Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fall Hayride and Bonfire

Two trailers for our crowd.

Eight of our families enjoyed lovely weather for a hayride and bonfire at Binder Park on Thursday, November 14. We started with a scenic hayride through the woods that ended at the bonfire area. The weather was cool enough for us to enjoy the bonfire by cooking s'mores, hot dogs, and popcorn. Much fellowship was had around the fire by the moms while the kids explored the nearby dry creek bed and the open area by running and playing games. Then another hayride back through the woods ended our two-hour adventure. We look forward to doing it again next year!
Enjoying the trip.

A little smoke.

Cooking class, anyone?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Take a Walk

Some of the gang.
For September Science-Nature club, we went to Runge Nature Center for a nature walk on the last day of the month. It was a drizzly cool morning, but that didn't stop us.

Look at that!
We all gathered by the big turtle, where the kids were given packets containing books about tree and bird identification. Also in the packets was a list of some of the more common birds to check off as we walked along the trails. Not five minutes into our walk we had seen three deer in the woods. Not a bad start! Then a little bit farther were some wild turkeys. We also were busy checking off birds on our check list.

The kids enjoyed some play time by the stream, jumping rocks and swinging on a vine. We also stopped at the pond to watch some phoebes (a local bird) diving for bugs. The kids tried to get the birds to talk back to them, but were unsuccessful.

We finished our walk and then enjoyed a picnic lunch at the pavilion, where we were also treated by the kids putting on a show. We had singing, dancing, karate and jokes. A great time was had by all!

--text by Sue B.
--photos by Melanie B.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Poop to Food

Our group for the field trip.
Last month we visited The Sage Garden in Jefferson City. It is housed in a geodesic dome and produces food year round. It uses an aquaponics system where the waste from the fish (blue tilapia) provides nutrients for the growing plants. The kids got to feed the fish and each family took home a cucumber grown inside the dome.

Margo leading the tour.
For details about the construction of the dome, please visit their blog. Also, check out The Sage Garden Facebook page.
Part of the aquaponics system.

Thank you, Margo and Charles for teaching us about aquaponics. And thank you for the cucumbers!

--by Evie M.

Cucumbers hanging on the vine.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Egg-cellent Fun!

Our meeting's organizer--Kelly S.
When we showed up for Science-Nature Club in late August with our contraptions for the egg drop, we were not expecting all of the other fun things Kelly S. had planned for us. 
The experimenters with their egg-drop contraptions.

We broke eggs and identified their different parts. We examined some eggs to determine which had been boiled and which ones hadn't--without breaking them. And, we got to examine an egg that had been soaked in vinegar. It was translucent (and squishy!). With a flashlight we could see its yolk.
The paper and Scotch tape contraption's result.

The egg-drop contraptions were dropped from the top of the house onto concrete. Some survived and some didn't.  Surprisingly, the one made only of paper and Scotch tape survived with only a crack.
Walking on eggs.

The kids also got to stand on a dozen eggs and then the cartons of eggs were placed like stepping stones and they got to walk on them. And they didn't crack! (No, they were not boiled eggs.)

Lots of fun was had and we decided we would like to do another egg drop to perfect our contraptions!

--by Evie M.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Magical Field Trip

Our group.
Through a fundraiser at Colton's Steakhouse & Grill, we were able to raise enough funds to take a trip to The Magic House--St. Louis Children's Museum. We had 11 families participate in this trip with a total of 36 people. We arrived together and then scattered throughout the facility. It was fun bumping into friends during the day in different areas of the museum. Lots of hands-on fun was had. There really was something for everyone. I wonder where our next trip will take us.

Thank you, Colton's!
--text by Evie M.
--photos by Evie M. and Tanya T.
Gone fishin'.

Pit crew.

Working and shopping at the grocery store.

Static electricity!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Balloons, Guns, and Fun

Results of our assembly line.

On August 25, 11 families came out for our second annual Family Picnic. Before lunch, several of the kids and a couple of adults formed an assembly line to fill water balloons. After a filling potluck meal of many delicious, homemade dishes, the kids started out with a water balloon fight, then moved on to a water relay race, and ended with a water gun battle.

We also held a short meeting while our families were eating and solicited activity ideas from group members.

