2016 Aquarium Science Classes

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This is our fourth year attending science classes at Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg. It’s a bit shocking for me to write that, but it’s true. Four years already? At first, it was only my son and I going there. My mom was living with us at the time and she kept my daughter, age three at the time.

Boy and girl at Ripley's Aquarium

Before the class, they look at the fish.

The following year, they each attended their own class, but soon the Preschool class was canceled and my daughter joined my son in the K-2 class. Last year, they were perfectly matched to the K-2 class, as my son was in second grade and my daughter in Kindergarten. Continue reading »

This year, we had to make a decision: do we put them in K-2 or 3-5? The curriculum is different from last year. They change teachers and curriculum every year at Ripley’s, so that was not the issue. The issue was, should we challenge the little one or bore the older one?

Boy and girl touch jelly fish at Ripley's Aquarium

Touching the jelly fish

We decided to challenge our daughter, who is in first grade this year, and allow our son to study on his grade level. So they are both in the class for Grades 3-5.

They have already had one class (September). The new teacher did a great job and the kids had no problem following the presentation, answering questions, participating in class, and performing the experiment.

Children performing an experiement

Experiment after the lecture

They learned about different science disciplines and the scientific method. It’s a great beginning and we look forward to the rest of the year. My son has been scoring very high in science in his nationally standardized test every year so we must be doing something right in our homeschool. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.


Science Camp

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This week, Monday-Friday, 9am-12noon, at the Lutheran Church on Pullen Road in Sevierville, our children are attending a science camp. Several science teachers from the local community college and from the public school system put this program together for free, in order to revive the old way of teaching science: through experiments.

Children looking into a microscope

Looking at rocks up close

The camp director said she has been a lifelong educator and has noticed that over the years the school system has transitioned to worksheets and away from hands-on experiences. For children, science is fun if you show them experiments and let them handle substances. That’s how they develop an inquisitive mind and they learn to think outside the box.

Continue reading »

About 22 children showed up, grades 1-8. They were split into three groups by age. My children were together in the K-3 group, which was perfect. These groups rotated between four stations and worked with four different teachers. There was a snack in the middle of the morning. We usually do not snack, but I let the kids do this because it is easier this way. Plus, it buys me time to get home and get lunch ready once camp is over.

Science camp for children

Learning about nutrition and reading labels

So the day began with Pastor Portier sharing some thoughts on how we are fearfully and wonderfully made. On the first day, for instance, he focused on cells. From there, my children’s group went into a classroom to study geology. They handled different rocks and listened to the classification of rocks. They looked into a microscope at different rocks.

Water molecules glued together experiment for children

Look, the water does not flow out!

On the next rotation, they watched the teacher blow up a balloon mainly with carbon dioxide and then got to play with it, noticing that it was much heavier than a balloon filled up with oxygen. The greatest experiment, which shocked most kids, was the classic with the water molecules glued together in a mason jar. By sliding a piece of paper under the mouth of the jar and waiting a few seconds, the molecules have time to gel and water will not flow out of the jar once the paper is removed.

Next, it was on to the nutrition table and last but not least, the engineering table, where they built different structures out of 3×5 index cards and tested their solidity with a beanie baby. We are very pleased with the program and though I know it tires us to get there early every day, we will benefit from being there.