Tag Archives: science

Science is Messy

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Ooh, look, I think this might be a rodent skull! (From our owl pellet dissection)

Dear Homeschoolers,

Science is messy.  It is an excellent, fun, complex subject.  However, unless you read a textbook and fill out worksheets (in which case it will not be excellent, fun, or complex), then it is messy.

Experiments are messy.  Expect to have to clean up goo.

Even if you don’t have to clean up goo, expect to have to take the time to compile an odd assortment of things.  It will be weird, random stuff and it will often be stuff that, if only you had realized you were going to need this random stuff, you could have saved it months ago, except you couldn’t imagine you would ever need it, so you recycled it.

Even if you get a kit, expect that it will have bits and pieces and that when it’s time to experiment you’ll have to cook up and cool the agar or paint the volcano shell and soon there will be goo to clean up anyway.

Going outside is messy too.  Expect to have to scrape off mud after bird watching, tadpole collecting, water testing, and bug observing.  Expect to not find what your lesson suggested you find out in nature and instead find something completely different.

Even if you don’t want to do experiments or go outside, textbooks are boring while science books and videos for kids are anything but boring.  So if you want to read interesting science, you have to have a messy pile of books and DVD’s in different formats without pre-prepared review questions and color in worksheets.

So stop asking for a science curricula that fits into a neat little box the way your grammar program does or the way your math program does.  Those things can fit into boxes and science simply does not.  Math can be “open and go” or “do the next thing.”  Science doesn’t play that game.  It will always require you to do prep work or roll with the unexpected.  The more you try to force it to be neat and tidy and simple, the more boring you’re forcing this interesting subject to become.

Sincerely,

Valerie Frizzle

PS – Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!

PPS – It’s just me, but I felt like it’s what Ms. Frizzle would tell you if she posted on homeschool forums.

Indoor Ecology

Hey, it’s my turn to teach science again!  I couldn’t be more thrilled.  Seriously.

Here’s some books to start us off on our ecosystems unit.  Since I know that my readership may be somewhat diverse, I’ll note that pretty much every book we’ve looked at for this unit so far accepts that both evolution and climate change are accepted scientific theory (and, it probably should go without saying, so do we).

Janice VanCleave's Ecology for Every Kid: Easy Activities that M... Cover ArtOur Living Earth: A Story of People, Ecology, and Preservation (... Cover Art

I thought that Earth Matters from DK was appealing and interesting in the way that DK books generally are.  The photos in Yan Arthus-Bertrand’s book Our Living Earth were stunning, having been mostly taken from above and giving a sense of the scope of the place being shown.  The Janice Van Cleave book about ecology gave some starting points for experiments and explorations.  I didn’t find one, great narrative book about ecosystems and biodiversity for kids.  However, that’s in part because the book I was sure would be great, the book Biodiversity by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, who wrote the book Shaping the Earth, which we loved for earth science last year, couldn’t be gotten at the library after all!  I’ve ordered it instead, so hopefully it will live up to my expectations.

It was soggy out when we got together to start our studies, so my original plan to take us outside and actually, you know, see some ecosystem action, didn’t seem right.  Instead, I started us off with some metaphorical Jenga.  The kids built a giant tower of blocks that I then told them represented biodiversity.  We slowly removed blocks until the whole thing came crashing down.  I think you probably get the metaphor.  So did they.

 

That idea came from the “Biodiversity” episode of Bill Nye, so I followed that up by showing them the episode, then bombarding them with vocabulary notes.  I usually don’t do that, but I wanted to get all of us on the same basic page so we could actually go outside and observe and use our shared vocabulary.  Much of the terms were things I knew they had picked up from watching TV shows like Wild Kratts or attending nature programs over the years, like food chain, habitat, or predators and prey.  Others were things they’ve covered slightly in their study of plant life over the last few months, such as producers and consumers or adaptations.

Finally, I wanted to see them do something to apply their understanding, so I spread the table with giant paper and art supplies and asked them to pick a biome to illustrate.  I had written the terms we just learned on sticky labels and told them that I had to be able to come along after them and add the labels.  After some discussion, they decided to do a desert – a weird conglomerate desert with bits of wildlife from the American southwest (which everyone knew a bit about), the Namib (which my kids obviously knew about), and the Australian outback (which our friends knew a bit about).  I’m pretty sure wolves and hyenas have never actually met under a saguaro cactus, but they met on our giant desert mural.