It was a very pleasant afternoon with lots of conversation and hanging out with friends.

Looking forward to next year's picnic!

--photos by Matthew and Evie M.

Enjoying friends and food.

Homegrown and homemade goodness.
Water relay race in progress.

Water relay victory!

Preparing for battle. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Cooking with the Sun

One hot-dog cooker.
On August 14, our Science-Nature Club met to have some summer-solar fun. Robin and Billie led the meeting in which club members learned about solar energy by making two different types of solar ovens.

The first part of the activity was making a hot-dog oven. Each family brought a Pringles can which were then cut, taped, and formed into the perfect solar oven to cook hot dogs. Robin described the process of making the ovens and how the sun cooks the food inside. The children then skewered their hot dogs and put them in the ovens to sit in the sun.

Several hot-dog cookers.
While the hot dogs cooked, Billie led the group in building solar ovens out of pizza boxes. The kids lined the boxes with aluminum foil and added black paper to the inside. The group discussed the two energy principles used in the pizza solar oven. The black construction paper and non-shiny side of the aluminum foil absorbs then traps the heat, while the shiny side of the foil reflects the heat into the box. They then built open faced s'mores in the boxes and put them in the sun to get soft. Everyone soon realized that putting the chocolate on the bottom (per instructions) was not the right procedure as they faced gooey chocolate, but firm marshmallows! As with all experiments, each one teaches many lessons to apply to future experiments. Making s'mores is one experiment the kids would enjoy doing over and over again.

Pizza-box solar cooker for s'mores.
During the cooking time, the kids spent time "ice bowling" and enjoying the park play structure. Finally, the best part came--eating their experiments. Although the s'mores were not perfect, the hot dogs warmed all the way through within 30 minutes and all was enjoyed thoroughly. Everyone agreed that solar cooking is easy, fun, and delicious.
--text by Billie S.
--photos by Evie M.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Mentos and Diet Coke

Fountains overflowing.
Our Science-Nature Club met in June to have some messy science fun--Mentos and Diet Coke fountains. We separated into five teams. Each team had one room-temperature Diet Coke and an additional different soda to compare to the Diet Coke. Here are the types of soda they compared:

Diet Coke vs regular Coke
Diet Coke vs Sprite Zero
Diet Coke vs store-brand diet cola
Room-temperature Diet Coke vs cold Diet Coke
2-liter Diet Coke vs 1-liter Diet Coke

They placed two Mentos into each bottle at the same time and recorded which fountain went higher and which one had more soda left in the bottle after the fountain.

After we cleaned up our mess, we came back together and each team reported its findings. We then began to discuss what was happening. Nucleation was the new word of the day (the bubbling process). We learned that the two things that make Mentos so special are: (1) it is covered with lots and lots of tiny pits on the surface (like a golf ball) and (2) the fact that they sink to the bottom of the soda. Carbon dioxide bubbles form on the Mentos and then quickly rise to the surface. The gas released by the Mentos pushes the liquid up and out in a fantastic soda blast.  We determined that room-temperature Diet Coke worked the best.

At the end of our meeting, everyone was given their own bottle of 20 oz. Diet Coke and two Mentos. We counted to three and . . . BLAST OFF!

--by Evie M.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Kids Fest 2013

Our younger helpers.
Jefferson City held their annual Kids Fest on June 1 and we were there. Every booth is suppose to provide an activity for the kids and this year we had a bean bag toss with the prize being (everyone's favorite) . . . CANDY! Everyone enjoyed the game and we ran out of candy about 30 minutes before the festival ended. Lots of fun was had and it was nice talking to people about homeschooling and providing information about our group. Thanks to our booth helpers. We look forward to participating next year.
And . . . toss!
--by Evie M.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Newspaper! Get Your Newspaper!

The actual printing press.
Our field trip for May took us to the Jefferson City News Tribune. We toured the printing facility and learned what goes into putting the paper together. The kids loved the room with the huge rolls of paper and thought it would be a good place for a game of hide and seek.  Another favorite was watching the machine that puts the inserts into the newspapers.

Watching inserts being inserted.
A big thank you to Sam, who gave us a wonderful tour.

Huge rolls of paper.

