Saturday, December 15, 2012

It's ALIVE... Volcanoe Classifications

Classifications for volcanoes that are still active are different than that of volcanoes that are dead.

1) Dormant volcano is a volcano that was dead, and may erupt again in the near future.

2) Extinct volcanoes are volcanoes that are likely to never erupt again. There is no seismic activity.

3)Hawaiian eruption is when the volcano produces a huge amount of lava that may shoot into the air like a geyser, or come through a crack and produce a long sheet of lava called a fire curtain.

4)Strombolian eruptions are when the volcano erupts frequently, and noisily, but often the eruptions are mild.

5)Plinian eruptions are when volcano expels gas and dust into the atmosphere which forms ash clouds that travel for hundreds of miles. These eruptions are usually violent and are hundreds of times more powerful than an atomic bomb. Mt. St. Helens was a Plinian eruption.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Volcanoe Classifications

Wow... we have just learned how a volcano is formed... but did you know that there are many different types of volcanoes? Sure... so let's check out what those are today!

The types of volcanoes are actually classified on how they are formed.
1)Cinder cone volcano - is formed by explosions of small fragments of solidified lava or tephra. These eruptions build up cone shaped domes and typically don't get as big as other volcanoes.
2)Shield volcanoes are formed by molten lava.The lava doesn't cool immediately and so it runs out forming a longer shelf type formation. Usually these volcanoes have a crater at their top. They also get cracks around their base from which molten lava also erupts. This causes the volcano to get very broad in diameter.
3) Composite volcanoes are ones that erupt both lava and cooled rock called cinders. The shape of this volcano is somewhere between the cinder cone and the shield volcano.
4)Calderas are formed when the magma chamber of the volcano was close to the surface and after it had cooled it collapsed. These huge crater type depressions typically fill with water.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Some like it hot... volcanoes that is!

Have you ever seen a volcano? When looking at one, you feel amazingly insignificant! You think of the awesome power that they hold within them, and it causes a fearful respect!

How do volcanoes start?
Scientist think that volcanoes begin as an underground bubble of lava. This magma or melted rock is lighter than solid rock it wants to rise toward the earth's surface. If there is a crack or weak spot in the crust, it will find its way through and form a large chamber or reservoir called a magma chamber just below the earth's surface.

The magma begins to melt nearby rock and this increases the pressure in the chamber. This begins to push against the surrounding rock and causes it to split apart. The magma is then forced through this split and out the vent or opening. As it begins to spew, the cooling magma begins to form a rock. Yet the molten rock or magma still continues to spew forth. It keeps cooling and spewing until a new mountain is formed!

Volcanoes tend to occur in specific areas that lie between the boundaries of the plates. There is a lot of volcano activity in one area which is called the ring of fire. This is the edge of the Pacific plate.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Moving Crust?

Like we mentioned before our earth is an amazing place! There are so many mysteries hidden beneath our feet. One of those mysteries is that of the drifting or moving crust. You see the earth's crust is actually made up of plates that float like rafts on the water. These plates are often moved when heat rising from below the crust pushes them from place to place.

Sometimes these plates will collide or grind together. When they collide they may often buckle producing mountains. In fact, most of our earth's ranges are found near plate edges. These plates are responsible for the trenches and mountains that are found in the oceans. When plates move apart, they create a gap. The gap will sometimes fill with molten lava, but it will still leave a deep crack. These cracks are the immensely deep ocean trenches.

What do you think happens when the plates grind against each other? They produce earthquakes. The rough edges grind against each other and then sometimes stop. Yet, the pressure to move is still there. When the rocks finally give in they crack, the plates jump ahead and move. This is what causes an earthquake to happen. Sometimes the rocks will just bend without moving - and that is called a fold. Other times, the rocks will just crack without moving and that is called a fracture.

Earthquakes can be measured by their magnitude on a Richter scale. About 80% of earthquakes occur within a the circum-pacific belt. This is the edge of the plate that circles the Pacific Ocean.