Despite the geographic amusements, the kids got the concept really well.  They drew little habitat burrows for animals in the sand, birds nesting in the cacti, human trash littering the ground, food chains of various sorts, and a great deal of biodiversity.  I came along after them with the labels, adding bits of information that they told me, giving the whole thing the feel of an Usborne look inside book.

At the end, they were so thrilled with their art that they asked could they do the same thing for other biomes, especially a rainforest.  I said yes, though I do really want us to get outside.  We ended by listing all the tools we have for exploring our world: measuring tapes, thermometers, microscopes, magnifying glasses, pH paper, and so forth.  I encouraged them to think about the ecosystems we can access and come up with some questions that we could ask and find the answers to by using our scientific toolkit.  Part of our goal this year with science has been to get the kids to ask their own questions and find ways to answer them through the scientific method.  So we’ll see what they come up with.

Tiny Worlds

We have been ramping up our microscope use lately as we’ve gotten into our biology year.  The kids have been studying plants at the Botanic Gardens and with a friend and we’re about to turn our attention to biomes, ecology, and then genetics.  In the meantime, we’ve just been peeking through our microscope more and more lately at little things.  We’ve looked at bugs, pollen, plant parts, dust, mold, onion cells, blood cells, and various other things in recent weeks.  Wild orchids have been the best winner.  The picture below is of the drawing BalletBoy made after looking at the insides under the microscope.

Our microscope is the Celestron 44104, which was a gift from the Husband’s parents several years ago as we got started on our homeschool journey.  I did some research before I wish listed it and I’ve been very happy with it.  The price is even less now than when we received it.  And I’m hoping to add this attachable digital camera before the year is out, which will let us capture what we see.  I think that will just make it more fun.

We’ve found a number of microscope books useful.  First of all, we’ve had the Usborne book The World of the Microscope for awhile.  It has diagrams, explanations, and simple starting projects.  It’s a decent first book.  On recommendation, I also got the older book Adventures with a Microscope by Richard Headstrom.  I love the style of this book, with its talkative narrative and explanations.  We haven’t done many of the projects yet, but it’s really great at suggesting what to look at with the microscope as well as how to mount and dye.

The book we’ve actually found most exciting was a large picture book called Hidden Worlds by Stephen Kramer, which covers the work of scientist Dennis Kunkel, whose amazing images you can see on his website.  This book does many things.  It introduces the importance of microscopy and shows different ways it can be applied in a way children can understand.  It also explains different types of microscopes and their uses.  Most importantly, it is a biography of a scientist who has an enthusiasm that comes through the narrative so clearly that it’s catching.  Both boys came away from this book wanting to look under the microscope more.  I highly recommend it.

The Life of Trees

I know I haven’t been as vigilant about science posting.  Still, we’ve been at it, studying plants, including taking advantage of the National Botanic Garden’s new homeschool classes, peering in microscopes at onion cells and flower pollen, measuring trees and, as always, reading books and watching videos.

By far the best tree books we found were the four Tree Tales by Barbara Bash.  Each book covers a different tree in a different place: the saguaro cactus, the douglas fir, the baobab, and the banyan.  The books show a tree’s whole life span and how the tree fits into its ecosystem, both as a home for animals and, in some cases, a useful tree for humans as well.  These books hit the sweet spot for me with science books.  They were long enough to feel substantial, but not so long that they were overwhelming.  They were narrative instead of blurby.  And, so rarely these days, they had a beautiful writing style that was both informative and evocative.  The author’s background is as a calligrapher, so even the lettering was lovely.

For videos, we greatly enjoyed Climbing Redwood Giants, which you can find on Netflix streaming here.  The kids were captivated by just watching people climb these enormous trees.  Can you imagine that some animals live their whole lives inside them?  In case you don’t have Netflix, there’s a clip from the film here on Youtube:

In Praise of Teaching Content Subjects

For the most part, math, grammar, spelling, writing, and reading are skill based while science, geography, history, literature, engineering, and so forth are content based.  You will often hear from homeschoolers that in the early grades, or even before middle or high school, that everything after those three R’s is “icing.”  In other words, it’s extra in a way.  Many homeschool philosophies, in particular classical education, though others as well, make those three R’s the center of everything early on.

That’s with good reason.  They are undeniably important.  A child can get to middle school not knowing the difference between an amphibian and a reptile and do fine if she has solid reading, writing and researching skills.  The inverse is obviously not true.  No matter how many amazing facts a child has crammed in his head, he won’t succeed if he can’t read and do math.

