Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Carnival of Space - week 5 - Space is Amazing

The best presentation I’ve found on hosting a carnival is How to Host a Carnival. One of the points it makes is it helps if a carnival has an overall arch; it helps to tell a story. A list of links can be improved if there is some thematic organization which engages the reader.

Over the last two years whenever I’ve hosted a carnival I have always tried to have some kind of theme. Often the theme for a carnival doesn’t gel until the posts come in. Currently my family and I are spending a month in Virginia and Washington DC. We’ve been learning a lot about the early history of the United States. A large part of the Carnival of Space has to do with exploring the final frontier. I had been considering a theme revolving around the Lewis and Clark expedition.

But as the posts started coming in I kept saying “Amazing” to myself. There are many amazing things we are learning about space and preparing to do in space. So I decided to run with a theme that Amazing things are happening in regards to space.

As I was reading Shadow transit of Io posted at Astroblog I thought “What an amazing time we live in.” Not only can many people in our time check out one of Jupiter’s moons, but it is trivial for anyone on the internet to reap the benefit of such an experience. Galileo and Copernicus couldn’t imagine what the average person today can see and learn.

Speaking of Galileo and Copernicus, Amanda Bauer, the Astropixie, reviews the progress we’ve made over the last five hundred years in her heliocentrism post.

One of the amazing things about the efforts to get into space is how so many people are supporting and helping find more ways and reasons for private space to be successful. Over at Space Transport News Clark Lindsey has a proposal for commercial rocket companies to bring in remote space tourists.

Space still holds many mysteries. We will be amazed for years to come. Emily Lakdawalla posts on The Planetary Society Weblog about Windows onto the Abyss: Cave skylights on Mars. What lurks in the caverns of Mars?

Tales of the Heliosphere raises some questions about sex in space and the risk of pregnancy in The Love Boat to Mars.

Also related to Mars, Wandering Space posted Mars Science Lab Animation from Maas Digital with some pictures of what a landing on Mars might be like.

Colony Worlds has an amazing hook in the post Can Solar Weatherman Predict Radiation Storms?

Not only have scientists come up with amazing ideas like dark matter, but they understand it better each year. Universe Today reports on some new developments in Dark Matter Annihilation at the Centre of the Milky Way

This sounds a bit heretical, but the Robot Guy writes Why Do Space At All?

A Babe in the Universe attended the recent International Space Development Conference in Dallas. Evidently there was an interesting ISDC Announcement about a new shape of the Benson’s Dreamchaser spaceplane.

I hope you have enjoyed the Carnival of Space.

The Carnival of Space will be held next week at Music of the Spheres, click here for information on submitting a post.

I thank everyone who has helped out with bring this carnival together, and to the participants in this carnival.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Why does public education cost more in some states

Saturday I posted linking to a CNN article that the per capita cost of public education was almost three times more in New York State than in Montana. Someone commented, trying to explain that this is because New York State has more people, and that there are more "poor, uneducated, families, many who don't speak English in their homes." I started to respond with a comment, but the comment grew and grew. Here is the full response:

Reporting on the cost of education by student is a way to focus on how efficient public school districts are in various states. A large per capita expense should not be influenced by a large number of students.

There may be some increase in the amount of money spent on public education due to poor families who have children who don't speak much English. But this begs the question why does New York spend so much more money per student than other states. States near Mexico also have large numbers of students weak in English, but the states along the Mexican border do a better job with less money.

The two big costs in public education are facilities and salaries. A large per capita expense means the public school system is spending on more facilities and salaries proportionally to the number of students in the school than other states. By using per capita data we can ignore the size of the population.

One of the big problems in New York State is it is very hard to fire bad teachers. John Stossel reported back in January of this year that there are hundreds of steps, making it almost impossible to fire a bad teacher. It has gotten so bad that public school districts will put a bad teacher in a room away from students rather than spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to fire a bad teacher.

Thomas Sowell spends a chapter in Inside American Education writing about all the various ways public schools waste money. One of the places schools waste money is putting children in special programs where there is no need. For example San Francisco put Chinese students into English as a Second Language program for Spanish children. And in Southern California immigrant students may be placed in ESL programs, even thought they speak better English than many Americans.

Last year my wife found a recent study by the U.S. Education Department reported that public schools perform favorably with private schools when students' income and socio-economic status are taken into account. The report neglected to point out that the government schools spent on average twice as much money as the private schools to achieve similar results. Public schools are not effective in using taxpayer’s money. This is one of the reasons for vouchers.

My wife went on to list other ways public schools waste money.

