Dec 16 2015

Fetal Medicine for Down Syndrome

Category: Health,LearningAdmin @ 10:16 am

Down syndrome, also called trisomy 21, is perhaps best known for its role in delayed intellectual development and obvious physical characteristics. Possible errors in over 200 proteins encoded for by the DNA can wreak health havoc. Medical researchers are beginning to focus on ways to fix the biochemistry, giving hope that early detection will result in actual treatment options beyond today’s stark choices of whether or not to abort the fetus and subsequent special education and medical support once the child is born. Regarding intellectual… Read more

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Sep 29 2015

Could Your Child be Colorblind?

Category: Health,LearningAdmin @ 6:06 pm

Color blindness can be problematic. One test for it is the Farnsworth-Munsell 100 Hue Test. The online version is less accurate than the eye doctor would have, since monitors and room light variations may affect the outcome. Nevertheless, it’s worth trying because it is free and a high score indicates that further testing is warranted. Let me relate a true story about a boy whom I’ll call Justin. Justin was completely confused about his math assignment, which depended upon reading graphs. His red-green color blindness made the red lines… Read more

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Sep 25 2015

Toxic School Lunches

Category: HealthAdmin @ 4:19 pm

Healdsburg Patch has a good article about a study of BPA in children’s school lunches. Here’s one more reason to send lunch from home if you can afford it and to take political action either way: Low-income children are particularly at risk of BPA exposure because they are more likely to eat federally funded meals instead of bringing lunch from home. Increasingly, students are eating not only lunch but also breakfast and sometimes dinner at school, exposing students to potentially dangerous levels of BPA. Click the article title to learn… Read more

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Sep 17 2015

New Osmo Game

Osmo®, the educational game platform that incorporates actual, hands-on pieces while giving software-based feedback and enhancements, has a new game for teaching basic math concepts and operations, called “Numbers.” As I mentioned in a previous post, Osmo uses the camera on an iPad to “see” which game pieces the player(s) have put in front of it. The creators of “Numbers” attempt to avoid math anxiety by incorporating flexibility and creativity, avoiding time limits, and building in options for collaboration and fun…. Read more

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Jun 11 2015

Color-Changing Beads: Fluorescence from UV Light

Category: ScienceAdmin @ 11:27 am

The usual explanation for the behavior of color-changing beads is that they change color when they absorb ultraviolet light. True enough, but why? (Affiliate link to product at Amazon) The name for this process is “fluorescence.” Some pigments absorb light of one wavelength and quickly emit ‐ fluoresce ‐ light of another (or sometimes the same) wavelength. This is similar to the phosphorescence of glow-in-the-dark toys, clocks, etc., except that the light is emitted much more quickly in the case of fluorescence. At the… Read more

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Jun 06 2015

Too Much Thought? Here’s What to Do:

Category: Learning,UncategorizedAdmin @ 12:09 pm

Go to school for 13 or more years. I don’t mean just any school, but most schools. Most of the political and ideological interests struggling for control of American education share some basic assumptions about the meaning and purpose of schooling in modern society. They assume that schools exist to transmit a certain body of knowledge, and a certain set of values, to young people. They assume that the community, or the state, has the right, indeed the obligation, to discipline children’s minds and abilities into occupations deemed useful… Read more


May 12 2015

New Story for Young Children Supports Nature as Natural

Category: Health,Learning,Play,Self-Directed LearningAdmin @ 3:41 pm

To counteract "Nature-Deficit Disorder," a new release from Barefoot Books, Outdoor Opposites, plays with words for opposites while portraying children enjoying the natural world. Macy Koch has written a nice description of the book (for ages 3-7) here. It is good to see a book that reminds children and parents how much fun playing outside can be while teaching an early “academic” skill in a fun way. Playing outdoors helps children develop physical and social skills while keeping their bodies, minds and hearts healthy. Watch any… Read more

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May 06 2015

What if Students Designed Their Own Education?

Category: Alternative EducationAdmin @ 3:50 pm

Over the years since I graduated from a public high school (long before the Common Core), students have become burdened with an ever-increasing workload in “academic” courses. There are fewer hours left to pursue one’s own interests, if those interests do not happen to fit what the classes require. In mathematics, which I tutor at the high school level and below, the textbooks move the students along faster and teach more about math than they used to – except that the students I work with cannot hope to keep up without help. First, they… Read more


Apr 28 2015

Upcoming May Faire in Calpella

Category: ActivitiesAdmin @ 3:46 pm

Join me at the Waldorf School of Mendocino County’s May Faire on Saturday, May 2, 2015 in Calpella. Celebrate Spring! I won’t be doing any science (well, maybe just a little), but I will have Barefoot Books and small Folkmanis puppets on display for browsing or purchase, and a percentage of sales will be donated to the school. See my events page at Barefoot Books Kids for more… Read more


Apr 22 2015

Osmo: Software Meets Hands-On Play

Category: Learning ActivitiesAdmin @ 2:00 pm

As a Montessori teacher and computer super-user (I even write programs), I worry about young children spending too much time immersed in computers instead of interacting in what used to be normal ways in physical and social realms. Osmo® is different. It actually encourages real-world physical manipulation and in-person social interaction. When I saw their YouTube video about the application for drawing and tracing, I was hooked: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0upQlA6K5YI Osmo uses the iPad’s built-in camera to “see” what the child… Read more


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