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Big Learning News 2-16-05

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 3:6 February 16, 2005

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Table of Contents

Math Moment- Fast Food Nutrition
Activity: Make a Tornado Bottle
Book Review: Mr. Lincoln's Whiskers
Web Site: Hunkins Experiments
Alert: Changing E-mail Addresses?


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Math Moment

Fast Food Nutrition

Some fast food restaurants have nutrition calculators that let you build a meal and see the fat grams go up as you add more food. Although I shy away from corporate web sites normally (and am in no way endorsing a restaurant or commenting about the value of fast food), I think the math is interesting:

- A "running total" is a good concept for kids who are learning about addition. They learn that you can add more than two numbers, and that you don't have to start over with a new problem each time.

- Kids will use their chart reading skills to process the information.

- Many incorporate "Percent of Daily Values" which gives you a chance to talk about percentages.

- The exercise is a good application of math to nutrition.

Here are some to get started.

McDonalds: http://www.mcdonalds.ca/en/food/calculator.aspx

Taco Bell: http://www.yum.com/nutrition/menu.asp

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Activity

Make a Tornado Bottle

Ok, technically it's a vortex bottle. This is an engaging toy kids can make for themselves. It's fun to play with and it's a science lesson in a bottle - a chance to watch swirling water in action. One web site I found suggests that you even put tiny toy game pieces in the bottle to model the destructive power of the vortex.

The tornado bottle is two 2-liter soft drink bottles attached at the necks, so one flows into the other. The easiest way to make one, if you don't mind waiting, is to get the little gizmo that attaches the bottles (click the picture or text for buying information):

Tornado Tubes, Pkg. of 2 and 10.

The function of the Tornado Tube is to (1) attach the two bottles and (2) narrow the opening between the two bottles. If you prefer, you can do it yourself as follows, using two empty bottles, some duct tape, water, and a washer:

1. Find a washer (a flat, donut-shaped piece of hardware) about the same diameter as the bottle spout.

2. Fill one of the bottles 2/3 full of water. The vortex looks even better if you add a few drops of food coloring or colored lamp oil.

3. Put the washer over the bottle opening - when taped in place, the water will pour through the hole in the washer.

4. Invert the second bottle and hold it spout-to-spout with the first bottle.

5. Attach the two bottles with duct tape around the necks.

6. Invert the assembly so the bottle with water is on top.

7. To make the vortex, swish the top bottle in a quick circular motion until the vortex forms.

Here's a link from the Exploratorium that explains the science:

http://www.exploratorium.edu/snacks/vortex.html

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Book Review

Mr. Lincoln's Whiskers by Karen B. Winnick (Scholastic, 1997)

For ages 6-10.

It's President's Day in the U.S.A., so here's a charming book related to Abraham Lincoln. It's the true story of 11-year old Grace Bedell, who wrote to Lincoln during his presidential campaign. She wrote a reasoned persuasive letter, suggesting that if Lincoln wanted to get elected, he should grow a beard, because his face looked too thin without one. Lincoln actually wrote her a personal response. At the end of the story she goes to see the newly-elected Lincoln at a whistle-stop. Sure enough, he has grown a beard.

The writing includes humorous touches in the dialog, along with insight into 19th-century life and times. The bright oil-painting illustrations add to the appeal.

I like the empowering message - a little eleven-year-old got the attention of a national leader and, who knows, maybe even changed history. Although our access to our leaders has changed since the Civil War era, it's never too early to help kids see themselves as possible instigators of change.

Buying Information

More History Books for Kids! http://www.biglearning.org/books-history-for-kids.htm

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Web Site

Hunkins Experiments

http://www.hunkinsexperiments.com/

"Hunkins Experiments" are little science-related activities and demonstrations, written comic-book style and simple enough to be explained in a single pane. You'll find plenty of variety, from true science demos to fun parlor tricks. Find out how to balance a chair on a broomstick, build your own ant colony from scratch, and how to invert a mug of water without spilling. Sometimes the science isn't clear, but the ideas are fun nonetheless.

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Changing Your E-mail Address? Don't Lose Your BLN Subscription!

Sadly, each week, BLN subscriptions are cancelled because the e-mail address no longer exists. If you are about to change your e-mail address, don't forget to resubscribe to BLN!

Just send a blank e-mail from your NEW address to on-531@ezezine.com

or fill out the subscription form at http://www.biglearning.org.

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Big Learning News 2005 Karen Cole
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