Thursday, September 20, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

Science Week 6: Parasites and Nitrogen

This wraps up the first 6 week section for our science year already. This unit on Algae and Fungi was fun, and I'm sure as autumn creeps in and our woods become a bit more inviting (read: a few less snakes, ticks, and bugs etc...), we'll go back through those mosses and lichens. With near 20 acres out here of mountain nothingness, we have a wide assortment of them for study.

Onward to the parasites and nitrogen traps...commonly known types like ringworm and athlete's foot, mildews, rusts, and blights, even a less commonly known variety of parasite known as smuts. So, this week's notes:

  • fungi are thallophytes which are....plants without true roots, stems or leaves.
  • a fungus that lives on dead plant or animal material is a...saprophyte.
  • most gilled mushrooms are saprophytes. Nearly every gilled mushroom is found growing on the ground, rotted logs, rotting stumps, even dead limbs on living trees. Less than 1-in-20 mushroom species grows on living wood.
  • Saprophytes are soil builders. They change dead plant/animal material into carbon dioxide and simple elements. This is only one class of fungus...the other class is called parasite because they live off live plant and animal material.
"Bracket" or "shelf" fungi can be found in wooded areas growing on the sides of trees, fashioning themselves as little shelves, perhaps for elves! Fungi do not photosynthesize, as do other plants. They get their nourishment from a host they live on. If a plant gets its nourishment from a host organism that is dead and decaying, it is called a saprophyte. If the host is a living organism, the feeding plant is called a parasite.Are bracket fungi saprophytes, parasites, or both?Trees have tiny tubes that transport water, nutrients, and waste throughout their system. These tubes are called xylem (which transport wastes) and phloem (which transport food). Trees grow from the outer layer just beneath the bark. The bark is not living. Our project is to locate bracket fungi and carefully chip away at the bark of the host tree and see if any "roots" or threadlike structures penetrate through the bark and into the live layer of the tree. If this is the case, then bracket fungi is most likely a parasite. If not, it is most likely a saprophyte.Procedure 
In a forest or wooded area, locate trees on which bracket fungi are growing. Using a chisel, carefully pry pieces of bark off the tree around the bracket fungi. Try to determine if any part of the fungi extends through the bark and into the soft, live layer of the tree. To avoid injuring the tree, do not remove too much bark.
Carefully search through a large area in the forest, noting any presence of bracket fungi. Are the trees where you find the fungi dead or alive, or do you find them on both dead and live trees?       

  •  Fungi are not the only parasites...any plant or animal that grows on another living species or hinders it by taking food, shelter or water is known as a parasite. When one is helped and the other is harmed, it is a parasitic relationship. When each one helps the other it is a symbiotic relationship.
  • Mildew...a whitish grayish fungus seen on the leaves of roses, lilacs, and other plants. Some mildews cause damage, some do not. When the Hebrews were unfaithful to God, He punished them by sending mildew on their crops (Amos 4:9, Haggai 2:17
  • smut is another fungus that grows on plants, commonly ears of sweet corn (appears as clumps of gray swollen cells). The spores spread, blow, and remain in the soil to infect the next season of young crops. Wheat, barley, and corn are all food for smuts.
  • Rust also destroys wheat, oats, barley, and other cereal grains. The red spore stage causes an appearance like rust.  The stem and leaves of a wheat plant become red in the spring, then turn black in the late summer and fall. 
Picture of leaf rust on wheat
  • the black wheat spores can winter-over on the common barberry plant. They form tiny cups on the undersides of the leaves, and in the spring the red spores are developed again and infect the nearby wheat plants.
  • white pine blister rust is white and infects the white pine and wild current bushes.
  • Cedar apple rust lives on the red cedar part of the time, and on apple trees the remainder of the year.

  • All living things must have nitrogen in some form. If nitrogen is absent, life is impossible.
  • algae and fungi live in a symbiotic relationship in lichens, certain bacteria have a symbiotic relationship with lentils, clover, vetch, soybeans, cowpeas, and similar plants. These bacteria grow on the young roots, taking from them food and water. The bacteria draw nitrogen from the air in the soil and mix it with oxygen and other elements to form a solid food used by the plant. Knots of nitrogen called nodules are produced. Later the roots and nodules decay, dissolve in water, and nourish other herbs or trees which in turn benefit man.
  • some soil bacteria do not grow on plant roots but do a similar work. This process is called fixation of nitrogen. This is God's way of providing plants, animals, and man with necessary food elements. 

Nitrogen-fixation process

Stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God....

Monday, September 10, 2012

Contenders of the Faith: Archery

There are many references to the bow throughout Scriptures...
Now therefore take , I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison   Genesis 27:3 
(Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)  2 Samuel 1:18 
He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow. Lamentations 3:12 
Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow. Genesis 48:22 
Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow. 2 Kings 13:15

Part of our Contenders of the Faith skills will be learning archery. Our Keepers at Home will be included in the lessons as well. Here is a full listing of all the skills through both the Contenders and the Keepers books. There are more than enough skills to master to keep us quite busy.  The youngers will earn a silver disk their first run-thru, the olders will earn a gold as they repeat many of these skill lessons.  We are debating over making vests for everyone to put their disks on, or perhaps a large family banner.

