Archives for March 2009

Award Winning Science Projects for “OUR” Kids

I just got an email from a parent who purchased the bonus pack of 24 Hour Science Projects. She wrote:

I thought that I’d send you an update… My grade 4 boy who has ADD and struggles in school just received a 1st for his science fair project, Can Water Pass Through an Egg Membrane? My grade 5 boy that did A Straight Flush received a 2nd place. They both had so much fun and have already picked their topics for next years’ fair! The older boy is off to the regionals in April. Thank you so much for all that you provided on your site.

Okay, I’m proud of these boys! A Straight Flush is a project about the biodegradability of toilet paper. The egg project is called Egg-xperimenting with Eggs.

Both of these great projects can be found at 24 Hour Science Projects!

How do you convert pounds to kg?

“How do you convert pounds to kilograms?”

People often email me this type question. There are all sorts of charts and calculators and formulas, but the easiest way is…

1. Go to
2. Type in “convert X pounds to kg”.
3. Read the answer. It will convert it for you.

(Of course, you could just multiply number of pounds times 0.4535923744953. But who wants to do all that work?!)

When The Science Project Data Doesn’t ‘Look Right’

chartsneezeA student doing the “A Slice of Ice” experiment emailed me last week with some concerns about his results. According to his calculations, his results did NOT prove what he expected. He had hypothesized that pieces of ice with the greatest surface area would melt first. His data did not back that up, and he was concerned that something was wrong.

I was also concerned, because his hypothesis was correct. If the amount of water frozen remains the same, then ice with the most surface area melts the fastest. So I asked to see his numbers.

And once again, this young man was correct. He had made an error entering his data, and had calculated the surface area incorrectly. When he put the numbers in the correct places in his spreadsheet, his data proved his hypothesis to be true.

This young man learned two valuable lessons: if something doesn’t look right, check it! Follow your instincts. And always double check your data.

Get step by step instructions on how to find out if surface area affects the melting time of ice at 24 Hour Science Projects!


24 Hour Science Projects – Blogged!

Gear Diary is a cool blog featuring all the latest technology gadgets. They review and comment on the gear we all wish we had. One of the writers there recently posted a rant about his son’s science project. I sent him some information about our guides, and he blogged about us – despite the fact that we’re not really a gadget! Read the very flattering post: Science Projects Without Tears.

Your Chore List – How to Assign Chores to Kids

In the last post, I gave a list of five reasons showing how important it is for us to make sure our kids do chores. But just how do we assign chores that our kids can – and will – do? Here’s your chore list:

It’s important to match the chore to the child. When you assign chores, take your child’s age, ability and personality into account. From the moment they are out of the high chair, a child can ‘dump their plate’ and put it in the sink. I have sweet memories of our little ones reaching over their heads to lob their dishes (plastic, of course) into the water. A two year old can sort and put away silverware, feed the dog (dry food) and put produce into the appropriate drawers in the refrigerator. They can also put toys where they belong – if you have assigned spots for each. A five year old can fold towels, set the table, water the dog, sweep the floor, dust, and make a bed. Most ten year olds can iron their own clothes, cook a simple meal, take the recycling bin to the street, and mop. By the time kids are twelve, there isn’t a whole lot they can’t do around the house – except drive the car!

Despite the above guidelines, some kids aren’t ready to do some chores. If you give a child a chore and they are genuinely overwhelmed with the skill involved, then assign something else. Our last son Ash, for example, has always been a whiz at cleaning out the cabinet that holds all the plastic containers and their lids. Our second son, however, was truly clueless on any of the organizational principles involved. Don’t be fooled, however. Kids can be real masters at feigning inability and ignorance.

Try not to give your child too many chores that they absolutely hate. I, for example, hate to mop. (I’ve mentioned this before…) Were I a child, I would not assign myself mopping as a daily chore. If your child likes to be outside, give her more outdoor jobs. And if your son likes to be in the kitchen, give him responsibilities there.

