Saturday, March 10, 2012

Of Optics, Parabolas, and a Band

Randomly recent at FunSchooling Academy...

A random optics project
The boys made a telescope-y watchamacall it thingy with lenses, blu-tac, rubber bands and rulers of various sizes. Just adjust rulers to focus!

The 4th Grade California STAR writing test
He survived it! I was quite concerned he won't write a thing but he ended up being the last kid in the center to exit the room. Apparently he'd written three pages full! I will henceforth blame all crazy weather anomalies on this! :)

Curve stitching!
Kiddo has finally developed the motor skills necessary for curve stitching! I bought the book a few months ago when he showed interest in the designs. At that time however, his hands refused to cooperate.

His first try: the simple parabola in blue.
Second try: three parabolas in a triangle...I helped
with the yellow parabola because I just couldn't resist!
Well, they are obviously cooperating now (wonderful what difference a little time makes!). Kiddo is even threading his own needle. Little milestones like this one make me very happy. :)

Kiddo's zigzag parabolas
You could start with the book by Jon Millington or if you already have some cotton floss on hand, check out websites like Math Cats, or this one at

Kiddo is really enjoying himself. It takes him at least two to three hours to complete a project (although they are simple ones for now) but he's so enthusiastic that he doesn't care about the time. Makes a good Friday afternoon or weekend project, I'd say.

  • Floss (100% cotton) - I like this jumbo pack for the nice variety of solid and variegated colors.
  • Needle with larger eye
  • Card Stock - we use this one (scrapbook card stock might work too; you don't want something too thick or too flimsy)
  • Scissors,ruler and pencil
  • Optional: protractor, compass etc for more complicated projects
There's a lot of potential for what you can do with this craft idea. Use solid card colors and light floss for a beautiful reverse effect. Or use variegated floss like kiddo did for the zigzag parabolas. Some examples of projects here.

The band not yet named
I mentioned a while back that kiddo joined a band class. I am just so very grateful he has this opportunity. I mean, what are the odds that just after discovering kiddo prefers jazz to classical piano, we would move, without realizing it I must add, to a city steeped in jazz culture and find a music teacher who is as goofy as kiddo, and then, discover that this year, the music school has decided to reorganize band classes for tweens and teens, a program they had not run for years? Isn't that absolutely fortunate for him?

It was also interesting that while kiddo dislikes loud noises and will close his ears when forced to confront them, he has adjusted to the noise levels during practice. The first few minutes of Day 1's practice saw kiddo trying to play the keyboard and close his ears at the same time. But after a bit, he just went with the flow and he's really enjoying himself now. The kids meet weekly, practice a number of pieces and will perform for the public in about six weeks' time. Kiddo has several names in mind for his group but no one has discussed naming it yet so he's waiting and hoping patiently it will be called what he wants it to be called.

The academics
Everything's going okay so far. Some days I feel as if we aren't able to cover anything while other days, we cover quite a bit of ground or he might have uncovered something else really cool (as Walter Lewin says, "What counts, I found, is not what you cover, but what you uncover.").

I am especially grateful that physics is going very well. I was worried that the program will be way over his head but it looks as if he really needed the challenge. He noticed something interesting in his practice page yesterday and spent the rest of the lesson figuring out the number patterns in those answers.

Notice how the answers are all squares divided by 10? For example, y(3) = 44.1 which is 21^2/10, y(4) = 78.4 which is 28^2/10 and so on. And each squared number is divisible by 7? He also realized how it didn't work at y(10) but continued to work at y(11). He was so happy to have uncovered something like that although it had nothing directly to do with the physics in question. He spent the next few hours working it all out. I hope he blogs about it himself because I soon lost track of what he was saying lol.


  1. Wow. All of it looks great! The curve stitching is absolutely fabulous. It's look complicated to me, and well done to both of you for having completed the first few projects. The results are beautiful!

    Working together with other musicians in a band is a wonderful experience. I'm so glad that kiddo gets the opportunity to do so. How lucky!

    Physics class looks way over my head! Good for kiddo for figuring it all out.

    A fantastic round up of experiences!

  2. I think it really helped to have kiddo pushing me for a change when it came to curve stitching. I was all for waiting longer to begin but he suddenly decided he wanted it...pronto, really badly! And once we started it was really not as complicated as I thought it would be. Thanks, as always, for reading Neo!

  3. I love the diverse range of stuff you guys do :)

  4. I love the varied activities you do too. I am going to try some curve stitching too. Can I use regular cardstock and embroidery threads for this?

    Also, is there any way to view multiple blog posts on your blog at a time? The default view shows only one latest post at a time.


  5. Hi N! Thanks for visiting. Yes, the card stock I linked to is the regular variety. The floss is the type used for cross stitch (like DMC brand). I'm not sure if anything thinner will work as well but you could always try!

    I have set it to one post because I'm a bit of a stickler when it comes to visual clarity LOL. I think subscribing on a reader might help overcome this issue? Believe it or not, I still don't know how that works! Or you could read a post a t a time and click on Older Posts at the end to continue? I'm really touched that you find my blog worth reading. Thanks so much!


Comments are moderated and I will approve your comment as soon as I can. Thanks for taking the time to write a note!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...