Progressive Homeschool
Welcome! We practice science-intensive evidence-based education.


Saturday, October 22, 2005
Today we started learning kanji characters (Japanese). I found a good site that has the characters arranged into "grades" and shows little animations of how a character is properly drawn (meaning order and direction of pen strokes)

Today we did 1 through 5.(click on the japanese words below)
1 - ichi
2 - ni
3 - san
4 - yon or shi
5 - go

Our immersion Japanese software took so long to ship that I cancelled it and I am going to check out Barnes & Noble.

Try TheJapanesePage.com to start free, let us know if you are or if you are using other resources to learn Japanese!

2:59 PM :: 0 comments

nika :: permalink


Friday, October 21, 2005

Originally uploaded by nikaboyce.

Q made this model today and learn about the 4 main bases in common garden variety DNA.

9:14 PM :: 0 comments

nika :: permalink

Too Cool For School

Today is Q's birthday and she got the most amazing present from her grandparents!! She got something called "DNA Wizard" and with this kit you learn about DNA structure, how to grow E coli, how to transform the E coli with green fluorescent protein, learn about cytology with FISH stained chromosome squashes, she can isolate DNA from fruits and analyze them. I don't know what else because I have not read the manual yet!

Here are some pics of the kit.





You can get this kit at this link and lots of other things at this "Discover This!" site.

Its too cool for school cuz she would have never gotten this at school. Plus, I get to help her out. It doesnt hurt that my lab experience has used extensive molecular biology methods, this is gonna be fun!

10:20 AM :: 0 comments

nika :: permalink

To Rot or not to Rot

Thursday, October 20, 2005
Paper Pumpkins 2

Paper pumpkins are so much more civilized!

The problem with getting your pumpkins at the beginning of October is the urge to carve them right away. When a few of ours were carved in early October, we had no idea we were in for 2.5 weeks of constant driving rain and high temps.

Well, you can see from the pics below that these poor pumpkins melted down quite spectacularly! Next year we will have a pumpkin moratorium until the week before Halloween!

Rotten Pumpkins 2

Rotten Pumpkins 1

Quite an ecosystem huh?

1:27 PM :: 2 comments

nika :: permalink

Dia de Los Muertos - Day of the Dead (man can they party!)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Hang ten bony toes dude! (visit this site and this site for awesome Dia De Los Muertos art by Ladislao Loera!)

Los Mexicanos and other latino cultures have a very healthy attitude towards the "death and dying" part of the life-cycle.

You can hear it in their songs, you can see it in their murals, you can get it in their writing, and you get a lovely sweet dose of it on Dia de los Muertos, November 1 and 2nd.

On that day, you eat Pan De Muertos (Dead Bread to gringos, cinnamony egg bread often in the shape of a skeleton), resplendant hot chocolate, sugar skulls, bony diaramas, parades to the dead, nativity-like spreads in the house with "dead" villages (I have heard about this but have never done it or seen it), elaborate altars, cleaning of family graves, setting out of refreshments for visiting spirits, much libations for and with said spirits, and probably a fierce hangover if the revelments were done PROPERLY :-)

Some other Dia De Los Muertos sites to hit are:

Casa De Calaveras

Some TRULY awesome pics of skeleton artwork!

11:29 AM :: 1 comments

nika :: permalink

Samhain - transitions, Nature's bounty, and preparing for the winter

For a pattern for this pumpkin papercraft, go to this site.

Samhain, often mispronounced as literally as it is spelled but is correctly said as "souwin", is the ancient Celtic harvest celebration.

This gaelic word means "Summer's End" and the festival of Samhain is one of two transitional gateways in the Celtic calendar (the other being Beltane - May Day - May 1st - the beginning of spring). I have found a wonderful description at this site that I am pasting below regarding the rationale for a festival at this time:

In Scotland and Ireland, Halloween is known as Oíche Shamhna, while in Wales it is Nos Calan Gaeaf, the eve of the winter's calend, or first. With the rise of Christianity, Samhain was changed to Hallowmas, or All Saints' Day, to commemorate the souls of the blessed dead who had been canonized that year, so the night before became popularly known as Halloween, All Hallows Eve, or Hollantide. November 2nd became All Souls Day, when prayers were to be offered to the souls of all who the departed and those who were waiting in Purgatory for entry into Heaven. Throughout the centuries, pagan and Christian beliefs intertwine in a gallimaufry of celebrations from Oct 31st through November 5th, all of which appear both to challenge the ascendancy of the dark and to revel in its mystery.

