Field Trip: Goodwill Industries

IMG_2430I may have mentioned the FIRST LEGO League Challenge this year is Trash Trek.  The kids are learning about trash and recycling.  My special thanks go out to the mom who put together a field trip to a Goodwill processing center.

There were about 15 boys on the trip and our hosts graciously provided donuts and juice while the kids sat in spinny chairs around a conference table.  The kids really appreciated being treated in such a grown up manner.

Our hosts told us about the circle of Goodwill.  It starts with donations that are sorted and sold in the retail stores.  The money raised in the stores is used to provide job training and help to people in our community, who need a bit of help getting back on their feet due to challenges they are facing.  Once people are employed they are likely to donate items to Goodwill and the cycle continues.   Making donations helps us by giving us a place to take items we don’t need anymore.  People who are on a limited budget, committed to living a non-consumer lifestyle, or want to save money are helped by purchasing used goods at a low price.  People who need job training and other services are helped by the programs offered by the Goodwill.

IMG_2427We visited the area where goods are sorted when they come to the store.  There are about 150 different 501(c)3s operating under the Goodwill name so different regions have different requirements on what they accept.  The site we visited does accept clothes that are worn out and those are placed in bales and sold to other industries.   It can be helpful if you label clothes as such when you bring them in.   They also have salvage options for other items.

The site we visited has an electronics recycling program.  They refurbish computers and sell them to qualifying families for $85 for desktops and $125 for laptops.  They also work on and recycle printers, tvs, and other electronics.  The process they use for wiping hard drives is a 7 time overwrite.  You might imagine with a group of fifteen 9-13 year olds, there are a few tinkerers in the group, so we found out that this program accepts electronics even if you have dissected them or if they are missing a power cord.

After the tour we decided it would be great to send out a challenge to FLL teams to do a donation drive.  We are still in the planning stages, but our team is shooting for October 17th.  We are planning to take clothes and electronics.  I recently went shoe shopping and as soon as I came home I put the shoes I was replacing in a donation bag.  I even managed to get rid of more shoes than I bought!  Please let us know if you are inspired to do the same.  We would love to collect pictures from across the country of donations!

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Learning Plan 2015

Learning Plans GraphicWe started back to school last week and most of the sign ups for activities are done, so it’s time to share our plan for the coming year.

We operate with an interest led approach, but that doesn’t mean we wake up with a completely open schedule every morning.   Making our schedule for the year / semester is  a collaborative process.  As classes and opportunities open up we decide together if we think they will be worth our time.   Sometimes I see an opportunity and ask about interest.  Sometimes the boys ask for resources to study a particular topic and still other times they ask me to set up classes with a tutor or mentor.  Since the boys are close in age and have similar interests they usually select the same activities.

Pottery WheelThis summer I found a groupon for pottery classes.  Sculpting with clay has always been a favorite activity at our house so we thought giving pottery a spin would be fun.  The groupon class was great!  The boys asked if I would contact the instructor to make pottery part of our fall schedule.  They had so much fun during their class that all of three of us are taking a class in the fall.

IMG_2404After reading the Chronicles of Prydain and the Eragon series, as well as studying ancient and medieval warfare, the boys were super interested in archery.  This summer they went to  archery camp.  It was right on target for their age and interests, so we added archery to our fall schedule.   The timing of the class is great, because it should hit as we are finishing up soccer and before ski season starts.

IMG_0057Zoo classes have been part of our schedule for the last two years and the boys still enjoy them.  When we started homeschooling five years ago one of our objectives was to “learn more about animals.”   This year for the first time we actually got into the classes we wanted at the Natural History Museum.  They just had their first class and seemed to enjoy the classroom part of it.  They learned about lungs in different animals.  I had no idea how different bird respiration is.  My favorite part of these classes is how engaged the instructors are in their topics.

C’s writing project is making up his own book of mythological creatures.  So far he has created a map and some creatures.  I’m thrilled that he’s engaged with a writing project.  He has a friend who’s made her own Book of Dragons from the How to Train Your Dragon series and I think he was inspired by her.

