Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pacific Science Center

Today, we went on a completely unplanned trip to the Pacific Science Center. It was Saturday. Due to a tournament (that Sammy isn't in), there were no taekwondo classes today. It was probably the last chance in a while we'd get a chance to do something fun on a Saturday. So, we said forget responsibilities and things that need to be done, and hit the road.

While the trip wasn't planned, there were a few exhibits that I've been wanting to take the kids to see because they blended perfectly with our recent study of rocks and our current study of astronomy. We learned and we had a blast.

They had this cool model of the our solar system showing the relative size of the planets. The model included Pluto so we got to see how small it really is in comparison to the other planets which helped explain recent changes in Pluto's classification.

This handy, dandy little scale shows you how much you'd weigh on each of the planets which led to further explanation of gravity. Both kids checked out their weight on the scale.

Mika, according to the scale, weighs 1,591.8lbs on the Sun, 21.8lbs on Mercury, 51.6lbs on Venus, 57.3lbs on Earth, 151.3lbs on Jupiter, 65.3lbs on Saturn, 58.7lbs on Uranus, 65.9lbs on Neptune, and a whopping 4lbs on Pluto. The flash obscured her Mars weight. I found a website were you can convert your own weight for each planet; the results are similar, but not identical to, the weights this scale gave us.

This nifty little display showed us how many Jupiters would fit inside the sun and how many Earths would fit inside Jupiter. Reading about the relative size is one thing, but actually seeing it in three dimensions really helps to understand just how big Jupiter and the Sun really are.

Thanks to my husband generously agreeing to watch Josh, the kids and I were able to view a planetarium show while we were there. (Kids under 4 are not allowed in the planetarium except for special lights on shows.) Sammy and I also went on a simulated tour of the International Space Station.

Prior to beginning our astronomy unit, we finished up our rock unit. The Strange Matter exhibit at the Pacific Science Center had several hands on activities about rocks, crystals, and atomic structure in addition to many other topics. Here, Sammy is taking his turn at viewing opal (embedded in another type of rock) through magnification.

In this photo, Sammy is viewing four different types of crystals through magnification. Two of the crystals shown were salt and alum which we grew at home. They also had a GIANT crystal on display.

In this photo, the kids are checking out these rotating tables full of ball bearings. The signs talked about atom structure and bonding and gave suggestions for what they should do and look for.

Field trips like these really expand our learning and make it so much more fun. They kids get to see, touch, hear, and feel what we are learning about. They gain a better understanding of our subject matter and often ask probing questions that lead to great discussions. We love field trips and they'll always be a part of our homeschooling experience.

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