Thursday, 22 November 2012

Faerie Night Light

Littletree’s experiments with chemistry have joined up with her recently-found interest in low-light photography (which we talked about here).

She’s been experimenting with luminescent chemistry, and we’ve been learning a lot about the stuff that goes into glow sticks, and things that glow in UV light, like the quinine in tonic water.

The latest fun thing to do has been making faerie nightlights by breaking up glow sticks and emptying them into jars. The effect is awesome, especially with mixing different colours.

And then Littletree gets to experiment with low-light photography and painting with light.






Monday, 19 November 2012

Littletree’s Big Tree

Littletree’s been working on an art project for a while. One day, she decided she wanted to paint a mural of a tree in her room, so the awesome goddessmother Lady Demelza took her out to get some appropriate supplies, and helped her get set up.

Littletree stood a while, staring at the blank wall, pondering


Lady Demelza had assumed that Littletree would direct, and Lady Demelza would end up doing a lot of the painting, but that wasn’t to be. Littletree just wanted someone to keep her company, and to take a lot of photos of the process (with her phone).

So off she went…


There were many trips to the opposite wall to stand back and get perspective


And careful attention to detail


She had to climb on her bunk to get the higher branches


Always checking the form and shape


And like any tree… slowly, it grew


She mixed her colours


And the tree grew and grew


At some point, she decided to get a step-stool for height, Littletree was of the opinion that hanging off the bunk bed wasn’t stable enough.


And the tree grew


And grew


Leaves were added, and then it was time to take a break.

So the tree sat… seasons changed, winter turned into spring… and then, one day, Littletree announced that her tree was finished.


And she loves it!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Koala is not a Bear

We drive past signs like these often


But you never actually see any Koalas… but coming back from the beach yesterday, right exactly next to this sign, we saw a koala crossing the road! (Actually, if you look very, very closely at this photo, the koala is visible in the tree behind the sign)

Quickly pulled over off the road and grabbed the camera, Littletree was ecstatic!


Glad to see it safely cross the road, it then scampered into some bushes and then we watched as it climbed up a gum tree.


Lucky it wasn’t a drop bear! And so exciting to see Koalas – the last place we lived there were lots of them around the house making a racket at night, but here they aren’t nearby.

Here’s a short video:

Short Koala clip

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Crystal Chemistry

Littletree has been dabbling in chemistry lately, as well as a little geology, which is the perfect crossover for her loves of science and crystals.

She was given a selenite tower recently, and she loves the crystal; she finds it to have great powers of protection and to be very calming. AquaCat suggested going on an adventure to the creek with a whole lot of crystals to “cleanse” them in the spring water, of course Littletree jumped at the chance.

They had a lovely walk through the rainforest and up the creek, and set the crystals up to cleanse in the flowing water


Littletree was very careful to set them all up carefully and then set about the important scientific work of playing in the river experimenting with physics.


When she came back to check on the crystals, they discovered that the selenite was all rough, and decided that perhaps it was a crystal not meant to be in water.


As soon as she came home, Littletree was most excited, and we went straight to google to find out about selenite and why it went funny in the water.

Littletree learned that it’s actually a crystalline form of gypsum which is the main ingredient in plaster, and alabaster. Reading one page, Littletree read that gypsum is CaSO4·2H2O and she asked me what that means.

So we spent some time learning about the periodic table, elements, the different bonds molecules form, and how they sit in crystalline structures.

She already had a very basic grasp of what elements are, but she was was fascinated with the concept – we talked about how each element has a certain number of electron “arms” – potential bonds where it can connect with other elements. We talked at length about H2O being water and how it’s a molecule made of an Oxygen atom (which has two “arms”) and two Hydrogen atoms (with one arm each).

Littletree spent some time working out the exact structure of calcium sulphite dihidrate, and was most impressed to work out that selenite is 70% water, which is similar to the amount of water in the human body. She even drew up the chemical structure in her notebook.


We had a long discussion about what effect it would have on the human body if one dissolved selenite into the drinking water, and in fact, I’m still listening to her rabbiting on about how selenite is 70% water and 30% calcium sulphite, and it will just dissolve in water.

Then we had to look up the chemical compositions of all the crystals she has, and then many other things. So now a wall poster of the periodic table has been added to her wish list, and she’s moved on to a new favourite joke which she’s telling everyone:

Two scientists walk in to a bar, and the first one says “Bartender, I’ll have a glass of H2O” and the second scientist says “I’ll have a glass of H2O too.” and the second scientist died.


Thursday, 8 November 2012

Trust in Learning

Remember a few years ago when Sugata Mitra did his TED talk about the “Hole in the Wall” experiments? I blogged about it HERE and you can see the YouTube clip of it here:

Well, the One Laptop Per Child Project took it to another step (If you don’t know about the OLPC project, check it out).

They gave out one thousand tablet PCs to children in remote villages in Ethiopia – children who had no access to schools, and many of whom lived in an environment of total illiteracy; no exposure to printed language whatsoever, and most definitely not English.

But rather than giving the children lessons in how to use their computers, the OLPC folk just left the computers in their boxes, without any instruction whatsoever.

Here’s a quote from a report on it (you can read the full one HERE):

But that's not what OLPC did. They just left the boxes there, sealed up, containing one tablet for every kid in each of the villages (nearly a thousand tablets in total), pre-loaded with a custom English-language operating system and SD cards with tracking software on them to record how the tablets were used. Here's how it went down, as related by OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte at MIT Technology Review's EmTech conference last week:

"We left the boxes in the village. Closed. Taped shut. No instruction, no human being. I thought, the kids will play with the boxes! Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, but found the on/off switch. He'd never seen an on/off switch. He powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs [in English] in the village. And within five months, they had hacked Android. Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera! And they figured out it had a camera, and they hacked Android."

That’s right – children who had never even seen printed words were just given sealed boxes containing computers loaded with an English-language operating system worked out, totally on their own, not only how to use computers, but how to speak English, run apps and hack the Android OS to make the built-in cameras work.

Because children have an inherent ability to learn. Trust in them, don’t inhibit their love of learning. Enrich their lives with learning experiences, but most of all trust that they will learn.

If this doesn’t blow your mind, you probably haven’t paid attention.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Hallowe’en Party

We left off right at the point of leaving for the most awesome home schoolers All Hallow’s Eve party with Littletree getting into her costume

The party was an incredible success, about 20 kids of ages ranging from about 4 to about 16. The hosting family had gone all out with decorations and spooky food, it was so much fun.

Littletree had a ball – the hosting family have an acre of land, with a massive trampoline and playground set-up, and one of the home school group mamas set up a disco in the carport, complete with laser lights and smoke machine.

Epic fun.

Here’s a few select photos, but you can see the whole album here:

03 jack o lantern

04 Jo just normal

05 coffin

06 graveyard

17 feast

21 cat

28 trampoline

30 disco

38 disco ela

41 disco

56 all the kids