A few years ago, PBS canceled the longtime show Reading Rainbow.  The reason?  They wanted to focus on reading mechanics, like phonics, sight words and vocabulary building, things Reading Rainbow never touched.  The focus of Reading Rainbow was to present literature in all its glory, letting kids review books, reading books aloud to kids, teaching about science, history and culture you could learn in books, and generally showing how the content of books could spark your imagination and help you go places in life.  In other words, while PBS now airs shows like Electric Company and Super Why, which teach kids how to read, Reading Rainbow taught kids why you should read.

That’s why I think you can’t dismiss content subjects too quickly or give them too short shrift.  Yes, a child who can’t do math will never become an engineer.  But a child who doesn’t read about bridges, buildings, and robotics may not see the point to the math in the first place or ever want to become an engineer.  A child who can’t write will never become a lawyer, but a child who doesn’t read about governments and elections may not ever either.

Content subjects help kids see the why in the skills.  They inspire kids.  They afford more opportunities for fun, engaging learning.  This is not to say that skills subjects can’t be fun (we certainly play a lot of games for math, for example), but there is an engagement in the world and a way for even young kids to ask real, deep, open-ended questions in the content subjects that they can’t in the skill subjects.

That’s why we strive for a balance here.  Math, reading and writing happen every day.  They’re pretty much non-negotiable.  If something has to be dropped, it’s usually the content read aloud or history project.  But the content stuff gets long chunks of our attention as well, sometimes just as much time if not more.  Some of the better moments in schooling are things like history narrations, historical fiction read alouds, dictations about science, and measuring things for a science lesson that allow us use skill subjects across the curriculum.

School would probably be shorter if we didn’t do as much content study, and I have no idea how much of it the kids will specifically retain, but I do trust that it makes our homeschool a richer place and gives us a better purpose than just reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.

BalletBoy learns about tornadoes.

Max Axiom

Max Axiom is a series of science comic books that I’ve been hearing about for awhile, but finally broke down an bought a few of.  Unfortunately, they don’t have them at my library. There are many volumes of the series out, covering a wide array of topics across the sciences.  The ones I bought were about cells and photosynthesis, to tie into our life science study this year, but there are titles about nearly everything.

There’s a lot to like about them.  The information in each volume is great and the concept is just plain cool.  I like that the main character, as well as many of the other characters, are people of color.  Sometimes series like this have very mediocre art, but the art in these is perfectly fine.  The writing is also fine.  Each volume is short and would be readable by most kids second or third grade and up and could be a good introduction to the topic all the way through middle school.

Sadly though, they weren’t quite what I hoped for.  The publisher advertises that Max Axiom uses, “powers acquired in a freak accident,” and that he can shrink down to explore an atom or actually ride on a sound wave.  Cool concept, right?  Reading that, I imagined Max Axiom was a superhero Mrs. Frizzle, using the powers of science to catch the bad guys.  I wanted him fighting El Seed and explaining plant reproduction at the same time or riding that sound wave to defeat some bad guy who made annoying noises while explaining how sound waves work.  Or something along those lines.  Regardless, I imagined there was a plot.  There’s not.  That description on the back of the book is more plot than is actually contained inside the book.  If Max Axiom did get his powers from a freak accident, it’s never referenced in these volumes.  Max Axiom just looks cool and explains the concepts for us or some random kid who asks about them.

Basically, I think these were a wasted opportunity.  They’re not bad or anything, and they do look appealing so they may get some kids reading about science and have probably sold well to schools looking for “fun” supplements.  If they did have them at the library, I would definitely check them all out.  However, they don’t really do anything more engaging than a Let’s Read and Find Out book (though at a slightly higher level of knowledge) and they’re not even as creative storytelling as a Magic School Bus book.

For a better, more nuanced comic about science, take a look at Jay Hosler’s work for older kids and adults.  For younger kids, the two Zig and Wikki books from TOON Books cover ecology topics and also have a lot more creativity to them than this series.

Science Returns Soon…

As I split the science year with another mom, I admit I got really lax and didn’t post about what we’ve been up to, but I’m getting back on track very soon.  I have two posts queued up to finish, filled with books, videos and experiments.

