Today was our first day back from Christmas break, and our first day of formal science since we finished Real Science Odyssey: Chemistry in November. We won’t normally be doing science on Wednesdays, but Alex and I were both eager to get started with our new subject.
Appropriately enough, in our first lesson we watched a video which is essentially an exciting commercial for the study of earth science. It got us nicely fired up.
As I’ve mentioned before, we had some issues of fit with our chemistry curriculum. I liked the experiments, but the text often seemed simplistic and condescending. On the other hand, more advanced texts typically come with writing requirements that Alex isn’t ready for. So we’ve known for a while that our next approach to science would need more customization.
Fortunately, before we started to build an earth science program from scratch I stumbled on Intellego unit studies. They offer “core curriculum units” in geology, weather, and astronomy – a great foundation for a year studying earth and space. Intellego units are essentially a curated collection of web resources, rather than individually authored texts. The units provide an overall framework and sequence of study, and each topic directs you to a particular set of articles, videos, animations, projects, and experiments that are out there on the web. We’ll be selecting from those resources and then supplementing with additional books and videos of our own. It’s definitely not what people call “open and go,” but it’s ideal for people like me who want to shape our own study of a subject without reinventing the wheel. I’ve mapped out our journey through the geology and weather units so far, and am really happy with what we’ve got planned.
First off, today, I asked Alex to tell me what she already knows about the earth and what she wants to learn. We’ll do this at the beginning of every chapter, and then at the end of the chapter she’ll summarize the new information she’s learned. “What I already know about the earth” is a pretty huge topic, huh? This is what Alex reeled off:
The innermost part of the earth is solid metal. The part surrounding that is melted metal, and around that is the mantle, which is solid rock. There are pockets of magma, which is melted rock, under the crust. The crust is made of shale, limestone, and sandstone. Sandstone is made of mud and sand all pressed together, shale is made of mud and leaves all pressed together, and limestone is made of shells all pressed together. The earth’s plates are always moving. Where the Sahara Desert is now, there could once have been a huge ocean.
What does she want to learn about the earth? Well, everything, of course. All there is to know. Why earth’s plates move, for example. We’ll get to that around the end of next week, after we spend some time discovering where the earth came from in the first place.