Public education does not effectively use tax dollars. Some states are much worse than other states. New York State may be the worse.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Reminder - send in your submission for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Beverly Hernandez of About Homeschooling will be hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling next week.

Entries are due this Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Here are the instructions for sending in a submission.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

The Thomas Jefferson Education Blog Carnival is up

I just noticed that there is A Thomas Jefferson Education Blog Carnival. If you want to learn more, hop on over the Trinity Prep School.

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The US spent an average of $8,701 per student on elementary and secondary education in 2005

This caught my eye in a Google alert: U.S. spends average of $8,701 per pupil on education. New York has the highest spending per student at $14,119 per student. Utah has the lowest at $5,257 per pupil.

I thought this was fascinating:

"... Washington, D.C., has among the highest spending in the country but its students have among the lowest scores on standardized tests, while some states like Montana with relatively low spending have fairly high performance on tests."

The next time someone claims we need more money for education, challenge their assumption that more money will help education. We don't need more money, but money spent more wisely. Maybe we should put the educrates in Montana over the education programs in New York.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

One more post on Colonial Williamsburg

My brother sent me an email that Colonial Williamsburg has podcasts!

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A few thoughts on the Founding Fathers and Monticello

We’ve been in Virginia two weeks now. During our time at Colonial Williamsburg, and now being up in the Shenandoah Valley I am frequently reminded just how much the Founding Fathers sacrificed and what a good job they did.

I have great respect for George Washington. The Founding Fathers created the Constitution in an effort to have a more perfect government, and I think they did a remarkably good job. Even with all the efforts to turn the colonies into a republic, I think George Washington could have turned being the first president into being a king. The colonists had fought against the tyranny of a bad king, but many of them were still comfortable with the monocracy form of government.

A few years ago I read John Adams by David McCullough. I was greatly impressed by John Adams. Up until this book John Adams had been someone I knew little about. After reading about John Adams I felt he was in same league as George Washington.

In reading the book I was sad to learn that Thomas Jefferson in the 1800 campaign introduced dirty politics to the presidential campaign. Thomas Jefferson had his supporters spread lies about John Adams.

The means we use to accomplish an end are as important as the goal, and in many ways will determine the true success of a goal. Using evils means to try to accomplish a good goal will often corrupt the end goal. I lost a lot of respect for Thomas Jefferson.

Last Friday as we would be driving Charlottesville we thought about stopping to see Monticello. My first response was I didn’t want to go, and then I decided to go, largely because it was a good place to stop and let our daughters run around, and it might be interesting.

Monticello is interesting. It is worth a stop. It gave me a little insight into Thomas Jefferson. I still don’t have a good sense as to the overall character of the man, but from Monticello I learned that he was organized and was trying to do some good things.

Monticello is a scaled down colonial version of Hearst Castle. There was a garden, places for guests to stay, things for guests to do, a library, and many works of art.

We enjoyed the garden. Thomas Jefferson recorded in great detail many aspects of Monticello. As Monticello was being rebuilt the journals told where the fish pond was, where certain flowers had been planted, where the garden was, where the fruit trees had been, and so on. We had a better understanding of life in Virginia two hundred years ago.

The tour through the house was also enlightening. I liked the library, thousands of old books. I’m always amazed at how small the beds were back then. I would have trouble getting a good night’s sleep in those small beds.

I enjoyed Monticello. It was educational, but I don’t feel I got to know the character of Thomas Jefferson any better.

Update I - 21 Mar 08
A reader pointed out that my comparison to Hearst Castle was misleading. My wording implied that Monticello was patterned after Hearst Castle. Which would be hard to do since Hearst Castle was created over a hundred years after Monticello.
I was trying to say that Monticello was like an East Coast Hearst Castle, a large elaborate building for a wealthy man.

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Advice to a eleven year old

One of my cousins has an eleven year old girl who is graduating from elementary school this week. My cousin sent out an email to family and friends asking for advice for her daughter. I thought a bit and wrote this:

"One of the pieces of advice I gave my younger brother when he was about your age was to consciously choose his friends. In my early years it never occurred to me that I should actively seek out good people. And likewise to avoid people who would drag me into places I didn't want to go.

"You can look around as you meet new people, reach out to many of them, sift through and hold tight to those who would encourage you to be a better person. Do this and you will greatly benefit. True good friends, friends who are good for you, will help you do to well in school, to be honest, to work hard, and to stay out of trouble."

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The Carnival of Space is up!

This week's Carnival of Space is up at Universe Today.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Patrick Henry at Colonial Williamsburg

We’re currently up in Shenandoah Valley. I’ll post later about going down into the Shenandoah Caverns and our moving experience at Virginia Military Institute Hall of Valor.

