Good morning Everyone!
Sprouty and the Planets is not a rock band, but rather the two topics of discussion today, both of which involve school projects Kayla has done.
Really, “the Planets” should just be “Venus” but putting Venus in the title of anything is not a good idea these days in the wild world of span. Even searching for Venus on the internet isn’t that great. The first time Kayla tried on her computer, she just put the word “Venus” in the search bar, and since her computer has very strict parental controls, most of the first results were blocked. What she ended up having to use was something like “Venus planet NASA space” to get any results at all. But I’m getting ahead of myself. We need to start with Sprouty.
Sprouty is basically a home-made version of a chia pet, I think, but it was done as a school project. If you don’t know what a chia pet is, google the phrase. Then when you come back and ask me why they were such a big deal, my answer will be that I don’t know, but then, this is the same country where the “pet rock” was invented. What really astounded me was to find out that 500,000 chia pets are sold every year, still!
Anyway, I digress. (You’re shocked, I know.) Sprouty was a science project that did not involve a grade – the kids took the foot end of a panty hose, stuffed dirt into the end until the dirt formed a ball, then tied off the panty hose with a sort of a wick still trailing down, sprinkled grass seeds over the dirt ball, then decorated a cup to their heart’s content. To finish the project, the kids then filled the cup with water, put the ball of dirt on top of the cup where the “wick” would siphon the water up to the dirt. Then they were to bring the cup home and see what happened. Kayla was so excited early last week when Sprouty first began to, well, sprout, and is even more excited now that he bears his luxuriant crop of hair. Even I will admit that he’s rather cute.]
The second science project, which was for a grade, was to either 1) build a model of the solar system, or 2) build a model of a planet and 3) pick a planet and find out some facts about it. Kayla chose Venus because it was closest to Earth, and set out to find facts about it. The computer search didn’t help a lot, so I reminded her of a “Cat in the Hat” book about the solar system we had bought her years ago that was in her bookcase, and pulled a book out of my book case called The Lives of the Planets. She got her ten facts from them. Since The Lives of the Planets is written pretty much on a layperson but graduate level, I was proud that she was able to pull any facts out of the text at all. I do suspect that she might be one of the only fourth graders in her school to have said and written the phrase “plate tectonics.” Whether she understands what they are is another issue. I did my best to explain, but without a globe handy it was a little tough, and then she got distracted because my hand gestures made me look like I was an Indian attempting to talk in Indian sign language, so she was laughing too hard to pay a lot of attention.
Then we had to figure out how to do the model. One good thing about Venus is the fact that it is so thickly covered with clouds, it is impossible to make out individual surface features, so we didn’t have to worry about including large features that you might be able to see from space like you would with the moon or Mars. We did however have to find a suitable picture to base our model on, and after several internet searches, this is the picture she found:
The Planet Venus, from Nasa.gov
We looked at the photo for a day, then went to local Wal-mart, where Kayla found 2 of the only four round styrofoam balls left in the store and I found some very basic acrylic paints and brushes she could use (no, I was not willing to sacrifice my good acrylics and brushes to her pursuit of an education when I had a choice), and we set off home. I made her paint the styrofoam ball white for a primer coat, then I selected several of the acrylic colors, put portions of them on a paper plate and let her do the mixing and painting from there. Here is what she did:
Planet Venus model close up
The Planet Venus on the Study Table
I realize the planets usually do not have toothpicks on which to sit, but at the same time, round objects roll and we needed a way to get the model to sit still!
I thought it was a great model, and Kayla’s teacher must have too – she got 100!
Have a great day everyone!