Sunday, April 17, 2011


We are blessed to live on an amazing block with great neighbors. When the weather is nice, the kids spend the weekends running around together while the grown ups tackle various yard projects, alone or communally.

Today the guys felled a tree. It was a trip to watch. I really enjoy seeing the different personalities at play. We've got one neighbor who will volunteer for any project, and he's especially game if he gets to climb a ladder. A couple of weeks ago he volunteered to clean a neighbor's gutters. Today, he was the guy at the top of the tree, right up against the power lines, sawing off the top branches with his left hand. He is not left handed.

My husband is left handed, but is not one to balance precariously atop a tree growing into power lines. He was holding the guide rope. The other lefty, the owner of the tree, was off buying beer.

I am happy to report that the tree is down and that no fences, husbands, or children were harmed in the process.

Way to go guys!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Citizen Science Opportunities

I was reading my new issue of Kiwi Magazine this morning and they have a fantastic article on citizen science opportunities. Whether you homeschool or not, these opportunities are a really neat way for your family to participate in the collection of valuable scientific data on subjects ranging from climatology to ornithology to astronomy.

Check out Science for Citizens to find an opportunity that's right for your family. Some of my favorites:

Mastodon Matrix Project
It doesn't get any cooler than this. They ship you a sample of mastodon fossil matrix (the stuff the fossil is found in) and you sort through it to find ancient bones, plants, and rocks from the time the mastodon lived. This would be a perfect project for a science club.

Physics Songs
Maybe your kid isn't a science lover but rather a budding musician? Encourage an interest in science by suggesting he write a song about a physics concept to add to this database devoted to collecting and organizing all songs about physics.

Project Squirrel
I could spend hours (in fact, I have!) watching the squirrels in my back yard chase each other up and down our trees and in and out of our compost heap. I was intrigued one afternoon to watch a squirrel trying to bury a corncob in our lawn. With Project Squirrel you can report your squirrel sightings to help scientists learn more about the charming neighborhood animals.

Monarch Waystation Program
According to the program's web site,
Widespread adoption of herbicide-resistant corn and soybeans has resulted in the loss of more than 80 million acres of monarch habitat in recent years. The planting of these crops genetically modified to resist the non-selective systemic herbicide glyphosate (Roundup®) allows growers to spray fields with this herbicide instead of tilling to control weeds. Milkweeds survive tilling but not the repeated use of glyphosate. This habitat loss is significant since these croplands represent more than 30% of the summer breeding area for monarchs.
Help save the magnificent Monarch Butterfly by creating a Monarch Waystation in your backyard! Find out how at the program's web site (linked above).