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THE A-to-Z of Homeschooling
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Janice VanCleave Wants to Exchange Ideas

Physics and Science – Pre Highschool

By Janice VanCleave

Educators who present multiple curriculums generally list science as the topic they feel least competent to teach. They are more likely to select biology topics, but have a fear of chemistry topics. As to physics, no problem. They block out even the slightest thought of this science. After all, only clones of Einstein can understand physics.

I want to change this attitude.

First of all, physics is one of my very favorite sciences and I am certainly not on the intellectual level with Einstein. I’t. Ever played pool? How about tennis, volleyball, or baseball? Do you find magnets fun? Have you ever rubbed your feet on a carpet and shocked someone by touching him or her with your finger? Yep! All of these things are examples of physics in action. Ok, so high school physics adds a bit of math–well, maybe a bunch of math. But, even math is fun and easy if you advance one step at a time. My point is that science is part of everything we do every day.

I have always had a passion for science but really didn’t always have fun reading about science and answering questions. Now, experimenting to find the answer to a question is different. But we rarely did that. Why? Same reason many kids reach high school today before they are introduced to laboratory skills – educators think its messy, scary, lots of work, they don’t have the equipment, etc… and the list goes on. Yes! Science can be messy, but so are crafts. Both are worth the trouble and part of learning is cleaning up after yourself. Because schools generally do not have the equipment for many of the experiments described in science textbooks, I created my own. I used what equipment was available and added stuff I found at garage sales and purchased at local stores. Thus, writing books using easily obtainable materials was no problem. I had lots of experience doing that.

You may not have all the equipment described in the science curriculum you are using. The experiments in my book solve this problem for elementary and middle school. They help with high school activities, but at this level, there is a need for kids to become familiar with some scientific equipment in preparation for college sciences. I plan to address this on my science blog.

About my blog

I started Science Project Ideas for Kids in late February of 2008. Actually a friend helped me with the domain name, host, and theme then told me to “play and find out how to blog.” My stress level soared. Where do I start? I was totally clueless. Frustrated, I contacted my friend for advice, hoping that she would give me more assistance. She did. She gave me the name of a good book about HTML and CSS. I rushed to the bookstore that day and purchased the book. YIKES! HTML and CSS are crazy computer languages. I took Sign language and Spanish and cannot communicate in either. But I was determined and started reading the book. Loved it. Read every word and concluded that I cannot speak HTML or CSS any more than I can speak in sign or Spanish. I have lots of ideas and want to share them online, but I do not want to write all those codes. But I learned enough to cut and paste fun clip art to my documents and can add a few HTML codes to make the type spread out. I would love to add all the bells and whistles to make the site more appealing, but am too busy adding text. If you are a computer person maybe we can share ideas. Help me with my blog and I’ll help you with your science curriculum. If you are not a computer person I’ll still help you with your science. We can share ideas for doing science experiments at home.

My experience with blogging has made me very empathetic with educators who find the idea of teaching science stressful. I want everyone to love it as much as I do. While this may be an unobtainable goal, I know that I can make it more fun and certainly less fearful for educators. I just need help in making my science ideas more useful in a homeschool setting. I am listing some of the ways that you can help me. But since you know more about homeschooling needs than I do, please send any and all of your ideas to me via by emailing me at Janice@scienceprojectideasforkids.com or by commenting on my blog site, Science Project Ideas for Kids.

  • Check out any one of the topics, such as Chemistry. Tell me how to change this material so that it would be more helpful to you. This is your chance to have input into the writing of science material that will be designed just for you.
  • Share with me science ideas that have worked for you. I’ll post them so that others can benefit.
  • Ask me science questions and I’ll post your question and my answers.
  • Help me add ideas to my experiments so that they are more useful for groups of multiple aged children.For example, a friend who homeschools used my experiment about paramecium. At the time, one of the children was very young, so her part of the project was to hold the bottle of glitter. This was a very important job because the glitter would be used to represent the nucleus, the brain of the critter. Holding the bottle, the child proudly announced, “I’ve got the brain.” Please read this experiment on my blog and give me clues how kids of different ability levels could participate in the activity as well as ideas for enriching the activity for more advanced learners. Ann Zeise has suggested these ability levels: Young, Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced.

On the navigation bar of my blog, Science Project Ideas for Kids, you will find links to Teacher, Kids, Parents, as well as Homeschool pages. The first three choices are specific for science fair projects. You do not have to attend public school to be eligible for regional or state science fairs competitions. Check with the director of your local science fair for specific rules for student projects. Generally, one requirement is that projects entered into regional fairs be winners of a group science fair.

I am looking forward to exchanging ideas with you.

Janice VanCleave

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