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Big Learning News 1-17-07

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 5:2 January 17, 2007

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Table of Contents
Math Moment: World's Tallest Ferris Wheel
Activity: Make pretty pottery bowls
Contest: Recycle Art competition
Book review: Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions
Education News: Create-a-skate skateboard building program
Web site: Dangerous Decibels

Math Moment

World's Tallest Ferris Wheel




Shanghai developers have decided not to build what would have been the world's tallest ferris wheel - it would have been 200 meters or 656 feet tall. How tall is that? Give your child practice comparing large numbers with this chart of the world's tallest buildings - 200 meters is about half the height of the Empire State Building. The ferris wheel would have been not quite as tall as the world's 100th tallest building.

The ferris wheel, if constructed, would have held over 1000 people in 36 cabins. Ask your child how many people that is per cabin.

More Fun Math for Kids



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Make pretty pottery bowls

Last week I suggested you throw a "Paint Your Own Pottery" party for the kids, with bowls made from air-dry clay. This week I'll tell you how to make nice bowls, and quickly too!

I've posted the full directions on biglearning.org, since they're a little long for Big Learning News.


More pottery articles

Pottery at home

Plastiroc Air-Dry Clay (product review)


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Recycle Art Competition for Girl Scouts (plus a a contest idea for everyone)


When I saw this contest, I thought it was about making art from recycled materials to promote environmental themes. It's actually a contest for Girl Scouts only, to make a piece of art promoting recycling. The deadline is January 30, and you can submit either digital artwork or ship them non-digital artwork. Twelve winning entries will become pages of the 2008 Girl Scout calendar and be exhibited at a gallery in New York.

But that first idea - making art from recycled materials to promote an environmental theme - that sounds like a great idea for a school contest - perhaps in concert with Earth Day activities. Let me know if you decide to try it.

More ideas

Paper plate art

Paper sculpture

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Book Review

Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions You Can Build Yourself by Maxine Anderson (Nomad Press, 2006)

Ages 8 and up with help.

I love this book. It's got tons of really great stories about Leonardo da Vinci - particularly his creative side and his sly sense of humor. He once tricked friends by gluing wings and horns to a lizard and claiming it was a dragon.

After each set of stories is a project based on one of da Vinci's inventions. They look fun to build and straightforward - though some have many steps. The one I really want to try is the "walk on water" shoes, which you make from styrofoam and duct tape.

Buying information

More Reviews

Inventing Stuff

The Best of Making Things


Imaginative Inventions

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Looking for more books for your kids? Try this list.

Children's Books

Education News

Skateboard program melds fun, tech, math, and art



Here's a middle school/high school program that looks chock full of Big Learning - kids build their own skateboards. There's a wood shop program where kids do more cutting and shaping of the decks, and an art program where kids decorate and finish pre-cut decks. The program promises lots of math, science, engineering, and even biology along the way.

Catch up on our education commentaries!

Here are our recent commentaries on education-related news.

Holding back kindergartners
Closing the achievement gap
Great playgrounds, great toys
What it takes to be great

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Web Site

Dangerous Decibels

(click the big START button to see the exhibit)

Did your kids get an MP3 player during the holidays? Are they seldom seen without headphones? Then this site is a must - it teaches kids exactly how prolonged exposure to loud noise causes hearing loss. It even includes electron-microscope photos of dead hair cells in the ear, all bent and broken by loud sounds.

There are games, quizzes, and fact sheets. One of the activities lets kids hear various sounds two ways - normally, and then as it sounds to someone with hearing loss. Another lets them make decisions about how to deal with peers pressuring them to listen to loud noises.

The site has engaging graphics and, of course, sound. My kids both saw it from across the room and came over to try it out without me asking.

More about sound

Book review: Kids Make Music


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Big Learning News (c) 2006 Karen Cole

Content meant for adults and provided for informational purposes only - readers are responsible for previewing all materials and activities for suitability and safety before sharing them with children.
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