Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Paper-chain alkanes and the health hazards of soda bread

My list of resource links has been getting rather raggedy and cumbersome, and so today I tweaked and rearranged it.

I do hate putting resources into subject categories because: a) websites often cover a wide range of subjects and b) home education has made me realise how pigeonholing information and learning into 'subjects' tends to be a very limiting way to think about education. But, I concede that a few more headings will make it easier for blog visitors to find the resources they want. And it will give me the opportunity to add more links as and when I have time.

And, talking about 'subjects', we've been doing some more chemistry from that wonderful site Ellen McHenry's Basement Workshop We completed The Elements a few months ago, had a break, and are now working our way through Carbon Chemistry .

Here's a photo of the kids making Alkanes (hydrocarbons with single carbon to carbon bonds) in paper-chain fashion. The idea was to make different length alkanes and then name them (Methane, butane, propane etc), but my kids had different ideas and ended up with a competition to see who could make the longest chain. [After years of home educating I've come to realise that where kids are concerned nothing ever really goes to plan and I just have to be flexible. I recommend that control freaks do not apply for the job.]

Often when we follow a set package or piece of structured learning it doesn't last long. A few weeks of enthusiasm, perhaps, followed by dragging of heels, stamping of feet, and worse, depending on how soon we abandon the project. But of all the structured things we've done, these chemistry packages have been by far the best.

Maybe it's because I'm a scientist by training (though I confess I was always hopeless at chemistry), but I'll continue to recommend Ellen McHenry's chemistry courses. Although they don't correspond directly with UK science syllabus I think they would make a marvellous pre-GCSE/pre-IGCSE foundation. And you can pick and mix what you learn, avoiding (as we do) the comprehension questions at the end of each chapter and simply sticking to the fun stuff - the games & experiments.

The other science I would recommend is The Happy Scientist. Great experiments that usually require few materials and can be done at home. Although many of the resources are free it is worth the small yearly fee so you can have access to all the experiment videos.

And in addition to Carbon Chemistry we are also dabbling in cooking. Yes, I know, scary. As I've said before our plan is to work our way through (some of) The River Cottage Family Cookbook by Posh Boy (Hugh Fearnley-whotshisname). We've made bread, and now, soda bread (see below). Sorry, no photos of the finished product - we ate it before I got the camera out!

(Read the recipe. I said READ the recipe. No, that's 2 teaspoons of salt. NOT tablespoons. Arrggghh!)

(No, don't look what's going into that soda bread mixture.

I try not to think of ds1's black fingernails as I taste the bread.


1 comment:

Liz said...

These are some fantastic resources, feeling slightly disappointed that my LO is too small to really use them to full effect yet, but I've bookmarked them for the future :) Ellen's free stuff is amazing too!