Monday, October 15, 2012

It's Hot Down There!

Our earth is amazing! Can you believe that what we see in nature - as awesome and amazing as that is - is just the tip of the iceberg? There are so many more things that we can't even see that are amazing about this old earth of ours. It is almost impossible for me to believe that some would teach homeschool evolution, when the facts and evidence are so abundant in showing that there was intelligent design involved in the creation of this world.

Under this dirt that we are standing on, is what is called the earth's crust. The sediment covering the earth's crust is about 22 miles thick in some places... which considering how big our earth is - that is pretty thin. Under this layer of sediments is the earth's crust - which consists mostly of rock. The amazing thing about this is that the deeper you go the warmer the rock gets. At the bottom of the earth's crust about 20 -25 miles beneath our feet - the temperature is hotter than 900 degrees!

Welcome to middle earth... I don't think so! This layer is called the mantle and is about 1800 miles thick and makes up the biggest part of the earth's interior. Still the temperature of this mantle rock increases the deeper you go. So, there would be no welcome here - we would burn up!

The final level is the core. This is the innermost part of our earth. This sphere shaped core is nearly 4400 miles across. The core of our earth is composed of dense metals like iron and nickel. Just like we have said before the temperature gets higher as you go so this part of the earth has a temperature of over 9000*. There are actually two parts to the core - the molten iron and nickel outer core and the inner core.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Paramecium, please!

As we looked at before, the cell is an amazing thing! It is miniscule yet it is the foundational workhorse for all living things. There is another type of cell called the paramecium. This is a protozoa (a complete cell) that looks like a slipper. The paramecium is a hairy little guy, these hairs are called cilia. The cilia are like the paramecium's oars. They help it move. The cilia also help the paramecium eat. When food is found near, the cilia close around it and begin to absorb it.

Paramecium are found in almost all bodies of fresh water. Yet, some protozoans are dangerous to humans because they carry disease. Malaria is a disease that is passed on to humans from protozoans carried by a mosquito. Yet, most protozoans are beneficial because they eat algae!

Can you believe that these tiny creatures were discovered by an amateur scientist who studied and experimented in his spare time? Anton van Leeuwenhoek liked to study nature and had special lenses made so he could see things close up. One day he held these lenses up to a drop of water. He was shocked to see tiny little creatures swimming in it!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Tiniest Bits of Life

Science is one of those subjects that even after teaching it for years, I still get amazed! Being an open minded homeschooler is one of those things that allows me to see each amazing new bit of information as transforming. I get so excited - I hope that I share that excitement with my children!

Today I thought I'd share some thoughts about the tiniest units of life. The one celled organisms that make up all living things in the universe. Cells are the workhorses that keep things alive. God has created the cell to be an amazing miniature structure that carries out the function of getting things done for the greater organism.

Every cell has three parts.
1) the cell membrane - which surrounds the cell and protects it. Everything that leaves the cell including its waste must pass through this membrane. It is like a wall protecting a city.
2) the inside of the cell is called the cytoplasm. Small organs move around and do their work within this cytoplasm. These organs are called organelles.
3) The nucleus of the cell is usually found in the center. It is the brain of the cell and directs the work that happens within the cell. Within the nucleus are the chromosomes which determine exactly what function the cell holds. They also determine what the greater organism will be.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Living Stars and other Awesome Creatures

We love looking for starfish when we go to the ocean... They are an amazing creature and I am so puzzled at how they manage to survive. Let's take a closer look...