In the country year, Samhain marked the first day of winter, when the herders led the cattle and sheep down from their summer hillside pastures to the shelter of stable and byre. The hay that would feed them during the winter must be stored in sturdy thatched ricks, tied down securely against storms. Those destined for the table were slaughtered, after being ritually devoted to the gods in pagan times. All the harvest must be gathered in -- barley, oats, wheat, turnips, and apples -- for come November, the faeries would blast every growing plant with their breath, blighting any nuts and berries remaining on the hedgerows. Peat and wood for winter fires were stacked high by the hearth. It was a joyous time of family reunion, when all members of the household worked together baking, salting meat, and making preserves for the winter feasts to come.

At the heart of the Celtic Otherworld grows an apple tree whose fruit has magical properties. Old sagas tell of heroes crossing the western sea to find this wondrous country, known in Ireland as Emhain Abhlach, (Evan Avlach) and in Britain, Avalon. At Samhain, the apple harvest is in, and old hearthside games, such as apple-bobbing, called apple-dookin’ in Scotland, reflect the journey across water to obtain the magic apple.

This site is also not too shabby for more info :-)

11:09 AM :: 0 comments

nika :: permalink

Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Rev. Gabriel Burdett (left) explains Intelligent Falling.

The Onion - America's Finest News Source (even if it makes you cry - from laughter)

August 17, 2005 - Issue 41-33

KANSAS CITY, KS - As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state. Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held "theory of gravity" is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.

"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.

Burdett added: "Gravity - which is taught to our children as a law - is founded on great gaps in understanding. The laws predict the mutual force between all bodies of mass, but they cannot explain that force. Isaac Newton himself said, 'I suspect that my theories may all depend upon a force for which philosophers have searched all of nature in vain.' Of course, he is alluding to a higher power."

Founded in 1987, the ECFR is the world's leading institution of evangelical physics, a branch of physics based on literal interpretation of the Bible.

According to the ECFR paper published simultaneously this week in the International Journal Of Science and the adolescent magazine God's Word For Teens!, there are many phenomena that cannot be explained by secular gravity alone, including such mysteries as how angels fly, how Jesus ascended into Heaven, and how Satan fell when cast out of Paradise.

The ECFR, in conjunction with the Christian Coalition and other Christian conservative action groups, is calling for public-school curriculums to give equal time to the Intelligent Falling theory. They insist they are not asking that the theory of gravity be banned from schools, but only that students be offered both sides of the issue "so they can make an informed decision."

"We just want the best possible education for Kansas' kids," Burdett said.

Proponents of Intelligent Falling assert that the different theories used by secular physicists to explain gravity are not internally consistent. Even critics of Intelligent Falling admit that Einstein's ideas about gravity are mathematically irreconcilable with quantum mechanics. This fact, Intelligent Falling proponents say, proves that gravity is a theory in crisis.

"Let's take a look at the evidence," said ECFR senior fellow Gregory Lunsden."In Matthew 15:14, Jesus says, 'And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.' He says nothing about some gravity making them fall - just that they will fall. Then, in Job 5:7, we read, 'But mankind is born to trouble, as surely as sparks fly upwards.' If gravity is pulling everything down, why do the sparks fly upwards with great surety? This clearly indicates that a conscious intelligence governs all falling."

Critics of Intelligent Falling point out that gravity is a provable law based on empirical observations of natural phenomena. Evangelical physicists, however, insist that there is no conflict between Newton's mathematics and Holy Scripture.

"Closed-minded gravitists cannot find a way to make Einstein's general relativity match up with the subatomic quantum world," said Dr. Ellen Carson, a leading Intelligent Falling expert known for her work with the Kansan Youth Ministry. "They've been trying to do it for the better part of a century now, and despite all their empirical observation and carefully compiled data, they still don't know how."

"Traditional scientists admit that they cannot explain how gravitation is supposed to work," Carson said. "What the gravity-agenda scientists need to realize is that 'gravity waves' and 'gravitons' are just secular words for 'God can do whatever He wants.'"

Some evangelical physicists propose that Intelligent Falling provides an elegant solution to the central problem of modern physics.

