Wednesday, July 1, 2009

An unschooling moment

I've been noting little unschooling math moments with Becky and Sean.

Yesterday, Becky took the little thermometer we usually have propped up in our kitchen window and was examining it. She wanted to know what the F stood for and the C and why there were different numbers on either side of the mercury strip. Then she wanted to know what mercury was. I explained to her what Fahrenheit and Celsius meant and the difference in the numbering and what mercury is.

Then all on her own she decided to conduct an experiment. She got a cup of ice water and lowered the thermometer into it. Then she had me put on the timer for 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes she took out the thermometer. "Mommy on the C side it says 0 and on the F side it says 30. So then I explained that 0 is Celsius means the point water freezes and 32 on the Farhenheit side means the same thing. She wanted to know why mercury moved up and down the thermometer and I explain from my very little pool of knowledge that heat makes mercury expand and cold makes it shrink and someone a long time ago figured out how much mercury to put in a thermometer to make it move to the accurate temperature. I am not sure if my explanation is correct. I need to look that up today.

The other unschooling thing she did was take the Jenga blocks (my kids have never actually played a game of Jenga all the way through!) and made the letters for Hannah's name. She got confused because the letters changed direction (the n's were the problem) depending on which side you were looking at her 3d name. She had never realized that things change direction depending on your viewpoint. It was a good lesson for her.

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