C is using Singapore Math 5A this semester and E is working through Challenge Math.  Challenge Math is intended as enrichment math so it covers a broad grade range.  E finds it engaging most of the time and it has so far been a great review with a focus on the thought processes of math.

We will also be working with Growing with Grammar.  The boys typically do the review at the end of the chapter and then cover lessons as needed and do some of the review activities in the chapter.

We will study avalanches and glaciers as well as cells and biology.  Typically we check out books from the library and use online resources for our desired science topics.

Plastic Bottle GreenhouseOur FIRST LEGO League (FLL) project topic this year is Trash Trek.  We will be learning a ton about trash, recycling, and pollution.  We have a field trip to the Goodwill Processing Center coming up next week. This summer we visited a homestead dedicated to sustainable living, where they had a greenhouse made from 2 liter bottles.   You can follow our Pinterest board of Trash Trek research.  I’m super excited, as well as a bit trepidatious.  As we learn more I will be obligated to make changes in our daily life – more recycling, more reusing, more reducing.  I’m ready to be pushed out of my comfort zone, but it might be …uncomfortable.  Of course FLL also involves a robot aspect, so that is on the agenda as well.

Egypt and Egyptian mythology are currently topics of interest as we are reading the Kane Chronicles.   The boys are also giving a presentation on Greek Mythology next month for Geography Club.  Geography Club serves as a monthly public speaking opportunity.

One of the frequent comments we get from parents who don’t homeschool is that they  would have a hard time getting their kids to do their schoolwork.  I assure them it’s nothing like doing the homework battle every day.  I have “buy in” from my kids, because they are helping create the schedule.  Even when we use a workbook, they have input. The way we do school is like having an adventure where we get to learn more about the world.

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Vacation Learning: Glacier National Park

DSC_5622We are coming off a fabulous week.  After several months in the planning stage we finally took our trip to Glacier National Park.

IMG_1939As the time for our trip got closer and closer we had to consider alternate plans due to wildfires in the park and surrounding area.  While the fires were no longer burning in the park, the air quality was extremely poor due to nearby fires.  We decided to hope the rain in the forecast would materialize and stick to our plan.  Flying in on Saturday,  the mountains were covered in smoke and we could even see some areas smoldering.  It was a very sobering to see the enormity of the wildfires.

Lake McDonald Smoky vs. clearOur first day the air had a campfire quality to it.  Thankfully for everyone, rains moved in and the air cleared.   The above pictures show the difference in air quality between Saturday (8/29) and Tuesday (9/1).

Hidden Lake Trail BoardwalkI absolutely love visiting the mountains.  Pictures and documentaries can never give you anything close to the full experience.  The vastness of it all is so impossible to capture.

High Ropes CollageWhile we spent most of our time in the park we did take a day to do “fun touristy stuff”.  I put that in quotes because my family considers a high ropes course fun.   A long time ago I heard a psychologist say, “Shared adversity strengthens relationships.”  I decided to view the high ropes course as a chance to strengthen my relationship with my family – although I’m not sure it counts if they aren’t facing adversity.  I happen to think it is a positive thing for the kids to see me get outside of my comfort zone and do things I’m not particularly good at. The ropes course had 4 levels of difficulty and the course rules said no one under 13 on the most difficult level so the boys and I did levels 1-3.  The beginner courses were actually somewhat fun.  E did the level 3 course with his dad and they had a good time.  C and I found the level 3 course more challenging.  We would have taken the chicken exit, if one had been offered, instead we ended up feeling proud of ourselves for completing the  course.

Swiftcurrent Lake Many Glacier HotelOne day we hiked around Swiftcurrent Lake.  The Many Glacier Hotel is located along the shore and there are beautiful vistas all around the lake.   As we were hiking back the tour boat went past.   It was our first day hiking at altitude and while we faired okay for the hike we did, it was obvious the much longer hike I wanted to do wasn’t going to happen when combined with the car trip to get to the east side of the park.

DSC_5668The next day we took a chance to rest and just enjoy Lake McDonald.  Even though the winds were blowing well in excess of 20 mph most of the time the boys still enjoyed playing at the edge of the water.

