Homeschool Resources

Science Project: Sound Localization: Judging Sound Direction by Education.com

Education.com was kind enough to provide us with a project on sound localization. You can read below for all the details. To access a variety of study materials on ANGLES, visit Education.com’s website here.

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What? Where? If you can tell when someone’s sneaking up on you, your ears might have a good sound localization ability, meaning they’re great at judging sound direction.

Problem

How well do people sense the direction of a sound?

Materials

  • Grassy field
  • Lots of string
  • Protractor
  • Nails or wire stakes
  • Plastic freezer bag
  • Flour
  • Blindfold
  • Jingle bell
  • Tape measure
  • 2 or more friends

Procedure

  1. Can your friends determine the direction of a sound? How well can they pinpoint the direction that a sound is coming from? Create a hypothesis, your best guess about what is going to happen. What directions are the easiest to identify? Which ones are the hardest?
  2. First, you’ll create a semicircle so that you can make sounds in different places. To build your circle, put a nail in the ground and tie one end of a spool of string to the nail. Measure out 30 meters of string and pull the string taut. Put another nail in the ground and tie the other end of your string to the nail. This length of string will act as the diameter of your semicircle.

Walk along the string until you get to the middle. Put a nail at that point, and tie more string to that nail. The new string should be 15 meters long. Walk to one end of the diameter, holding the new string. Start walking in a curved path, holding the string taut. As you walk, you or a friend can hold a plastic freezer bag of flour with the corner clipped off and use it to mark a semicircle on the grass.

pic 1

  1. Now it’s time to make some noise! Ask one of your friends to stand at the midpoint, the place where you put the second nail. Put a blindfold on your friend so that he will have to use only his ears to pinpoint the direction of the sound.
  2. Measure out another 15-meter length of string for yourself, and give your 2nd friend his own 15-meter length of string and a jingle bell. Tie the ends of these strings to the nail close to where the blindfolded subject is standing. You and your friend should stand at the edge of the circle, holding your strings to either side of your blindfolded friend.

pic 2

  1. Have your friend with the jingle bell quietly move along the edge of the circle, stop, and jingle the bell. Ask your blindfolded test subject to point to the place where he heard the bell. Walk around the edge of the circle to move your string so that it lines up with the place your blindfolded friend is pointing. Ask your blindfolded friend to take his blindfold off and measure the angle that each string makes with the semicircle’s diameter. Place the results into a table:
Test Subject True Angle Guessed Angle Difference
Subject One
  1. Do five trials for each blindfolded test subject, then ask your friends to switch jobs.
  2. How accurate were your friends’ guesses? Was one person more accurate than the others, or were they all similar? What directions were most difficult for your friends to guess?

Results

Surprisingly, you and your friends probably will have had a harder time determining the precise direction of sounds that happened in front of them!

Why?

How do people tell where a sound is coming from? Different animals have heads and ears that are capable of capturing sound in different ways. Owls have flat facial disks that act like satellite dishes, capturing sound. Many bats have large pinnae (“ears”) that collect sounds.

People have pinnae too—but we call them ears. The part of the ear that processes sound is actually on the inside of your skull, and the things we call ears are our sound-collectors or pinnae.

Our pinnae sit on the sides of the head. This means that it’s easy to hear sounds that are coming directly from the left or the right. When a sound is above us, below us, or behind us, it can be harder to pinpoint exactly where the sound is coming from. However, we make up for this weakness with our eyes! Humans usually use our eyes to detect things that are right in front of us, because our eyes point forward.

We can still accomplish sound localization and determine where a sound is coming from even when that sound isn’t directly to the left or the right of us. A sound that comes from behind us and to the right moves into our ear pinnae and gets amplified in a certain way—meaning the sound is louder in one of our ears than it is in the other. Then, the brain takes that information and decodes it. Over time, we will have heard many sounds from this direction, and we get trained to realize that the particular amplification pattern this direction produces means that this sound comes from behind us and to the right.

A sound that comes directly from the back of your head is hard to figure out because it doesn’t move as easily into your ear pinnae. It might echo off something in front of you, and that could help. Usually, people turn their head slightly when they hear a sound behind them, and this helps their ears capture the sound and helps their brain decode it.

Project Author: Tricia Edgar

For more fun science projects, go to Education.com!

Homeschool Resources

“Homeschooling could be the smartest way to teach kids in the 21st century — here are 5 reasons why”

Great article just published on Business Insider. Here’s the sum-up but give this one the five minutes it will take to read. There are several more worthy articles linked inside too.

1. Personalized learning is a strong method of instruction.

2. Students can learn more about what they really care about.

3. Social media gives kids a way to form lasting friendships. *We have met lots of friends through our local homeschool Meet-Up group, too.

4. Students don’t deal with cliques or bullying.

5. Students may achieve more in the long run. *Note the comments and linked article from the homeschooled Harvard Junior.

Leaving the Flock

Santa Fe, Snow Skiing & Meow What?

January was a good month for learning and experiencing new things. We started the year off in Santa Fe, NM where Sebastian went snow skiing for his first time. He absolutely loved it, so much so that we re-arranged our plans to accommodate his request to ski an extra day.

The views in and of downtown were as stunning as they always are during the holiday season. Santa Fe never disappoints with their breathtaking sunsets, southwestern style and luminaria-topped, adobe buildings. Sebastian hadn’t been back to Santa Fe since he was 3 so it was great to re-introduce him to a town we love so much.

