LEGO Chemistry

March 2nd, 2015


My son illustrated how water dissolves salt in a solution, performing LEGO chemistry! He started with a square green base. He placed yellow and orange LEGOs on the bottom, representing Na and Cl. The Na (sodium ion) is positively charged, and the Cl (chloride ion) is negatively charged.

When placed in water, the water has a polar covalent bond, meaning that the water molecules are slightly charged. This is because the Oxygen pulls harder on the shared Hydrogen electrons, making the Oxygen side negatively charged. The two smaller Hydrogens are slightly positively charged because their electrons are being hogged by the Oxygen most of the time.


When the table salt (NaCl) is placed into water (H20), the positively-charged Sodium atom is attracted to the negatively-charged Oxygen atom, pulling the Sodium away from the Chloride. In the same way, the negatively-charged Chloride ion is attracted to the positive end of the water molecule (the two Hydrogen atoms).

The water is dissolving the salt by breaking the Na apart from the Cl in this way. The small blue LEGOs are Oxygen atoms, and the red LEGOs are Hydrogen atoms. (In reality, he should have used tiny single LEGOs for the Hydrogen atoms, because they are way smaller than Oxygen atoms are!)


And there you have it: LEGO Chemistry! If you did not understand my explanation, perhaps this video will help to clear things up:

How Water Dissolves Salt

Why not join the Unit Study Treasure Vault and watch the 24 high school chemistry experiments we’ve performed so far!

3-D Jerusalem Model

February 23rd, 2015

Jerusalem-modelWhen my children made a 3-D Jerusalem model out of paper, they learned a lot about the layout of Jerusalem while constructing the city. I decided to use card stock paper instead of construction paper because it’s stiffer. I also decided to use hot glue instead of white school glue because the walls instantly stood up. You can also use white school glue like I did with my Bible class at the Christian school where I taught years ago. It will just take longer for the glue to dry, and meanwhile, the walls might fall down if you don’t hold them up for a few minutes. It’s definitely easier with hot glue.

3-D-Jerusalem-modelStart with a piece of white card stock paper. Look up a map of Jerusalem, either from a book on your shelf, the back of your Bible, or the internet. Grab a pencil and sketch the outer outline of the city. ThenĀ  fill in the major parts of the city, especially the wall that divides the city and the wall around the Temple.

Jerusalem-model-2You can cut out pieces of card stock paper to represent the Temple, Herod’s palace, and two pools of water. Then cut strips of card stock paper, making turrets for the walls.

Plug in your hot glue gun, and make a line of hot glue along the pencil line where the wall should be. Grab one of your walls and set it inside the hot glue. It instantly stands up. (I filmed this process, and you can watch it under the Lamentations Unit Study inside the Unit Study Treasure Vault.)

jerusalemThe leftover pieces from the wall were used for the buildings and houses inside the city of Jerusalem. Now your 3-D Jerusalem model is complete. You can use it to tell Bible stories from the time of David all the way through the ministry of Jesus. We constructed this city while studying the book of Lamentations, and we set fire to the city by using red, orange, and yellow tissue paper. We then lamented the fall of Jerusalem before going into exile to Babylon.

If you enjoyed this activity, you will love the Unit Study Treasure Vault. Why not join the Vault today and bring life to your Bible lessons?

Make Your Own Bowling Pins

February 16th, 2015

make-your-own-bowling-pins-2Today I will show you how to make your own bowling pins. You need six plastic bottles, spray paint in two colors, and a ball. You will also need a piece of white card stock paper, a pencil, newspaper, and scissors.

First you collect the plastic bottles. Two-liter pop bottles work well. Remove the labels. Take off the caps, but keep them to put on after painting.

You will want to spread out newspaper under your pop bottles before you shake your spray paint cans and spray the pop bottles. I chose to do three green and three blue.

plastic-bowling-pinsNow you will want to make a stencil out of the white card stock paper. With a pencil, draw some large simple designs. Then cut out the designs with scissors. Just stab the scissors into the center of the design and cut around the shapes. Now tape the stencil paper to each pop bottle, and use the inverse color to spray paint the design.