Lake McDonaldWe drove around the lake to Apgar Village and it was apparent why this vantage point is such an iconic representation of Glacier Park.  It is very near the west entrance, within a few yards of a parking lot, and stunningly beautiful.

DSC_5761Once we were acclimated to the climate and understood how we needed to prepare for hikes, we decided to explore a section of the Highline Trial from Logan Pass.  When my husband mentioned the trail passed above Going to the Sun Road and a chain was provided as a handhold along the narrow passage,  I nearly refused to go.  Fortunately I knew it was probably our best chance to see a pika. Pikas are adorable little creatures that only live high in the mountains.  All summer long they gather plant materials and dry them in little hay piles.  They are lagamorphs, like rabbits and hares, and they happen to be C’s favorite animal.

IMG_2014That’s me inching my way along the Highline Trail.  See the road down below?  Thankfully that part of the trail was reasonably short.

Hidden Lake Glacier National ParkWe kept our hike along the Highline trail to a couple of hours so we could have a quick lunch in the car then hike the Hidden Lake trail on the other side of the Logan Pass.  It was a steep climb up boardwalk stairs but the views of Hidden Lake were truly gorgeous.

DSC_5798We all had a good laugh when a ground squirrel ran right up to E.  While entertaining it was a reminder that people do feed them, which is detrimental to their survival as the small creatures sometimes fail to store food for winter.

DSC_5861Another day we hiked to Avalanche Lake.  The highlight of the day was seeing a bear at the shore of the lake.

Chipmunk feeding on berriesWe also saw loads of chipmunks along the trail.

IMG_2047Our rental cabin was very comfortable and homey.  The owners live next door and their Labrador would come over and play with the boys every night.  Our last night, Jake, the rental dog, stopped their game of fetch to tree a black bear!  Quite a memory!

Bighorn sheepTips for traveling to Glacier:

I was making our reservations about nine months in advance so I wasn’t able to piece together a cohesive in park stay and opted for a cabin outside the park.  Most of the available lodging outside the park is on the west side which makes for a LONG drive to the Many Glacier and Two Medicine areas.  I wish I had been able to split our stay between the east and west sides of the park.  On the other had it was very nice to have a large cabin outside the park.

We opted for a fall trip due to scheduling, which made it easier to determine glacier versus seasonal snow, but we didn’t have views of snow capped mountains.

Good outdoor clothes that layer are a must.

Hope you enjoyed all the pictures!

(Special thanks to my husband who does almost all the photography when we are on vacation.)

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Summer “School”

Have you ever watched a group of interest led homeschoolers when they are asked if they are on summer vacation?  They look so confused.  Yes, no, sort of, does it matter?

We are on summer “schedule”.  We’re learning and reading and having fun.  The only thing really different about summer schedule is grammar lessons are completely set aside and we take time to enjoy the company of friends who only have summers off.  We also take advantage of good weather and summer camp opportunities.

So what have we being doing with our summer freedom?

Water BirthdayWe hosted a birthday party.  I love having older kids who are capable of planning and executing a large part of the party.  E designed his own invitations and the boys planned out what games they wanted to play.  Mostly it was just about water guns, water balloons, and jumping on the trampoline.  We also pulled out the “rocket launcher” which is a device that sends 2 liter bottles 30 feet in the air.  The boys all had a great time.  Boys don’t require fancy decorations, they just want to play.

We attended the Unschoolers Waterpark Gathering (UWG).  One of the things my kids missed when we switched to homeschool was having Field Day.  UWG is sort of like a Field Week.  The organizers do a terrific job creating fun events like Glow in the Dark Capture the Flag,  Nerf Guns Wars, and Minecraft Fun Shops.  The Skill Toys Fun Shop was really cool.  There were demos of unicycles and jumping stilts, as well as lessons in juggling and lessons with juggling sticks and diabolo juggling yoyos. One afternoon there was a Kids’ Marketplace.  The kids were encouraged to bring items to sell, no outside vendors.   My boys sold some old Star Wars toys and purchased toy bows and arrows and jousting sticks made from duct tape, pool noodles, and pvc.  The creativity on display at the Marketplace was amazing!  There are some very talented young artists out there.   The night of the talent show we saw some amazing performances.  There were discussion panels for parents.  Mostly I enjoyed hanging out with the other parents.  The thing that made the biggest impression on me during the week was how much trust existed between parents and kids.  It is hard to describe, but it was so enjoyable to be around a group of parents and kids who are confident about who they are.

