Science Sunday: Kansas tornadoes

Science Sunday

Right about the time I started planning our Kansas unit I saw this really cool idea over at Sewing School.  In her version she supplied them with lots and lots of different building materials.  But, that would be one of the differences between a public school (by the way wouldn’t you love her as your teacher?), and homeschooling.  That or I didn’t want to search for different building materials.  I knew Legos would stand up……..

So, after reading all of our fun tornado books I set them out with toothpicks and large numbers of mini marshmallows to design a tornado proof house.



And they built

and built

and built.

Finally I declared an end after 10 minutes.


And then the mean old tornado (or hair dryer, might as well get used for something) came in and tried to blow over their houses.


They stayed up.  They swayed a little bit, but they stayed up.  At first I made a video of it, but a video of some toothpicks doing nothing isn’t very exciting.


028And then came the best part of all, eating the evidence.

Except for Batman, who continued building, and then got his brother and sister in on the fun.


Only until they realized he was not intending to eat his house.  Instead he got out toys and started to play with them and the bad guys were attacking and it was a major battle going on for the marshmallow house.



Can you see the epic battle going on there?



That did require larger font, and now I can’t get the rest to go back to normal.  Okay, I really could, but it’s not a choice on the drop down menu and I don’t want to type it in.  So, you’ll have to live with .5 bigger than the rest for this ending paragraph.


And, I think that ends what I have to report for our Kansas studies.  I’ll write a wrap-up post for later this week.


I can’t wait to see everyone’s science posts.  I love going to see all of them (eventually, it sometimes takes me a week or two to read all of them).

Science Sunday: More flooding

Since our school work this week pretty much was student directed, what with my running around like a madman trying to put together funeral arrangements, I thought to show you what was the result around my house of the flooding.




So, this is taken with my phone through the car windshield.  All of the roads around my house have many different creeks running across them.  So, this is a residential street, and as you can see the road is completely flooded.  Several houses in the area had to be evacuated.  What was previously not in the 100 year flood plain is again.



One of the major roads in the area was flooded.  I thought about taking a picture, but figured it’d be bad to do when most of the road is closed down, and it’s down to two lanes and we’re theoretically going 65.


Sometimes I do show the better part of valor, i.e. discretion.  Rarely.


And someone asked about my backyard.  The flooding probably got to about two feet tall at its highest over by the fence.  Our yard is graded to keep water away from the house, so while the back part was fairly deep in water (as you can see from last year’s flood), by morning it was down to about ankle height.




My theory on the flooding, this is part of why the Southwest gets so much flooding.  The ground tends to get dry and baked, and we tend to get torrential amounts of rain.  Because of how quickly all that rain comes it can’t be absorbed by the ground as quickly as it comes down, so it puddles up on top of the ground.


For those who are curious we did an experiment earlier that covered a little of this.


And for those who are wondering, the memorial service for my step-father was yesterday, and so in theory life should be getting back to normal, maybe.  Probably not, because I’m discovering there is a lot to do when someone dies unexpectedly.

Science Sunday: Rain

So, this past week it’s been raining.  Perfect opportunity to see how rain effects our world right?




To begin our experiment we gather four of the same cup, and chose 4 different places to put them.  We put two in the front yard, and two in the back.



We went to check on our cups a couple of times during the torrential downpour of that day.  After a few hours there was about an inch or so in the bottom of each cup.


The one  in the backyard next to the slide had all sorts of stuff in it, and the one next to the spout had been knocked over.  So we set it back up.



Right before going to bed we checked on all the cups and they were about half full.  And that night is when the real downpour started.


The next morning we went to check on the cups in the front yard and they were full and overflowing.  The kids put their hands in them and reported it was a little cold.



Then we went to the backyard.  First the cup by the spout was only half full.


Now, this is where the cup under the slide should be.  It’s not there.  Neither is the cushion that goes under the slide.  Our baby pool is also missing from this side of the yard.




We see all sorts of interesting evidence.  This 5 gallon bucket was empty, but now is full.



You can’t see it too clearly, but this is a ball of twine that had been unrolled and went across the entire backyard, and then across a large portion of the neighbor’s yard.




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This is the state of our fence.  It was broken in 3 different places.


Can you see the evidence gathering for what happened?



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We finally found the baby pool, over in the back corner of the yard.  Full to the brim.


So, what do you think happened?  If you want to know my guess, check out this post from last year, where the same thing happened in daylight so I could take pictures.


And for those who are wondering about the chicken mummy, come back on Wednesday to see it’s final state.

Science Sunday: rain and puddles

So, this is an automated post.  I’m trying this idea, of when I do more than one experiment in a week to write the post and put it up as a draft to post sometime when I haven’t done something…….   Here goes,
As we were driving home in the rain Superman asked me, “Mommy why are there puddles?”
Ding!  Experiment here.  So I did a quick explanation of why, and then we got home and it wasn’t raining we did the experiment to see why.  (I needed it to not be raining so I could gather dry versions of our supplies).

