Sunday, November 17, 2013

Review: Explore the World with Exploralab!

The Giveaway is now closed! Thank you so much for entering and sharing your wonderful stories about exploring the world with your kids! Find the winners here!

In our house, we have a really great collection of science books, with everything from the Eyewitness books, to various encyclopedias and field guides. The Exploratorium of San Francisco just sent us a copy of their newest book Exploralab to add to our collection and it is fantastic! Not only is it fun to read, but my daughter has adopted it as her own personal science activity book! Whenever she sees it, she flips through the pages and runs off to try some new activity or science experiment.

Exploralab!
Image courtesy of Weldon Owen Publishing
Exploralab takes you through your day, beginning with the moment you open your eyes. You see light coming through your windows, where is it coming from? You hear birds chirping in the early morning, what are they and why are they singing? Can you hear your alarm clock beeping to wake you up? Instead of hitting snooze, why don't you take it apart and see what it's made of?


Fantastic photo of an alarm clock taken apart.
This gallery is really great. Who knew taking things apart looked so cool?
Photography Credit: Gabriel of TakingApart.com
Note: Only do this with your parent's permission! Maybe you can go to a thrift store and find an old alarm clock to take apart. This would be a great project to learn about the mechanics behind clockwork, and the electrical engineering that makes it all work!

As you go about your day, take a look around you. Can you see the mathematical structures present in the plants that grow? Can you see the organization of chairs, architectural structures, and tiles throughout your town or city? You can find symmetry, the Fibonacci Sequence and the Golden Ratio all around you! This book is filled with all sorts of examples of science and math that points you to simply look outside to see it all right there in front of you!

This book asks all kinds of questions while offering explanations and tips to learn more. Best of all, this book is FUN! It's literally built for exploration! Throughout the pages are little nooks and crannies filled with all sorts of things! Closet doors open to a variety of fabrics, windows display movable polarizing filters, and mirror sheets can be pulled out and used to find infinity!


This is a great book to introduce kids to the fact that science is all around them, that the world is theirs to explore and have fun with! This book is meant to be carried by your child and loved. Let them keep it in their bag with a small notebook and pencil, and set them off to explore the science of life!

Here are some of the fun activities that you can do with this book. I've included the explanations from the pages of Exploralab, so you can get an idea of the language they use to explain the science behind your demonstrations.
Make a Rainbow Explosion! 
p. 40

Materials Needed:

1. A Bowl
2. Milk (whole or 2 percent)
3. Food Coloring
4. Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
5. Cotton swab

Instructions:

1. Pour about 1.5 inch (1.25 cm) of milk into a bowl. Let it come to room temperature.

2. Plop several drops of different food coloring onto the milk's surface. They might spread a little, but they'll stay where you put them.

3. Soak the end of a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol. Touch it to the color drops which will explode into wild whorls and bursts.

What's the Deal?

Water - and food coloring, which is mostly water - hangs together in droplets because water molecules are attracted to one another (it's sorta sweet). This is called surface tension. Milk, which is also mostly water, has this property, too. When you add rubbing alcohol (or soap), its molecules push apart the water molecules. Surface tension breaks down most at the spots where you put the alcohol, so water molecules elsewhere in the saucer pull water molecules away from milk near the alcohol. The food coloring swirls as all these molecules dance.

The Tiny Pants Challenge!
p. 33

Use a simple trick of perspective to dress your friends in teeny-tiny clothes!

Materials Needed:

1. Paper
2. Scissors
3. Markers, crayons, colored pencils
4. Glue

Instructions:

1. Draw a pair of pants (the sillier the better!). Cut them out, glue them on card stock, and trim around them.

2. Carry the pants with you as you go through the day.

3. When you meet a friend, tell her to stand several paces away from you. Then hold the pants in front of yourself and close one eye. This messes up your depth perception, and suddenly your goofy minipants fit your large-as-life pal.

Words Versus Colors!
p. 49

Confuse the class with a game that pits their ability to ID colors against their skill at reading words.

Materials Needed:


1. Dry Erase markers in an assortment of colors
2. The whiteboard page of Exploralab (or a whiteboard)!
3. A dry eraser

Instructions: 

1. Round up a rainbow of dry-erase markers. On the whiteboard of the facing page, draw a table with three columns and six rows.

2. Write the word red in one table box in blue marker. Write green in another box in a different color, and brown in another box, again in a new color. Don't put words in the same color next to each other, and don't write color names in their actual colors.

3. Go wild with more markers: Write pink in green marker, black in red, and so on until the table's full of color names written in the wrong colors.

4. Ask a friend to read each word out loud. Time him on your watch. Then time him again as he says the color each word's written in - he'll splutter because his eyes pick up the colors but his brain registers the words.

Make a new table of colored words, flip the whiteboard upside down, and ask your friend to name the colors that the words are written in. He'll zip through them now - his brain ignores the flipped words which are hard to read, in favor of the hues.


