Geography Quest: Great Lakes Ice Edition

Blog, She Wrote: Great Lakes Ice Edition

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Surely you haven’t experience this winter without seeing a headline about ice on the Great Lakes. They keeping vying for my attention. After all, how can you resist the beckoning of icey satellite images of some of the largest freshwater lakes in the world? It’s been a long, cold winter for the northeast and many parts of the midwest and even the south. And with extended cold weather comes the ice. Today’s Geography Quest focuses on how much of the Great Lakes (and other other nearby waterways) are frozen.

Do The Great Lakes Really Freeze Over?

As I was doing the research for this Quest, I found some really stunning video and satellite photography. This first one shows time lapse footage of the Great Lakes (especially Lake Superior) freezing this season.

  • Find out if the Great Lakes have frozen over and if so, how often does it happen?
  • When is the last time the lakes froze to the extent they are frozen right now?
  • Which ones freeze the most often and/or the fastest?
  • Are there any that don’t freeze?
  • What factors account for the differences in how the lakes freeze?

Does Niagara Falls Freeze Solid?

Just last week there was a news segment on folks making the trip to the falls to see them frozen solid. What do you think?

I’ve been to Niagara Falls in late April when the sun is bright and warm and watched ice the size of cars flow over the falls. With all the ice on the Great Lakes this year, I’m sure the falls will remain icy for longer than usual.

What are Ice Jams?

I didn’t learn about ice jams until I moved to NY. It stands to reason that all this ice has to go somewhere. Already this winter we’ve seen flooding in our community caused by ice jams. More awaits since many of the creeks and their tributaries are still frozen and it looks like we’re due for a frost.

The first video shows a Coast Guard boat tasked with breaking up the ice on Lake Michigan to get the shipping industry moving again after winter.

The next video explains what ice jams are and it shows the ice built up on the Illinois River. Ice jams cause flooding when the water cannot pass around them.

Make Your Own Ice Maps

Chart your own ice maps by doing these few things:

  • Grab a map of the Great Lakes Region. I like to enlarge maps using the poster feature in the Adobe printing for pdf documents.
  • Estimate the amount of ice cover for each lake and color in the amount cover. Make a key for your map.

Blog, She Wrote: Great Lakes Ice Edition

Long Term Effects of Great Lake Ice Cover

What can you find out about the long lasting effects of so much ice cover?

  • How long will it take the ice to melt?
  • With so much ice to melt, how will that affect the summer swimming season? Water has a high thermal mass and take a while to warm up even without lots of ice!
  • How will the shipping industry deal with the ice? Will ships be able to navigate through to the St. Lawrence Seaway?

This has been an extraordinary year for cold weather in the northeastern and midwestern United States. Enjoy a look at ice formation on the Great Lakes.

 

Weather Stations & Forecasting

Blog, She Wrote: Weather Stations & Forecasting

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We studied weather with our Nim’s Island unit and I thought this would be a great time to add to this long standing post and bring it up to date with resources and ideas. The kids and I had some meetings over a few days to discuss exactly what we wanted to measure, where, how and how often. We tried a weather station a few years ago that bombed out because of equipment failure. It was just not designed to go the distance as you’ll see below.

The next time we tried, we pieced together our weather station down at our mailbox and the kids ambitiously decided to record the weather three times a day! You’ll have to design a data chart to accommodate the vision that your kids have. We wanted to track it daily long term which is fun for math and science pursuits. As you track the weather, you can introduce forecasting and statistics over time. We even did a math lesson using the Beaufort Wind Scale and median statistics.

Keeping a Weather Calendar

 

  • For a glance at our former weather calendar- it evolved into a workable version using small pocket charts from the Target dollar aisle.
  • There are many ways to keep a weather calendar. Many of you might have a weather observation during your morning time or circle time if you have one- displaying your weather observations is one option.
  • I prefer the notebook/data gathering method. Instead of each student keeping his own notebook of weather data, I like to have a common weather log where the kids record their observations for the day. The tricky part is finding the data chart that you want. I dislike trying to search for the perfect page for notebooking so I went to notebook paper a long time ago. Decide all the things you want to record and keep a log book handy.

 

Resources for Studying Weather from Preschool to High School

 

Book List for Weather Studies

It’s a long term science project to incorporate weather into our nature and unit studies throughout the year.

Explorental Offers a Weather Meter Rental

Explorental is a company which offers high quality equipment and materials for short term rentals to families. The Multi-Function Weather Meter can measure many of the measurements we’ve been tracking in a small hand held digital form. If you aren’t sure to begin with a weather station or you want to track weather in the short term, then try out this handheld digital weather meter from Explorental.