Seymour Simon Volcanoes BookSeymour Simon Mountains Book

In the meantime, I wanted to recommend a series I discovered in the last few months which was extremely useful for our earth science year.  It’s the detailed picture books by Seymour Simon.  Most of these are slightly older, from the late 1980’s.  However, they are still in print, in paperback no less, making them easy to find and affordable.  The books cover many topics, including biology and astronomy, but we made use of the ones about topics in earth science such as EarthquakesOceans, Glaciers and Icebergs, and Mountains.

Each book contains mostly photos with occasional diagrams.  The layout is very simple, but the text is solid and explains the topic well.  Because these books are older, you’ll find that there are examples that feel out of date (a section on tsunamis that doesn’t mention the 2004 tsunami, for example).  However, this is the first series I’ve found that feels like it’s a step up from the well-loved Let’s Read and Find Out series without being overwhelming or frantically blurby.  The kids have found these compelling, many of the photos are beautiful, and it’s always nice to have a go-to book to start a topic off.  Now that we’ve gone through and outgrown many of the Let’s Read and Find Out books, I’m glad I found a replacement.

YouTube Science

I’ve been really enjoying a science on YouTube lately.  Some of the videos I’ve seen, I’ve linked here in my science posts, others I’ve found on the wonderful The Kid Should See This.  However, others are just from awesome YouTube channels.  If you’d like to also enlighten yourself and your kids, here’s a few options:

Minute Physics
This channel explains various concepts in physics, especially in weird quantum physics, in about a minute.  They use hand drawn illustrations and a spoken explanation.  It’s extremely well done.

Steve Spangler
These are extremely simple, quick, well-produced videos that show experiments you can easily do at home.

The Periodic Table of Videos
At least one video about every element.  Plus a bunch of others.  These are some chemists with a bit of a sense of humor about themselves.

Sixty Symbols
Much in the same style as the Periodic Table of Videos (perhaps because both come from the same university) this set of videos attempts to explain every astronomical symbol there is.

MelodySheep
This one is really, really weird.  Mixes of famous scientists (and occasionally other celebrities) explaining basic concepts remixed to sound like they’re doing some sort of trance music.  No, really.  Check out Morgan Freeman, Michio Kaku and Richard Feynman all trip hopping.

Smarter Every Day
Kid friendly videos about basic engineering concepts, often featuring the video maker’s kids and toys like water balloons and tinker toys.

NOVAOnline
Short excerpts from the famous PBS series, including the NOVA Science Now video podcasts.

Veritasium
Another academic enterprise, this time from Australia.  The host often interviews people on the street then talks to professors to explain concepts.

Sagan’s Cosmos
Excerpts from various programs by the famous scientist and author Carl Sagan.

National Geographic
Excerpts from National Geographic’s wide array of videos.  This one requires more sorting because they have so many, some of which are basically just ads for the magazine or their shows, but many of which are nice little short bits from longer pieces.

BBC Earth
Another set of excerpts, this time from BBC’s wildlife and nature programming.

Robert Krampf, the Happy Scientist
The Happy Scientist offers an expensive set of pay videos, but he also has a YouTube channel with free videos where he explains all kinds of science concepts with enthusiasm.

The Real Bill Nye
A collection of Bill Nye excerpts.  I probably link these pretty often in my science posts.

Science Friday’s Video Pick of the Week
Not a YouTube channel, but a nicely curated collection of interesting videos on all sorts of subjects.

I’m sure there are others I have never even heard of.  Just the other day, I learned about a cool little 15 program called Backyard Science which can be found mostly on YouTube (uploaded by different people – here’s a link to the search that yielded lots of results). Anyone have any other favorite spots for science videos?

Water and Fluids

A had a few goals for this week.  I wanted to look more at states of matter and changes in states of matter.  I wanted the kids to get how matter changes state.  I also wanted to present some basic information about water: how important it is for life, how it’s both plentiful and scarce, how it’s the only substance we find as a solid, liquid and gas in nature.

Books

There are so many children’s books about water, it boggles the mind.  I feel like I could list twice as many as I’m about to and still leave out dozens of amazing gems.  All of these were great and unlike some science editions where the books are merely decent conveyances of information we need, this time the books were great children’s literature.