Question:  Why do we get puddles when it rains?
Theory: The ground gets too full of water, so it comes out on top of the ground as puddles.
Supplies needed: clear glass jar (I used baby food jars), dirt, something to pour water with

1.  Pour dirt into the jar until it is about half full.  Make observations about the dirt.
With some gentle prodding they noticed there were empty spots in the dirt.


2.  Pour in water.  Of course because a lot of what I was using was potting soil it didn’t mix super well.  But it achieved the goal.  They were able to see that a puddle formed on top after the ground ran out of space for the water.


And, now that I’m getting ready to publish this, I want to wish everyone: Happy 4th of July!

I can’t guarantee I’ll get to all of your posts this week, but I’ll try my best to come back later on and read them.  In theory at this point we’re looking at the Grand Canyon!

stART: Snow!

Okay, we’ve done a couple of snow related things before, but we’re studying Colorado, and so I wanted to go back to the snow.

I Recommend

So, after reading the book we headed over to the kitchen to make our snow pictures……

Supplies: blue construction paper, shaving cream, crayons, colored pencils.


1.  Color your picture on the blue paper.


2.  Inspect the shaving cream on your finger.  Try to decide what you will do with this strange thing.


3.  Decide that it’s okay, and you really do like it, and start “painting” with your fingers.  Superman was not happy that I made him use his fingers.  He really wanted a paintbrush.  Oh well.


And when they were first done they looked really cool, all puffy and everything.

But two days later they looked like this:

Not so cool.  Oh well, it was worth a try.  I’ll have to find another cool way to make a snow picture.  If all else fails we’ll use paint.
Oh, and here’s what they said they can do in the snow:
Princess: I make holes in the snow.  (and she shows me how with her finger).
Batman: I do a snowman and a snowfight and my Daddy helped me and that’s all.  (I had to take an extra picture to show you the cute picture he drew).
Superman: I throw snowballs in it and I make snow angels.  I do lots of things.
061The little guy is Batman and the big guy is Daddy and they’re wearing mittens.
Now hop on over to A Mommy’s Adventures to see what other literature inspired art others are doing.

stART: Waiting out the Storm

This one was a bit backwards.  We drove home from a trip out just as a storm was starting, and my kids begged to play in the rain.  I mean begged!  So, I let them.

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And then they played more.

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We played in the rain under umbrellas.

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We played with the umbrellas.

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We played without umbrellas.

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And we played in our swimsuits.

And then we went inside and read the book I’d been saving for the next rainy day:

It’s a cute story about a kid and her Mom talking through what happens to everyone during the storm, and how the different animals keep safe and how the little girl keeps safe.  It was a perfect ending to playing outside as we sat inside and listened to the thunder storm the rain had turned into.

For more great art activities head on over to A Mommy’s Adventures to see what everyone else did this week.




Location Today Tomorrow Tuesday
Austin, TX *

72° / 37°

57° / 38°

39° / 31°

Mckinney, TX *

57° / 33°

48° / 33°

39° / 28°

*Severe weather alert

Only in Texas do you get forecasts like this.  I mean really, today it was gorgeous, according to my husband and Superman it was shorts weather.  And then on Tuesday high of 39 and low of 31 with chance of snow……..

I remember a time a few years ago having 90 degree weather the week after Christmas and then two days later having snow.

CRAZY man CRAZY!  Where’s my spring weather?  Come on February is almost over, and I want shorts!

Science Sunday: Fake Snow

You guys are going to laugh at this one.  I wanted to do a Christmas related science experiment, and with their recent obsession with snow this seemed perfect.  I did a google search and came up with this website: Fake Snow Instructions (it’s a fun read, if you want more information)


What’s needed: disposable diapers (I used those random outgrown ones we have laying around), big bowl, water


1.  Get your diapers and cut them open, you can just tear them open, but cutting makes it sound neater.  And this is not a neat experiment.  Pull out all of the cotton like gel stuff that goes in the middle.  Put it in the big bowl.

It’ll look like this when you’ve added it all in.


2.  Add the water.  It’s going to take several cups.  The kids had a blast getting to add more and more water and watching the gel grow bigger.


3.  Mix it up.  You could probably do this with your hands just fine, but my kids like stirring with spoons.



4.  Touch it and see what it feels like.  They all described it as cold and weird feeling.  Then they were all set to be done with this and start on our next round of wrapping paper.


Then I told them they could fill their own bowls with this and play as much as they wanted and bury things and they were OFF!  Much like race horses.


They buried them in the “snow,” and had their poor Santa toy covered in it, and the dog…….  The toy dog, no pets here yet…….  This was one of our most popular experiments.  I’ve noticed the more messy the experiment the more popular it is.  It took some creativity to figure out how to clean it all up.

Edited to add:  For all of you asking does it feel like real snow?  I’ve never lived somewhere that has real snow, but from my limited exposure to real snow I think it does feel like real snow (or my memories of it).  According to the article I linked to it feels similar to it.  But, no guarantees I’m correct.  As far as my kids are concerned this was the perfect exposure to snow because they got to play in it and it wasn’t too cold.  Hopefully that helps explain for everyone.

So, how about you, what have you done this week for fun science activities?

For more about Science Sunday and participating go here.