Homeschooling science should be a part of every homeschooling experience. Although some states require that science be taught in public schools as well as private schools and home schools; whether or not the state mandates the teaching of science, science should be part of every home school.There is no disputing the fact that we live in a technological age. Computers, the Internet, digital cameras, cell phones, iPods, the list is endless. Every facet of our lives is touched by science. Even in the area of religion, there are implications of science as we look toward the cosmos and try to understand our place in the vastness of space. Debates on intelligent design, creationism, the big bang, and evolution are raging throughout many societies. Students who are not exposed to these compelling issues are being shortchanged in their education.Most importantly, the study of science promotes the creative impulses of humans. The little child who dismantles a toy on Christmas to discover how it works or the child who is always asking why are compelling reasons for teaching science. Children are more inquisitive than ever before. Hardly a parent exists who has not at some point been asked why by their children.Given the prevalence of science in our culture, in our world, and in our lives, parents would be remiss if they did not have homeschooling science as part of their homeschooling experience. This observation is made all the more critical in North America where studies and surveys continue to show that our children are lagging behind children of other countries in developing math and science competencies.Part of the reason you decided to home school your children is to give them a competitive edge by giving them the best possible educational experience. You cannot fulfill that noble goal unless you have adopted a science curriculum which is appropriate for your children.
Step One: Bridge the Technology DivideThe reality is that overall women tend to have less experience with technology than their male counterparts, whether we are talking about computer technology or auto technology. Instructors who are successful in retaining female students recognize that they need to start with the basics during the beginning of the semester so that the less experienced students get the basic building blocks needed to be successful (this is helpful to male students missing those basics too). So that might mean an introduction to tool identification and use or the basics of navigating the Internet. Instructors should also provide open lab time for students in need of additional hands-on experience. If possible, staff the lab with a senior female student, women are often more comfortable asking questions of other women in a male-dominated field. For some best practice case study examples that illustrate these concepts look at the Cisco Gender Initiative’s Best Practice Case Studies developed by the Institute for Women in Trades, Technology and Science (IWITTS) (1).Step Two: Collaborative Learning in the Technology ClassroomMany female students lack confidence in the classroom and this negatively impacts their learning ability. There are several reasons for this: first, overall, male students have more experience with technology, especially hands-on labs; second, male students tend to boast of their accomplishments while females tend to think that they are doing poorly even when they are doing well; third, male students tend to dominate in classroom discussions and lab activities.Technology instructors can overcome these factors by using collaborative group methods in the classroom designed to increase student learning, interaction and support of each other. Some examples of these group methods are: 1) grade students in teams as well as individually; 2) put female students in positions of leadership in the classroom; 3) assign students to teams or pairs rather than leaving it up to them to pick their partners; 4) have female students work together in labs during the beginning of the semester; 5) enlist the help of whiz kids with the teaching of their fellow students, providing them with a constructive outlet for their talents.Step Three: Contextual LearningThe recent adage that women are from Mars and men are from Venus is alive and well in the technology classroom — women and men have different learning styles when it comes to technology. Most men are excited by the technology itself — how fast it is, the number of gigabytes, the size of the engine. Most women are engaged by how the technology will be used — how quickly the network will run, how much information can be stored, how far the vehicle can go without refueling. These Mars and Venus differences have implications for the class curriculum: female students will better understand technical concepts in the classroom when they understand the context for them. Don’t front load your computer programming classes with writing computer code with no context for this if you want to retain most of your female students. For more information on this subject including off-the-shelf curriculums for teaching contextual technology read IWITTS’s Making Math and Technology Courses User Friendly to Women and Minorities: An Annotated Bibliography (2).Step Four: The Math FactorMost technology courses require an understanding of applied math. Many women and girls are fearful of math and have had negative experiences in the math classroom. This phenomenon is so common that courses and curriculum on math anxiety for women are in place around the country. The key to success in teaching most females math is — like technology — contextual and group learning. Fortunately many off-the-shelf curriculums exist for teaching math contextually, see IWITTS’s bibliography linked above. Many technology courses at the two-year college level have math prerequisites that are unrelated to the technology coursework and omit the applied math that will be needed. Technology courses should only require math that is relevant to their courses and/or develop contextual math modules to add to their curriculum.Step Five: Connect the Women in Your Classes with Other WomenA female mentor or peer support network can help your students stay the course when they are feeling discouraged and can provide helpful tips for succeeding in a predominantly male environment. There are many on-line and real-time associations for women in technology, connect your female students to them. See the Career Links on WomenTechWorld.org for a list of some of these networks. Also, WomenTechTalk on WomenTechWorld.org — a free listserv for women in technology and students — provides a combination of support and expert career panels to it’s over 200 members from across the U.S.
Homeschool science education is fun! It is more fun when you can use things found around the house to demonstrate some naturally occurring phenomena such as air pressure. Flying a toy plane is every child’s dream, and if it is combined with education, it can promote better understanding.Before we go into the fun learning activities that you could co-ordinate with a homeschool science program, let me teach you some principles on which airplanes fly. There are some forces working on an airplane as it flies. They are the forces of thrust and drag and lift and gravity.
Thrust moves the airplane forward, and is provided by the jet engine and the propeller. Drag is a force of resistance that works in the opposite direction of thrust and slows down the airplane. Lift works in the upward direction and is produced by the wings. Gravity works in a direction opposite to the lift and pulls the plane down due to its weight. The right balance between these four forces keeps the plane flying.
Airplanes are shaped in such a way so as to minimize drag caused by air pressure, in order to allow them to glide smoothly. When air hits a moving object having a smaller area, it does not cause much resistance since there is less air pressure working on that object. On the other hand, when air hits a moving object with a larger area, it causes resistance as there is a higher pressure working on that object.
This is why airplanes are aerodynamically designed with cone-shaped noses so that the air pressure on the airplane body is reduced. This reduces drag and allows them to glide effortlessly through the air.
As an airplane moves with great speed on the runway, the wings are tilted upwards, increasing the air pressure on them. Therefore the airplane is lifted off the runway and rises higher. The angle of the wings determines how high the airplane will lift. In the same way, air pressure is used to maneuver the plane using the tail rudder.
You can blend the following fun activity with your homeschool science program. Buy a balsa wood toy airplane at your local store or drug store. As we assemble the airplane, we will experiment how it flies as we add each part.
To begin with, fly only the airplane body without the fins or wings. You will find that it is no better than a shoe flung in the air. The thrust is of no use, as it cannot make the right use of air pressure to fly.
Now attach only the large wing and fly the airplane. Your plane will seem to lift but then somersaults or plummets to the ground.Next attach the horizontal stabilizer tail and fly it with a curve. You will notice that the somersaults have stopped but there is a zigzag movement.
Attach the vertical tail or rudder and now check out your toy airplane. This time you will notice a successful flying spell without any fishtail movements.
Here’s something for you to figure out on your own. Fly the airplane without the metal nose clip and see what happens. What is the purpose of this metal clip?
If you enjoyed your airplane lesson and experiment, let me tell you that I have loads of similar activities to enhance your homeschool science learning. To get great science experiments and activities visit the free “Homeschool Parent’s Guide to Teaching Science” at the link below.