IMG_1952We made our yearly summer trip to visit family.  My niece recently visited the now closed Missouri State Penitentiary and wanted to share the experience with her cousins.  My mom’s husband spent many years working maintenance at the prison and my husband’s cousin and her mom were guards there.  It was an interesting and sobering experience.  We did some landscaping for my mom, attended a high school graduation party for my nephew, and spent a day playing with cousins at the waterpark.  Waterpark day was chilly.  It ended up warming up in the afternoon, but we had the place pretty much to ourselves.

Airport and Blue Rock Station

Field Trips

We visited Blue Rock Station which is a homestead dedicated to environmentally friendly living.  Several building techniques are employed in the outbuildings while the main house is an earth-ship design constructed from recycled tires.  It was a great lesson in sustainability.

Cleveland Hopkins Airport – We visited the Fire Department.  It was interesting to see the specialized firetrucks and meet the bomb sniffing dog.  We also visited the operations tower.  We were a little disappointed we didn’t get to visit baggage sorting but such is life.

Pottery Collage

We took some pottery lessons and would like to add more of those to our fall schedule.  The boys also did an archery camp.  It was a big hit and we are hoping to find a way to work some more bow time into our schedule.

In our “free time” we’ve had time to visit with friends, go swimming, play in creeks, and play computer games.  Our car time has been consumed with listening to the Eragon series.

While I’m excited about all the good stuff fall will bring, I’m glad we took time to relax and enjoy summer.

 

2014-2015 A Homeschool Year in Review

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about our homeschool “style”.  I love the term Lucinda over at Navigating by Joy uses – “Us-schooling”.  We learn in a way that matches with our interests and opportunities.   We follow a pretty traditional approach to math and grammar while everything else is interest led (aka – unschooled).  Sometimes we join with a team or a class and have a particular topic to research.  Sometimes we follow rabbit trails – so a book about squids leads to several books about the entire cephalopod family followed by ocean mammals and then sharks.  So what does a year look like in our homeschool?

2014FieldtripsField Trips!

I love the freedom to take lots of field trips.  Experiential learning is an incredibly important aspect of our homeschool.

Our list for this year was long: Mammoth Cave, Corvette Factory Tour, Canal Fulton, COSI, Nat. History Museum – Mammoths & Mastadons, Cleveland Orchestra performances, TIMBER and Intergalactic Nemisis at Playhouse Square,  Cleveland Botanical Gardens with special LEGO exhibit, Airshow,  University of Pittsburg – Human Engineering Department, TechShop Tour, Pittsburg Science Center, Apple Farms, Beehive tour, Bourbon Distillery,  Maple Sugar processing, Great Lakes Science Center – Mythbusters Exhibit, and NASA Hubble Day

It’s impossible to pick a favorite field trip from this year.  I really wish I could have captured a picture of the boys’ faces during the Corvette Factory Tour.  They were so amazed by the enormity of the entire factory.  While a bourbon tour might seem a bit odd, it is a great chance to see a distillation column up close. (I think I may have spent 2 years sizing distillation columns before seeing an industrial sized one up close.)

2014SportsSports

The boys did the usual soccer teams.  This year they’ve really developed more ability to handle their bikes and we’ve been able to enjoy riding single track together.  The boys and I learned to ski / snowboard which greatly increased our enjoyment of the winter months.  The boys also took parkour classes during the winter.  Come spring we switched over to swim lessons and plan to continue swim during the summer.   This summer we will be checking out a boys gymnastics opportunity.  My goal is to keep them fit and active in the now, as well as discovering sports and activities that will keep them active throughout their lives.