1) The sea star is beautiful and looks more like art than an animal. Yet, when it is dinner time this art comes alive. It will grasp a clam with its rays (arms) and will pull the shell apart and stick its tongue like stomach into the clam and begin to eat it.
2)Sea urchins are a relative of the sea star, but they look more like a porcupine. The sea urchin is usually a spiny creature resembling a ball... but the sand dollar is also a sea urchin with very small spines that look more like fur. Another interesting sea urchin is the sea cucumber... looks just like a cucumber stuck on the bottom of the ocean!
3) The sponge -These creatures look more like stones than living things. The sponge has pores that allow water to pass through and then an opening in the top where water flows out. Tiny food particles are absorbed during the movement of the water, and this is how the sponge stays alive. Sponges have also been harvested for use in our lives for scrubbing and bathing.
4)The hydra is a tiny fresh - water invertebrate with tentacles around its mouth. It is similar to the sea anemone, and can move by doing a somersault with its tentacles.
5) Jellyfish are amazing creatures. They have stinging cells located on the membranes of their tentacles. The jellyfish life cycle is amazing. It begins as a polyp dropped by a jellyfish adult. The polyp attaches to an object on the ocean floor, and then begins to grow and look like a coral polyp. As this polyp matures it will divide into stacked disk like sections. Each of these will break away and form a young "medusa." A medusa is the free floating umbrella shaped stage. It stays with plankton and grows to look like an adult jellyfish and is then large enough to swim by itself and leave.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ooey gooey slimy things...

Here's something really strange... my little girls love to go and pick up worms!! Every time I garden and plant things, they are right there saying- oooh mama look at that big worm... I am so grossed out! But, I can't do a thing about it... they love worms. So, in tribute to them... let's take a look at worms!

Earthworms are really a farmers friend. They are a wriggling worker. They dig through the soil aerating it as they go, and they fertilize it by their droppings... ahhh... dear farmer's friend. But, there are also other worms that aren't so friendly. These worms are referred to as parasites! They include leeches, tapeworms, and roundworms. These worms feed off of a host and can sometimes kill it.

Another really slimy group are the mollusks. They include clams, oysters, slugs, snails, squids, and octopi. Snails and slugs have a very slimy body that usually has a shell over part of it to protect it. Many snails live in salt water and are called uni-valves. These creatures make beautiful shells. The slug belongs to this family as well, yet the slug does not have a hard protective shell.

Mussels, bivalves, oysters, clams, and scallops have two matching fan shaped shells joined by hinges. They have a slimy foot that they stick out of their shell to move themselves or anchor themselves into the sand.

Have you ever tried to track a snail by the slimy residue it leaves behind? If you can find a snail outside bring it in and let it crawl across a newspaper. Examine what the snail leaves behind....

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Legs, Legs, and more legs....

In our study of insects we can't forget about the centipede and millipede... they are very interesting creatures.

A centipede is called this because of all of its legs (centi - means hundred). The centipede has two legs per each of its body segments. The centipede has two legs close to its mouth shaped like jaws but are tipped with sharp points that are like fangs. The centipede uses poison to kill the insects that it eats. The South American giant centipede is over 10 inches long and can eat small animals. Now, that's scary!

The millipede has even more legs than the centipede. It has four legs per body segment. Because it has so many legs you would think that it moves very fast... but it doesn't. The millipede is a herbivore and eats rotting and decaying plant matter. Yet the millipede does have a defense mechanism it has stink glands in rows along the sides of its body and it releases a poisonous substance capable of harming an attacker.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Crunchy Crusty Crustaceans

My kids love spongebob... I am not exactly a fan... but they did learn about crustaceans from our dear spongy friend... but there is really more to it than Patrick and Bob told us!

Another interesting arthropod is the crustacean. Characteristics of these insects are easy to remember because of their name... crust... aceans. They have a crusty outer shell that protects them from predators. Most of these creature live in the water. They have some very special characteristics about them:

1) Crustaceans grow throughout their lives, and molt
2)They have 3 body parts - head thorax, and abdomen
3)ten jointed legs
4)four antennae
5) it can regenerate wounded or missing body parts
6) includes crabs, lobsters, shrimp, barnacles, and landlubbers

