Monday, January 24, 2011

WInter Challenge #3 Winter Night Sky Observations

Outdoor Hour button

This was our most challenging Outdoor Hour for two reasons.  

1.  It has been snowing in upstate New York for about a  
     week.  

2.  We have had sub-zero temperatures.  
     (We woke up to 22 below this morning.)  

We decided to modify our plans and work from the window.  It was finally clear early this morning, so my husband and I decided to drag the boys out of bed to do some night sky observations shortly before sunrise.  It was absolutely beautiful.  So crisp and clear.  The pictures do not do it justice, as they were through an open window.  

We were able to observe the moon and Venus.  If you look at the photograph of the tree, the planet is just above the middle branch.  We have very limited window viewing as you will understand later in this post.  


The darker western sky showcased the waning gibbous moon.  We had a lengthy discussion about planets and our moon.  Here are ten of the facts that three years olds find interesting. 
1. The moon has no air
2. Rocket ships have been to the moon
3. Men have walked on the moon
4. Astronauts wear special suits and breath air from tanks   in space
5. The moon changes shape
6. The moon is made of dirt and rocks and has craters
7. Venus is a planet 
8. Venus is covered in clouds
9. Venus and earth are close in size 
10. Astronauts drove a truck on the moon



We used the NASA website and wikipedia to view various photographs of astronauts and Venus.  Here are some of the books we have been reading to build our background knowledge.  






We followed up our observations by drawing the moon in its phase on black paper with white crayon.  The boys traced half a cereal bowl and then completed the shape.  They added craters, astronauts, and space shuttles.  The recorded their thoughts by dictating to me for the notebook page.  



Due to the fact that we do science every Monday, and it is too cold to venture outside, we expanded out study today to include some ice observations.  This is what it looks like out of most of our windows- it was an obvious choice.  



We have lived in this house for ten years.  We have never seen icicles like this.  We have a slate roof, so most of the time the snow comes flying off when the temperatures warm a bit.  The problem is that the temperatures have not warmed up all that much.  I won't allow the boys near the house while they are outside.  These things make a mother shutter! 

For language arts this week we are doing "I" is for icicle.  This morning we tried an ice experiment to see what materials make good insulators.  

The procedure for the experiment is to take five ice cubes and insulate them in various materials to see how fast each of the cubes melt.  Our control cup just had one naked cube.  
Then we wrapped the other four cubes in these various materials...


newspaper,
foil,
cotton,
and wool. 

We made predictions about what we thought would happen.  "I" thought that the wool would make the best "coat."  While "T" thought that the newspaper would perform the best.  We waited a few hours to see what would happen.  

We began by looking at the control cube.  



Then we unwrapped the other cubes and compared the sizes.  

We found the the wool was the most effective.  Paper was not far behind.

The boys put the cups in order from the least effective to the most effective.


We left the cups to sit for several more hours.  The wool continued to do an excellent job.  This was a fun and easy experiment.  


5 comments:

Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

We have been enjoying the moon as part of our study as well. It is sort of sparkly in the winter and I noticed when I get up at night and look out the window that the neighborhood has a sort of "moon glow". Lovely.

I can't believe your icicles! Amazing! Great follow-up study with your ice cubes.

I forgot to mention to you that when you do your maple syrup that I would love to see the process. It is something that is on my life list of things I want to experience.

Thanks for sharing your link with the OHC.

Amy said...

Hey Barb-
We will surely post the maple syrup process when the time comes.

Monica said...

Beautiful pictures of the night sky! Wow - my daughter would LOVE those icicles.

Heather said...

We have had clouds almost constantly since we were supposed to do our night OHC study, you are fearless to get your kids up EARLY to do it. You pics from the window are fabulous!

Phyllis said...

I especially love your moon-venus photo with the tree branches. Beautiful.