2014ActivitiesTeams / Activities

In addition to their soccer teams the boys were on FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams and a Science Olympiad team.   One of our favorite group classes is zoo class, which is typically twice each month.  We also joined the Geography Club which gives the kids an opportunity to make presentations to a peer group.  The kids from Science Olympiad enjoyed getting together so much, we formed a Science Club which typically includes an hour of an activity followed by an hour for socializing.

2014UnitStudiesUnit Studies

Some of our unit studies were on our own, while others were with FIRST LEGO League teams, and others were with Science Olympiad partners.   Our best integrated learning path started with the Percy Jackson book series, led us through Ancient Greek and Roman history, and finished with building catapults.

We did unit studies / projects on Atmospheric Science, the Power House, Bees (FLL), Catapults, Learning (FLL), Animal Tracking (SO), Aerodynamics (SO), Mousetrap Car (SO), Simple Machines (SO), Greek and Roman Mythology, Cells and the Maldives

Reading (including audiobooks)

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Heroes of Olympus, Chronicles of Prydain, The Once and Future King, Nature’s Children series,  Redwall, and a variety of non-fiction books related to our projects and unit studies.

Workbooks:

Singapore Math 4A and 4B and Growing with Grammar 4

Singapore Math 6A and 6B, Challenge Math, Growing with Grammar 5

2014Nature

Lastly, my favorite reason to homeschool – quality time in nature.  During our Mammoth Cave trip we also took some time to drive over to Cumberland Falls, KY, where we enjoyed a few days immersed in beautiful fall colors playing next to the river.  The large picture above is from a smaller waterfall just down the river from Cumberland Falls.  We visited Brandywine Falls in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park many times this year including when it was just a cascade of ice with barely a visible trickle of water.  On two separate occasions we found fossils while we were just out exploring parks.  We’ve spent time playing in creeks and watching butterflies.  Not every trip is exciting or different but over time we increase our knowledge and love of nature.

What was your year like?

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Weekly Wrap-up – Finishing the Year

WildflowersLast Friday we went on a wildflower hike with our science club. It was a nice hike, looking at flowers and chatting with friends.  We all had lunch together at the park amidst more chatting and playing.  It was one of the first really beautiful days to be outside which made it even more special.  I really appreciate this group of kids and parents.

While not exactly related to homeschool, E had his first Boy Scout camping trip over the weekend.  The weather was perfect for camping and he had a great time. While E was off at camp, C requested a trip with mom and dad to the art museum.  Sunday E returned from the camping trip and worked at the scout pasta dinner.

Water Balloon Catapult

This week was a finishing week.  We finished our standardized testing for the year.  E also finished his grammar book.  While we were finishing things, we also finished our first catapult and we’ve had a great time firing off water balloons.

IMG_1870We’ve essentially switched over to our summer schedule which typically means an hour or two of reading, math, and/or writing followed by time outside.  We were extra fortunate this week to have the chance to meet up with friends to take a short hike, wade in a creek, and play in a clay deposit.

Have you switched over to a summer schedule yet?  Is there much difference between your summer schedule and other times of year?

ON THE BOOKSHELF:

The Once and Future King (audio)

Nature’s Children: Snow Leopards

ON THE MENU

Salmon Filets with Corn on the Cob- I prefer to avoid the crowds on Mother’s Day and grill at home

Pulled Pork Sliders

Garden Veggie Soup

Stir Fry

Tikka Masala with Tofu and Chickpea

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Summer Reading for Tween Boys

As I write this my boys are in the 4th to 6th grade range.  Mostly these are fiction books they’ve read during the past year through a combination of reading, immersion reading on the kindle, and audio books.  If you have a child with dyslexia I highly recommend the immersion reading feature on the kindle. The combination of audio with highlighted text is excellent.  It really does open up a world of books that are of interest but might otherwise not be read.

Redwall  We will probably spend most of our summer immersed in this series.  My kids are action, adventure, fantasy genre fans.  While it might seem that books about mice are meant for younger children, these books are meant for those moving into the middle school years.  The villains are indeed quite evil and merciless.  The good mice do suffer and mourn.  Yet over all the story is hopeful and triumphant.  The reading level of the series trends around 6th to 7th grade.