I’ve been meaning to write about one of the highlights of Colonial Williamsburg. Like I said last year I always make a point of going to hear Richard Schumann's portrayal Patrick Henry. I’ll use both Richard Schumann and Patrick Henry to describe the experience.

On last Tuesday we went to the Kimball Theatre at noon. The event was titled “A Conversation with Patrick Henry.” Those of us in the audience were supposed to be local citizens in Williamsburg. The speaker of the House of Burgess had asked Patrick Henry was giving a brief report on the state of affairs in May of 1776. Patrick Henry wryly noted that he had never been brief in his life.

Richard Schumann does a great job in his interpretation of Patrick Henry. He is very dramatic and moving. It is easy to see how Patrick Henry was able to bring people over to his way of thinking. Richard once said that there was little written record of Patrick Henry’s speeches. That while there was a clerk in the House of Burgess, once Patrick Henry started speaking the clerk, along with most everyone else, would become memorized and would record very little of what Patrick Henry said.

After addressing the audience for several minutes Patrick Henry apologized to the ladies for talking so much about politics, that these were matters that women didn’t normally have to deal with. Richard often slips in insights on the differences of attitude and outlook from 1776 without making it a lecture.

Patrick Henry summarized the current state of affairs by first focusing on the problems up in Massachusetts. (Remember it was suppose to be 1776) The British had stationed 5,000 troops in Boston, a town of 20,000. The British were getting ready to close down the port. Patrick talked about some of the differences between those in the New England Colonies, for example religion. He said that plays were not allowed in Boston, there was no betting on horse races, and there was even no dancing. These were all things that Virginians would fight to the death before giving up. He acknowledged that few in Virginia liked men in New England. But he then went on to argue that we must needs work with them

After talking for a bout twenty five minutes he took a few questions from the audience. True to form, each of his answers went on for several minutes. I think one answer took seven minutes.

Then on last Wednesday morning Patrick Henry met us (citizens of Williamsburg) under a large oak tree. He was there to explain his plans for the new republic. The first five minutes were almost exactly the same. The speaker had asked him to make some brief remarks; Patrick Henry claimed that he had never been brief in his life. After a few minutes of background he apologized to the ladies for talking about politics in front of them.

My oldest daughter had stayed with me, while Janine took the younger two off to explore. My oldest worried that the whole speech would be exactly the same. Then on queue Patrick Henry started talking about three resolutions that were being discussed in the House of Burgess, their merits and their weaknesses, and what would happen to them.

I thought that this was a great lesson in civics. Patrick Henry warned several times that as citizens we had to be ever vigilant against the oppression of a large government. It is once thing to read about this in a book. My oldest had a much stronger experience by being there and listening to Patrick Henry explain how we could lose our freedoms.

You can learn more about Richard Schumann's interpretation of Patrick Henry here, and even listen to him give the famous speech. And here you can read an interview with Richard Schumann.

If you visit Colonial Williamsburg, I strongly encourage you to go listen to Richard Schumann portray Patrick Henry.

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Unschooling Voices will be up at the start of June

If you have posted some thoughts about unschooling, consider sending them in for the next Unschooling Voices, a carnival for unschoolers. Entries are due at the end of May.

Here are the details on how to send in a post.

Unschooling Voices is hosted by A Day in Our Lives.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

The Carnival of Education is up, week 120

The Carnival of Education this week is at I Thought a Think.

You can send in a submission for next week's carnival via this form.

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Two secrets to keep your marriage brimming

This came in on Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:

Two secrets to keep your marriage brimming
1. Whenever you're wrong, admit it,
2. Whenever you're right, shut up.
-Ogden Nash

I think this is true of most relationships we are in, work, church, family, and so on. If we have made a mistake, we should fess up to it. If we are right, we shouldn't trumpet it again and again.

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Reminder - send in a submission for the next Carnival of Space

You have ten hours to get in an entry to the next Carnival of Space.

The Carnival of Space this week will again be hosted at Universe Today.

Go here for instructions on how to submit a post. Entries are due Wednesday evenings at 6:00 PM PST.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Carnival of Homeschooling, week 73 - Give me a H

Give me a H! Give me an O! ........ What's that spell? Homeschooling! Yeah!

Melissa Wiley is enthusiastic about homeschooling. She hosts this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at The Lilting House.

This may be the largest carnival yet, I lost count of just how many posts are included this week.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Monday, May 21, 2007

If You Give a Homeschooling Mom a Cookie

I thought this was cute (from cause of our joy)

"If you give a Homeschooling Mom a cookie, she'll want the recipe. She will plan a complete unit study on the History of Cookies. The family will take field trip to a farm and see where we get eggs, milk and grain."