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Class "mates" to spiders

Remember that we mentioned spiders were from the class of arachnids? Well, spiders aren't the only insect in that class... there are also the scorpions, ticks, mites, and long leg spiders. These creatures aren't called spiders because they don't have the two distinct body parts that the spiders have.
What exactly is a daddy long legs?
It is called a harvestman and has a round body suspended between eight long, scrawny legs. It has only one body section. It feeds on plant lice and other small insects that destroy the garden. It has no fangs or venom and its only defense is a stinky smell.
What is a tick?
The tick is dependent on other animals... it is called a parasite. It buries its head into the host and feasts on its blood. The tick will sometimes swallow so much blood that it will swell many times its original size... to look like a small grape.
What is a mite?
The smallest of the arachnids is the mite. The mite usually causes skin irritation. Chiggers are small mites that live in grass, get on our skin, feed on our blood, then drop off and bury into the soil to become an adult later. Most mites are so small that we cannot see them without a microscope.

Studying science online with the help of great resources can make learning science a blast.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Types of Spiders

Like we studied last week, spiders are amazing.. and they have specific characteristics that set them apart.
Just as there are many different types of monkeys or beetles - there are many varieties of spiders. Studying science online can be an awesome way to learn more about spiders. Here's a sample of some:
1) Weaving spiders or trap spiders
These spiders spin a little blanket or trap door to catch flying insects or insects that happen to wander past their front door.
2) Ambushing spiders - the ogre faced spider makes a tiny net out of silk that hangs by its legs. When an unsuspecting insect happens by this spider drops his net on them.
3)Hunting spiders - The spitting spider sneaks up to where an insect is and spits out strong threads at him. The threads trap the insect long enough for the spider to move in and bite it.
4)Swimming spiders - the fishing spider moves easily across water and can chase insects on the water surface. Sometimes it will sit still and vibrate only its legs so its prey will swim close enough for it to attack.
5)Tarantulas - These are the largest spiders in the world. They are also called the hairy giants. They feed primarily on insects, but sometimes eat small reptiles, mammals and frogs. A tarantula bite can be dangerous to small animals, but it is not dangerous to humans. Some female tarantulas can live for 20-30 years!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Arthropod Arachnids

Do you know what an arachnid is? It's a spider... not exactly the most favored insect of all! Arachnids have some very distinct body parts that distinguish them.

1) Only two body parts the abdomen and the cephalothorax
2) they have 8 legs
3) simple eyes
4)feel by means of their setae or small hairs on their body
5)they use silk to build their homes, spin up their food, and make protective cases for their young
6) spiders hatch as mini replicas of their parents - no egg, pupa, adult

Spiders scare us because they have a special defense mechanism that uses poison. We fear spiders because some of them have very poisonous bites. Yet, when learning more about spiders we can see that not all of them are poisonous or deadly!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

8 Familiar Insect Families

1) Crickets, locusts, grasshoppers, and cockroaches are all part of the same insect order because they share the same type of wings that fold in a straight line against their body. Their official name is orthoptera... which means "straight wings." These insects can cause a lot of damage to farmer's crops with their insatiable appetite.
2) Dragonflies, damselflies are part of the order odonata which means "toothed." They have toothlike parts on their mouths. These insects have long slender bodies with two sets of wings on their backs.
3) Beetles are the most numerous insect. Their name is coleoptera - which means "sheath wings."
4) Aphids, tree hoppers, leaf hoppers, and cicadas. Their order name is homoptera which means "same wings." These are also a nuisance to farmers.
5) Bees, ants and wasps. We consider these social creatures because they live with families or colonies. Their order name is hymenoptera - which means "membrane wings."
6) Butterflies and moths.These creatures display God's amazing design. They are some of the most beautiful insects on earth. Their order name is lepidoptera - which means scale wings.
7) True bugs are known for how they suck sap from plants or bodies. Their order name is hemipter - or half wings. Members of this group include bed bugs, stinkbugs, and water striders.
8) Flies, gnats, and mosquitoes are the least popular of all insects.These bugs carry diseases. Their order name is diptera- which means "two wings. Some flies look very much like bees, but if look closely you will see that it has only two wings - and thus a fly!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Insect Info

These are invertebrates that have an external skeleton, jointed legs, and segmented bodies.

