Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hardware for the Holidays

A great gifts for the gifted idea from Elaine Seid Marshall on the Homeschooling Mensans list:

"A gift certificate to a hardware store is an invitaion to her to make a project. Before you give her something like this, you should be sure it is really OK with you for her to do this. Meaning, you realize it will be messy, there is a place where it's OK for her to spread out and work, you realize she will need close supervision to remain safe, and, you realize this will be time consuming for *you*.

That's the important part. Because without that, the gift is just mean. Like a dad who gets his kid a ball for christmas, but never finds the time to actually *play* ball with the kid. It would have been kinder not to give it to him in the first place. So, if you're clear and OK with what you're getting into, this is an empowering gift. It's empowering, because you are letting her have the tools, parts, and materials that grown-ups have: REAL stuff, of HER choosing.

Also, she has to realize that you have to approve her choices; there are things in the store which you will not let her choose. My son always wanted several feet of big heavy metal chain. The answer was ,"No." I shudder to think what he would have done (and wrecked) with it.

With her tweny dollars or whatever, she is empowered to **chose** -- she can look at everything in the store before deciding. And she might, literally. So, it might be good to go when they are not very busy, and be sure to eat and all that, first.

The hardware section alone will yield many treasures. She could choose some simple tool - say a screwdriver. Then she could get some screws. At home, you can help her screw them into a piece of wood, forming patterns. She can draw a picture first, then screw them in where she wants them.

Or, the same thing with her own little hammer, and different kinds of nails.

She could wind string around the screws she put in.

She could get hinges and screw those to things. She could make little doors.

She could get plastic-covered electrical wire and wire things together.

She could make a mobile out of her finds. She could chose ceramic tiles from the scrap bin and make a mosaic in the garden with them.

She could raid the color sample card rack in the paint department. Those are free. Then at home, she can cut those apart and rearrange them any way she likes. And do things with them that involve **glue**. Oooh!

The clerk in the wallpaper section will sometimes give you a book of discontinued wallpaper samples. You could get a piece of masonite, and she could cut those and you could help her wet and mount them - a giant collage.

She could get duct tape. .

She could get rolls of contact paper and cut it into shapes and stick it on things.

The sky is the limit! I bet if you do this, that she'll surprise you with what she thinks up to make.

Elaine Seid Marshall"

Thanks for letting me share this, Elaine!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

January 12th Event at Davidson Academy

The Davidson Academy of Nevada

January 12 Event for Prospective Students

On Saturday, January 12, 2008, The Davidson Academy will be hosting a special information session and campus tour for prospective students and their families. For details, please visit
or email

A free, public school for profoundly gifted pupils on the University of Nevada, Reno campus, The Davidson Academy of Nevada is seeking qualified students to apply for the 2008-2009 school year. The mission of The Davidson Academy is to provide profoundly gifted young people an advanced educational opportunity matched to their abilities, strengths and interests. The Academy is a non-residential, full-time day school and many families have relocated to Reno in order for their student(s) to attend.

To be eligible to attend The Davidson Academy, students must be at the middle or high school level across all subject areas and score in the 99.9^th percentile on IQ or college entrance tests, such as the SAT or ACT. The Academy is specifically designed to meet the needs of profoundly gifted middle and high school students, starting at the sixth grade level and beyond. For admission details, please visit

What Do You Need to Know Pre-AP English?

Fabulous, very detailed chart listing the skills that are needed prior to taking an AP English class. Covers 7th through 10th grade but can be adapted for any grade.

Pre-AP Skills Progression Chart

New Homeschool Forum

You are invited to join a new homeschooling forum.

Please feel free to browse and join the topics or conversations. This homeschooling forum is not location oriented. It is worldwide. We are not putting up a boundary, we want people from around the globe to participate and share their knowledge. This can be a great tool for learning cultural differences as well as every day lifestyles from
county to country to continent.

We welcome everyone and hope you will share you thoughts and ideas.

The Homeschooler Resource

What Do You Need to Learn Geometry?

Thanks to my friend Julie Knapp at the Homeschool Diner for this:

Here's an interesting look at the skills and level of understanding needed to learn formal highschool geometry.

High School Geometry: Why Is It So Difficult?

Note that Singapore Math DOES foster the higher-level geometric thinking they're talking about (I remember such lessons in level 5).

Christmas is Coming...