To read the rest go to: If You Give a Homeschooling Mom a Cookie

(Hat tip: Mommy Life)

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children

The Carnival of Family Life is up at Be a Good Dad

This week's Carnival of Family Life is being held at Be A Good Dad.

To submit to next week's edition go here.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Reminder - send in your submission for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Melissa Wiley of The Lilting House will be hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling next week.

Entries are due this Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Here are the instructions for sending in a submission.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books is up

Semicolon is holding her Saturday Review of Books. Once of the advantages of being on the East Coast right now is I was able to join the list early. If you have recently posted a book review it is easy to join her review of books.

Last week I was distracted by Williamsburg. Here is last week's list.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Benjamin Franklin and the glass armonica

My younger brother got married almost ten years ago. At the wedding reception one of the wedding couple’s friends collected eight glasses. She filled them with water to different levels. Then with a spoon she played Jingle Bells. It was quite amazing.

Evidently Benjamin Franklin had a similar experience about 350 years ago. While in Europe he listened so someone use glass to make music. Benjamin Franklin came back to the colonies and created another invention, the glass armonica. The musical instrument is fairly simple. A set of bowls are created with holes down the middle. Each bowl is slightly different size. They are stacked on a pole, separated. The pole is placed horizontal and rotated. The musician wets his fingers and touches the bowls slightly. Each bowl gives off a different note. Wikipedia has a nice picture of one.

At Colonial Williamsburg we went to a concert of this glass armonica. It was amazing. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the music. Dean Shostak played several pieces, they were ethereal. He also played glass bells, a glass violin, and a couple other instruments. We bought four CDs.

If you get a chance to visit Colonial Williamsburg, check out the glass armonica concert.

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Book review: The Mouse That Roared by Leonard Wibberley

We are spending part of the weekend at my brother’s house. When I visit family and friends I like to spend a few minutes and look through their bookshelves. You can tell a lot about people by the kinds of books they read. I’ve been checking out my brother’s books.

Last night I happened across The Mouse That Roared by Leonard Wibberly in one of my brother’s bookshelves. (Yes, he had a nice collection of books.) Years ago I had watched part of the movie version with Peter Sellers. It seemed like a pleasant movie, but for some reason I had never watched the whole movie. I started the book last night and finished today.

The book takes place in the 1950s, during the height of the Cold War. The book creates a country named Grand Fenwick up in the Alps of Europe. It was founded 600 years ago by an Englishman. This small country is five by seven miles with 4,500 people. The country is suffering economically. An American company is illegally ce making the exact same wine that Grand Fenwick sells. Grand Fenwick tries to go through diplomatic channels for redress and is ignored. Finally they decide to declare war on the United States, with the expectation that they would lose, but that the United States would invest money into them. There was precedent for this, after World War II the United States spent billions helping Germany and Japan rebuild.

Since this is fiction there is little surprise that Grand Fenwick wins the war about two thirds of the way through the book. The rest of the book is about how Grand Fenwick handles its unexpected victory.

I enjoyed the book. It was fun and light hearted. I don’t plan to track down the other four books. Maybe some day I’ll happen across one of the sequels.

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Jonny Quest was homeschooled!

As a kid, I loved the old Jonny Quest cartoon. Recently, I've found that you can watch old episodes on the internet for free here.

Today I watched the very first epidose. I was delighted to realize that Jonny Quest was homeschooled.

Powered by AOL Video

Here's a little info from Wikipedia.

Jonny Quest (often referred to as The Adventures of Jonny Quest) was a science fiction American animated television series produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions, and created and designed by comic book artist Doug Wildey, about the adventures of a young boy who accompanies his father on extraordinary adventures.

I was surprised to learn this little factoid:

Jonny Quest first aired on September 18, 1964 on the ABC network, and was an almost instant success, both critically and ratings-wise. It was canceled after one season, not because of poor ratings, but because each episode of the show went over budget.

I was sad to here that there are only 26 original episodes. I also didn't realize that it was so controversial.

Saturday morning reruns and controversy

Reruns of the show were broadcast on various networks’ Saturday morning lineups beginning in 1967. On Saturday morning, Jonny Quest became one of the main targets of parental watchdog groups such as Action for Children's Television (ACT). With its multiple on-screen deaths, murder attempts, uses of firearms and deadly weapons, and tense moments, Jonny Quest was decried as the epitome of what was wrong with Saturday morning cartoons, regardless of the fact that it indeed was not an original Saturday morning cartoon. The reruns were taken off the air in 1972, but returned to Saturday morning, in edited form, periodically afterwards.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hello from Williamsburg

So, here a quick note about our trip. Over the last few years we have acquired Colonial costumes for the girls. They sure enjoyed walking around in costume. Henry joined the girls in some Colonial games.