The Chronicles of Prydain Even though the books were published back in the late 60’s, I never read them as a child.  What an excellent find!  The second in the series was a Newbery Honor winner and the fifth won the Newbery Medal.  The stories have a lot of adventure and humor.   My favorite part was how the characters grew and developed over the course of the series. The writing is very action focused and the stories move quickly.

The reading levels of the books vary from 5.5 – 6.6 and they vary between 4 to 6.5 hours in length according to the audio book.  The narration of the audio books is one of my absolute favorites.

Comparisons are frequently made between Chronicles of Prydain and Lord of the Rings.  Given that these are rated easier on reading level and much shorter in length they could be great books to read prior to Lord of the Rings.  Personally I liked this series much better than Lord of the Rings, and the boys say it is too close to decide.

The Hobbit The boys loved the Hobbit.  They found the story fun and interesting.  I’m not a Tolkien fan.  I’ve tried multiple times, but I get very bogged down.  I purchased the kindle and audible versions of both the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.  I’m glad I did, because I’m quite sure these will be revisited by the boys.

The Fellowship of the Ring – Again they really enjoyed the entire trilogy.  The reading levels on the books are 8.1-9 and the books are lengthy, so we made use of the immersion reading feature on the kindle.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series  –  The boys loved this series.  The books are full of action and very accessible.  Rick Riordan does a great job of writing high interest low reading level books perfect for kids with dyslexia (Reading level for this series is 3.3 – 4.7).  My son was appreciative of Percy Jackson being a struggling student with ADHD and dyslexia.  This series really sparked an interest in all things Greek.

The Heroes of Olympus  The Greek demigods of the Percy Jackson series discover their Roman counterparts in The Heroes of Olympus series.   The series has lots of action which was greatly enjoyed by the boys at my house. 3.7-5

While the Percy Jackson books are certainly popular and not what some would consider literature, I appreciate them.  They sparked a learning path at my house that took us from Percy Jackson to reading Greek Mythology to learning more about Greek and Roman history.  Along the way we learned about Archimedes, the Collisium, the history of Christianity,  and methods of warfare in Ancient and Medieval times.  Right now we are working on a catapult project that includes building a trebaucht and recording data about its use.

The Chronicles of Narnia It’s been a while since we’ve read Chronicles of Narnia yet these still come up in discussions  as we compare and contrast themes and discuss magical / mythical beings. 

I Survived seriesThe reading level for this series is around the 4th grade range.  Each story is about a young boy surviving a tragic historical event such as the Battle of Gettysburg, the sinking of the Titanic, or the San Francisco earthquake.

Harry Potter series  As I’ve been asking parents what their kids are reading,  Harry Potter keeps cropping up.  Many parents say they read them with their kids a few years ago, and now their sons are picking them up to read on their own.  So perhaps these are ripe for strewing about the house, even if you’ve already done them as read alouds.

Books in Waiting:

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch– I read this last year but for some reason didn’t share it with the boys.  It’s an excellent tale of a boy who faces many hardships on his journey to manhood.  His spirit of perseverance was just amazing.

Johnny Tremain A Newbery winner from 1944, this book is the story of a 14 year old boy caught up in the American Revolution.

Catapults

Today was a day of celebration!IMG_1753

Way back in March I shared this photo.  I was full of optimism that we would construct catapults for Engineer’s Week. DSC_5245

Our planning stage was very short therefore I failed to grasp what the final size of the catapults.  I didn’t realize catapults this size require outdoor construction.  Since we live in northern Ohio the weather was at first too cold and then too rainy.Catapult finished

We’ve worked on them here and there and the weather has FINALLY warmed up.  We’ve learned lots along the way, such as the difference between drill bits for concrete and wood, how to use a sawsall, and that it is ridiculously HARD to keep the drill straight when drilling through a round piece of pipe.IMG_1858

Today we had nice weather AND the day at home, so we sat down and studied how our model trebaucht works. The boys fashioned a sling from parachute cord and an old t-shirt.  IMG_1863Then we started slinging water balloons across the yard.  We all felt so accomplished to finally have an operational catapult.