I think it’s fantastic Explorental is excited about getting big ticket items into the hands of families. What does your family want to explore together?

Blog, She Wrote: Explorental

Homeschooling Middle & High School Science

Blog, She Wrote: Homeschooling Middle & High School Science

Day 3 of iHN’s Winter Hopscotch is all about science. Today I’m sharing our strategies and resources for homeschooling middle & high school science. Science is my favorite. If you’ve been a reader for awhile, then you may know that my background is science. My BS is in biological sciences and I have a MS degree in Curriculum & Instruction Secondary Education. I am certified to teach biology to 7th-12th graders. I taught science for five years prior to starting a family. My husband is a chemical engineer with a graduate degree also in chemical engineering. This means several important things relevant to today’s post:

  • We are science people. We do science everyday.
  • We talk about science at every turn.
  • People with masters degrees focused on writing science curriculum & science instruction for secondary aged kids don’t buy science curriculum. It’s a rule. They might revoke my degree.
  • When our kids ask a science question, we drop what we’re doing and help them investigate an answer. It’s how we have fun.
  • We are great at doing science all the time. We aren’t great at following a science curriculum.

I think it’s important to be real with you all on this point because it affects how we approach science in our middle and high school homeschool. I’d like to encourage you to try something similar…be inquistive! Help your students to explore the scientific world.

Blog, She Wrote: Homeschooling Middle & High School Science

Strategies for Homeschooling Middle & High School Science

One of the best ways to do science is to go and investigate. Learn with your students the process for conducting scientific investigations and then go out and explore the world! Below are some of the ways we do this in our homeschool:

  • Unit Studies- Through middle school we do a lot of science through our unit studies. Either we are studying a book and doing the science that goes with it or the unit study is based around the science. For example, we enjoyed a unit on catapults after watching Punkin’ Chunkin’ one Thanksgiving.
  • Units can be built around a child’s interest- many of you know our daughter is very talented with a sewing machine. There’s a lot of physical science to be taught about sewing machines, so I wrote a unit study on just that.
  • Science as Investigation- I actually speak on this topic quite a bit. The thing to remember is not to get bogged down in the process. You don’t have to have fancy equipment to do science. So many people want to make sure all their ducks are in a row and it paralyzes them when it comes to doing experiments. Don’t be afraid to look things up with your kids and try things out. We once did a huge experiment on popcorn- which variety popped the biggest. We talked with the kids about how to do a fair test and we walked them through setting up the experiment. Then we popped a lot of corn and measured the volume by calculating the amount of space the popped volume took up in a cylinder!
  • Project Based Homeschooling- We are prime candidates for homeschooling science with student driven projects. It’s comes naturally to mentor our kids into finding their own way on something they are interested in. This year our 8th grader is studying biology through the life of snakes- she has one she caught and has been taking care of since June.

Blog, She Wrote: Homeschooling Middle & High School Science

Our Favorite Resources for Homeschooling Middle & High School Science

In lieu of recommending curriculum for science, I’m going to give you a list of our favorite resources. These are things we pull from or have the kids reference and enjoy during their studies.

  • Janice VanCleave Books- These books are an excellent source for science experiments and longer term science investigations. Easy to understand and follow and Ms. VanCleave does a great job of explaining the results.
  • Beyond Five in a Row- Excellent literature unit studies which have robust science studies in them including more than a few books about famous scientists.
  • Usborne Science Encyclopedia- Great science reference with links to follow on the internet.
  • Field Guides- A thorough guide for mammals, flowers, trees, reptiles, amphibians and other major animal and plants groups are a valuable tool for nature studies and biology.
  • The Handbook of Nature Study- A lovely text sharing a lot of science for the natural world. A popular book for homeschoolers, if you’ve never read it I encourage you to do so. Mrs. Comstock has a dry sense of humor that is not obvious from the appearance of the book.
  • Glassware- We buy ours from Home Science Tools (and locally at our backyard university’s supply rooms). I used to use our kitchenware, but I much prefer the designated scienceware.
  • cK-12 Open Source Textbook- It’s what we use for high school biology & chemistry. They have a text, workbooks, and some subjects have lab workbooks too.
  • Top 10 Tools for the Home Scientist- You might be interested in our favorite picks from this list I wrote for Uzinggo.
  • Life of Fred: Physics & Biology- R13 is going through Physics now followed by Biology both of which are pre-Algebra books.
  • Science Biographies- We study the lives of scientists which gives you a whole picture of a time, place, and event. This is a very Charlotte Mason approach and it yields big results. MoonShot and Skunkworks are among the books our 6th grader has read in his quest to learn more about flight and rocketry.