Greetings from Williamsburg!

This week's Carnival of Space is up at Universe Today

This week's Carnival of Space is up at Universe Today.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Judy Aron's thoughts on Homeschooling Conventions

When we first started homeschooling we attended a weekend homeschooling convention. A couple years later we went to a convention with Susan Wise Bauer as the only speaker. Both of these were very helpful.

If you are new to homeschooling, consider attending a Homeschool Convention. You'll get a chance to check out different curriculum, talk to other homeschooling parents, and get exposure to a variety of ideas on how to homeschool.

Judy Aron, who blogs at Consent Of The Govern, gathered several sites which have lists of upcoming Homeschooling Conventions in her post: Homeschoolers: Convention Season Is Upon Us. It is worth a gander.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

The Carnival of Education is up, week 119

The Education Wonks, the organizer for the Carnival of Education, is hosting this week's Carnival of Education.

You can send in a submission for next week's carnival via this form.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Some of our best posts

We’ve been blogging for a year and half now. We’re rapidly approaching 1200 posts. We’d like to help new readers find some our best posts. The following are some on homeschooling we think others may especially enjoy.

Considering homeschooling?

Is homeschooling right for you?

Reasons to homeschool

Time - Homeschooling gives families time to do what matters most.

Teaching children how to think - Help children to learn how to use their brain.

Benefits of homeschooling

Homer’s Odyssey – We were surprised to find our daughters enjoyed The Odyssey.

Kids love to learn – Children can be learning when we least expect it.

Stacking the deck – Homeschooling allows parents stack the deck in our favor.

School would have ruined that kid! – Homeschooling allows children to learn when they are ready to learn.

Resilient Children – Homeschooling helps children to be resilient.

How does homeschooling work?

A Classical Homeschool Day - One “typical day” at the Cate household.

Unschool day – Another “typical’ day

Susan Wise Bauer – her books & her “typical” days of homeschooling

Unschool lessons in economics (or trip to the mall)

A Good Homeschool Day

Beginning to Homeschool

Baby steps to homeschooling

Starting to homeschool

Interenet Resources on Homeschooling

Important lessons to teach children

The importance of work - Help children develop a work ethic.

Reasons to avoid public school

Public Education wastes money

Textbooks are badly written

Teacher quality in government schools is undependable

Institutionalized education wastes time


Schools Quash Student's Enthusiasm for Learning

Slave to the system

Thoughts about public schools

Vouchers - Thoughts about why vouchers are not going to happen soon.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

How do you travel with books?

We came to Virginia with over thirty books. Some of you will be rolling your eyes in disbelief. Others will be nodding your heads knowingly.

Some of these books are for me to use for work. For example I'm working through Code Complete, 2nd Edition. I read the first edition four or five years ago. I picked up the 2nd edition just over a year ago, but hadn't gotten around to reading it. If you do any programming or software development this is a great book to have.

I think my oldest had close to a dozen. My second daughter had five to eight. I don't think my youngest brought any. I know Janine has some. I don't know how many.

Since we've been here five days we've added more than ten to our collection. At this rate we could end up heading back home with seventy to eighty books. I may try shipping some of them via UPS from my brother's place.

Does anyone have tricks for traveling with books? I did a Google search for inflatable bookshelves or portable bookcases and didn't see anything that seemed like a good fit. Does anyone make a suitcase that opens into a bookshelf?

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This week's Carnival of Family Life is a Mother's Day edition

This week's Carnival of Family Life is being held at Be A Good Dad. It is a Mother's Day edition; all the posts have to do with mothers.

To submit to next week's edition go here.

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The Carnival of Homeschooling, week 72, is up in Hawaii

Anne of PalmTree Pundit is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling.

Along with the great variety of posts Anne shares pictures of the flowers in her backyard. There are some beautiful flowers, and many great posts.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Monday, May 14, 2007

We may be getting a snake for a pet

We like to let our daughters have pets. They learn about responsibility, about work, and even about grief. Our oldest daughter had two cute rats. (Yes, pet rats can be cute.) Our second daughter just recently lost two English Budgies. Recently all of our daughters have been talking about the pets they want to get now.

One of the things our daughters love about traveling is watching Animal Planet. We don't have cable so about the only time they get to watching hours of TV on animals is when we're traveling.

