Class Notes, June 14, 2011

Do you know the 36 countries of North America and the chief rivers and lakes? And the capitals? Or how about our neighbors to the south in South America, all 14 countries and capitals and waterways? Neither did we, but we’ve spent some time learning them; and unscrambling some animal scrambles on birds, reptiles and mammals of North and South America. We learned about compass roses and designed our own, and the Northern and Southern, Eastern and Western Hemispheres. We saw how latitude divides the globe north and south in Degrees and Minutes, and how longitude divides the globe east and west, also in degrees and minutes. We had a lively discussion about the equator at zero degrees latitude, and the Prime Meridian at zero degrees longitude. The fact that the day changed either side of the Dateline caused quite a stir.

We’ve been studying Matter, and quizzing about what we’ve learned and discussing animatedly the basic principles, or more correctly, the properties of matter; the specific properties which show the differences in objects, and the general properties which show the commonalities in all objects. We took our time learning about the four general properties of Matter: Mass, Weight, Volume, and Density; how Density never changes unless matter is added to or taken away from an object; how weight changes dependent upon location and relation to other objects and the gravity that exists between objects; how volume is the space an object occupies, and how Density is the Mass per unit of volume. We looked at the Density of various common materials. We talked about the density of water, how ice was less dense, and why icebergs floated mostly below the surface. We discussed the unsinkable Titanic and how, once the air in the giant ship was replaced with water, the density of the vessel became greater than 1 g and- down it went.

We had a wonderful trip to Myers Point park, and practiced the cooperative vicissitudes of paddling canoes, why they float, why the canoe turns left when you paddle on the right. The children swam, ate, played on the playground; we discussed the remarkable case of the twin Friars from St. Bonaventure University, who were born the same day and died the same day 92 years later, both of heart attacks – we discussed Nature vs. Nurture.

We studied the woodcuts of some Expressionist masters and cut pieces of pine and started our own woodcuts, and the children worked with great enthusiasm and warmth (and safely!). I went to the Johnson Art Museum after class today, and found some woodcuts from the 1600’s, so we’ll take a short excursion there tomorrow, to see the work of the Masters.

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