Their external skeletons are made of a material called chitin. This external skeleton provides the insect with protection.

Their jointed legs allow them flexibility to move and jump.

Most all arthropods belong to the class called insects. An insect has three distinct body parts - the head, the thorax, and the abdomen. Each insect has antennae - these are body parts that enable them to feel, hear and taste. Most insects have 3 pairs of legs and one or more pairs of wings.

Insects are usually brought into this world as an egg in complete metamorphosis the insect then changes and grows into larvae, which eats and grows and then eventually changes into the resting stage called pupa. Example of this include the butterfly and moth. After these changes, the insect has one final change and enters its life as an adult.

Some insects go through incomplete metamorphosis. Which mean they begin as an egg, become a nymph and then molt several times and become an adult.

Entomologists are scientists that study insects... Take a nature walk and see if you can find some good insect examples... remember the parts they need to have to be considered insects.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Classification System

All students of science have studied the classification system for many years. This is simply a way for classifying the plants and animals into groups according to things they have in common. All living things are classified into the group Kingdom. From there it is broken down further based on each creatures similarities.


Here's an easy way to remember this list!
Kids prefer cheese over fried green spinach!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Freaky Plant Science Study

Some of the world's strangest plants are ferns, mosses, algae and fungi. These plants were created for a special purpose... even though they look pretty strange.
These plants have an amazing way of reproducing. Have you ever looked at the back side of a fern leaf? Their seeds are in spore cases along the back side of the leaves. Ferns roots are also called rhizoids and they grow downward from the other side of the stem while the leaves of the fern grow upward.
Investigate these amazing plants by taking a walk in the woods - find one growing in nature and see where their seeds are and how their root system is growing.
These are the beautiful green carpet that you see out in the woods. They are a network of plants that grow sideways and therefore spread out from themselves. They can be found in cold climates as well as hot climates. They also can grow on rocks and in damp places. Mosses are essential to our ecosystem because they hold the soil and don't let it erode away.
You know that slimy stuff that grows on a stagnant pond? You got it... that's algae! It is found all over the world, and grows in soil, trees, and even on turtles and frogs. There are various types of algae such as diatoms, flagellates, and group algae. Algae are useful for practical things such as thickeners for pudding, mayonnaise, and marshmallows.
Ever seen some green fuzzy stuff in your fridge? That's our friend the fungi. Most fungi feed on dead or dying matter. There are some fungi that prefer to feed on living matter - we would call these parasites! Molds and mildews such as what we find in the fridge are started as tin thread like structures called hyphae. These then grow spore cases that will often burst open. When these burst the spores can float on the air. If they land on food, and the food is left out - mold will begin to grow. Mildew is similar except that it grows on damp things like clothes and in our showers. Mushrooms are a fungi that have a large spore producing body... the mushroom's cap. The spores are hidden underneath among the gills of the mushroom waiting to drop out when they are ready. Yeast, slime molds, and lichens are all members of this freaky plant group! Take a few minutes to explore and discover what yeast does for each of us every day!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Trees in Science

I love trees, they are like the quiet gentle guardians of the world. Most of them have been around a long time, and if they could talk - they would have stories to tell!

There are some pretty amazing trees out there. Some are hundreds of years old, some hundred of feet tall, and wide enough to drive a car through. Trees are an essential part of our ecosystem. They provide shelter and food for many animals and humans. They are the Kings of the plant kingsom. Developing a homeschool study of these amazing giants can be so exciting. Trees are the largest of all living things.Even a blue whale is smaller than the California redwood trees. In your study of trees be sure to include these topics:
broadleaf trees
deciduous trees
non-deciduous trees
unusual trees
the redwood family

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Science in Flowers

Using nature to study science is the most live and amazing way to learn.  Not to mention the fact that it's a huge science lab for FREE! Here are some great tips for studing plants in your backyard science lab.
1) Study petal ,sepals, buds, stamen, and pollen by finding several flowers and disecting them
2) Find a large flower like a lilly and dissect it to view its reproductive system. Locate the ovul,ovaries and pistil.
3) Study pollination by viewing the pollen on a flower and how it works in conjunction with bees
4) Find afruit tree and study how the fertilized bud becomes fruit.