Making the plates that go into the press for printing.
--text by Evie M.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Prairie Garden Trust: Learning about Native Plants

Visitors' Center at Prairie Garden Trust.
Under indigo blue skies and white puffy clouds, our Science and Nature club held its second meeting on May 24 at the visitors' center of the Prairie Garden Trust (PGT) in New Bloomfield, Missouri. As families trickled in during the cool spring morning, we divided into two groups. One group got their hands dirty with a planting project. Lead by PGT horticulturist Jen Sieradzki and grounds keeper, Matt Barnes, students took root divisions of Missouri native wildflowers--Coreopsis and Yarrow--and transplanted them into small pots, to take home. Hopefully these wildflowers will become a recognizable and productive part of each student’s home landscaping.

Transplanting native wildflowers.
The second group had fun discussing how plants grow from seed. First we compared dry lentil beans to lentils that had soaked overnight in water. Students noted that the soaked beans were bigger, had a slightly different color, had a sweet/stinky smell and that some looked like they had started to sprout. Each child had the opportunity to dissect a bean by removing the seed coat and using fingernails to pry it apart into two equal sections near the micropyle. Once halved, the embryonic plant was easily identified. We discussed the parts of the embryonic plant (the cotyledon, the embryonic leaves and the radical) and how that plant, with the help of the other parts of the seed, will turn into a seedling in the garden. Then we had fun acting out the germinating process, with each child participating as a part of a newly germinated seed.

Drawing in her science journal.
Finally, the children studied posters of currently blooming Missouri native wildflowers and were sent on a short walk around the visitor’s center to see how many species they could correctly identify. We discussed the common names of these plants and also discussed other species that we expect to see on our hike through the dogleg prairie. Each student received a copy of “Native Plants for your Landscape,” a publication of the Missouri Departments of Conservation and Agriculture.

Both groups of students swapped places, so each child planted a flower to take home, and participated in the seed dissection/germinating and wild flower identification portion of our club meeting.

With the Science and Nature Club meeting finally over, it was time for grubby fingers to be washed and empty stomachs to be filled! On the manicured lawn of the visitor’s center, a motley crew of blankets and table cloths laid under the sky like sun-soaking butterflies. All was quiet as everyone dug in to a well-deserved homemade lunch.

Our day was made perfect with a beautiful hike through the PGT lead by Jen and Matt. Through savannah and prairie, Jen and Matt pointed out blooming wildflowers like Shining Blue Stars, Indian Paintbrush, and Southern Blue Flags, and discussed native grasses and invasive species. We traversed mowed paths to a rocky bluff top, and then wove through the prairie on our way back to the visitor’s center. All in all, a perfect day.

The meeting's facilitator, Anna B., discusses with a student.
A special thanks to The Prairie Garden Trust and all its staff for making our meeting very special. The PGT also provided all the plants for the planting project. Thank you to the Runge Nature Center for providing the publication “Native Plants for your Landscape” prior to our meeting. And finally a special thank you to the Missouri Wildflower Nursery for their expertise on germinating native wildflowers and the free seeds for our club.
--text by Anna B.
--photos by Melanie B. and Billie S.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

2013 Bake Sale

Our first shift of salespeople.
Once again we had a very successful bake sale. It was held last Friday at the Walmart off Missouri Boulevard. Between the baked goods we sold and the donations we collected, we brought in $359.14. Thanks again to all our members who baked goods, manned the table, and promoted the sale! And thank you to Jefferson City for coming out and supporting us. We really appreciate it!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Summer Park Days . . .

Sidewalk art.
This Tuesday we were able to return to our favorite park for our weekly Park Day. It was a gorgeous day with lots of fun and fellowship. My family and I were there from 10 a.m. till 4 p.m. and there were several families still there when we left. Come out and join us next week! Check the Yahoo! group for details.

--photos by Evie M.

Baseball game.

A favorite piece of playground equipment.

Hanging out.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Science-Nature Club's First Meeting

On April 18 our Science-Nature Club held it's first official meeting. Eight families were in attendance to learn the scientific method and decorate their science journals.

