Sunday, February 17, 2013

Earth from Space

Want to know more about how we end up breathing oxygen? This video covers that topic and others about how life is sustained on earth, as visualized from our satellite data.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Chemistry - What is a mole?!

What is a mole?

A mole is just a count of how many items are present.

A decent comparison is to the ton. A ton of feathers weighs the same as a ton of bricks. The ton applies to weight, however. Mole is counting how many feathers or how many bricks, and not their weight.

The mole is a quantity. Avogadro's number is equal to 1 mole. So, if you have one mole of something, you have 6.022 x 10^23 individual items.

Do you have 6.022 x 10^23 footballs? You have one mole of footballs.

Do you have 6.022 x 10^23 straws? You have one mole of straws.

Does your neighbor, the crazy cat lady, have 6.022 x 10^23 cats? She has one mole of cats.

In chemistry, we don't count footballs, straws, or cats, however. We count molecules, atoms, or parts of atoms.

If you have a mole of molecules, you have 6.022 x 10^23 molecules. If you have 6.022 x 10^23 atoms, you have a mole of atoms.

This is useful for determining the compositions of unknown compounds, taken from measurements, or if you want to find out how much of a compound you need to make a solution of a particular concentration.

Avogadro determined that if you have hydrogen, which has a formula mass of 1.007, at the atomic scale, and you take 1.007 g of hydrogen, you have one mole of hydrogen. This applies to all of the elements, and even to molecules.

So for a molecule, you add up the formula masses of all atoms present, then take that amount in grams of that molecule (compound). Voila! You have one mole!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Why Tutoring?

Why do I like tutoring? I love to know things. I love to figure things out. But what good is that if you keep it all to yourself? So I really enjoy sharing. More than that, I love to help others. I am helped just as much when I help someone else to accomplish something!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Free eBooks for Kindle

I just found this link and wanted to share:

There are bargain and free books for Kindle at this website. I've downloaded a few. I don't think I'll run out of reading material any time soon!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Biology - Isn't it just memory work?

Yes, there is a lot of memory work, similar to how one learns history. Other people learn history by fixing stories to the dates. This is precisely how one learns Biology: make the information tell a story.

Get background:
When you learn about a person, look up additional information about them. A good starting place for this is Wikipedia. This is how you learn about proteins and other biological compounds, as well. There are stories behind each and every theory or discovery. Learn as much as you can about them. Don't spend too much time on this, but just get some background to make it more interesting. A good biology book does this, already, so read your text. Write out the chapter outline, at the least.

Reword the text:
Try not to copy definitions and explanations from the text or any source, word-for-word. Try to restate the information reflecting what you understand. Do try to make sure you have all of the details reflected, even if you combine them into one sentence.

Learn the Vocabulary:
Words you don't know, concepts that have names (ie., Theory of Evolution)...write it all out as vocabulary words. Make sure you know what they mean, and either quiz yourself or have someone else quiz you. Draw pictures where you think it will help.

Draw Pictures:
Draw as many pictures as you possibly can, and even if you've taken notes on the pictures, add notes from the figures in the book along with notes from the text, to your drawing. Be colorful.

Make Games:
Make your own matching games using index cards. Write your own quizzes. Do this when the information is fairly new, so that when you take the quiz, you can really test if you remember or not.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

M&Ms = Math Fun!

A friend said her daughter was having some difficulty in math. I suggested that she use manipulatives to help her visualize, if mental math seemed to be the issue. She said focus might be the biggest problem. My thought was that something fun like M&Ms and the prospect of eating them! might distract her enough to let her learn. :D

M&M’s are great for sorting and skip-counting, as well as visualizing groups of objects which is an important ability in math. Visualization can help the child develop mental math skills. Plus, they’re vibrant and tasty!

Now, I’m not advocating unhealthy eating habits, but as Mary Poppins said, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!” M&M’s are chocolate, and while they aren’t as healthy as Dove Dark, they can help the child develop math abilities.

Other manipulatives, objects that can be touched and picked up for closer inspection, include blocks (there are special blocks like Cuisenaire Rods and Unifix cubes), straws for bundling, the abacus, Daleks…Just about anything can be quantified.

For the moment, we’re looking at M&M activities:

1. Have your child sort all of the M&M’s by color, first one-by-one. Mix them up, then have her sort by 2’s, then by 5’s. Ask her which way was fastest/easiest.

2. Have her sort the sorted M&M’s into groups of 10, again, first by 2’s, then by 5’s.

3. If after she has formed groups of 10, there are leftovers, allow them to be eaten, BUT! Have her *guess* how many of each color are leftover just by looking. If the child seems to be struggling and can’t answer right away, ask her to close her eyes and tell you how many she sees.

We know these leftovers as remainder, but first things first.

4. Have the child skip-count the groups of 10, to find out how many there are, total. Ask how many she thinks were there before she ate them!

5. Now, have her eat some of the colors about half of each color by groupings of 2. She can’t leave less than 5 of a color.  Other colors, she can eat half by groupings of 5. Ask her the remainder of each. Tell her she can remove the extra M&M from the groups of 6 to make 5 of all the colors left.

6. Now, she can eat the rest!

You can vary this procedure for the other multiples. For 7, use groups of 3 and 4, for instance. If you want to include groups of 3 in the above activity, that is fine, also.

Most of all, have fun!

I was reading this over again, and after fixing my typos (rolling my eyes), I had another idea.

When you start, tell your child that when you're doing math, the candies are called "units" now. One M&M is a unit. This is a good time to get the child thinking about what a unit is. It's a whole item. It's One. Don't make a big deal of it, just get the vocabulary in there and emphasize that it's One. Tell her that's she's a scientist or mathematician when she's doing math and she must pretend to be doing the work when she's doing this activity, and so she needs to speak like a scientist or mathematician. She can even do an M&M countdown when she's on her last 10 and the last M&M must blast off, right into her mouth!

Naturally, you'll want to adjust your play to the child's age, especially if you're remediating. Speak in a more sophisticated tone while you're instructing her, like you're playing too. Older kids like to try accents and sound like someone they've seen on TV.

Please, also let me know how this works out for you! I'm always curious to know if I've offered something that works!


The First Week!

I had my first two sessions this week with a delightful student, struggling in biology. I really like her mother, too! They are very gracious people. I think we can get the student caught up and get her confidence up!

My confidence is rising, too! I think this site looks great and well put together.



PS. Hmm...I think I need to clean up the Subjects page a little. Maybe rather than linking to each individual subject, have a page for each discipline with each subject described below. Still letting that percolate!