Believe it or not, I haven't even unpacked from the NAGC yet (yes, I know it's been three weeks, I've been busy!) so I have much more to tell you all from there. However, 'tis the season for gifts and December waits for no man (or woman)! From the Wisconsin Gifted Education e-list, plus some of our favorites, a list of websites and vendors you might check for gifts:

Lots of toys for good girls and boys
Mindware 800-999-0398
Bright Minds 800-641-6555
Learning Resources 888-489-9388
Live Science 800-951-0632
Young Explorers 800-866-3235
Hearth Song 800-533-4397
Edmund Scientific 800-728-6999
American Science & Surplus 888-724-7587
Discovery Channel Store 800-889-9950
For Small Hands 888-513-3998

Books for the gifted and about the gifted
Prufrock Press 800-998-2208
Cobblestone Press 800-821-0115
Free Spirit Press 800-735-7323

Curricula and Learning Resources
The Zephyr Catalog 800-232-2187
Really Good Stuff 800-366-1920
Classroom Direct 800-248-9171
Pieces of Learning 800-844-0455
Engine-uity 800-877-8718
Creative Learning Press 888-518-8004
A W Peller 800-451-7450
Teacher Created Resources 800-662-4321

You should also check out Hoagies. Carolyn K. has lots of links to cool websites on the left hand side of the page and if you link through her site, Hoagies gets a little toward keeping that fabulous resource alive! Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

How Vouchers Work in Sweden

John Crace of the Education Guardian visited Sweden recently to study their school system and find out why it's so much better than the British model.
"...Compulsory education starts at seven - though almost all parents send their kids to kindergarten or make other childcare provision before that age - and runs through to 16. There are no standard schools. Some take students the whole way through their compulsory education, others for only a part of it. Neither is there a fixed syllabus or curriculum; instead, the state sets out various goals in 19 different subjects that students are expected to reach within a fixed number of hours and it's up to each school how they go about teaching the material....
"...[T]he main reason Sweden has come to people's notice is the way it's funded. Each student comes with his or her own price tag and the state - or rather the municipality (ie the local education authority) has to pay. Within a few practical parameters, students may choose which school they want to go to and what programme they want to study, and the municipality has to oblige....
"...And it is this that has skewed the system. When the new funding model was introduced in 1994, the idea was to rebalance the system by opening up competition and choice. Schools that were oversubscribed must be doing something right, so they were free to expand; those that found they were losing numbers had to sharpen up or shrink. What no one anticipated, though, was just how much competition there would be. Thirteen years ago, independent schools were rare. Now they are everywhere. In Stockholm, there are 29 municipal higher secondary schools and 54 independents, and while the ratio isn't quite what it may seem as the independents tend to be a lot smaller, nearly half the city's 16- to 19-year-olds are educated in private schools. And the percentage is growing year on year as more and more independent schools open." ...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Watch the Sky, My Dear Watson

Comet Holmes, which mysteriously exploded three weeks ago, can still be seen without a telescope, according to Senior Science Writer Roy Britt at

"Holmes is still visible to the naked eye as a fuzzy star anytime after dark, high in the northeast sky. You can find it by using this sky map. It is faintly visible from cities, and from dark country locations is truly remarkable.

"Right now, in a dark sky it appears as a very noticeable circular cloud," said Joe Rao,'s Skywatching Columnist. Rao advises looking for the comet this weekend, before the moon becomes more of a factor. The comet will likely diminish in brightness yet remain visible for the next two to three weeks, he said.

"Over the next few weeks and months, the coma and tail are expected to expand even more while the comet will fade as the dust disperses," Stevenson and her colleagues write.

On Monday, Nov. 19, the comet will create a unique skywatching event with its see-through coma, according to the Web site "The comet will glide by the star Mirfak [also called Alpha Persei] and appear to swallow it—a sight not to be missed."

Check out the whole article for more info, links and graphics.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Apparently the Answer is E8, not 42

Sounds like a game of Battleship, but an umemployed theoretical physics Ph.D. has come up with a simple yet profound unifying Theory of Everything, succeeding where both Einstein, Stephen Hawking and Douglas Adams had failed. I don't pretend to understand either subatomic particles or the mathematics behind the E8 design (see article for a picture) but apparently his idea is elegant and testable, in ways in which many grand physics theories are not.

"Lisi's breakthrough came when he noticed that some of the equations describing E8's structure matched his own. "My brain exploded with the implications and the beauty of the thing," he tells New Scientist. "I thought: 'Holy crap, that's it!'"

Btw, "Holy Crap!" translated into Ancient Greek is "Eureka!" ;-)