Engineering 1: Introduction to Mobile Robotics is an excellent program developed by Carnegie Mellon University and distributed by LEGO Education. This semester long program requires a LEGO Mindstorm NXT robot, which is not included with the curriculum. We already had one of those, so we were good to go! This is a very hands on course, just right for my son. Everything is taught in context with immediate application to a robot project. Here's the official description from LEGO Education:
Each of the six projects begins with a robotics research prototype in which students are guided step-by-step through the building and programming of a new robot behavior. Afterwards, they follow up their prototype work with a robotics investigation in which the students experiment with the robot’s motors, sensors, and programming to learn how robots really work.
The curriculum includes the 18 lessons, each with a video tutorial, building & programming helps, worksheets for each lesson, some of which imitate lab reports in that the students are taught how to keep data over a series of attempts, each with failures and successes. There are also teacher notes, handouts, and quizzes (with answer keys). This is a high school level program, although a motivated 8th grader could do it. I don't recommend that you go any younger because of the math that is used. If you follow the link above, you will be able to see a sample lesson.
DNA and Genetics - for this study, my son used a kit from Thames & Kosmos. It's a favorite. I blogged about it a few years ago, so instead of repeating myself, check out this post from January of 2010.
Rocketry - If you've never been to the NASA website, it's worth your time. It is full of lesson plans for all ages, projects, photos, videos and much more. I seriously could spend a month there and not get to most of it! Using the Rockets Educator Guide, Rocket Boy completed a series of activities that helped him learn not only the history of modern rockets, but the science that makes them work. He had Newton Car races with a friend, made some balloon rockets, the rockets with antacid tablets and much more. This was a great way to cover some physics.
Fireworks - Rocket Boy and Renaissance Man did a great unit study on the science of fireworks last year (9th grade). There was a lot of reading: The 13th Element: The Sordid Tale of Murder, Fire and Phosphorous by John Emsley; Gunpowder Alchemy, Bombards and Pyrotechnics: The History of the Explosive that Changed the World by Jack Kelly and Napoleon's Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History by Penny leCouteur. They also went to the American Chemical Society (ACS) for more information about fireworks. ACS has an entire section about the Chemistry of Fireworks, so they read through that and worked through lesson plans. They followed the instructions on the site to make a firework, but it didn't work out so well. They sure had fun trying though!
I hope you've enjoyed this brief summary of some of our favorite activities. Don't be afraid to get out of the box and approach science in a non-traditional manner. Your students just may be intrigued!
Stop by Homeschooling Hearts & Minds and thank Susan for organizing the Virtual Curriculum Fair!
As the stops on the Virtual Curriculum Fair become available this week, I'll add them below so that you can browse. Don't forget to make yourself a cup of tea as you read!
Exploring Eastern Cultures with Sonlight by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds ~ Cell Unit Study - Mitochondria and Energy by Julie @ Highhill Education ~ Our Blended Social Studies by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool ~ 2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair-Exploring Our World: Social Studies and more Science by Leah C @ As We Walk Along the Road ~ Exploring Canada by Annette @ A Net In Time ~ Project Passport: The Middle Ages by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings ~ Virtual Curriculum Fair- Exploring Our World by Karyn @ Teach Beside Me ~ Our Absolutely Positively Favorite History Curriculum Ever by Wendy @ Homeschooling Blessings ~ Science Our Way: learning to use wh at you are given by Piwi Mama @ Learning & Growing the Piwi Way ~ Historical Significance by Kristi @ The Potter’s Hand Academy ~ How We Are Exploring Our World as Homechoolers by Laura O in AK @ Day by Day in Our World ~ VCF: Week 3 The Social Sciences by Lisa @ Golden Grasses ~ A Trip Around the World: Homeschool-Style by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun ~ Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Exploring Our World: Biology by Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool ~ Virtual Curriculum Fair: Learning about our World by Joelle @Homeschooling for His Glory