We spent a day exploring the psychedelic, Alice-in-wonderland like atmosphere at Meow Wolf. We found many, many hidden treasures.  You can start your adventure at the mailbox and follow the mystery of what happened to the family that used to live in the house. Otherwise, you can just wander the eclectic mix of art and portals. Despite the crowds, this is not an experience to miss when visiting Santa Fe. I recommend visiting later in the day when the families with little kids typically have to go home for nap-time.

While it ended up being a much shorter visit to Los Alamos than I would have liked, we were able to see part of Bandelier National Monument. We made it to the cavates which were my ‘must see’ part of the park.

When we visited Shidoni Gallery, we also spent time at Tesuque Glassworks with a glass-blowing artist named David Shanfield. He gave us a front row seat to observe the process and craft of hand-blowing glass. We brought home one of his signature glass flowers in my favorite colors, teal and blue.

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Here are a few more favorite shots from the mountain in Santa Fe. All my photos from Santa Fe, Bandelier, the Mountain and Meow Wolf are on my photography website, LoveCameraEarth.

 

Homeschool Resources

Challenge the Norm, who me? No, YOU!

Since New Year’s day is typically a time of reflection and resolutions, I thought it a good time to ask you to look at your norm and consider how it could be improved. I’m sure you are already at the gym, grinding up a fresh glass of green juice or deciding what fish to bake for dinner (or at least you will be by tomorrow), but I want to push you farther than that.

I know for me, I question everything. Why do we do it that way? Do we have to? Can we change it? How do I change it? This type of thinking started with my food and the way I eat which naturally expanded to my body, how I care for it and help it heal. The progression continues with how I choose to educate my child and the daily emotional state I want for him. More than anything I want him to be in a positive, healthy state of mind and confident with himself, his abilities and choices.

I talk to people every day about homeschooling. I understand that not everyone can or wants to solely take on the challenge of educating their child(ren), but what so many don’t understand is that there is nothing about ‘homeschooling’ that means ‘alone’. You are only alone if you choose to be. If you push yourself for experiences, friendships, and adventures, they are out there. I consider myself Sebastian’s manager or personal assistant. I teach him subjects that I can and want to teach him. The rest is outsourced to instructors, groups, and environments of my choosing. That’s the difference. People and places that I have vetted to ensure he is getting the most out his time. That he is a getting a rich, fulfilling experience free of negative factors. It doesn’t mean that we don’t run into difficult people or challenging tasks, but we are together to talk about and work through them. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t have a child for other people to do the majority of the raising.

This brings me to ask you to look at where your child spends the majority of their time. Who are their biggest influencers? Do those people have your child’s best interest at heart? Do they share your values? And if they didn’t would you even know?

A 5-day work week has 120 hours. If your child is asleep 9 hours a night then that is 45 hours, leaving 75 hours that they are awake. If the average school day is 7 hours, then they are at a public, government facility 35 hours a week, typically by the time they are 43,800 hours old.  This leaves 40 hours during these five days for passion learning (sports, art, music, tech), dinner, family bonding, and HOMEWORK! (what the heck did they do for 35 hours during the week?) These numbers worsen for middle schoolers and high schoolers.

Why do I ask you to look at this? Simply to ask yourself if this is the best use of their time? You only have 18 years (157,680 hours) to mold and shape this fellow human being into a healthy, happy, loving adult.  How can you best accomplish that goal? When you really look at them….are they their healthiest? happiest? most well-rested? We all know that rest, a good physical and mental mindset is the minimum necessary to learn and absorb new information.

I stumbled upon the following video a few weeks back and have been holding on to it waiting for the right time to present it. Today is my action day. The video breaks down 6 problems with our school system. They begin with explaining that our schools were first created during the industrial age to instill skills necessary for factory workers. Be on time. Take directions. Complete the task given. Don’t deviate from the instruction. The basic structure of kids sitting in a school room, taking instructions, listening to a lecture, memorizing facts and only being valued on the results of a written test has not changed for at least a 100 years. Is this what we value in today’s modern times? Contrary, we want workers who are creative thinkers, problem solvers, successful communicators, and collaborators.  Is this new, modern person who you are raising?

At school, they have zero autonomy and no control over the structure of their day. They are even told when they can/cannot talk and when they can talk, how loud it can or can’t be! In a successful career, you are asked every day to independently make decisions about what to do and when. Would you be happy being told what to do all day, every day? We place this high value on teaching language at a young age…..why is teaching autonomy and self-control so undervalued that we don’t give over even a portion of this freedom until so much later in life? Who ultimately wants to control us so badly that it must be indoctrinated so young?

If you get nothing from my ‘food for thought’ at least consider where you stand on standardized testing. There is a reason that there are now SO many groups of parents in Texas assembling to fight against STAAR and opting out! Follow the money if you’re a doubter. Do you think 13 billion per year for standardized testing is good use of the Texas education budget? Could we do more with that money and modernize our system to individualized learning?

“The Big Picture framework allows us to personalize each child’s education. Each child is a unique individual with different needs, talents, and interests. But a standardized system has no room for such differences. By personalizing education, we are able to cater to the unique needs and interests of each child. So education can be about what the child wants to learn, their passions, interests, and curiosity. This makes education relevant and engaging for each child, as opposed to a standardized system where knowledge is force-fed to children regardless of what they want to learn – their interests, talents, and needs.”  This excerpt is taken from a forward-thinking school called ‘Next‘.

I encourage you to spend 5 minutes watching this video as I only touched on a few of the ‘problems’ discussed. At the very least, question your day-to-day and be 100% sure that public school and traditional learning is best serving your unique, little human(s).