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This year Cosette had a very interesting science project that ended up much differently than we had originally planned.  She wanted to do an investigation that tested the rotations per minute of a toy helicopter’s blades under a variety of conditions.  So, we got the helicopter, researched ways to measure rpm, and started trying to gather data.

We quickly discovered that all of this was easier said than done.  First of all, the helicopter was pretty hard to control.  In addition to that, measuring rpm on a moving object can be tricky.  We were almost ready to give up when I saw a friend of mine post some information about his drone.  He graciously offered to fly his drone if that would help with the project, so we tried it out, experimented with the right kind of tachometer to measure the blades’ rpm, and got the investigation re-worked.

We didn’t completely abandon the helicopter.  We thought of ways to adapt her original project that would be more practical in real-life and gathered data under a variety of conditions with that as well.

So, probably the most important lesson we learned from this project was to thoroughly test an idea before investing a lot of time into a project that may or may not work.

Once we were finally able to collect the data for Cosette’s project, her board and reports came together quite well.  I will include a video of her presentation and a slideshow about her project with this entry.

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As Brock was completing his last A Beka Academy Science Project, Luke was working on his first.  In 7th grade, the students plan a project, but do not actually complete the experiment or make a display.  Then in 8th grade, the students go through the entire process to put together a finished science project.

Luke’s project is kind of hard to describe, and it didn’t work like we had planned.  So, we had to make some modifications as we went along.  His investigation involved transferring static electricity to a Leyden jar with various conditions and measuring the resulting discharge spark.  The first jar that Luke built did not work.  That was our biggest obstacle.  It simply would not consistently discharge making the collection of data nearly impossible.  So after a few days of frustration, we hunted for ideas on how to improve the jar’s design to make it more reliable.  Ultimately, we completely scrapped the original design which required Luke to rethink his tests, hypotheses, etc.  This was a good lesson to go through, however, and Luke was very persistent in getting the project finished.  Now we know that it is a pretty good idea to test a procedure out early in the planning stages of the project just to make sure everything works right….sigh…..

Anyway, we eventually got the data we needed, and Luke got his display made.  Here is a slideshow of his project followed by a video of his oral presentation:

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The Prairie Family is nearing the end of this year’s Science Project Season–yea!  🙂  These projects are good for the kids to do, but they do require a lot of work (and patience).  Most years we will only have two projects, but we were lucky enough this year to have three….  Seniors in A Beka Academy are not required to do a science project, so this is Brock’s last one, and I am pretty sure that he is glad.

Brock’s project worked really well this year.  In fact, this one has gone the smoothest and had the most consistent results of any project that the Prairie Family has done so far.  This project involved measuring and comparing sound levels under a variety of conditions using different insulating materials.  The little sound meter that we used to measure the loudness worked really, really well!  It made gathering the data a simple process.  Brock and I both agree that designing more projects that use this tool would be a good idea for future studies.

Here is a slideshow about Brock’s project followed by a video of his oral presentation describing his experiment:

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This was Cosette’s first year of participating in the Northwest Kansas Piano Clinic and Multi-Keyboard Concert, and this was a really nice event for her.  Her day began by having a visiting clinician listen to her play several pieces and offer her encouragement and critique.  It’s nice to get input from a variety of people, and this particular pianist had some wonderful suggestions for Cosette to try.

Cosette also participated in three levels of the multi-keyboard concert, so she had several hours of rehearsal before the performance.  Playing in groups like this is very good for pianists because of the fellowship, but also because of the accuracy and listening required when performing with others.  The visiting conductor was very engaging, and Cosette enjoyed his groups very much.  Here is a video of one of her groups performing New Orleans Swing by Carol Matz:

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Berceuse by Grieg

It has been really great having John home from KSU for Thanksgiving break. Of course, we were all excited to hear him play the piano, and I know many of my readers are as well. So, here is a video of John playing one of the pieces that he has been studying this semester, Berceuse by Grieg:

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To celebrate his graduation, John requested that we not have a formal ceremony or reception, but rather that we would find a special musical event to attend together as a family.  So, I set him to work to find what he’d like to see.  After a lot of research, John decided to go to the Empire Lyric Players’ presentation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera, The Mikado.

To be honest, none of us knew quite what to expect from this show.  We had gone to musicals, but never an “opera,” so I told the kids that even if the music isn’t what we are used to, we can always appreciate good acting, staging, etc.  Little did I know that my preconceived worries were unwarranted!  🙂  The show was a big hit with everyone!  It was entertaining and funny, and the music was superb.  The kids were all quite impressed that even though there seemed to be no amplification, every line and every note came through with great clarity.  By the time we left the show, the kids were convinced that the college should do a Gilbert and Sullivan show this year!  LOL!

We’re planning to keep track of what this group is performing in the future.  They are well worth traveling to see!  Here is a video of some of the highlights of The Mikado made by the theater company:

 

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Cosette and Luke wanted to do a duet of  “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better” from Annie, Get Your Gun for the 2015 college musical revue.  They worked very hard to learn this song–the words are difficult to learn and easy to confuse!  They did a pretty good job (mostly because they were only partly acting!)  🙂  Here is a video:

 

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