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The whole thing began with an umbrella. After testing today, Autumn, Audri, Riley and I sat around talking and Autumn mentioned wanting to fly her bicycle.  She told us what she and Riley had done yesterday, aerodynamically, and made me a drawing to illustrate their progress and their plan.  In her drawing she included her umbrella, a pink one we had seen her carrying from our window across the bay.

It was the umbrella she was hoping would help give them loft, but she realized they would still need some sort of lift, so she suggested building wings.  As we talked about it, I realized what she needed was a type of airfoil, an aerodynamic sail.   Last week she created a little boat out of sticks and straws and paper, see the picture below, and I began to explain how the principles were essentially the same: the shape of the sail and the shape of the wing both gave their craft propulsion.  It is why sailboats don’t need motors.

An Autumn Sail

So we began looking online at pictures of planes, wings, aircraft, from gliders to para sails, and it wasn’t long before we had half of the council building involved, including Floyd.  In fact, he gave the best science lesson on the topic, asking questions of the kids, encouraging them to do their own math and puzzle their own hypothesis and design.  Then Keisha heard tell of it and she came in to document the scientific method, recording questions, predictions, and materials.

Before too long I was downstairs looking for the Active Physics text and asking Claire what happened to our actual Physics book.  We never did find it, but we discovered so many other great resources that it may be moot to even look now.

The table in the conference room now has wire, tape, a D battery, a styrofoam cup, and a few other odds and ends for the power cell we intend to build tomorrow.  What I found so great about this day was not just the project, but the fact that these village residents who have few reasons to really collaborate, were really collaborating, and we were all having such a good time, in the name of education.  Riley asked question after question and branched out of his comfort zone of homeschool to pester SJ and Floyd.  Floyd got into our project enough to search out wire and spools.  I know it’s all down there at the shop, but the point is that we all found a reason to bring it up here.

Tomorrow could bring something completely different, something depressing or discouraging, but maybe not.  I put two new experiments, new possible science projects, up on the bulletin board for future adventure.  One is a hand-cranked generator, and the other is a windmill.  There is a storm predicted for later in the week, and I can’t think of a better project than something drive the energy, from the ground level up.

Here are the sites where we found our experiments, just in case we lose them and just in case they work and we can credit the authors!

Thanks for reading, folks.  That’s all for today.  From Pedro Bay, Alaska, it’s the Dena’ina HomeSchoolers signing out.