We absolutely LOVED this book. There are so many fun projects to do! You can make a roller coaster in your living room to learn about physics! Explore nature by digging into your garden to find what lies beneath! Mummify your foods and find out what foods can conduct electricity! Rig a rocket or trick out a telescope!

The world is yours to explore and this book does a fantastic job of encouraging that innate desire for exploration and discovery with our kids. This is definitely up there in the top three science books in our house, and this now has taken first position in my daughter's favorite activity books! Furthermore, thanks to this, we now have yet another vacation destination in San Francisco, as The Exploratorium science museum has become a bucket list place for us to go!

So pick up a copy of Exploralab today, and get ready to explore the world!



Happy Exploring!


40 comments:

  1. Karen M - There are some here we've never thought of and they look like fun, especially the goofy clothes and perspective. What have we discovered lately that makes us curious? We had a lot of fun with dry ice around Halloween. So much you can do with it.

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  2. Melissa W - We've only been homeschooling for a few months so this would be a great addition to our resources. I have boys who have loved making volcanoes and other messy experiments.

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  3. Charise W- My son's (6) newest curiosity is changing states of matter. Right now, he like to use eggs; cooking, breaking, blowing up in the microwave and naked eggs. This book looks excellent, I have been trying to find an alternative to the dry science experiment book. It looks like it really encourages "doing science" and curiosity. It would be a great resource to have!

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  4. RosaLinda H- We LOVE Science in our family- some of our favorite things to do and learn have to do with plants, animals, and ourselves. This past Spring/Summer, we made a garden and experimented which things could be grown from cuttings and pieces, rather than having to start from seed. We experimented with different soils and composting techniques, and how and why they worked. Dirty hands are our favorite! We are only beginning homeschool this fall, and would LOVE to be able to add this book to our learning. Thanks for the chance to win!

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    1. Congratulations RosaLinda! You're one of the winners in our giveaway! Can you email me your address so I can send this off to you?

      My email address is amy.oyler@gmail.com! :)

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  5. Sydney S. Exploring at home with my 6 year old has been an awesome experience for me as I get to relearn some of the things forgotten over time. Exploring in the yard with plants and weather, talking about cloud shapes and what they mean; exploring in the kitchen with simple chemical reactions. The best part is seeing him advance from simple participation for fun, to actually asking and learning about the projects we do!

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  6. Amy H. Thanks for the offer! We are continually inspired by the natural world right outside our door--lately caterpillars and spiders.

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  7. Nice blog, got here by way of reddit although it looks like I am too late for the give away. We have found that grade 1-3 science curriculum is generally lacking in creativity and inspiration. As such, we have reached out to any science that interests our daughter and have found ourselves deep into chemistry and cell biology. Far deeper than I would have anticipated a 6, 7 or 8 year old could delve. And I am a wild optimist when it comes to the potentialities found in children.


    If the book is good enough I wouldn't mind showcasing it at our weekly homeschool meetup/recess/playdate thing.


    Gary H.

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    1. Gary, you're not too late! The giveaway ends Friday November 22nd. I'll edit the post later to make sure that's clear. I don't want to interfere with people commenting now, so I'll do that at a low traffic time.

      Thank you so much for your response! I love that we can delve so strongly into science with our kids. There are so many things that they love to do, high school or even college level science can totally be adapted, explored, and loved by our kids!

      Good luck! I just wanted to make sure that you knew you were still in the running. ;)

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  8. Lindsay p - We explore in our neighborhood. We have a farm across the street the girls go help with. They even got to see a newborn goat!

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  9. I've had my eye on this book. It looks awesome. I can see myself using many of these great acitivities for my kids, students and homeschool coop. Lately my girls and I have been obsessed with math pattern in nature -- the Fibonacci sequence, the golden ratio, fractals... Once you start looking for these intricate patterns, you find them EVERYWHERE!

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  10. Nicole N. The girls usually choose what they want to explore during the week. We have an awesome book called Science Arts that lets you explore science through art projects. They love everything art, plant, bug, and animal related. This would be a fun addition to our science collection! Thank you for your awesome blog!

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  11. Sarah t. We are learning about the 3 different states of matter (liquid, solid, gas). So whenever I'm cooking my 5 year old is obsessed with pointing out the "gas" (steam) rising from the pots!

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  12. I love new interesting ways of doing things that are hands on. I especially love coming at the same topics from different perspective. I'm glad to have found your blog (and would love a copy of this book).

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  13. Jen M - We love science! Thanks for sharing these experiments and projects. Our favorite experiments have been into decay and time driven processes like crystal growth and rusting. Sometimes things that appear to be doing nothing at all are busy, just not busy in our time frame.