A great way to remember what you've studied in your backyard lab- is to use a portfolio or notebooking/lapbooking journal to draw and paste pictures and information.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Studying Plants

The study of plants is interesting and amazing... and just because you may have chosen to study science online doesn't mean that you can't study plants and reap the benefits of nature as your science lab.
1)Go outdoors to study photosynthesis by looking at leaves
2) Study special plants such as - evergreens, pricly plants, climbers, and needle leaves
3) Study roots and stems by pulling up a few plants and comparing their roots.

Use online science games on the various subjects you studies to drill and review the concepts that were introduced.

Do an experiment that also examines the parts of plants that you studied this week.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Taste Test

This week we did some fun food experiments. We all know that foods taste and smell different, but if you can't smell what you are eating will you be able to tell what it is?

I asked my kids this and of course they said, "Yes of course we can tell just by tasting." So I got a potato and a apple and cut them in to pieces. I had my kids hold their nose and taste each one.

Now they did know which was which but they admitted that not being able to smell made a difference. It is funny now when we go to eat sometimes I will catch them holding their nose to see if they can taste a difference ;-)

Sunday, January 15, 2012


So we have all been sick lately, this time of year, gotta love it!

So I decided to take advantage and teach the kids about GERMS!!! Yes, the icky, nasty things that make us sick ugh!

First I showed them some pictures online of what germs can look like under a microscope

Of course I heard the "EWWWW!!! And Gross!!!!"

I explained that germs are found all over the world, in all kinds of places.
There are four major types of germs: bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa.
They can invade plants, animals, and people, and sometimes they make us sick.

I can read all day long but to really understand you must show, so I decided to do a little experiment with the kids to show how fast germs can spread. I put germs A.K.A, baby powder on all of our hands and told them to just act normal. After a few minutes I showed them just how fast the germs on their hands spread. It was so funny it was in their hair on their clothes, face etc...

I wrapped up the lesson by letting them know that good hygiene and hand washing is all we have to do to keep the bad germs away and stay healthy. Kids were really happy to hear that and I think they will defiantly be willing to wash those hand better now !

Sunday, January 1, 2012


So the new year has begun and with that a renewed sense of learning.
My children's favorite subject has always been science so we have always had a lot of fun in this area of learning.
One of the things that has been a topic of discussion lately among my oldest is snow!
So of course we headed to the internet for the answer to this science question.
The kids really had fun reading about this and learning that, at different temperatures snow can look very different.

Quick facts:
Snow begins in the atmosphere as water condenses into a tiny droplet. As more and more water vapor condenses onto its surface, the droplet grows. Cold air then freezes this water into an ice crystal.

Each ice crystal has a unique shape that depends on the surrounding air's temperature and water vapor content. If it is below freezing and there is a lot of water vapor in the air, the crystal grows six evenly spaced branches. More and more water vapor collects on these branches and freezes, making the ice crystal increasingly heavy. Eventually, the ice crystal falls from the sky, leaving the cloud of precipitation that it helped to form. As it falls, the crystal continues to grow by picking up more water vapor.

As it descends, the ice crystal can come into contact with warmer air that makes it melt somewhat. This melting acts like a glue, causing crystals to bond together into larger flakes, forming what many people think of as the "classic" fluffy snowflake. If the crystals melt too much and then refreeze as they get closer to Earth's surface, the precipitation falls as sleet instead of snow.

Once on the ground, snow will remain if temperatures are cold enough to keep it from melting. Glaciers that form on mountains, for example, are made up of snow that accumulates on the ground and eventually turns to ice.

Cool Huh! ; )

Happy New Year's Everyone!