones you have previously visited.  Anyone can hide a cache as well and log it in, helping make the game more fun for others!

 For kids our kids' ages, this was a really great activity and helped them think more about direction, latitude and longitude, plus they got a big kick out of finding a "treasure".  It is also a ton of fun for adults, and thousands are hooked on this interesting game.  

We found 2 caches on a very rainy day, one was hidden in the most beautiful overlook location in an area known as Log Hill, outside of Ridgway.  Once we got to the location it took us about 10 minutes to find the tiny little cache which was a log book only.

We found it!

Checking out the log book and instructions

This was a tiny little cache in an amazingly beautiful location

And here is the view from where we found it!

Josh studying the rocks

Very cool!!

This was our first "find" and we would have never visited this spot without geocaching as a reason to get us there. That is the cool thing about geocaching, people tend to hide them in fairly accessible places that are out of the way or intriguing to visit for one reason or another.  Our next one was right on a busy corner, and took us to visit a tiny train museum in Ridgway, one we had driven past for 15 years and never stopped to see.

We found it!!

A tiny cache but big enough for little trinkets

Log book

  Drawing was also a big hit for the week as Matthew brought along a couple of step by step books from the library and they all had fun spending time with them and creating a few things:

Matt's masterpiece!

All in all it was a super educational AND fun trip!  One more post with a couple of photos left...


Anonymous said...

Politically correct or not, they now know what liquids, solid, and gases are, and they skill in humor is expanding exponentially.


Anonymous said...

There is actually a fourth state of matter called plasma. It might be something to have Matthew look into more as he has more advanced knowledge. I teach 5th grade and it's not technically part of our standards, but I always mentioned it and provide information about it for my more advanced or curious students to study.

(a fan who would one day like to adopt)

Shannon said...

Wow - that was one incredible trip! I can't think of a better vacation!

Anonymous said...

WHEN I studied Education, at UGA,in early 1950's, the main thrust was Unit Teaching.You know, one main theme, then bring in math,English,geography etc etc.Seems to me that is some of what you are doing plus adapting it to different grade levels.I find your methods so interesting and enjoy reading about them.
Please take care of yourself too, Dear Heart !Love, Elva