Wednesday, January 04, 2006
(A quick foreward. After we have looked far and wide for AFFORDABLE and reasonable electronics supplies, projects, and components, we have decided that, as with WAY to much of the educational toy and kit market, electronics kits on the market are: 1) too dumbed down, 2) too sparse, 3) TOO expensive for what you get, and 4) unimaginative. Thus, we are exploring the possibility of starting a cottage industry - work at home business in modern parlance - of creating, assembling, packaging, and selling electronics kits that are not budget busters, are interactive, are fun, are NOT dumbed down, and which have nice artwork/project ideas. The skills needed for this lie in our extended family on both sides so this should be an interesting enterprise.
I would like to know YOUR thoughts about this. Would you be interested? Are you happy with what you have seen on the market? Do you even plan to cover any of this in your homeschooling? Do you figure your kids don't need to learn this? What sorts of projects do you think you would want? Is the fact that it would support a homeschooling family an attractive aspect that might help you decide to buy a kit from us? Please reply in the comments of this post or email us at nika7 at yahoo dot com!)
We continue with our electronics project and have some fun pics to share.
First, Q is continuing to learn about binary numbers.
We got a grab bag of used "seven segment LED display
" (and other types of LED displays) and Q has, after having to google a bit for how to work with these things, lit them up on the prototype breadboard
. Next she will set up the logic chip to be able to form numbers and letters.
Q futz'd with resistors, in series with the LED, to hardwire the number three! Its neat what you get when you mix 1 kid + electronic components = new discoveries.
Getting ready for robotics
Evolving Diseases - Object Lessons
Monday, January 02, 2006
Current events can teach us about very complex topics, ones that may be difficult to grasp immediately but which, if discussed, will become understandable with time.
One example is the Avian flu pandemic topic. If one is paying attention they would also realize this story has, at its core, a powerful object lesson for understanding Evolution (any even cursory study of viruses will help the thinking person to understand Evolution but many people need it thrust in their face before they wish to consider alternatives to their dogmatic framework.)
Unless you ascribe to a worldview that is pre-modern era wherein there was no understanding of the lifecycle and progression of mutations in virus, you will accept that we have occasional pandemics that arise from pivitol mutation events in viruses in an advantageous context. In other words, viruses are CONSTANTLY mutating (as are many and perhaps most organisms here on Earth), "testing" their environment (as a population), "experimenting" on new permutations of changes in coat proteins, DNA and other nucleic acid specific enzymes, and other functional or heritable genomic characteristics, and the population settles (momentarily and within a particular host/context) on a seccessful matrix of mutations.
Remember that when we scientists use words like "they test" or "they experiment" with mutations to become more fit, it is a quirk of our colloquial language that makes anthropomorphism desirable. Viruses and other organisms no more "want" to "test" or "experiment" than a volume of liquid or gas "wants" to fill the container it is in. These activities are artifacts of basic physical and genetic properties. None of this language is EVER meant to imply genomic intelligence alike to what we perceive to be our own intelligence. True, there is a resultant "genomic intelligence" but that is jargony language that really confuses, not useful.
It seems that, indeed, even as Bush tries to capitalize off the fear of the potential avian flu pandemic (just as he capitalizes off of fear of 9/11, boogy monsters, and perhaps the Loch Ness Monster), he has really helped alot of people OPEN THEIR EYES to the concept of evolution.
In polls that judge American "acceptance" of the concept of Evolution, before and after the avian flu pandemic rukus (there has been NO pandemic, yet), we see that people get the object lesson.
Here are some further resources for understanding evolution:
Evolution Outreach Projects - stuff you need!