"Anti-falling physicists have been theorizing for decades about the 'electromagnetic force,' the 'weak nuclear force,' the 'strong nuclear force,' and so-called 'force of gravity,'" Burdett said. "And they tilt their findings toward trying to unite them into one force. But readers of the Bible have already known for millennia what this one, unified force is: His name is Jesus."

This is such a chuckle but sad too. Makes me want to break out into the following song:

So long and thanks for all the fish
So sad that it should come to this
We tried to warn you all but oh dear?

You may not share our intellect
Which might explain your disrespect
For all the natural wonders that
grow around you

So long, so long and thanks for all the fish

The world's about to be destroyed
There's no point getting all annoyed
Lie back and let the planet dissolve

Despite those nets of tuna fleets
We thought that most of you were sweet
Especially tiny tots and your pregnant women

So long, so long, so long, so long, so long
So long, so long, so long, so long, so long

So long, so long and thanks for all the fish


So long and thanks for all the fish
So sad that it should come to this
We tried to warn you all but oh dear?

(oh dear)

Despite those nets of tuna fleets
We thought that most of you were sweet
Especially tiny tots and your pregnant women

So long, so long, so long, so long, so long
So long, so long, so long, so long, so long

So long, so long and thanks for all the fish!


7:23 PM :: 2 comments

nika :: permalink

Quiet day

I thought I would share a cute moment because I dont have alot to say today :-). This pic is not mine but if you visit here, you will see more by this photographer.

5:32 PM :: 0 comments

nika :: permalink

Don't enable the bully

Monday, October 17, 2005
There is a web campaign of sorts afoot, miscongenitated by the illustrious (sic) and venerable (another sic) Pro-Life Action League (triple sic) group to damage the credibility and commerce of the American Girl Doll company.

(I saw this story first at this homeschooling blog, kudos to her!)

Why, say you?

Seems that the American Girl is too leftist, down right "un-Christian" in fact, if you would believe the PLAL propanganda.

Facts: American Girl has launched a Girl-Positive campaign, with Girls, Inc., to help build positive self image in all girls. From the Girls, Inc. site we have:

Girl's Inc. site has this about the "I Can" initiative: American Girl "I CAN" Bands to Benefit Girls Inc. I can be myself, follow my dreams, and always do my best. I can reach for the stars, lend a hand to others, and be a good friend. I can make a difference! I promise to try. By wearing the American Girl "I CAN" band and signing the "I CAN" promise, girls are reminded to believe in themselves and each other. The American Girl "I CAN" bands are available for $1.00 at all Bath & Body Works-tm stores and at American Girl Place-tm Chicago and New York. Customers can also order the bands online or by calling American Girl's toll-free number, 1-800-845-0005. Net proceeds benefit Girls Inc.

(Sounds deeply subversive huh? Nope, didn't think so)

The doll-buying fundies seem to have gotten the idea that, like their other off-the-shelf Christian indoctrination homeschooling curricula that they buy from the likes of Bob Jones, American Girl products were the Go-To resource for raising compliant, quiet, pious, and good little girls who will fit seamlessly into a top-down patriarchy.

I guess that American Girl forgot to tell them that they are more interested in supporting REAL LIFE world views for girls, a world view that empowers them to actually be viable and competitive citizens instead of invisible ghosts in the god-machine.

Call American Girl and tell them you support their Girl-Positive ethic and that you will be buying their dolls for the girls in your life this holiday season!

Ellen L. Brothers, President
American Girl
8400 Fairway Place
Middleton, WI 53562
Tel: 1-800-845-0005
Fax: 608-828-4790
E-Mail: ellen.brothers@americangirl.com


Below are lamentable web-droppings of these right wingers working against American Girl. Are there no more important things in this world than this campaign? One would think not according to the vitriolic outrage "generated" by the fundies.

What follows is a representative example of the anti-choice Christian fundamentalist "activists" who are getting their panties in a bunge over the recent collaboration between American Girl and Girl, Inc.