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  14. My five year old amazes me with his explorations and discoveries and the way he puts concepts together. He discovered a piece of glass buried in the backyard today which led to his musings about the Romans and how archaeological artifacts end up buried over time. He discussed weather, rivers, earthquakes, shifting earth and mountains, who lived here before us, volcanos, and how the depth of the buried object related to its probable age. He would love this book. :)

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  15. Sean A

    Our daughter is just getting to a stage where she is inquisitive. This would be an amazing jumping point to kick start her scientific discovering :). It would also be a great hand me down to her new brother due in January!

    She loves to look at animals and discover bugs and flowers around the yard.

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  16. JEN G. - My favorite scientific adventures usually happen when a child discovers something. My boy realized that his hands got warmer in his pants pockets than his coat pockets. The heat from his legs were warming up his hands, in a way that his silky coat pockets couldn't. We discovered that our bodies have wonderful ways of regulating temperature, like making our cheeks rosy (sending warm blood cells) when we put our cool hands on them!

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  17. Nick M- My toddler and I love to walk through the grass and gravel, discovering interesting rocks and insects! Geology and Entomology!

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  18. Andi H - My girls and I love exploring nature at our local regional park. They have fun nature walks!

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  19. Ryan - We stumbled across a geocache on the new disc golf course I built in the local park.

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  20. Alejandro G- My son likes to explore his curiosity for the world around him, this gives us more ideas of things to do together.

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  21. Laura W - My daughter has been enjoying her new science experiment growing Triops eggs in an aquarium!

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  22. Lynn R - Both my son and daughter love doing science experiments. We've done many fun ones, but our latest was learning about density - we played with water (with food coloring) and oil. It got messy, but it was so much fun!

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  23. My husband and I are both biologists and we can't wait until our 1 year old is old enough to do fun experiments. He loves looking at our fish tank and playing outside in the dirt and it's so fun to see how he will carefully examine objects like rocks and sticks (before sticking them in his mouth, of course).

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  24. Melody T. Homeschooling a girl with an interest in bugs has given me quite the increased understanding of insects and their life cycles.

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  25. Sydney P. My seven year old loves to explore physics and build simple machines out of Legos.

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  26. Having kids has inspired my interest in outer space and prehistoric animals again.

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  27. My son has recently discovered musical instruments, and loves to listen to music and point out what instruments he hears playing. It's been fun watching him discover his own interest and pursue it :)

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  28. I love science and follow your blog and Facebook for inspiration in our homeschooling journey with my 6 and 4 year olds. Recently we've been delving into an awesome crystal set given to my 4yo, but science is everywhere. We've been discussing inertia too in the last couple of days since my son heard the fuel in the car tank sloshing when we stopped on a slope. I <3 homeschooling!

    Lydia W

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  29. Matthew H. - Saw this on Reddit, and I think I'll stick around. Taking apart and repairing a radio in my youth got me interested in science.

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  30. Susan D. - Came from Reddit and I love your site. My daughter loves science is is always finding and exploring her world. It is never a dull moment around our house, we always have some type of experiment going on.

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  31. My daughter is young so she is amazed by so much. It's so fun to watch her learn. We recently played around with colored vinegar and baking soda.
    Rebecca G

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  32. Thanks for the post -- I didn't know about this book. Love the tiny pants! My boys (9 and 12) have been playing/working a lot with vision and perspective lately. Their next project: build a perspectival frame like Van Gogh and Durer!

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  33. I love watching my kids find wonder and amazement in most anything and everything. Right now my daughter is using silly putty to analyze patterns that her skin makes and how it reverses writing that it can pick up.

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  34. Jenna H. - My three year-old daughter really likes to explore the worlds by taking walks in parks and pick up anything and everything she sees on the ground. Leaves, rocks, sticks, bugs, you name it and she has probably picked it up to take a closer look. She brings a lot of the things she finds back to our house and adds them to her collection.

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  35. stacy b.
    i love following my kiddos - they inspire me every day in both word and deed to learn something new about our world!
    this book looks amazing!

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  36. Okay second try (in case it actually posted the first time, just fyi):
    My son Trystan and I are great explorers! His favorite book as a 1.5 year old was "Wildflowers of Denali" by Frank & Verna Pratt. He earned his first Junior Ranger Badge there in Denali Park where he was born!
    Today we took a hike out in our new Arizon landscape. We explored rocks (LOVE the geology here!), the interesting sex of Juniper trees, and loads of scat identification! Some fox scat full of berries has now sparked an obsession (as only almost three year olds can obsess) with pooping red poop of his own. Whe are now having beets for dinner tonight LOL.
    I LOVE your page and you are truly inspiring! I am hoping to homeschool and am saving up ideas from and sparked by yourself and your daughter!

    Thanks
    Michelle B. and Trystan

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  37. MARS .T.
    We love to explore the world using our 5 senses. Touching, hearing, seeing, smelling and tasting everything we encounter. We love how cooking a simple meal can include chemistry, biology, botany, and even psychology! And we also LOVE to Read!!

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  38. My child loves hands-on science. Every week we do "tray time." I just put different items on it and see what he comes up with. He loves mixing stuff!
    by M.Myers

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