Give specific instructions. Your child – especially if they are ADHD – needs for you to explain exactly what you expect for them to accomplish. Don’t just say, “Clear off the table.” Give step by step instructions, and you may want to write them down and post them:

1. Fill up the sink with water, and put all the silverware in the bottom.

2. Put lids back on all the containers like milk and ketchup and put them away. (NOT in the medicine cabinet, please.)

3. Use napkins and wipe the extra food on the plates into the trash or compost, then put the plates into the sink.

4. Put away everything else. The salt and pepper shakers and the napkin holder stay on the table. You don’t put them away.

5. Use a wet rag and wipe off the table. Pick up the salt and pepper shakers and napkin holder and wipe under them.

6. Push the chairs under the table.

Keep reminding for momentum. For long chores (you know, the ones more than 2 minutes!), your child might lose focus. Reminders are often necessary. You can give verbal reminders (sometimes known as nagging), flash lights, or set off a timer to ding at regular intervals. Our boys used to fight over the Triple Tell Timer. (Here’s a whole page of recommended timers and reminders here.) Another option is to put on a song, and tell your child the end of the song is her cue to get back on track. We’ve also tried giving rewards for finishing a chore within a certain amount of time.

Do a quality check. This is the downfall of many a chore. Don’t expect perfection, but do expect your child to have done their very best. And if they haven’t, make them do it over (and maybe over again – and again). They will be very offended as you point out their mistakes. Don’t cave.

Recognize a job well done. Whether you offer verbal praise, a financial reward, or an hour of television or gaming – thank your child for their help, and affirm their efforts.

Chores – What a Chore!

Doesn’t it sometimes feel like giving chores is more of a chore for you than for your kid? My boys never got over the need to be nagged to do their chores. We had a checklist*, which helped immensely, but the boys themselves never morphed into creatures that walked in from school and immediately started to empty the trash.

Chores, however, are very important – for several reasons.

Children are, by nature, self-centered. They often lack the ability to feel what someone else is feeling, or think like someone else. So they reckon that if they aren’t upset by the dirty pair of underwear dropped in the living room (don’t ask), then nobody else is upset either. Chores remind a child that they are revolving with the world – not in the center of it.

Chores are a fact of life, and part of parenting is preparing a child for life. Everyone eventually needs to how to make a bed, iron a shirt, mop a floor, and wash the dishes. Two of our boys no longer live at home, and each of them have expressed that they are glad they know how to do such tasks. I quote, “Man. Those guys are so stupid. They don’t even know how to work a washing machine.”

Chores also teach a child to do something he or she hates. Adults do dreaded tasks every day. Giving your child chores prepares them for this grim reality. For example, it requires a lot of self discipline for me to mop the kitchen floor. I don’t mind folding laundry, vacuuming or dusting, and I love to clean out closets. But mopping? I’d rather take the proverbial beating. Nonetheless, mopping has to be done. So, to prepare them for the rigors of adulthood, my boys have to mop quite a lot.

Theoretically, chores give a child a sense of pride in their work, and a feeling of ownership in your home. Quite frankly, my boys disproved this theory. It really does sound good on paper, and probably holds true in your house. Or maybe not.

Finally, chores are great for you because you need the help. Running a house is a cooperative effort, and you are doing yourself and everyone else a disservice if you try to go it alone. Delegate. Divide and conquer. Share the joy. And maybe you’ll never have to mop the kitchen floor again!

I read this post out loud to our youngest, and when I finished he informed me that if he followed my example and taught his children to mop, that he wouldn’t have to learn how now.

Despite his wrangling for the contrary, my boys have chores. I developed some simple charts to use with my guys. They aren’t sophisticated, but they sure helped. Email me at science if you’d like for me to email you a copy. magnetic chore chart

Take a look at My Magnetic Responsibility Chart for 2008 from Melissa and Doug. This very attractive chart was recommended by a reader. Designed for younger children, it’s flexible and easy for non-readers to use. Kids get the pleasure of moving a magnetic piece when a task is accomplished.