Let the paint dry and remove the stencil paper. Screw the lids back onto the bottles. Your bowling pins are complete.

bowling-pinsYou will want to go bowling on a flat surface like a hard floor or a back deck. Grab the ball (we used a wiffle ball), and go bowling. May the best contestant win!



Avoiding Homeschool Burnout

February 11th, 2015

avoiding-homeschool-burnoutIs avoiding homeschool burnout possible? How do you bounce back from burnout when you experience it as a homeschool mom? Today we will be listening to a panel of homeschool moms who have dealt with burnout. Tips are offered on how to avoid and overcome homeschool burnout:

What does burnout look like?

You’re fatigued all the time. You wake up in the morning and you don’t feel refreshed day after day. You don’t have joy, you have a shorter fuse, and you don’t want to do the things that you know you need to do.

Do kids get burned out? Are their symptoms different from mom’s?

Kids can get burned out, too. You’ll know if they are taking longer to do their school work. They look exhausted, and they sometimes are so overwhelmed that they burst into tears about something that would normally not affect them. This is true especially for kids who have an overloaded schedule or are doing academics that are beyond them. The extra concentration needed to get through difficult classes like chemistry can burn out a student so that it affects their ability to get their other school work done.

What causes burnout?

Doing too much is the biggest reason for burnout, but for me, it’s taking on other responsibilities on top of homeschooling, or having strained relationships, or going through a crisis. All those circumstances cause you to no longer be able to do what you normally do because your energy is being drained.

If you’re trying to keep up with other homeschoolers or trying to do everything that is available, you will end up burning yourself out.

If we push aside what energizes us, this can also cause burnout because we no longer have things to look forward to, and our tank will be on empty.

How do you refresh yourself and gain energy to prevent burnout?

Do things that are life-giving. For example, if your husband or a homeschool friend can take your kids somewhere fun and you have the quiet house to yourself, this can be so refreshing! I end up with more energy when the house is not full of noise. Everyone has different activities that will revitalize them, such as a bubble bath, time with the Lord, time with a friend, reading a book, or watching a fun movie.

Take care of yourself physically and pay attention to signals in your body that tell you that you are starting to feel fatigued. Instead of pushing through the fatigue (which eventually leads to burnout), take a break, walk around the block, or do something else that is a change of scenery.

What should you do when you’ve already entered full burnout mode?

You can take a break from homeschooling, and then slowly add things back into your schedule so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. If you want to ask for help without sounding weak, you can ask another homeschool mom if you can watch her kids for her to be refreshed, and then she will probably offer to do the same for you. This way you get the break you need.

Is burnout seasonal, or can it happen any time?

Many people experience burnout during the winter months because of lack of sunshine and being cooped up in the house. Add to that the fact that it’s flu season, and if you have several kids, they can get sick one to the other until you have a whole month with at least one person miserable. This adds to burnout because you are feeling miserable from sickness. Take care of yourself physically, and make sure you wipe down the carts at the grocery store that are infected with sick germs, as well as washing your hands when you get home from being out.

To avoid seasonal burnout in the first place, plunge into homeschooling hard in the fall (especially if you take the summer off), and get ahead so that you can coast through the winter months when you have less energy.



LEGO White House

February 9th, 2015

lego-white-houseMy kids made a LEGO White House when we studied the Presidents of the United States. We made it out of regular LEGO’s. First we read a book about the White House, where all the Presidents have resided since John Adams.Then one of my sons wanted to make a model of it with LEGO’s.

We looked at the outer shape of the White House. Using white LEGO bricks, we made four columns and then a triangle shape at the top for the front of the White House. This area is separated from the main residence, as you can see from the top picture.

lego-white-house-2We made a rectangular building out of white bricks, with a door on the front and the two sides. Then we studied the different rooms in the White House, and so we covered the floor of the White House with different-colored bricks for each room. The Red Room, for example, was red. In this way, we were able to make a replica of a White House out of LEGO’s.

If you enjoyed this post on how to make a LEGO White House, you might like the LEGO Bacteria and the LEGO Tower of Babel!

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