First of all, we enjoyed the book One Well by Rochelle Straus and Rosemary Woods, which talked about water mostly in a cultural context.  It laid out really nicely how we have so much water and so little, as well as how connected water is and how endangered clean water is.  In that same sort of context, the National Geographic book A Cool Drink of Water by Barbara Kerley was also really nice.  The photos were amazing.  There’s very little text in the book, but there’s a nice little bit about each photo’s origins at the end.  The book Water Cycle by Thomas Locker was another great book that included poetry and science, especially of the water cycle, as the title implies.  However, our favorite was the book One Drop of Water by Walter Wick, who also created the I Spy books.  Here, he uses his excellent cameras to capture water in some amazing moments.  The text aligned nicely with our unit, explaining molecules and changes in state in vivid terms.

For experiment books, I had a few things, including the Kingfisher book I drew from the week before and a New True Book of simple water experiments.  However, overall, there was no great stand out title for water experiments that I found and many of the things we did were simply common sense.

Videos

Yet again, there are many good ones for this topic.  Bill Nye brings us a couple of episodes about this topic.  First of all, there’s Fluids, which goes nicely with our continued states of matter exploration.  Secondly, he has a whole episode for the Water Cycle.  The Magic School Bus has “Wet All Over” about water.  For a quick introduction, here’s the subscription service BrainPop’s video about water.

I found a lot of good YouTube options for this topic.  Here’s a National Geographic video about water use that has an environmental bent.  And here’s another one from Good Magazine that’s very similar in content (if different in style).

Here’s Veritasium’s cute video about states of matter and water.  And here’s a quick video about the Water Cycle by NASA.  Our favorite, which we watched several times over was this beautiful video of a single drop of water, which I found on The Kid Should See This:

Activities

We began by reviewing what we knew about the three main states of matter.  I told them we had explored solids a good but but were going to look at liquids more this week.  I told all the kids to go find two liquids.  They came back with a nice assortment of oil, water, maple syrup, soap, yellow paint and so forth.

Next, we did a couple of activities to explore how different liquids have different properties, just like solids.  This site has a more sophisticated version of what we did.  We began by doing a simple one we had not done in awhile, by piling different liquids on top of each other in a glass.  We tried it a couple of times with different things in different orders.  The kids definitely got that oil was the least dense and that the maple syrup was surprisingly dense.

Next, we did a fluids race.  I just set up an old pan with a starting line and a finish line.  Each kid got to pick one of his liquids to put a dollop on the start line and then I lifted the pan to see which one would run the fastest.  BalletBoy was disappointed because one of the times we did it, he tried toothpaste, which was the only thing that didn’t run at all.  It turned out it’s a colloid.  Oh well.

Next, we turned our attention to water.  We began with some notes and vocabulary words, such as condense, evaporate and water vapor.

The experiments were simple.  We froze water, then checked to see how it had gotten bigger.  We melted ice to see it change state.  We boiled water to turn it into vapor.  Then we “caught” the vapor and turned it into water on a cool glass and then by setting containers high above the steam coming out of the boiling pot.  We also checked on some evaporating water from a couple weeks back and found, excitingly, the water had completely evaporated.  Also, that our “salt flats” had formed and you could see their cubic shape very clearly.  We compared them with the pointy ones from the epsom salts again.

We finished by talking about all the things we’ve already learned about water and all the past experiments we did.  Some they didn’t remember very well, but others they did.  We referenced many of the experiments we did for temperature, floating and sinking, waves, and pressure last year.  Mushroom remembered that water conducts electricity (something the kids have tested with the Snap Circuits many times) and BalletBoy remembered about the water cycle that all water is connected.  They all remembered learning that water molecules cling together.  Overall, it was a nice ending to the lesson and nice to bring together a number of topics.

States of Matter

First of all, I updated the Science Without a Net link above to include this year’s posts and reflect a little more about what we’re doing.  It’s been getting a small but steady stream of hits on the blog, which is pleasing to me.  I hope that means people are making use of what we’re doing, using it as a springboard or borrowing it however you like.

We moved on to states of matter and enjoyed ourselves greatly in this lesson (perhaps because it involved a lot of destruction and a lot of chocolate).  The main ideas I wanted to convey were that matter has three “main” states that we refer to: solid, liquid and gas.  I also wanted them to understand what characterized each one.  I decided that we would focus on water and states of matter more next week, so I didn’t dwell too much on water yet.

Books

 

This is such a straightforward topic that we didn’t use a huge number of books.  I found that the Let’s Read and Find Out title, What is the World Made Of? by Kathleen Zoehfeld was pretty sufficient.  If you’re looking for others, there’s a Q&A Science book called States of Matter.  Also, Rookie Read Aloud has a title called Solids, Liquids and Gases and we had out a set of three tiny easy readers called What is a Solid?, What is a Liquid? and What is a Gas? by Jennifer Boothroyd.  They were simple enough for even my slower reader to read with ease.

