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Big Learning News 7-6-04

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 2:26 July 6, 2004

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Table of Contents

Ice Cream Science
Book Review: If the World Were a Village
Money Around the World
Education Headlines on BigLearning.org


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Activity
Ice Cream Science

Making ice cream – now there’s a quintessential summer activity. Turns out you don’t need an ice cream maker to do it – a couple of zip-top bags work really well.

You need two heavy duty freezer bags – one for the ice cream mix and one for the ice and salt. Fill one bag with four cups of ice cubes and a quarter cup of table salt. In the other bag, put a cup of whole milk, two tablespoons of sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla, squeeze out the air and seal it. Then put the bag of ice cream mix into the bag of ice, seal the ice bag, and shake for 5-10 minutes. You’ll get a soupy kind of ice cream – kind of like a thick, very cold milk shake. Tastes wonderful on a hot day.

There’s plenty of big learning to be had – around here we just scratched the surface but our kids did get some practice with measurement and cooking skills along the way. But you may want to experiment scientifically with the process and content. We had many questions after our first two batches. For example, knowing that fat is involved in creating the ice cream structure, would cream, with its higher fat content, have made the ice cream more solid and substantial? Would nested plastic-ware containers work as well or better? How about crushed ice versus ice cubes? Then there’s the recipe itself. How would more sugar be? Would soy milk work? Can we double it?

If you’d like to brush up on the science of ice cream, try this web page.

http://www.foodsci.uoguelph.ca/dairyedu/findsci.html

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Book Review

If the World Were a Village: A Book About the World’s People by David J. Smith, Illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong (2002, Kids Can Press).

Ages 9 and up

Think of the whole world as a village of a hundred inhabitants, each representing 62 million people in the real world. In this “global village,” 17 people can’t read at all, 22 speak a Chinese dialect, and 80 make less than $9,000 per year. 20 make less than a dollar a day.

If the World Were a Village is full of interesting comparative statistics about the world’s people, and the illustrations are beautiful. But to tell you the truth, my kids found the reduction-to-100-people approach confusing, and only got interested in the book when I switched to saying “80 percent of the people in the world make less than $9,000.”

Some kids might find the approach illuminating, and the statistics certainly are. Certainly worth a look.

For teachers, the author offers lesson plans and workshops, which you can find out about at http://www.mapping.com.

Buying information

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Web Site
World Currency Gallery
http://www.banknotes.com/images.htm

This site has images of money from around the world, organized by continent. Did you know that Antarctica has its own money? If you’re planning international travel, the whole family can get a leg up on the money system at your destination. Kids can have fun printing the pictures and using them for play money, trying to pronounce the names, or finding the countries in an atlas.

There’s good math learning in finding out the relative values of different currencies. You can do this with the currency calculator at Bloomberg.com:

http://www.bloomberg.com/analysis/calculators/currency.html

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Education News on BigLearning.org

Teachers Struggle for Depth Despite Tests: Despite everyone’s focus on standardized test scores, some teachers and schools insist on continuing to use more in-depth assessment methods.

Academic credit for lunch with program combining cooking, organic gardening: This Berkley, CA program serves up big learning.

Starbucks grant aids school mural program: Kids learn to paint murals.

These and more at http://www.biglearning.org .

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