Monday, May 25, 2009

Discovery Science Center

May 16th, 2009

Our first of many educational stops this summer was at the Discovery Science Center. It's in Santa Ana, so it was only a 15-20 min. drive, which I loved. Sometimes it's a crap shoot with Science exhibits because I never know how hands-on it will be, or what mood the kids will be in. Fortunately, today was fantastic!

As soon as you walk in the door, there's hands-on experiments for the kids to try, along with an explanation of what's happening in a way the kids can understand. Then they include the scientific name of the process as well, which I appreciate. Hopefully it will tuck away somewhere in their brains, ready to be recalled sometime in high school/college.

One of the most entertaining exhibits was the pin wall. It's basically like the handheld version where you can press something into it and make an impression on the other side. Since it was so big, the kids could put their whole face and some body parts in it. That's Avery above.

Next we got to jump inside a cylinder about the size of a phone booth and experience winds the same speed as a hurricane. There's a monitor outside of it showing me how fast the wind gets. They were up to 70+ miles per hour before their turn was over. Doesn't make for a good hair day at all!

We also got the chance to lay/lie (can't remember whic is correct) on a bed of nails- very exciting. The girls we apprehensive at first, but Hayden enthusiastically volunteered to go first. After he did it, the girls summoned up the courage to try.

I think the highlight of the day for Hannah was holding a real brain in her hands. One of the reasons I took the kids on this particular day was that they were going to have a brain presentation and an opportunity to hold/touch one at the end. Since we had just studied the brain in one of our science units, I wanted to give the kids an opportunity to see one up close.

Hannah, the budding veterinarian that she is, was the first in line when the time came. They let us hold a sheep's brain, but they had different versions of real human brain in the jars on the table. They had an intact one, and then some sliced various ways so you could see the two hemispheres, the brain stem, etc. It was pretty fascinating. I wish we could have held the specimens longer and asked more questions, but a line was starting to form as some of the younger kids were finally mustering up some courage to come try it out.
I'm sure this won't be the last time Hannah has a chance to hold brains in her hands!

Later that day we came back to the
same room so that Hayden could watch the Dinosaur game show. It was like aversion of jeopardy. Since his good friend Cameron has taught him a lot of facts about dinosaurs, Hayden raised his hand to volunteer. He got picked as one of the contestants. He had a rough couple of rounds because we the audience persuaded him not to go with his gut on some of his answers, and then we were wrong! He would've gotten them right. But in the end, he got the double jeopardy answers right and tied for first place with the teenage girl next to him who knew nothing, and ended up only getting the answers right because Hayden gave them to her. How about that for good sportsmanship!

Upstairs was a tribute to the science of sports, and hockey specifically. LA has a hockey team so they were the sponsors of some fun exhibits. There was a full-size zamboni that kids could climb on. They had some goalie leg pads on display that you could try on and attempt to kneel and block a puck. They were almost as big as Hayden! And heavy too. It took all the force he could muster to push them down.

The biggest draw were the 2 simulators; one for practicing shooting a goal, and one for goalies to practice catching a puck.
I've never seen the mitts/gloves up close before, it was pretty interesting how complicated they were. The kids got a chance to try out both simulators. They were pretty good at batting the pucks out of the air, but weren't so good at slapping the puck into the net, even with 5 tries.

Outside there's a dinosaur exhibit and scavenger hunt that we spent a hour at, but I didn't get great pics of.
There's a ton more I could share, but suffice it to say, we had a great time and I would highly recommend a visit if you live or travel through Orange County.

La Brea Tar Pits

May 21st, 2009

Since we were still technically homeschooling until the 22nd of May, I've been planning a bunch of educational field trips for the kids. Our second stop was the La Brea Tar Pits & museum. Perfect weather and a light crowd made for a great day. Soon after we got there we were able to join a walking tour of the grounds.
The kids were fascinated by the tar seepage right out of the ground and onto the grass. Luckily they resisted the urge to touch it and get it all over themselves. One of the cool parts was getting to see an active pit that's being excavated, Pit 91. It's the longest and most fruitful dig in history.

Right next to this area is a big shopping center under construction, and 2 years ago, while they were digging out the underground parking, they found remains. Turns out, it was an intact mammoth; the biggest and most complete they've ever found. They named him Zed.
There's a glass observation area in the paleontologist's lab so we got to see them actually working on his tusks, pelvis and femur. Wickedly cool, as Hayden would say.

The museum is on the smaller side, so the whole excursion probably only took us 2 hours. Still, I think that it's one of the more impactful trips we've been on lately because it sort of links the past with the present. Before when we've seen fossils in book or museums, it's kind of an abstract idea. But to come here and see the active tar pits, and the real bones of a mammoth that's been recently recovered, it made history really come alive for my kids.
So if you're ever in LA, try to make time for a trip to the Page Museum. It's not too far from the rest of the Hollywood attractions (depending on traffic) and worth the trip!

Newport beach (2 weeks ago)

In order to switch things up a bit, I thought I'd take the kids on a drive up north a bit and check out one of the beaches I used to frequent as a kid. We drove along the PCH until we got to Newport. The kids were enthralled with some of the million + homes along the way, but were even more excited to set out on the ocean. The beach was pretty empty, but they didn't get in the water for almost an hour, as they found shells on the shore and that immediately took precedence. I have to say there were some pretty neat shells, and Avery found over 200+ before the day was over.

The girls thought the waves were too hard so they wouldn't go in again after the first 15 min. So I had them pose for a few pics on the lifeguard station instead.

I think Hayden had the best time as he had brought all of his Army guys and a few dinosaurs, and spent the day building elaborate tunnels, prisons, and mounted a massive offensive over the "hills" to take the dinosaurs alive and capture them. It was very fun watching him. He definitely can get lost in his land of imagination for hours. He's going to be one creative adult.
After picking our favorite sea shells for making necklaces, we left. It was a fun afternoon, despite the girls boycotting boogie boarding. Anytime where we can sit in the sun, with the sand between our feet, and hear the ocean= a great day for me!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Baby Buster is finally here! ( 7 weeks ago)

Tons to catch up on so I will start with news in March. My friend Jennifer had her baby girl a month early! Kate was born the end of March, giving us more time to spend with her before our summer in Ca. She is a doll and I can't wait to get back and spend more time getting to know her.

Jen having a baby has definitely filled a void in my kid's life. They've wanted a baby in our family since they were all so young when I was done having kids. Hannah especially. So "aunt Jen" has been a fabulous alternative solution to their baby hunger. She let the girls touch her tummy everyday, and answered all sorts of graphic birthing questions, and let them be as a part of the process as possible. The girls love her so much, and I know they are going to have a great bond with Kate as well!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Beach adventures Parts #1-4

So I have a lot to catch up on from the past few months, but I'm going to jump in and start with the past week. We are in Ca. for the summer (insert: big smile on my face) and we are only a few miles from the beach. Thus, we go every chance we get.

Our first trip out to Laguna was on a cold and windy day, but the kids insisted we go. We pretty much got sand blasted and then came home soon after.

Our second adventure was better. We went to Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point, and the weather was great. The kids were enthralled with all the surfers and the cool waves.

Dino took the girls out and taught them how to boogie board, and they are in love! They were in the water for 3 1/2 hrs. straight. They are just riding the little 2 ft. breaker waves, but having a ball learning how to catch a wave and ride it.

Hayden tried it as well, but after a little rash in the nether regions, he prefers to stay on dry land and build elaborate tunnels in the sand.

We are having a blast living so close to the beach. More photos to come...