Ed Scott, part 2
Ed Scott, part 3
Ed Scott, part 4
Ed Scott, part 5
Ed Scott, part 6
Ed Scott, part 7
Ed Scott, part 8

Here is a nice pictorial from a hunter chat forum of crafting a good, sturdy, wood bow.

Making a primitive bow via Primitive Pathways, part 2, part 3, part 4

Making a 60# PVC bow yourself
Here's another DIY PVC bow tutorial note: he 'bends and forms' his bow with your kitchen stovetop...


You'll need arrows...Arrow Making for the Common Man 
or, Making a Common Man's Broadhead 
or, The Swiss Arrow

Long Bow

Of course I had to share a YouTube for crafting a replica Medieval arrow as we are studying the Middle Ages all year. Big Bow Brum has a nice set of videos on making a medieval arrow bag as well.


Here are some other notes:
How to shoot a longbow
some hints on arrow making
Archery terms to know

credit: wiki robotz

Friday, September 7, 2012

Middle Ages: The History Learning site

Just another note I need to keep on top of. Great little resource for us...and not just for Middle Ages either!

The History Learning Site

BlogShare: Joy in the Journey

While hunting around for this and that, and bunny trailing along as I usually do, I stumbled across Joy in Our Journey blog site.

My main notes so far are the great downloads she shares for planning our homeschool year...and her great shares on using The Mystery of History volumes in our schooling.  MOH 2 is one of the resources we will draw from this year, so this is a perfect find for us.

Contenders of the Faith & Keepers at Home Clubs

We did the Boy Scout thing when our eldest son was young. We went through the first several levels of Girl Scouts with our eldest daughter was young.  They are fine programs and have served well for their years of existence.  We don't exactly line up with some of the common teachings that underscore so many of the groups these days, so we went in search of something else we could do as a family. 
Are you familiar with the Keepers Clubs? Here's a great description via Timberdoodle:
  • Contenders for Boys, Keepers for Girls
  • Contenders for the Faith is for your sons ages 6 to 16. It provides guidelines for 89 different skills, each an important component to preparing our sons to be godly men.
  • Keepers at Home is typically for daughters 6 - 14, but with guidelines for over 100 different skills, some older daughters will continue to find their handbooks quite useful. Because there are no real age limitations, older children are free to participate. 

  • Family Life, Nature, Homemaking, Crafts, Leadership, Sports...
  • Each handbook is organized according to topic; Family Life, Nature, Homemaking, Crafts, Leadership, Sports and others, with outlines of what Keepers of the Faith has felt were the minimum requirements to master that skill. You, of course, may wish to modify their list by adding to or removing some of the requirements. There are some how-to's included, although for crafts in particular, you will want to augment the handbook; there is just not enough space to teach it all. 

  • Some of the topics for the girls are camping, fire safety, home decorating, organization, sign language and scheduling. 

  • The Contender's manual follows the same format adding additional practical skills, with more scope and complexity for the older boys. Topics include organization, foreign language, fishing and small engine repair. 

  • Follows Traditional Guidelines of Masculine and Feminine Behavior
  • The skills for each book follow the traditional guidelines of masculine and feminine behavior. We will make no apologies for that, but merely suggest that if you feel your son or daughter should acquire proficiencies not traditionally ascribed to boys or girls, teach them. These handbooks should in no way limit what your children learn, but instead, they will free you up from thinking through the steps of each skill. If you would like to mix and match from both books, you will not be prevented from doing so. 

  • Achievement Pins Available
  • For children that complete the requirements, top quality pins are available directly from Keepers of the Faith. More information is included with each handbook. Of course, pins are not a necessary requirement to use this program; you can acknowledge your child's achievement in any other fashion. And yes, boys can earn pins from the girl's handbook and visa versa. 
  • I have gone through several of the Keepers at Home and Contenders of the Faith projects with the children. We discovered these great programs many years ago and have enjoyed their skill lessons since. They fit our family quite nicely, and encourage and support the skills we want to teach. The 'curriculum' has been a great addition to our homeschooling over the years.

    The website for Keepers of the Faith has all the information you need to get your children started with Keepers at Home or Contenders of the Faith. There are groups gathering everywhere holding organized Keepers meetings, after school programs, church youth, etc.  The program is also perfect for a family to do as an individual unit as well. The site has so many tips, information, lesson plans, forms and more that will help you along. With all of the skills presented, you will have more than enough to keep you busy throughout the years you work the program.

    We are starting back up here. Not sure if we will make a simple vest for each child or a plain sash. We may go for a family banner to showcase our badges as they are earned.

    Science Week 5: Soil Makers, molds and yeasts

    Remember the story of Joshua and the elders of Israel meeting with the ragged, dusty men on a long journey? These men tricked Joshua, saying they had traveled so far...look at our ragged clothing, our worn out shoes, our moldy bread...though in truth, they had begun their mere 20 mile, 3 day journey with ragged clothing, battered shoes, and moldy bread.