Giveaway for Polymer Science Unit from Elmer’s Glue

Since I’m all into doing investigations, I’m happy to offer you a bonus opportunity today. Elmer’s is giving away one box set pictured below. You’ll get a signed copy of Too Much Glue along with a unit on adhesives to go with the book and some glues for the activity. Leave a comment and tell me your favorite topic in science to enter!

Blog, She Wrote: Homeschooling Middle & High School Science

Join other bloggers from the iHN for their tips on teaching science. See you tomorrow for a look at history.

HopscotchiHNJanuary2013

Geography Quest: Hurricane Tracking Edition

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Hurricane Tracking Edition

We are coming into the end of the 2013 hurricane season, but there is still enough activity out there to track a storm. Have you ever tracked a hurricane by map?

Determine the Optimum Conditions for Hurricane Formation

  • Weather Wiz Kid has a page on Hurricanes which explains what they are and how they are formed.
  • Create-a-Cane from NOAA allows you to virtually create the ideal conditions to form a hurricane.
  • The Coriolis Effect- Watch the video below to find out how the Coriolis Effect determines where hurricanes are formed. Takes me right back to my graduate class in oceanography!
  • Locate on a map where most Atlantic hurricanes are formed. Does this area meet the ideal conditions?
  • Based on the information in the video, where do you think cyclones and typhoons are formed in the Pacific and Indian Oceans?

Track a Hurricane with a Hurricane Tracking Map

  • Hurricane Tracking Chart- for the Atlantic Basin
  • Use the chart and meteorological websites to keep track of tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes.
  • If you have a mobile device, it might be fun to find a hurricane tracking app. You can follow the storms that way as well.

That is a challenge should you choose to accept it. While the Atlantic hurricane season has been quiet this year, the cyclone season in the Pacific has not been. Enjoy a look at hurricane formation and tracking.

Follow along with all the Geography Quests. Make sure to subscribe via email and check any of Blog, She Wrote’s other social media outlets in my sidebar. Thanks for joining us!

Autumn-Hopscotch-2013

Geography Quest: Brazil

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest

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Did you follow along with the treasure hunt from last week? First things first! Your answers from last week:

  • Vatican City
  • Mongolia
  • China
  • Italy
  • France
  • Portugal
  • Brazil

The country of focus this week is Brazil. I thought it would be fun to share a video with you. We had some camera trouble requiring lots of takes and I’m pretty sure this is not a flattering angle, but I think you’ll enjoy walking through this week’s challenge with me. Click in! Written directions are below as well, but I give details on the maps if you’d like to hear them.

Our Country of Focus is Brazil

Some talking points & activities for you and your students:

  • What continent is Brazil on?
  • What is the capital city?
  • Trace the border of Brazil on the map.
  • Name and label (if it’s not already on the map) the countries surrounding Brazil.
  • Locate the Amazon River and label it.
  • What is the population of Brazil? How is population distributed around the country?
  • What is the climate of Brazil?
  • Explore the physical map of Brazil- notice the climate and the topography. Use an atlas to see what industry is in the country. Tell about how the industry matches the climate.
  • Use Google Earth to explore the river. You can click on the points along the river and it will show you pictures of the region. This is fun to do and see what the river is like by getting the grand Google tour!

Blog She Wrote: Geography Quest Brazil

Exploring the Watershed of the Amazon River

A few ideas:

  • Define watershed- great opportunity if you haven’t introduced this concept to your kids.
  • Where does the Amazon River begin?
  • Where does the river end?
  • How many major rivers flow into the Amazon? Take a look at where those tributaries originate.
  • Talk about how watershed management can be tricky since different political entities are often involved with the various pieces of the watershed. This requires cooperation which can be hard to come by.
  • Compare the land area of the watershed with the total land area of the country.

Blog She Wrote: Geography Quest Brazil

Using maps for studying Brazil

I printed two maps for this activity. The first is a physical map which shows the topography and climate of the Brazil. I could have printed it in black and white, but I chose to add the color so it’s easier to see the physical features.

The other map is black and white and I layered the map with country borders, country names, rivers, and river names. With WonderMaps I can choose how I want the map made based on what my kids are focusing on in our lesson or project. Since I wanted to target the watershed of the Amazon River, I wanted to highlight the rivers and their names only.

You can take this brief study of Brazil in any direction you’d like. Feel free to leave comments with ideas if there’s a geography themed item you want us to hit on while we are Questing together. If you haven’t signed up yet to follow by email, click through and you won’t miss a thing at Blog, She Wrote!