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

New long term project - frugal hydroponics

Saturday, December 10, 2005
We are working on gathering resources and ideas about how to make a frugal but high productivity hydroponics system.

Once we have the initial system rigged up, we will post photos here.

If any fellow homeschoolers want to be remote partners (hydroponic penpals?) drop us a note and lets have some fun!

This last summer we did on-deck hanging container gardening with some success.

Even tho we have land, every time we have gardened in the ground we have been beset by pests, large (deer, wild rabbits) and small (aphids, slugs, moles, chipmunks). I also hate to weed so it doesnt happen and so the weeds are the usual crop (we have some evil virulent weeds here).

First we started from seed:


tomato 3

We took some cheap hanging pots (98c - walmart), cut out 4 square holes in the bottom, put our home-sprouted tomatoes in, upside down, filled in with souped up potting soil (ripped up some of the diapers that our baby had grown too big for, and used the hydratable gel as an amendment to the soil, knowing that we were going to over seed the pots.), then seeded the top of the pots (somehtng like 10 or so pots) with lettuce, cilantro, pumpkins, pole beans, bush beans, chives, margolds for protection, forgot what else.

We rigged up some trellises on our deck railings to hold up the pots (see pics below)

First crop was lettuce, mighty fine, full success.


lettuce close

upsidedown maters

Tomatoes, beans, well, everything grew (We used some fertilizer and had to water every day, with the watering becoming more crucial as time went on).




bumble bee

Three stages of Life


Some of our fruit are shown below. The cherry tomatoes were the most successful tomato. The plums grew but none really ripened.

Cherry Tomato from our deck-garden

The beans, pumpkins, and squash were such water hogs that they never fruited and reallllly drained the tomato plants.

Lessons learned:
- forget the pumpkins/squash
- forget the beans (my family choses lettuce over beans any day so this is ok)
- put in more of the gel (need to find cheap source of this stuff)
- use more Jobe sticks (are there organic solid sticks?)
- keep planting and replanting successive lettuces.

This truly was a great luttuce growing operation and we so enjoyed lettuce live off the deck, nothing like completely fresh leaves.

11:44 AM :: 0 comments

nika :: permalink

No snow days in homeschooling (updated)

Friday, December 09, 2005
There aint no cheesy snow days when you homeschool. You dont have to worry about your child being in an unheated school bus, with no seat belts, sliding on poorly plowed roads, riding for HOURS.

I used to walk through hip deep snow to the bus when we lived in Iowa. Frozen pant cuffs cutting my ankles then thawing and coating the same ankles with freezing water all day at school.

The only time we didnt go to school there was when it got down to MINUS 50 degrees F real temp and MINUS 80 F windchill factor. They didnt want us to breathe the cold dry air so we didnt go to school that day. Iowa can be more cruel than Alaska (lived both places).

Nope, we just snuggle up and go on with our day like its just another day (which it is).

Half-Way-snow 12-9-05

Happy Furry Friday!

White out! Its now snowing at a rate of 3 inches/hour.

White OUT!

Alls clear, a foot of snow and then the sky cleared, sun came out, and then the sun set. Kids got to play just a bit.



11:52 AM :: 0 comments

nika :: permalink

Daily Spark - from the mouth of babes

Thursday, December 08, 2005
Writing (SparkNotes Daily Spark)
Writing (SparkNotes Daily Spark)

We do our DailySpark every day. A recent page was on foreshadowing. It asked Q to write a paragraph. She didnt stick to the suggested topics (inheritance of a fortune, downfall of a corporation, or the discovery of a crime) but did one on politics.

She wrote:

"A storm gathered as they walked to the rally. When they got there they waited and then they protested. Then someone broke out a mob. Then someone started a fire. They fed it until it was an inferno. It wiped out the whole city. Finally, the storm that gathered put it out."

Powerful huh? Depending on which side of the political spectrum you are planted, you will see this differently. I think she is hooking into a vision of a rather violent social correction for a corrupt system. She mixes real world experience (rallies and protests) and sims game experience (mobs, catastrophies, etc) to come out with something that is rather interesting.

9:01 AM :: 0 comments

nika :: permalink

Science - Polymerization

Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Today, we broke open a new science kit that related to the polymerization of several chemicals including polyvinyl acetate (opaque laundry starch), polyvinyl alcohol, and sodium tetraborate (borax) (the polymerizing agent).


First Q examined the liquid qualities of polyvinyl alcohol and then she added the sodium tetraborate. She watched it change and become a very goopy and interesting goop.


Next she added the sodium tetraborate to the polyvinyl acetate, watched it change, and then got an opaque goop that felt more slimey than the previous one and it was slower to goop about.


Finally, polyvinyl acetate and polyvinyl alcohol were mixed and then polymerized. Q saw that it didnt form a new mix but rather that each chemical polymerized to itself, bringing each out of solution seperately.


This was a great kit and we have lots left over for out-of-the-box experiments too!

9:25 AM :: 0 comments

nika :: permalink

Whew what a week, and a doozie is coming up!

Sunday, December 04, 2005
We have been working on breaking through some barriers and I think we are closing in. One thing about working with and around children, you KNOW they are NOT adults :-)

One beautiful thing about childrens's minds is that they are NOT adults and can be much more flexible about things.

Sure, tantrums can happen and oppositional behavior of all sorts can make your days hot with angst but if you remain constant (thats only fair), calm (hot headed mommas only get hot headed kids), and cognizant of the fact that its a continuum, both parent and child will likely move through rough patches without too much blood loss and with having learned a bit more about themselves.

On a lighter note, we are looking down the barrel of a Nor'easter this coming Tuesday. We are pretty much ready for anything, with our woodstove and wood pile. Power outage is better in the winter because we just take the food out of the fridge and put it in the vestibule, nice and cool in there.

Today we got about 4 inches as a pre-storm dusting. (Think of it as that crumb layer of frosting you put on a cake before the main frosting job).

the snow before the snow

Not all is cool and white, our christmas catcus has blossomed and is so very lovely.

Christmas Cactus Flowers

Hope you all have a beautiful Sunday and see you next week.

2:17 PM :: 0 comments

nika :: permalink