Home Science Tools: Explore with the Kids Microscope

As your children advance in their science learning, you will want to have a microscope. A microscope can be borrowed from a family member, passed down through your homeschool group, or shared through a coop.

You can also purchase your own, and Home Science Tools has a great article on how to select a microscope.

Home Science Tools has a great YouTube channel where they showcase their products for teaching science.  Here is a video highlighting their Kids Microscope product.

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Teaching Kids About Energy

By Lorrie Moffat

Your son or daughter has questions about energy. How do you begin to explain such a vast concept? Teaching kids about energy starts with conveying that there are many forms of energy around us and even inside us. Life as we know it would not exist without energy. Energy is so important that all food packages list Calories, an old energy unit. Energy is either stored or involved with motion.

The property of an object or a system (a group of objects) which enables it to do work is called energy. You need energy to do work, or to apply a force across a distance, meaning to move something. If energy does involve moving an object, it is called kinetic energy. A ball rolling downhill has kinetic energy. Energy can also come from the position of an object or its arrangement. This type of energy is called potential energy, or stored energy. A ball that is stationary, on the slope of a hill, before it begins to roll down, has what is known as gravitational potential energy. As the ball rolls downhill, the potential energy it had is changed into kinetic energy. That is an example of the law of energy conservation; energy cannot be created or destroyed, it changes form from one type to another.

Since energy does change from one form to another, sometimes it is difficult to determine whether energy is potential or kinetic. Some energy is potential energy and kinetic energy simultaneously, such as thermal energy, or heat. Even a moving object can have both potential energy and kinetic energy at the same time. As the ball rolls downhill, its potential energy is changed into kinetic energy. As it rolls, at any specific time, the total amount of energy that the ball has does not change; the law of energy conservation holds. This type of energy is considered mechanical energy.

When teaching kids about energy it’s important to relay that besides the motion of objects, other types of kinetic energy include radiant energy, or light; radiant heat energy; acoustic energy, or sound; and electrical energy, or electricity through wires. Other types of potential energy include electrical energy stored in a battery, chemical energy, nuclear energy, magnetic energy, and solar energy; all stored energy in atoms or molecules. Elastic energy is potential energy within a fluid or solid that can be converted into mechanical energy.

Can there ever be a perpetual motion machine? That is, a machine that never stops moving and constantly creates its own energy as it works? Most machines noticeably heat up as they operate. This heat is from friction. The energy that goes into a machine is always greater than the amount of work it produces, because some of the initial energy changes into friction. Because friction is never completely eliminated, the energy going into a machine is always going to be larger than the machines output. A machine can never run indefinitely, so a perpetual motion machine cannot exist.

When teaching kids about energy you can explain the different types of energy. Energy is either kinetic, involving motion, or potential, stored. Energy changes form from one to another, leading to the law of energy conservation. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it transforms from one type to another type. A perpetual motion machine cannot exist, since such a device would counteract the law of energy conservation.

Energy is a fascinating and vast subject but by remembering these energy basics teaching kids about energy can be simple and fun.

Lorie Moffat has 20 years of teaching experience in both public school classroom and science museum settings. Contact her about special summer online tutoring packages.


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Preschool Science: The Weather

Today in our homeschool we are taking a closer look at the seasons and weather.

We routinely use a calendar to talk about what month and day it is, and we are making a weather chart by drawing in what the weather is outside for each day.  I have a calendar to write on for this purpose, but you could make one on the computer very easily or get crafty with construction paper and a bulletin board.  I have limited space, so I have chosen one that can be put away with the school books.

We are almost complete with December, and here is our weather chart:

Where’s the snow, by the way???  Hoping to add some snow on the 30th. :)

Meanwhile, in Alpha Omega’s Horizons curriculum, having taken almost a month off for Thanksgiving and Christmas, we are studying the seasons as well.  Here’s the worksheet we did today: which things go with summer?

Alpha Omega has handily tied this in to the 4th day of creation, wherein God created the sun.  We learned how the earth spins on its axis as it rotates around the sun, and how this causes seasons.  Some of the explanation was probably above our preschooler, but we did act out the earth and the sun and spun around the room, which he found very entertaining at least!
And for our final preschool activity today, as we are easing back into school post-Christmas, we wrote a thank you note.  At the rate of one per day, we should have these complete by next week!
For more great preschool ideas, check out The Preschool Corner at Homeschool Creations– this post is part of her meme, and the linkup is on her site. Check it out!

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