For experiment books, I had a few options out and found the book Young Discoverers: Solids and Liquids from Kingfisher to be useful.  We had a few more out as well, including an older title that I got a few ideas from, but I’ve embarrassingly lost my notes and can’t find them.  D’oh.  None of the books I looked at were stand out amazing though, so you’re not missing much.

Videos

There’s a huge number of great video resources on this topic.  First up there are some introductions.  Here’s a super quick video but with a nice visual on the structure of solids, liquids and gasses.  Here’s another one, a funky little video about states of matter and glass.  The video quizzes you as it goes along.  And here’s Brainpop’s video on States of Matter.  As always, Brainpop requires a subscription.

Now for more solid resources (see how I punned there?).  Bill Nye has an episode called Phases of Matter.  Here’s the intro and here’s the song (can you name the 90’s song it’s taking off on!).  Also exciting as I think it’s for the very last time this year (they don’t cover anything we’re covering!), Eureka! is here with two episodes on this topic.  First, we have Molecules in Solids and next, we have Molecules in Liquids.  Best of all though, They Might Be Giants have a song about states of matter:

Activities

We began with our notebooks and divided a page into three sections.  Then, everyone cut out pictures to illustrated solids, liquids and gases.  There were a lot of clouds and bits of blue sky in the gases section, but there were some interesting solids and liquids.  Continuing in that vein, everyone ran off to find examples of one solid, one liquid and one gas.  There were legos and sticks, juice and water, and several cupped hands holding air, plus one set of lungs filled with oxygen.  The best part was that Mushroom unexpectedly combined his finds.  He asked for help to get from the kitchen baking soda (a solid) and vinegar (a liquid).  Then, he combined them and made, as he put it, “some kind of a gas.”  But hey, he was right!  They do release carbon dioxide when combined.  I was a little blown away, let me tell you.

After that, we talked a little about solids.  There are lots of different types of solid materials, but we looked at a few of them – wood, plastic, and metal for example.  We talked about how solids don’t change shape and volume unless something changes them.  Well, that’s just an invitation, right?  So we all began working to change the solids.  We bent the metal jar ring, snapped a crayon, and squashed some modeling clay.  In the end, we couldn’t make a change on the wood block or the hard plastic play lettuce, so we talked about how to change them and a tool was suggested, so we went outside and smashed them with hammers.  The block was pretty easy.  Within a couple of bangs, we removed a small bit of it, thereby changing its volume and distressed it, changing its shape.  The hard plastic play lettuce was insane though, I must say.  It completely resisted our attempts, which just made the kids more determined to break at least a little off it.  I wish I had pictures, but supervising 4 boys and a hammer really didn’t allow me to take snapshots!  In the end, we managed to crack it and distress it, but we never got a piece off.

We talked then about how all the changes we had made were physical changes.  Not only that, none of them changed the state of the solid matter.  So I asked if we could change their state.  Immediately every kid knew how.  Burn it or heat it.  So out came the lighter (wielded only my yours truly) and we set fire to the block and melted the plastic, though each for just a moment.  Finally, the plastic saw a small change!  We talked a little about changes of state and how the plastic wanted to become a liquid but the wood did not.  However, the kids immediately surmised that the wood didn’t disappear when it burned away, it must turn into a gas.  Excellent.

We headed inside and went back to that snapped crayon.  We melted it in the microwave and watched it turn into liquid, then back into a solid.  I used that as a jumping off point to think about what applications melting then reforming substances had.  It took them a shockingly long time to get to the idea of molded materials like cast iron or plastic toys, but we got there eventually.  That made them think of Legos (which is only important because of what happened next).

I suggested that we melt and reform something more fun, like chocolate.  I had old molds all set to use, but before I could even get there, the kids immediately went to the idea that they wanted Lego molded chocolate.  So, that’s what we made.  We melted the solid chocolate into a liquid, then cooled it in a small pan filled with Legos.  It yielded a cool result that we broke into chucks and ate.

I had a million other activities planned for the day, including a bunch of things about liquids and viscosity and some more science journal things.  However, this was an enthusiastic day where we went with what the kids were into.  And who wouldn’t be into burning things and making Lego chocolate?  So I was happy with that.

Mmm…  Lego chocolate.