Wednesday, August 22, 2007

See-saw and solar ovens

We are learning about physical science this year (at a very elementary level). I am very excited about this. I remember doing a lot of this stuff with my Dad when I was young. I am excited to be able to do this stuff again. All we have done so far is learn what an inclined plane and a wedge is. We are going to read about levers over the next week or so. The book we are using has an experiment using a pencil as a fulcrum and a ruler as the bar. It is to show children how a see-saw works. SO! I started thinking as a homeschool mom why should I use a ruler and a pencil to show how a see-saw works? I have 2 (almost 3) small children why not make a REAL see-saw with my children? They can learn all about see-saws by making one and then we will have a see-saw they helped make in our yard to play on. This seems so simple and fun (in my head)! BUT! Simple things never turn out to be simple in my house. I thought it might be a nice thing for hubby to do with T (because I am very pregnant and a bit lazy nowadays). My husband has the opposite personality of me. For him to build something he likes to use patterns and make plans (something I hardly ever do). I found him some free plans online. Looking back now I think he might have wanted to buy a book on making fancy playground stuff (he works for Lowe's and I know they sell books like that). Anyway, I found some very simple plans on how to make a see-saw for him to use (I thought I was helping him out). A few days later he said that he wanted to look at more than one set of plans and that he didn't like the idea of using window wells he wanted to build something different than that. So I went searching and found several more. I then did a google image search for extra inspiration (just trying to help). I had pictures of ones made from all sorts of materials. I found indoor and outdoor see-saws. Rob then tells me he knows what he is making and didn't need me to find or print things out for him. I then let our toddler paint on some of the pages (didn't want to waste the paper). A friend stopped over later that day to visit I gave her all the papers I had printed out on see-saws (the ones left without paint on them). Two days later Rob and I talk again about see-saws. Turns out he wants a "nice" piece of playground equipment not anything like the ones I was looking at. I wasn't looking at it that way. I was looking for something simple a child can build (with very little help from us). I am the type of person who would be happy putting a board over the log that is laying in our yard! LOL! I still might do that for the children to see that a see-saw can be very simple and they can build one without doing a lot of work (I would put the board away before hubby came home from work). My hubby thought he had ALL SCHOOL YEAR to build the see-saw and he didn't hear me when I had said it was something to do WITH the children. He didn't know it was something I wanted to do get done in the next two weeks! LOL! Then he asked to look at the plans and papers I had printed out (ones I didn't have anymore). LOL! I did have them bookmarked so it only took me a few minutes to get the info printed again. After looking at the ideas I found online he again said he didn't like the kind I want to make (I told you my hubby and I are opposites). He asked if he could take a bit longer and make something nicer than what I want. I am fine with this but I wanted the children to help. We agreed that T. can sand, hold boards, and stuff like that and Rob will tell him what he is doing so T. learns a bit about the building process. My husband brought home some boards yesterday. He said he only got supplies to start working on the base. It looks to me like he is making this with no pattern. I don't know how long it will take him to build. He works long hours so he isn't home a lot. I will update you all on how this thing is coming along. Last night T. and Rob spent some time starting on the see-saw. It was late, (dark outside) raining, and cold so they didn't get to do much.

T. did get to make himself some new tools (kept him busy so Rob could cut the boards). I showed T. how to make sanding blocks. I remember my Dad doing this with me when I was about his age. T. got a piece of scrap wood and a wooden dowel. He stapled small pieces of sandpaper he cut out himself from a larger sheet.

This is him stapling the sandpaper to a block.
This is his new tools they are 2 sanding blocks. Then he got to use his new tools. He quickly noticed how much easier it was to sand with a sanding block. Before he made the sanding blocks he was using just pieces of sandpaper and that wasn't working out.

We are learning about heat later this year. I remember seeing solar ovens made from pizza boxes on some homeschool blogs last year. I thought making a solar oven would be fun to do with the children. I did some searching over the last few days (I do this at the same time I am blogging like right now). I quickly got confused over this solar oven thing. I was able to find on many homeschool blogs with how to make a pizza box oven and everyone said they worked. I kept reading that it took a LONG time to melt cheese on mini pizzas or to melt smores and that the ovens never got that hot. Several of the homeschool blogs I found did this in the summer time and they live down south and didn't have the best results with making things in the ovens. I was so worried that if I wait until we get to heat in our science book we might not be able to use a solar oven. Winters in PA can be very cold! I decided that it would be better for us to make our solar ovens soon (in the next month) and take lots of pictures so when we get to heat in science I can get out the pictures and we can talk about what we did. We can even give it a try and see how different our results are in cold and hot weather. I decided to not only look at homeschool blogs but also do a Google search. I found info saying you can use a solar oven as far north as Canada. I read that even in Canada you can use it in all but the 3 coldest months of the year. I read that people talk about BOILING food in solar cookers. This confused me! I couldn't understand why some homeschoolers had a hard time melting cheese on mini pizzas but solar oven sites (using a similar kind of ovens) could reach a temp to BOIL things! I didn't find any solar ovens yet that homeschoolers made that could boil stuff but I am not good at looking things up. I am sure many homeschoolers have had lots of luck doing this I just came across several who didn't. I had my hubby take a look at the 20 or so links I found with info on solar cooking and asked him to sort it out for me. We haven't made our plans yet on what to do with the solar oven idea yet. We "might" have the children make a pizza box oven (for smores and mini pizza) and then have Rob build another style and then we can compare the two. I think it will depend on how far he makes it with the see-saw project before I have this baby. I will let you all know what becomes of this. If I get the time and energy I might try making a few different kinds of solar ovens with the children myself. I think my hubby understood the difference between the ovens and why the pizza box ovens didn't work as well but I have to be honest and say I still have no clue. Rob is a read the plans and understand the why and how to make things work. I am the get the idea and try hands on with only glancing at pictures kind of person. LOL! Rob's way is the right way but I don't have time to read, shop, and make plans. I have a hard time following instructions with 2 children helping me with everything. I often do a quick lets give this a try and see what happens then when it doesn't work out right I talk about ways that might improve it. If I can't get something to work after many tries I then wait until the children are sleeping late at night and read the right way to do things. My way is often faster and we get to do more that is when my idea works. LOL! I have to admit that my way is often the one that needs a second or third try to work right. I think my children get to learn from all the mistakes I make along the way and we always get a good laugh and learn a lot (I think even learning what NOT to do is learning). My things I make don't hold up or work as well as the things my hubby makes. It will be interesting to see how the children decide to do things when they get older.

Here are a few links if you want to take a closer look at solar ovens.

PBS kids zoom show gives directions to a very simple solar cooker a child can make.

How to make a pizza box oven Pizza box instructions

another pizza box oven More pizza box instructions

This site gives more info on solar ovens than most people would ever need!

A Google search on how to make a solar oven will bring up enough sites to keep a person reading for years.

I will try to keep you posted how all of this is going or not going for us!

1 comment:

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