Sunday, April 01, 2007

I Want To Be A Chemist

Well, not me, but Emily does, apparently. We'll add it to the list, which currently comprises (in varying order of importance): artist, author, poet, fashion designer, safari park ranger, teacher (?????), hairdresser, make up artist, archaeologist, historian, ballerina.

We didn't go out for the day on Friday in the end - couldn't bear the prospect when it came down to it, as where we were going was guaranteed to be full of school kids on their "Easter treat" school trips just before they break up.

We did, however, manage a rather nice day. Emily was feeling a lot better with just a stuffed up nose left from her cold, so we got back to some work. Lots more Latin - can't believe how well she's doing with that. More percentages in maths, and a bit more about Stonehenge in history. After lunch, we started the Chemistry section of Real Science 4 Kids. Wow! I'm so impressed with that! We read the first chapter of Emily's textbook which was all about matter, atoms and the periodic table. Think I learnt more on Friday afternoon about all of that than I ever learnt at secondary school - and Emily soaked it all up enthusiastically. Within minutes she was jumping up and down from the table to the poster on the wall, working out the number of neutrons in various elements by subtracting the atomic number from the atomic mass, recognising element names she's already familiar with (calcium, etc), debating the nature of the groupings and so on.

We gathered a load of items for use in the first "experiment", which was basically driving home the concept that everything on earth is fundamentally made up of these elements. Emily looked at ingredients lists on food and made the connections between the periodic table and things like sodium bicarbonate, sodium chloride; she looked at lots of cleaning items and beauty products and made connections concerning things like magnesium sulphate, hydrogen peroxide and so on. Emily also looked at some less obvious items like wood and steel, using the internet to look up what they're actually made of, e.g. wood is made up of cellulose, but what is cellulose actually made of? She really enjoyed that.

Emily also wrote down a list of no less than 14 questions she wants to find out about, based on that first lesson alone - things like "how do they KNOW they've discovered ALL of the elements?", "how do they KNOW that the number of protons is the same as the number of electrons?" etc. I haven't a clue as to the first question; I know the second question will be covered at least partially when we move onto ions and Emily discovers that protons and electrons are not always equal; as to the rest, I'm just delighted that it has sparked such an interest. Oddly enough, this level of interest was always conspicuous by its absence from the standard British KS2 national curriculum "fill in the blanks" science work we've done. I'm beginning to question the sanity of anyone who really believes that UK schools are truly providing a decent education.

Yesterday was dominated by yoga, with two rehearsals and Emily's yoga show in the afternoon. She did so well, we were really proud :-)) She couldn't stop smiling all the way through the show, delivered her lines in the play with perfect comic timing, and was introduced by her teacher to read the yoga poetry she'd written herself. Oh yeah, and all the kids were given an early Easter Egg as a pressie for doing so well, lol, which seemed to go down rather well.

This morning we all got up at the unearthly hour of 6.30 so Jon and Emiy could go out to a huge car boot sale near here. Well, unearthly for me and Emily - Jon's normally up by 6 anyway, so technically he had a lie in! No karate today as the teacher's away, so they've gone off bargain hunting instead :-))


Alison said...

Well, they don't know that they've discovered all the elements :) But the last few have all only been seen or made in a lab environment - they've been artificially created, so it seems a fair bet that all the naturally-occurring ones have been found.

If you're looking at elements, Theo Gray's Periodic Table is must-see :)

And obviously she should learn the song ;-)

Nikki said...

Thanks for the links and information, Alison :-) I can barely remember a thing about chemistry from O levels, so it's practically as new to me as it is to Emily! Science and maths weren't "my thing", lol.

UmSuhayb bint David said...

Hi there, your daughter's questions sound like what I might be getting in the future with my eldest. He already asks me things on regular basis which require a bit of 'Googling'. I find it daunting even though I did A level Chemistry (although was 'advised' to do it, not of my own interest, but maybe it was for the best as I can have some idea when helping my science-loving son!)

Nikki said...

Hello! Thanks for commenting. I hadn't seen your blog before - very interesting! I'm glad it's not just me who doesn't automatically know the answers to kids' questions. I guess part of the beauty of home education is learning alongside the child!

lucy said...

Sounds like Emily is a budding chemist already! My dad is a chemist and were going to be tapping his knowledge soo. Thank you for the song and the amazing periodic table links Alison - will be using them too. Also the volcano and earthquake set on the post above looks very tempting... love the pics :)