We're trying to measure everything: the temperature outside our classroom window, the rainfall that collects in front of the school office, the circumference of the hill, the area of the slab. We're also trying to measure everything about US!: our height, our weight, our digit (width of one finger), our palm (width of four closed fingers), our span (with fingers spread, the distance from our thumb to our pinky), and our cubits (with arms bent, the length from our elbow to the tip of our longest finger).
Into this discussion comes the difference between standard and nonstandard units of measurement, and why standard units of measurement are preferred (which is pretty easy to understand when we line up our cubits to each other's!). Bill Nye the Science Guy helped us out. So did NASA.
We also compared the U.S. system of using inches, feet, yards, and miles (etc.) to most of the rest of the world, who likes to divide life into meters. Did you know the length of a meter is the distance between the North Pole and the Equator, divided up 10,000 times? Scientists calculated the estimated distance from pole to equator, divided that number by 10,000, and said "Voila! Let's turn this into a meter stick!!"
And who doesn't want to measure FOOD! Today we studied cups, pints, quarts, and gallons -- and all the tricky ways to convert from one to the other, with the help of Cuisenaire Rods, a refresher on fractions, and our trusty Miquon Mathematics workbooks. Finally, we each measured 2 teaspoons of sarsaparilla root, 1 teaspoon of anise seeds, and 1/2 stick of sweet cinnamon bark into a big pot, covered it with water, and boiled our medicinal decoction! The pot and its plant-medicine contents will sit overnight. Tomorrow we'll strain out the plant debris, add carbonated water, and enjoy a homemade batch of Healthy Root Beer Tonic!
Clearly our Measurement Week will last longer than 7 days. Maybe May will become our Measurement Month??
Here's a few pics:
The Amethyst Kids hopped into cars headed for the coast last week, as we drove two hours to Wolf Creek Education Center in Redwood National Park. Our 11 kids spent three days in field studies with interpretive rangers and two nights in cozy cabins named for the Wapiti Roosevelt Elk and Marbled Murrelet Birds. We studied wetlands, prairies, and old-growth forests for a total of nine hours of outdoor learning! Wow. (Not to mention our night hike, solo hike, Banana Slug hike, impromptu theatrical performance, and playing games inside and atop ancient tree stumps!).
Many parents joined us, but some could not ... which leads to this "fly on the wall" moment. I videotaped 13 minutes during our wetlands field study, thinking of the parents who wanted to be with us, but couldn't. This video is for them: