October 22, 2012

Perpetual State of Catch-Up

Since starting school this year two months ago, Casia has been sick a total of eight days. She's well today after three days off last week for a bad ear infection, and she's ready and eager to jump back in, but we're now two full school weeks behind. Our weeks are essentially four-day weeks because we spend Thursdays at her homeschooling group.

It really shouldn't matter because we're homeschooling, but my New-School-Year resolution was to keep to the schedule. We follow the public school year because of my son, and I really wanted to keep them on the same calendar. I have daily schedules, weekly schedules, monthly schedules and even one grand year-long schedule. I had everything broken down so that I knew exactly how much we would cover and I was determined to get through all the curriculum this year. But since the first week of school, I have felt like we are falling further and further behind..

If there is anything I've learned this past couple of years homeschooling, it's that I have got to stay flexible. Whether it's sick days, impromptu field trips, family emergencies or a need for curriculum change, I have to be ready to ditch what I've got, or at least make modifications, and move on from where I am. I've learned the importance of this, but I never feel satisfied with it.

I often wonder if this is a me factor. Am I unable to allot the proper time for the material to cover? Am I expecting too much? Am I too easily distracted? I think the answer is probably yes to all these, but it makes me wonder: are there other homeschoolers out there that are like me? Or are there some that never run into these hiccups? Casia reassures me that even in public school the teachers didn't always get everything accomplished and projects went unfinished. But it doesn't make me feel less frustrated.

I'm trying to let it go and I've already adjusted our schedule and topics to try to squeeze them in a shorter time, abbreviate what needs to be covered or just eliminating it all together. I just wonder if anyone else struggles with the feeling of being in a perpetual state of catch-up.

October 4, 2012

Potato Battery

Casia did a unit on electricity back in 4th grade, where the kids connected wires to a battery to make a light go on. So when I was looking for an experiment that would compliment our unit on electricity, I was looking for something a little different. What I found was this great video on making batteries from various household items. Here are pictures from Casia's Potato Battery Experiment:

Casia used a copper penny as the cathode and a
galvanized nail as the anode. 

The big expense in this lab was the voltmeter
which I bought at Home Depot for about $40.

Casia playing around with the voltmeter.

Casia testing the voltage of the batteries in series.

Casia explaining to Garrett the difference between
batteries in series and in parallel.
This lab was mostly easy to execute, but we learned a few things along the way. Even after cleaning the penny, we couldn't get nearly the voltage that we could when we used a piece of copper wire instead. It was even more effective when it was curled around and stuck in the potato to increase the surface area contact. We were never able to get enough voltage or amps to light the LED light bulb that we removed from the flashlight. However, with the voltmeter, it was easy to demonstrate the difference between batteries in parallel and batteries in series and how it affects voltage and amps. 

Casia went on to experiment on a couple of lemons I had as well, but we ran out of time to complete all the experiments on the website above. Up next, creating a simple generator...