Our first order of business was to discuss ideas, activities, and experiments for future club meetings. These included learning about nature (flowers, plants, animals, etc.), robotics, and chemical reactions. Everyone enjoyed discussing ideas and how we could incorporate them into our activities.

Each month a different family is in charge of leading the club meeting and activity or experiment. This month, members learned about the scientific method, then used it to hypothesize the identity of two liquids (water and vinegar) and two solids (salt and sugar). They used their five senses to observe and test the substances, then recorded their findings in their science journals. After the experiment, the kids decorated their science journals which they will be using the rest of the year.

The next meeting will on May 24 at the Prairie Garden Trust to learn about native Mo plant species and tour the gardens.

--by Billie S.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Colton's Fundraiser

On Monday, April 8, Colton's Steak House sponsored a fundraiser for us. They agreed to donate a percentage of all sales from 5 till 8 p.m. Several of our families and their friends dined there that evening. Yesterday, our fundraiser organizer Melanie picked up a check from the restaurant for $332.30. We are planning on using the money to fund a field trip to St. Louis in September.

Thanks to Colton's and to all who spread the word and/or came out to wine and dine. We really appreciate it!

Monday, April 8, 2013

State Capitol Tour

Our guide, Carla, shares some Missouri history.
On Friday, eight adults and 13 children attended a tour of the State Capitol. The tour guide, Carla, shared with us amazing facts about Missouri, the capitol building itself, and showed the group some of the paintings in the capitol--including the Thomas Hart Benton murals, A Social History of Missouri.

A few facts:
  • All the rock in the capitol is limestone from Missouri, except the 12 capitals in the House and Senate, which are granite and marble from New Hampshire.
  • 16 of the 41 lunette (half-moon shaped areas) paintings have optical illusions--either a change of direction or a change of size.
  • Bonds were sold to raise money to build the current state capitol. Four and one-half million dollars were raised. When the building was complete, there were still one million dollars that hadn't been spent. So they used the money to decorate.
  • The Missouri State Capitol is the only state capitol with a state park located inside.
If you missed this capitol tour, you can learn more about taking one yourself here.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Troop Support Service Project

Cards made by some of our members.
Some of our JCSHG families made cards, donated items, and provided funds for the 2013 Easter/Passover shipment to support our military personnel. This shipment included mailing a total of 24 boxes to these six servicemen:

Michael Biggers
AWS2 Nathaniel Edwards
Russell Gray
Anthony Hart, CS2
Sgt Corey Rudroff
SFC Joseph S. Wertz

George Lauer is the project's organizer and you can read more about this Troop Support shipment here.

Thanks to our Service Project Coordinator, Kolbi W., for organizing this service project!

Friday, January 25, 2013

2013 Parents' Meeting

Thanks to everyone who attended the 2013 Parents' Meeting for JCSHG on Tuesday. We had a great turnout despite the cold weather. We had lots of yummy treats to nibble on and the children were ecstatic to see their friends.

Evie and Jeannette started the meeting off with a review of last year's activities and events. Among other things we hosted numerous field trips and service projects, held two successful bake sales, offered a Music and Movement Enrichment Class, enjoyed a summer family picnic, and enjoyed many park days throughout the year.

We discussed activities, field trips, enrichment classes, service projects, the new membership form, and more. We appreciate all the great ideas that were contributed. With the involvement of so many great members we are sure to have an awesome year.
Again, thanks to all those who came out and brainstormed with us, we had a great time!
--by Billie S.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Snow Badge

One of Wilson Bentley's photographs.
Four Quest Club members met at the library last Thursday for our quarterly badge-pinning ceremony and to work on the Snow Badge. Sixteen badges were awarded in the following categories: Dogs, Teamwork, Magnetism, Hot Air Balloon, Camping, Fire Building, Travel Destination: Philadelphia, Penn., and Travel Destination: Washington, D.C.

For the Snow Badge, we read Snowflake Bentley, a biographical picture book about Wilson A. Bentley. He took over 5,000 photographs of snowflakes over the course of his lifetime, and found no two alike.

Members then purused copies of his book Snowflakes in Photographs with pages and pages of snowflakes. They also discussed properties of snow--what it is made of, what state of matter is it, and at what temperature it forms.

To wrap up the meeting, members drew their own snowflakes and cut their own from paper.