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Archive for the ‘Abeka Academy Weekly Journal’ Category

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Well, John has reached a major milestone in 7th Grade A Beka Academy DVD Program 1 Homeschool:  he completed his science project!  (Yes, I am very happy!)  This project is really a big part of 7th grade science.  He began it in October and just completed it this week.  There were several components to this project including a research paper, a scientific experiment, a display, and an oral presentation.  John is, of course, our oldest son, so he gets the “privilege” of trying out all of these great things first!  By the time Kara works on one of these projects, it’ll be a piece of cake–yeah, right!

John’s project was about DNA.  The goal of his experiment was to determine if the amount of extractable DNA in fruits and vegetables increased with the number of chromosomes.  Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?!  Basically, he liquified 6 different fruits and veggies, and then using a process involving soap, rubbing alcohol, meat tenderizer, and other household items, he extracted the DNA from the liquid.  The DNA collected in a layer, and then he measured the depth of the layer.  This was not as easy at it sounds because sometimes the layers were pretty well defined, and other times the DNA “blobbed” making measuring pretty difficult.  He then charted the measurements with the number of chromosomes to see if there was any correlation between the two figures.

Fortunately, John has a Dad who is an economist and works with charts, trends, and the like all of the time.  Dan helped John analyze the data, and then John and I worked together to make the display according to the directions given to us by A Beka.  It was quite the process…..

So, what were the results?  John determined from his experiments that there was a very slight correlation between the number of chromosomes and the amount of extractable DNA, but this correlation was so slight that it is statistically insignificant.  In order to be conclusive, the experiment would have to be conducted many, many times and measured with highly sophisticated equipment that we just simply do not have access to in our house!  😉

So that’s one science project down, and, if my figuring is right, we should have 29 more to go….. Yes, all five kids will have these kind of projects each year from 7th grade through 12th grade. That means that we will be doing science projects every year until 2022!  There will be a few years where 4 out of 5 kids will all be doing them.  What will that be like???  Our house is going to look like a laboratory!

I am going to add a slideshow of John’s project along with a video of him doing his oral presentation.  He worked very hard on this project, and I am proud of him for sticking with it and doing such a great job! (By the way, the sound on the video will probably need to be turned up.  The room we were using had a lot of echoes.  Sorry about that!)

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: DNA Extraction Project
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Ugh!  I am SO behind on my blogging again!  We have been extremely busy the last couple of weeks.  This time of year always gets so hectic with school and scouting projects.  John’s science project is nearly finished, and he will be giving his oral report to Brock’s Webelos group tomorrow night.  The pine car derby is Saturday, so we have all been working on cars.  Those silly things sure take up a lot of time!  Hopefully things will slow down a little in the next week or so, and then I will try to catch up my blog with what all has been going on.

In the mean time, the kids have all had memory verses due, so here is our video installment for January 2010:

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Here we are:  half-way through our school year, just returning from Christmas break.  It was good to take several days off from school.  I’ll admit it, we were barely hanging in there right before Christmas!  The kids and I had lost a lot of focus and were in great need of a change of pace for a few days.

The break (both from school and of my fingers 🙂 ) gave me time to evaluate where we are and think about where we are going.  I determined to refocus my own priorities and am challenging the kids to buckle down on their studies now that we are back in school.  This includes setting aside unnecessary distractions until our work is done, and putting our full energy into the tasks God has given us.

Really, home schooling and parenting  are  my greatest responsibilities and privileges. They are truly missions given to me by God, and I need to treat them as such.  They are worthy of my concentration, devotion, and best effort.

So, as I thought about my life over the Christmas break, renewing my own commitment to our school was one area that I wanted to address in my own life.  I have a couple of other areas that I am taking specific steps to work on as well, but those will be discussed in future entries.

John’s DNA science project is in its final phases.  We will be working on his display and he will be putting together his oral presentation during the next few days.  We have all learned a lot!  I told him that if he’ll get his presentation well-polished, I’ll try to make a video of him explaining his work to put on this blog soon.

My fingers are doing SO much better!  This week I have seen nothing short of miraculous progress!  I went back to the clinic for a check up this week on it, and the nurse practitioner said that unless problems develop, I don’t need to come back.  The fingers are healing well, they just need time to heal completely.  I am able to do most tasks normally now, which is a major improvement from just a few days ago.  I can even type with both hands and play my violin again!  Yes, my fingers do still hurt from time-to-time, but they flex well, and the swelling has gone down considerably.  Isn’t God’s ability to heal absolutely amazing?!

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Our school year is rolling right along!  John is really involved in his science project now, so we are pretty busy.

This past weekend John and I decided to do a trial run on his DNA extraction experiment before we actually start the procedures for his project.  I am so glad that we did because we found little things here and there that we needed to clarify in our process so that his project will be consistent with the appropriate controls.  Mostly these adjustments were using precise measurements, timing, etc. so that the exact process will be duplicated with each of the fruits and veggies that he will be testing.  I also had this question in the back of my mind whether this whole experiment would even work, so I was excited to try it out.  I don’t know what we would do if we couldn’t even get the DNA to extract!  Thankfully, though, the process works beautifully.

We used split peas for our first trial, and although these results won’t be an actual part of his project, it was well worth the time, effort, and mess to go through it in an “unofficial” way before we get down to the nitty-gritty of his research project.

Another science project milestone has been met:  the research paper.   Wow, what a project!  John wanted to type his paper this year, and I had no problem with that.  In fact, the ability to do word processing is a vital skill today, so this was a good learning activity for him to go through.  He did all of the typing himself.  His dad and I helped with some of the formatting, inserting pictures, etc., but the rest of it was all his own work.  He designed a really neat cover for his paper on the computer too.  I am hoping to figure out a way to post his completed paper soon.  Here is a picture of him working away on it:

Typing the Research Paper

So, things are pretty busy at the Prairie Family house. It’s a good thing that Christmas break is coming. We really need a few days to catch up on things!

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Well, this is long overdue!  I actually took these pictures several weeks ago, but I just got time today to get them edited and sorted through!

Anyway, I used to have the kids’ school pictures taken professionally each year, but it just got to be too expensive.  So a couple of years ago, I started taking them myself–with varying degrees of success!  😉  This year the kids all cooperated, but my poor camera has seen better days.  It just doesn’t seem to focus right no matter how I have it set.  I really need to get something different–these days with the kids will be gone all too soon.

I made a Smilebox slideshow of the pictures I ultimately chose to use for this year’s school pictures, and then I included some of my other favorite shots at the end of the slideshow.

Click to play this Smilebox greeting: 2009/10 School Pictures
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