Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Happy 3rd Blogiversary to Nerdy Science!

It's always fun to do an annual reflection on how things are going with this blog and my goals. Thanks for joining me on our science adventures.

My goals have always been to do simple, easy science at home and making science part of everyday life/conversation.

My goals from last year and how I met them:

- I want to be still blogging weekly about the wonderful scientific world around us. 
**Blogging weekly has been a challenge this year. We're having a new nerdy addition joining our family in April, and though I've been blessed with no morning sickness, pregnancy is no walk in the park. We talk about math and science all of the time in our house. Translating interesting and thoughtful lessons to the blog became the bottleneck.

- I want to continue Science Saturdays in the Park, hopefully starting back in February or March. 
**Science Saturdays have been a real gem in my life. I have so much fun sharing science and conversing with families who have similar passions. We had one per month from March - October (except May), with many new lessons including: Squishy Circuits, Magnet Detectives, and Ice Cream in a Bag to name a few. Every time we pass a park where we've had a lesson, J states that's a park for science and which science we've done there.

- As J grows, I want to establish worksheets, puzzles, and games that keep his mind active and help him learn new science and math concepts. These would be shared with my blog followers. 
**I have not been able to much progress on this goal. I did make a worksheet for the M&M math for preschoolers.

- I want to learn how to draw to help with the worksheets and activities listed above. 
**I still suck at drawing anything.

- I hope to have a website to go along with this blog. 
**Ya, this goal was supposed to be completed by June 2012. I have all of these ideas of what I want it to look like, how I'd like it to function, and the features I'd like it to have. Unfortunately, the little html knowledge I have will not translate into a website that I can be proud of. I will maintain the domain name with hopes of one day having a website.

- I hope to have time to join the bigger community of Mommy Bloggers. There's so much we can learn from each other.
**Thanks to suggestions from my friend MaryAnne of Mamasmiles, I joined the Kid Blogger Network and have connected with many other parent bloggers.

2013 highlights

For 2014, my goals are:
  • Give birth to a healthy baby girl.
  • Show Miss Baby J the world through science, hoping to add on to my baby science tag.
    • I secretly hope J gets in on the lesson creations for Miss Baby J. I just love how his mind works! And right now, there is nothing sweeter than him reading to the baby and explaining the pictures and what big words mean.
  • To continue bringing simple, fun science to young children through Science Saturdays and community outreach programs.
  • Develop some fun supplemental science and math worksheets.
  • Blog more about science that does not need set-up/clean-up time: how science in our everyday life and how to think like a scientist.
  • Continue to develop and grow the relationships that are formed by networking.

Related Posts, Previous Year's Reflections:

Monday, January 20, 2014

Order Numbers and Math

It's no secret that we love In N Out in our family. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this West Coast chain, it's probably the freshest fast food you can get, and it's often very crowded. You order at the counter, and they call your number when your food is ready. J's favorite thing has been to ask, "How many more till our number is called?"

You can do this quick and easy game to pass time at any restaurant where they shout out sequential numbers. At In N Out, the numbers go from 1-99.

John and I don't like to answer, but we turn the tables on J (age 4.5) and make him figure it out. It's hard for a four year old to mentally subtract the smaller number (what was called) from the bigger number (what we have), for example: they called 33 and we were 40; 40-33 = 7, and so we had 7 orders till ours. Instead, we've taught him to count up using his fingers starting with the next number, as in our example above: 33 was called and we want to get to 40, so he finger counts starting with 34 as 1 on his hand, 35 is 2, and so on. He'd stop at 40, which would be 7 fingers he placed up. He's starting to catch on that 30 is 10 away from 40, and he can do the 2-3 numbers away in his head. He loves having the right answer, and it excites me when he's excited about learning (especially math).

However, we only can have the math game when he wants it or else we get, "Mommy, [deep sigh] I don't want to do math right now."

**We've been heavy on the math recently mainly because it requires little-to-no prep work and mess for this pregnant mama. Math and science go hand-in-hand. I encourage you to make both math and science everyday topics of discussions in your household.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Why I Love My Cheap Microwave

It's big, it's blue, and it's bulky. It doesn't match anything in our kitchen, but I've grown to love our cheap microwave. It has been a topic of many conversations and a great math tool! Yes, this is a post about our microwave; please keep reading.

I started college in the fall of 2001 (dated myself). My roommate and I worked out that I'd buy the microwave if she brings the mini fridge. This microwave was in no way unique! In fact, they were all over the place and came in many different colors to suit many different personalities (not to mention, they were the cheapest microwaves out there). When we "temporarily" moved to the Bay Area almost 9 years ago, it came along and just never got replaced because it works just fine. Nowadays, people who never saw these microwaves ask if they were an Apple product of the same general time frame (honestly, I can't blame them for that assumption).

I've recently grown fond of this fine product thanks to the little 4 year old hands that always want to help. The microwave is within his reach, and he'll jump on any task that involves using the microwave.

I'll let you in on my secret on why I love this microwave; we just don't push numbers 0-9 on the key pad and press start. We are given limited options to choose from: 10 minutes, 1 minute, and 15 seconds.

This means J has to think about what to push when I ask him to microwave something for 30 seconds. He quickly learned that 30 is 15 twice and 45 is 15 three times. If I ask him to microwave something for 10 seconds, he watches the microwave and stops it when it says 5 seconds are left. Math is very much a part of our everyday life.

Because of his young age, J's not quite grasping that time (seconds and minutes) are in base 60. We are beginning conversations that 1 minute does not equal 100 seconds and 1 hour does not equal 100 minutes. This microwave will be a useful tool for these conversations too.


Can you microwave something for 90 seconds given the buttons on our microwave? What would you push? 
(note the 15 seconds only goes to 45 then it goes to 00 without making 1 minute)
  • You could do it in two 45 second waves: 45 + 45 = 90
  • The better choice, assuming the recipe doesn't need 2 - 45 second waves: how many seconds are in 1 minute? 60 (remember the microwave doesn't do 60 seconds but has a 1 minute button). How many seconds remain after you microwave for a minute (which we just established is 60 seconds)? 90-60 = 30. So, the answer is: When microwaving something for 90 seconds, you'd want to set the microwave to 1 minute and 30 seconds by pushing 1 minute and two 15 seconds on our microwave buttons.

What's your favorite nerdy kitchen tool?

*Note, I did prep for this lesson by cleaning out the microwave, a task that I've been putting off for many months. Yay for Nerdy Science and motivation to do my chores.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Streetlight Shadows

I love impromptu science lessons. Today's experience came from J's observations on Grandpa's shadow cast by the streetlights as we were walking to their favorite frozen yogurt store at night. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me to capture the original excitement, so I tried to recreate at home under our streetlight.

We were walking down a well-lighted pathway at night, behind Grandpa. We were originally stepping on Grandpa's shadow, but as we walked, Grandpa's shadow jumped ahead of him. What caused this?

As Grandpa (modeled by J) was approaching the light, the shadow was behind him. The further away from the light he was, the longer the shadow was.

As Grandpa reached the light, his shadow became smaller and smaller and was basically straight out from his body, not at an angle.

As Grandpa walked away from the light, his shadow went in front of him and became larger (until the light from the next streetlight took over, not pictured, but imagine the series repeated).

Note: Nighttime shadows are hard to capture on camera since you don't want to use a flash. My camera had a "Handheld Night Scene" mode, which is what I used.

Luckily, the pathway was long enough to continue with our forward progression and explain what was happening to J while in real time. We definitely saw his light bulb moment.

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