Now we are learning how to make adjustments to get better repeatability. We  still have a second catapult to finish but it will go much easier as we have a new jig to help with drilling the holes.

If you are interested in doing a similar project we found the instructions in The Art of the Catapult.  I found the instructions a little unclear about where the bolts went, so contact me if you would like my marked up diagram.

Weekly Wrap-up – FABulous field trips and other creative pursuits

FIELD TRIP!!  Field trips are one of my absolute favorite things about homeschooling.  Field trips, individualized learning, treating kids with respect, building projects, time in nature – they are all my favorite things.

Last Friday we went to University of Pittsburgh to check out their Human Engineering Research Laboratories.  They work with the Veterans’ Administration to develop better assistive devises like wheelchairs, prosthetics, and orthotics.   It was great career exposure for the kids.  The combination of engineering with making a real difference in other people’s lives is a very appealing concept.

It just so happened there was also a place across the street called TechShop.  They were offering tours so we stopped in along with some friends who were also on the aforementioned HERL tour.  What a cool place!  It’s a FAB Lab on steroids.  They have the typical laser cutter/engravers, 3D printers, vinyl cutters and wood shop, but they also have a water jet cutter, a powder coat paint booth, welding, and CNC machines.  They also have a great textile station with embroidery and screen printing and a computer workshop area.   Check out the website and take a tour if you happen to live near one.

IMG_1835After lunch we headed over to the Carnegie Science Center.  It was such a short visit we only had time for the sports area, the traveling H2O exhibit and the shuttle lift.

IMG_1847This week we had the opportunity to attend a Cleveland Orchestra Education Concert.  The orchestra does a great job selecting the music for these concerts.  This one started with the Imperial March from Star Wars then moved on to classical composers like Vivaldi and Bach.  They also did a couple of American Jazz pieces before concluding with a part of the E.T. score.  The boys are really so so about going to the orchestra, but I just adore the chance to hear the orchestra perform.  I also love the architecture of Severance Hall.

After the performance we had lunch with friends and went through the “swords and knights” exhibit at the art museum.  We also went through the modern art section which is always fun.  The art museum is free which makes it easy to just pop in for a few minutes.  After the art museum we headed over to the Natural History Museum for about an hour before heading home so we could get ready for swim lessons.

Going on field trips means lots of time in the car so we listened to the first book of the Redwall series by Brian Jacques.  The story was very action packed and exciting.  If it had been a print edition, I would say it was a real page turner.  We listened to several hours of the story on Saturday and Sunday as well.  We will certainly be listening to more of the Redwall series during car trips this summer.

IMG_1857We had some good weather this week, which allowed us to work on our catapults.  They are almost complete, but on hold again while E is away on a camping trip this weekend.

Having the chance to visit so many creative spaces this week has been really invigorating.  I’m really looking forward to working on some creative projects this summer.

What fun projects are you planning for summer?

Weekly Wrap-Up WUH

A Weekly Wrapup

DSC_5252Mother Nature has given us a taste of spring and then yanked it back.

GoldfinchThis past weekend was absolutely beautiful.  We went for a family bike ride on some new single track.  It was a fairly short course yet very challenging.  E crashed into a tree, but was able to ride out.  (I don’t think I would have fared any better if I had tried to ride that bit.) We are all greatly anticipating our favorite familiar trails drying out enough to ride.  In the meantime it’s mostly paved stuff.  Last week we headed out at about 7 pm for a ride on the towpath and finished in the dark using our new lights.

We finished the Chronicles of Prydain series.  I highly recommend these books.  There are five books in all, but they are fairly short.  The narration on the audio CDs is phenomenal.  We had great discussions comparing elements of the Chronicles with elements of Lord of the Rings.  Since both have roots in Welsh mythology, we have several books on hold at the library to learn more about the original stories.  According to Scholastic the reading levels vary from 5.5-6.5.

We have a more exciting week coming up with a field trip to the engineering department of a nearby university, a visit to a science center, and a trip to the orchestra.