A pitiful freeper from FreeRepublic website wrote this:

"Posted on 10/15/2005 4:57:42 PM PDT by ermmt
Dear sirs and madams -
As I look at my daughters' collections of a total of 4 AG dolls, Bitty Baby, Coconut, Licorice and many, many clothes and accessories, I now feel sorrow instead of joy.
Toys that were meant to enhance their femininity and girlhood are now shrouded with the despicable choice of an organization American Girl has aligned itself with.
My daughters monthly have gone to AG Club meetings at a Christian book store. Lots of her homeschooled friends begin studying periods of history through the AG books.
I never expected nor found all that the company does to meet up with all of my personal convictions or beliefs. Yet, it seems that you should realize that much of your consumer base is at least moderately conservative and would be absolutely offended with your support of an organization that promotes abortion and lesbianism as wonderfully normal life choices. I am quite positive that there are many organizations that provide help and support to girls without beliefs that are truly deviant from mainstream America.
You owe an apology to your customers and a change in your charity. Along with that, you may wish to eliminate the poor marketing folks who thought that supporting Girls Inc. was a good idea and get some people in that will continue the honorable ideals previously promoted.
Kristen XXXXXX Mom to three real American girls - Aleesha, Amanda and Anneliese
Let's keep up the pressure."

I have found other examples where "concerned parents" write about how they should protect their girls from "non-christian" American Girl dolls.

"Meet Molly is the first book in a series about a nine-year-old American girl living in the 1940's. The series is presented as a wholesome alternative to some of the more controversial books written for young girls today. However, we might want to take a closer look and just see how wholesome it is. After all, being better than "definitely bad" is not necessarily acceptable in reading material for children, especially children in a Christian home.

Molly is not a Christian girl. This is a concept that, in and of itself, might not, under certain conditions, constitute reason for concern on the part of parents, if they have read the material and found everything contained therein to be morally forthright and acceptable. Yet, knowing this fact in the beginning, we think, raises warning flags to the Christian parent in evaluating food for the mental, and consequently, spiritual appetites of the child."


"Christian Wire Service" article

American Girl Dolls Linked to Abortion, Pro-Life Group Warns Parents
By Christian Wire Service
Oct 12, 2005, 13:03

CHICAGO, IL -- The Pro-Life Action League is warning parents of ties between the popular American Girl doll company and Girls Inc., a group that promotes abortion, lesbianism and easy access to birth control for teens.
In August, the American Girl company, a subsidiary of Mattel Toys, Inc., launched the "I Can" campaign, which involves taking a pledge and purchasing a special bracelet. Seventy cents of each one-dollar bracelet sold will be donated to Girls Inc. American Girl is also donating an additional $50,000 to Girls Inc.
"Parents need to know that this effort to promote self-esteem among girls is not as innocent as it seems," commented League Executive Director Ann Scheidler. "While Girls Inc. has some good programs, they also support abortion, oppose abstinence-only education for girls, and condone lesbianism."
Scheidler points to the Girls Inc. web site, which declares that "girls need and have a right to . . . convenient access to safe, effective methods of contraception," and that "Girls Incorporated supports a woman's freedom of choice, a constitutional right established by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 in Roe vs. Wade" (Source: www.girlsinc.com/ic/page.php?id=4.3.4)
"Parents associate American Girl dolls with wholesome American family values, yet Girls Inc. contradicts parents' most basic moral beliefs," Scheidler said. "We're encouraging parents, grandparents and other family members to write and call American Girl President Ellen L. Brothers to object to the company's support for Girls Inc."
Scheidler hopes American Girl will sever ties with Girls Inc. before the League calls for a boycott of American Girl products and launches a picketing campaign at the American Girl Place retail stores in Chicago and New York."

1:28 PM :: 2 comments

nika :: permalink

Mobius Strip Fun

Wolfram Mobius World

Ants by M.C. Escher

The mobius sculpture at the FermiLab in Illinois.

In geometry, we have moved onto further discussions of multi-dimensional space. We have been using this great book called "The Shape of Space : How to visualize surfaces and three-dimensional manifolds" by Jeffrey Weeks. Klein bottles and other lovely diagrams fill the pages. Q and her dad even read it like a bed time story some nights.

One easy and hands-on way to observing/manipulating dimensions is by making a mobius strip and then playing with it, cutting it and see what happens to it’s topology.

Here are a few sites that can be helpful in your experimentation with this sort of topology.

Mobius Strip sites:

Mobius in the playground

Mobius at Zoom.com

Georgia Tech Mobius site

BBC mobius article

Wolfram Mathematics Encyclopedia

Klein Bottles:

Wolfram MathWorld Klein Bottle

9:43 AM :: 0 comments

nika :: permalink