    • Fungi do not have chlorophyll and cannot carry on photosynthesis. Fungi obtain their food in two ways and are classified according to this characteristic. 
    • One fungi group known as saprophytes, feeds on dead plants and animals. (There's a nice entry on fungus in general here at Encyclopedia Brittanica online).  Without saprophytes, every tree, plant and animal that has ever died would still be here, except those parts eaten by scavengers. They years would pass and the dead materials would simply pile up. Forests would be clogged, soil buried, and no new life would develop. 
    Characteristics of Saprophytes:
    • Saprophytes have no leaves, stems and roots.
    • They have no leaves mean they have no chlorophyll that plays a vital role in the process of photosynthesis and so they do not manufacture their own food.
    • They are heterotrophic.
    • They derive their energy from a saprophytic or a parasitic existence.
    • They are mostly unicellular
    • They are amoeboid
    • They are filamentous.
    • They reproduce by sexual or asexual spore formation or simply by division.
    Therefore, Saprophytes have to necessarily depend on rotten plants for their food.
    • Without saprophytes, no new soil would develop. God designed saprophytes to change the animal and plant matter into carbon dioxide and simple materials that help build new soil. This process provided by the saprophytes completes the food chain (food chain notes at Enchanted Learning...some notes and an online game at Sheppard online food chain game at EcoKids).   
    • Green leaved plants are usually the beginning of the food chain, and fungi are the final link in the chain.
    • Bacteria, molds, and yeasts are all fungi. Bacteria are the smallest fungi and cannot be seen by the naked eye. Some fungi multiply by tiny spores that are present everywhere. 
    • mold on oranges is commonly a blue and green powder composed of large numbers of spores, any of these can start a new colony of mold.
    • First discovered by a medical student, Ernest Duchesne, and then re-discovered in 1929 by Alexander Fleming (as an antibiotic) and identified it as a relative of the fungus found on oranges. During World War II, doctors worked with Fleming and from the mold he discovered, developed the antibiotic called penicillin.  
    • Yeasts are common, one-celled fungi living mostly on sugar solutions, making alcohol and carbon dioxide in a process called fermentation.  
    • Yeast from the store are cells held together in a starchy material. They will not multiply when cool and dry, but will ferment when damp and warm.  Bubbles of carbon dioxide that develop when the yeast begins to grow, lift your bread dough and make it light. The carbon dioxide and alcohol are lost in the baking process.
    • Vinegar results from the action of both yeasts and bacteria. Fermentation occurs when the yeasts change the sugar into cider to alcohol and carbon dioxide. Vinegar bacteria and oxygen in the air then turn the alcohol to vinegar.

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

    More Middle Ages links and resources

    Why am I looking for more when I have an over-flowing basket of read-alouds, lapbook and notebooking components, craft project ideas and more already?
    I'd like to give some well-thought out answer here, something deep with meaning and chock full of wisdom and all, but alas, I am what I am and that is actually my best answer.

    I am an over-planner. Really, that is a serious understatement. We have a slew of a slew of GoogleBooks in queue on the iPad, a basket of in-hand reading goodies and some still on the shelves (and who knows what fun we'll find lurking in the local library on top of these?). I have pages and links, resource bits, projects, lapbook and notebooking pages and binders, coloring pages...if it walks and talks Middle Ages, Knights, Castles, Vikings, Robin Hood, King Arthur and anything else medieval, I've lined up at least a link to it for us to peruse and possibly put into the year-long plan of action here.

    Will I use all of these resources? Of course not. I'd bonkers even trying to fit in half of them, let alone touch on all of them.  So, why on earth do I have so much on my plate? And what am I doing scanning the 'net for even more that may go unused?  It's that over-planning curse I carry.  That and I'm schooling such a wide assortment of children here, 7 this year ranging from 1st grade up thru the finals of high school. I need variety to get the gist across as we cruise thru.  Obviously the youngers aren't going to grasp some of the deeper plans as we go along, and the olders are only going to put up with so many creative coloring assignments, but I have tons to share just the same.

    My thought process...if I have it, if I supply it, they will learn more than I have planned.

    So, we have more notes I've stumbled across to add to the mix. I suspect there will be more as the year unfolds and we walk deeper into the forests of the Middle Ages as well.

    The Vikings in Britain
    PBS NOVA The Vikings, with a neat walk-thru virtual tour of a Viking village
    Vikings and some short worksheets
    Project Britain Homework Helper
    Google Books...Old English History for Children
    Children's British History Encyclopedia online
    some book ideas via The Happy Homemaker UK blog

    Fun stuff coming ahead.  I need more printer paper.

    Monday, September 3, 2012

    Ancient History links

    BJU Press Heritage Study links for Ancient History
    other links for Ancient History

    Science goodies: Flashcards, worksheets and more!

    Animal Classification cards to print out...
    Life Science  Space Science   Earth Science  Physical Science goodies from flashcards to worksheets to puzzles...
    and some neat constellation cards we are definitely printing out found in the Science Teacher section!

    Bob Jones Press links for Biology material...plenty of units you can use to supplement your own studies
    BJU Press notes on anatomy

    The Science of information, sheets, and more

    BJU Press Science weblinks by grade