A couple days ago our girls were watching Austin Stevens move a dangerous snake. Our youngest was fascinated.

Today while our oldest was buying a dress, our youngest was checking out the toy animals. She found a clothe snake. She decided she wanted to buy it. It was $4.95. She named it Violet. For the next hour as we walked around she pretended to feed it. She talked about how it got scared when there were loud noises. She kept it save. She told us what it was feeling and thinking.

If this goes on for another day or two we may end up with a snake this June. Does anyone have suggestions on a good breed for a pet?

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We love Colonial Williamsburg

We had a wonderful day at Colonial Williamsburg. It has been a year since we were here last. Last year we got the girls some colonial dresses. They wore them today. As we walked around today several people asked our daughters if they worked there. One couple even asked for directions. We've been here enough times now that our daughters were able to help out. We talked some with one of the workers about how our daughters could get a job working at Colonial Williamsburg. Our oldest is 12 years old, so it will be awhile. But I think we'll be back often. Janine's sister and family are in the process of moving to Williamsburg.

If you ever happen to be south of Richmond, check out Colonial Williamsburg. It is very worthwhile. They give homeschooling parents a 50% discount. We bought a one year pass. With the 50% discount we saved about $50. The lady asked us for proof that we homeschooled. We asked how could we prove it? We had left our R4 form at home. She took our phone number. If you want the 50% teacher discount it would be helpful if you could bring some kind of proof.

The lady at the ticket desk said that during this time of year they get about 2,500 people who buy tickets at the Visiter's Center. She didn't know how many tickets the hotels and other organizations. In the summer this swells to between 5,000 and 8,000 people a day.

The girls had fun playing hoop and stick on the green. My youngest thought the stockade was very interesting. She tried out each one. She thought it was funny that because her feet are small she was able to get out of one of the stockades. My middle daughter didn't want to climb into any of the stockades.

We had our lunch under a large oak tree.

Next we went to a glass armonica concert. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I'll post about it a little later.

After the concert we spent some time at Quilts Unlimited. Our oldest has been babysitting a lot over the last couple months. She has a regular job on Monday afternoons. A friend of ours has a judo class and drops her 18 month old daughter off at our house. Our oldest has other random babysitting jobs. She's been making $6 and sometimes $7 an hour. At Quilts Unlimited she saw a colonial dress she liked and she decided to buy it.

We spent the last hour at Colonial Williamsburg walking down one of the main streets. We checked out several of the shops and listened to an actor protray George Washington.

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Reminder - send in a submission for the next Carnival of Space

The Carnival of Space this week will be hosted at Universe Today.

Go here for instructions on how to submit a post. Entries are due Wednesday evenings at 6:00 PM PST.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Carnival of Space archive

Update I - 5 November 2007
Fraser Cain of Universe Today is now the organizer for the Carnival of Space. Go here for update-to-date details.

Original post:

Week 28: 8 November 2007 The Planetary Society Blog at here

Week 27: 1 November 2007 Universe Today at here

Week 26: 25 October 2007 Star Stryder at here

Week 25: 18 October 2007 Sorting Out Science at here

Week 24: 11 October 2007 Space For Commerce at here

Week 23: 4 October 2007 advanced nanotechnology at here

Week 22: 27 September 2007 wanderingspace at here

Week 21: 20 September 2007 Why Homeschool at here

Week 20: 13 September 2007 Music of the Spheres at here

Week 19: 6 September 2007 Universe Today at here

Week 18: 30 August 2007 Out of the Cradle at here

Week 17: 23 August 2007 The Planetary Society Blog at here

Week 16: 16 August 2007 advanced nanotechnology at here

Week 15: 9 August 2007 Star Stryder at here

Week 14: 2 August 2007 Universe Today at here

Week 13: 26 July 2007 LiftPort Staff Blog at here

Week 12: 19 July 2007 Music of the Spheres at here

Week 11: 12 July 2007 Space For Commerce at here

Week 10: 5 July 2007 Why Homeschool at here

Week 9: 28 June 2007 The Planetary Society Blog at here

Week 8: 21 June 2007 Universe Today at here

Week 7: 14 June 2007 Star Stryder at here

Week 6: 7 June 2007 Music of the Spheres at here

Week 5: 31 May 2007 Why Homeschool at here

Week 4: 24 May 2007 Universe Today at here

Week 3: 17 May 2007 Universe Today at here

Week 2: 9 May 2007 Why Homeschool at here

Week 1: 26 April 2007 Why Homeschool at here

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Schedule for the Carnival of Space

Update I - 5 November 2007
Fraser Cain of Universe Today is now the organizer for the Carnival of Space. Go here for update-to-date details.

