Friday, October 24, 2008

Google me this...

I continue to be baffled by the amazing array of information available on the internet! Schooling today certainly is NOTHING like that my generation experienced with its card catalogs, cracking encyclopedia bindings, reference librarians, slide shows and the flick-flick-flicking of films that sometimes managed to stay on the guides.

Today's unintended schooling at Best Family Academy is a perfect example of how it all works. (It's Saturday, and we're on a break after our long history-on-the-road lesson.)

We have a lot of unintended education going on around here, and we take advantage of as much as possible. (Sometimes we're simply overwhelmed by all the possibilities for exploration.) Some confluence of events brings great curriculum to our doorstep and we build upon that.

One morning, for example, the girls and I were talking about how transportation has changed over time. We used the encyclopedias to look up various modes of transportation, used the internet to view pictures, videos and read further information, and explored our own bookshelves for stories, both fiction and non-fiction, to continue in this vein. As the girls were drawing pictures of what they thought vehicles might look like in the future, a rocket was launched from the Air Force base nearby. I HAD NO IDEA a launch was scheduled that day! (We weren't taking the paper at the time, and it's the only local source of reliable launch info.) What a fantastic day! And it all started with some simple question over breakfast.

This happens with loads of subjects, but today it was space travel that again got us in the modes of research, explore and enjoy. At 7:28 p.m a Delta II rocket was schedule to launch from the base. These things are so touchy that it seems they are often delayed by weather and other unpredictable variables. Today, however, it appeared to go off without a hitch!

As we watched the rocket soar south and disappear into space, one of the girls asked how the rocket worked. Hello, computer! Greetings, internet! Bonjour our best friend, Google. After a couple of clicks around we came upon THIS site which, while dated, was a FANTASTIC intro to the girls to a brief, memorable history of rocketry and space travel ala Walt Disney. I DID explain to the girls that the things the scientists explained as technology of the future is what we JUST watched fly into space!

This film was produced before I was even born. Where would I ever have come across it? According to the Internet Movie Database, the film was never put on VHS, let alone DVD. The internet has provided this extra educational bit for our family, and anyone else out there with an interest.

I also found "From the Earth to the Moon" by Jules Verne (referred to in Disney's film) in its entirety online for those who have lost their library cards (or whose libraries don't have a copy available). Or you can listen to it online, download the mp3 or even get it for your iPod through one of our favorite online sites.

If you have some time, enjoy the flicks. We watched four portions tonight, including the history of rocketry, some science history, physics (Newton), theoretical science (now reality) and various employment fields related to the space industry. Sure, we blew bedtime, but how can you stop when everyone's having so much fun learning?

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