Sunday, March 17, 2013

Our Week

Science, color, & fun: Crystals & effervescing "rocks"

We’re trying to do more activities with Ezra during the evenings and weekends, and during this past week, Garry and I found a couple science activities related to his preschool’s current theme: color.

Garry and Ezra made crystals, which was the monthly “challenge” for Dinosaur Train Nature Trackers. I posted a photo of their crystals on our Postilius Facebook page. Take a look at them and like our page while you’re there (a friendly wink and a nudge). 

I found an activity that was really simple and fun too. Basically, a little water is mixed with baking soda along with some food coloring (optional) to make a paste. The mixture is dried a few hours or overnight to make “rocks.” In the morning, a stream of vinegar is poured over the rocks. The baking soda reacts with the vinegar to make carbon dioxide, which causes the "rocks" to effervesce.

I can see how parents get excited about homeschooling. There is so much science underlying one simple, little demonstration, and I thought it was fun to share with Ezra. I told Ezra we were doing a chemical reaction with an acid (vinegar, which is weak acetic acid) and a base (baking soda, sodium bicarbonate) that would make bubbles (carbon dioxide).

This demonstration can easily be repeated as children age, sequentially introducing scientific terms and concepts such as chemical equations, formulas and structures, concepts of pH and the neutralization of acids and bases – pH indicator strips are always fun to use! The production of CO2 can be empirically demonstrated with a flame since in a small area around the effervescing rocks there should be a local environment devoid of oxygen (anaerobic), which will extinguish the flame. This demonstration can be repeated with other similar substances, such as chalk and limestone (both calcium carbonate), which will also effervesce carbon dioxide in the presence of vinegar and other weak acids. Eventually, these demonstrations can be linked with geochemistry and erosion through karst topography (geographically relevant in Southern Indiana), which arises from the erosion of limestone in the presence of weakly acidic water causing sinkholes in the landscape. The possibilities are seemingly endless!

Ezra, of course, mainly liked the food coloring, bubbles and rainbow soup. He liked it well enough that he wants "to make more rocks tomorrow.” 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Our Week

Fitting Ezra into Our Church

Eliza Brownhome at Bluebird Mama recently started a Facebook photo album titled “Subtleties.” She describes the album as a collection of, “the smaller clues that give it away that I live with children.” The images included her bookshelf full of parenting, pregnancy and birth books as well as the small collections, creations and cracks that gather around living spaces shared with kids.

Brownhome invited her readers to add their own images to her “Subtleties” project. I loved the theme, and as I looked around our church, beginning to think of possible photographs to contribute, I realized that there wasn’t any subtlety to a child living in our house.

Our church is an open, single room with a loft, and as far as churches go, it is extremely humble at approximately 1100 square feet. When Amanda and I decided to have a baby we discussed how – or even if it was possible – to add a child’s things into our home. We not only lack a separate room to tuck away the kid’s accoutrements, but we don’t even have closets. We moved into the church excited by the challenge of dealing with our material possessions, and being forced to simplify and streamline our lives. Could we continue this with a third person? I am also a very aesthetic person. Could we add a child's belongings to our church without overcrowding and compromising our style?

What we discovered was that much like Ezra has become integrated into our lives, his belongings have become integrated into our church. Even when he is absent, his presence is felt.

 A play kitchen has become a part of our kitchen.

Shelves have both art and tea sets.

Stuffed animals have joined pillows.

Chalkboard grocery lists include drawings.

Sinks need stools.