Original post:

Currently we have the future carnivals planned:

November 1 - Universe Today

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Reminder - send in your submission for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Anne of PalmTree Pundit will be hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling next week.

Entries are due this Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Here are the instructions for sending in a submission.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Do you want to see how the schools in your area rate?

A friend at work sent me a link to SchoolsMatters. I believe that in most cases children would be better educated if they are homeschooled. But if parents choose to put their children in public schools, they may find this site useful.

There is a ton of information on on reading schools, math scores, number of students per teacher, and so on. You can compare schools. You can compare school districts. You can even compare states.

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The Carnival of Education is up at NYC Educator

This week's Carnival of Education is up at NYC Educator.

Next week the carnival will be back at the The Education Wonks. You can send in a submission via this form.

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What professionals have done to public education

We're currently in Williamsburg, Virginia, near Jamestown. A Google alert led me to a column by Martin A. Davis. Martin is responding to the recent visit by the Queen in his column: Royal Mess. It caught my attention because he mentions Jamestown. Martin makes an interesting point. He writes that many Americans have paid great attention to the recent visit from the Queen, but few people are paying any attention to why the Queen came. The Queen came to celebrate the founding of Jamestown.

As we drove around Williamsburg today there were a number of places to park so tourists could ride buses to the events at Jamestown. There clearly was some interest. Janine and I talked a bit about going to Jamestown. Our daughters are still a bit tired. They have not adjusted yet to the new time zone. It is hot here. And we went to Jamestown two years ago. Overall it didn’t seem like a good idea to wade through a huge mob. But we do care about Jamestown. One of the main reasons we came to Williamsburg was to teach our daughters about the colonial period of America. We'll spend three days at Colonial Williamsburg and visit Jamestown when the crowds are smaller.

Martin Davis says that a big part of the reason Americans today care so little and know so little about history is that the “professionals” long ago decided that the average student wasn’t able to master the complexities of history. For hundreds of years education in America was a private endeavor, or run by a local community organization. Starting in the mid 1800s there was a push for “public education” to be run by the professionals. Over the next fifty years the “public education” movement took root.

Martin Davis references Diane Ravitch who explained that then the “professionals” decided to water down history:


That history is taught so poorly is no accident of history, so to speak, as Diane Ravitch points out in her recent OAH Magazine of History article. By the early 20th century, an array of forces had managed to limit in-depth history instruction to a select few. Surprisingly, it was the ‘‘professional historians’’ who led the charge. Scholars such as medievalist A.C. Krey deemed their discipline’s rigor beyond the ‘‘competence of the average student,’’ explains Ravitch. The subject, wrote Krey in 1929, also wasn’t critical to students’ ‘‘effective participation in society.’’


The next time I hear someone claim that homeschoolers can’t do as good a job as the “professionals” I’ll probably bite my tongue and maybe roll my eyes. Most of the time I find the average person has trouble believing that amateur (homeschoolers) educators can do as good a job, if not better, in teaching children.

History is very important. One of the main reasons we get an education is to avoid the mistakes others have made. Children who have been taught history have a much deeper understanding of politics and society in general. They can be more effective living their lives, instead of being tossed to and fro.

I like this thought:

History is a vast early warning system.
-Norman Cousins, editor and author (1915-1990)

About a hundred years ago the “professionals” decided to water down history to the point that people today care more about the Queen than the founding of Jamestown. Maybe after a hundred years of amateurs teaching children history the 500 year anniversary founding of Jamestown might have greater interest.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Friday, May 11, 2007

Great Homeschool comic strip

A friend sent me this link to a great comic strip about homeschooling. They've gotten so much attention, it will now be made into a t-shirt.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

You can be part of the TTLB's homeschooling community

I noticed last month that The Truth Laid Bear's homeschooling community was active again. Dana, who blogs at Principled Discovery, is the TTLB homeschooling community administrator. Now that the community active again, Dana is accepting new members. If you wish to join, send her an email. (To get her email address go to her blog and click on her profile.)

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, TTLB

We brought too much stuff

We have got to do a better job of packing light. We brought too much stuff. Usually, we only do carry on luggage. This trip we have a few extra bags, so we ended up checking a few things. Also, the older girls wanted to bring their instruments. Thus we had to carry on a violin and a clarinet. Since we will be gone a month, it is easy to over pack. I have this dream of taking our family backpacking through Europe. With the way we pack for a trip stateside, I do see that happening any time soon.

Well, as Henry mentioned Madelyn’s suitcase was lost. We waited for a half hour and filed a claim and went on our way. It was probably a good thing the bag went missing. The rental car was packed to the roof. I couldn’t see out the back window.

During dinner, we got a call from Southwest that they found our bag and would deliver it to the hotel. I was worried where we would put it. I called the rental place. We had a full size car with a tiny trunk. I asked if I could exchange it for a car with a bigger trunk. They said sure. So, while the kids were getting reading for bed, I drove the 3 miles back to the airport.

(I’m proud of myself. I actually got there and back by myself without getting lost.) When I got to the rental place and explained my dilemma, the manager pointed out a few different cars with bigger trunks. As I was getting ready to go and look at the trunk size, he says, “Oh, you could just take that minivan over there.”

I asked, "How much?" He replied that it would cost the same since he had some minivans he was trying to get rid of. I could have almost hugged him. So, I got a free upgrade to a minivan. I went into the office to make the exchange.

The two men working behind the counter were such slugs. I’ve never seen anyone work that slow. For each customer, the clerk would walk out to the garage, find a car and bring the key back in. They walked so slowly. I didn’t expect them to run, but the leisurely stroll was quite irritating. A brisk walk would have been more appropriate.

Also, they weren’t very observant. When I booked the rental car, I did some research and found discount codes which make the rental cheaper and also allowed for the addition of a second driver for free. When we had originally checked in at the counter and Henry and I both showed our driver’s licenses, the clerk mumbled, “That will cost you extra.” I replied, “No it’s not.” and pointed out that section of my reservation.

I kept wondering to myself, “How much do these guys make? Whatever it is, they aren’t worth it.” Since both clerks walked in the same way, I wondered if they were intentionally going so slowly because they were mad about working so late. (It was about 10pm by this time.)

Anyway, I happily returned to the hotel with the minivan. So, even if we brought too much stuff, we have someplace to put it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Carnival of Space - week 2

Welcome to the second Carnival of Space. Below is a selection from recent blog posts about space. I hope you enjoy them.

Recently Stephen Hawking floated in zero-g. Joe from Life at the Frontier writes about Stephen Hawking Soaring Beyond Disability. Joe writes that Stephen Hawking's zero-g flight has significance for human expansion into space and for the lives of disabled persons.

Music of the Spheres writes about Black Holes and their Dad. Stephen Hawking is one of the best known scientists of our time. He recently floated free inside of a zero-G training aircraft. Dr. Hawking has also done pioneering work on the properties of black holes, which you can explore in an interactive and fun web site called "Journey to a Black Hole."

Looking far into the past Universe Today reports on some interesting research on How Dark Matter Might Have Snuffed Out the First Stars. Researchers are proposing that dark matter annihilation in the early Universe overwhelmed the formation of the first stars.

At The Daily Brief Brian Dunbar responds to an Apollo Lunar Surface Journal article. Brian points out that we are in danger of losing knowledge regarding the moon from the guys who DID go to the moon. It is amazing to think these men will be pushing 100 years old when we finally get around to going back.

Travel to Mars: The Greatest Adventure of the 21st Century the Curmudgeons Corner found an interesting article discussing NASA's long term plans to send humans to Mars.

Looking into the future Colony Worlds wonders Is Jupiter's Ganymede A Second Earth? Despite the fact that terraforming may be centuries away, Ganymede may hold the key towards providing a second home for hundreds of millions, if not billions of individuals in the not so distant future.

The present is looking better. At Space Transport News is some data on SpaceX Falcon 1 pricing info + Payload Users Guide. SpaceX releases details on how much they will charge to fly on their new rockets. The prices will be lower even than the discount Russian vehicles! And here is some info on the Falcon 9.

To be successful in space we’ll need cheaper transportation. advancednano has a post on using Laser and magnetic launches for radically cheaper access to space. The $10,000/kg cost of getting things into space has been crippling what is possible in space. Any low cost system will also need to have a high volume purpose. The focus is on laser launch array systems (and mirror reflecting enhancement).

Spaceflight Sandbox ruminates on potential applications for Bigelow's habitat modules and speculates about the possibility of near-term space construction based on materials and techniques derived from the current generation of Bigelow technologies.

And finally we go back to the beginning that many of us had with space. As children we often became fascinated with the future frontier of space. The Sinister Scribe remembers how his son became introduced to Mars and space in general in Mommy, I want to see Mars.

I hope you have enjoyed the Carnival of Space.

If you are interested in submitting a post for a future carnival, click here for information.

If you are interested in hosting a future edition of the Carnival of Space, go here for the guidelines. If you are still interested, contact me.

I thank everyone who has helped out with bring this carnival together, and to the participants in this carnival.

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