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Champlain Mini Maker Faire in Vermont This Weekend – The Wired Homeschool


The Champlain Mini Maker Faire is a great opportunity for homeschoolers in the Northeast who can’t get to Maker Faire in New York City to hang out and learn about engineering, science, and technology. Via GeekDad –

On Saturday, September 29, the first-ever Champlain Mini Maker Faire will take place at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont. Put together by aerospace engineer and Vermont Education Coordinator Doug Webster, President the National Association for Workforce Improvement, the Faire will be a showcase for the DIY community in the Green Mountain state.

The new Faire is off to a big start. Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway and founder of the FIRST robotics competitions will be arriving by helicopter to give the keynote speech. The theme of the day is flying, and there will be balloons, blinkies, quadrocopters, and much more. More than 40 Makers, hacking collectives and companies are expected to be exhibiting, including Vermont Makers, theVermont Technology Alliance, and Burlington-based hackerspace Laboratory B.

I’m going to try and be there this weekend. Tickets in advance for adults are $12, $14 at the door. Kids 12-17 get in for $8 in advance, $9 at the door. Kids under 12 are free. For more information and to purchase tickets visit the Champlain Mini Maker Faire website.


The Learning Power of LEGO [Infographic] – The Wired Homeschool

LEGO and EducationWhen I was a kid I loved my LEGOs. Living in Germany during my childhood meant that I had access to sets that kids here in the United States couldn’t get. Little did I know that while I was building cities I was learning. Now, LEGOs are used in a number of ways to educate kids of all ages. Check out the infographic below to find out about the building blocks of education. Continue Reading →


Venus Transit Amazes Many

Wow!  What a day yesterday!  As the weather forecast cleared up for the evening I was excited to catch a glimpse of the transit of Venus.  I left work a half hour early so that I could setup my telescope and get everything in order.

I’d decided to project an image from my telescope on to a whiteboard.  This would allow my kids to see the transit easily and also allow me to point out what was happening.

As the time of transit approached, clouds started to roll in and obscure my view of the sun.  I thought for sure I’d be clouded out.  I was losing hope.  Then the clouds cleared and at 6:05 pm EST I could see the beginning of the transit!

Projecting the sun

As the event progressed I called my 6 kids over and each of them looked through the #14 welder’s glass I had from the 2004 transit.  They were mostly excited that they could see the sun but the older ones were really excited to see Venus passing in from of the sun.  As Venus proceeded past ingress I pointed it out to them on the projected image.

After about 40 minutes the skies darkened again and the sun was setting below the tree line.  Earlier, I’d though to go to a local park but had nixed the idea because of the cloud cover.  I didn’t want to drag out the telescope and whiteboard only to stand around for 2 hours and see nothing.

As I was putting away my telescope I looked North and noticed the skies were clearing.  Decision time: do I take the telescope to the park?  I decided head to the park.  I grabbed some snacks for 3 of my kids and we were off.

When we got there the skies were mostly clear!  I was kicking myself for not bringing the telescope.  We did have the welder’s glass, however, and proceeded to watch the transit.

Venus transits the sun

Since we were near a parking lot and there was a much lower tree line here than at my house we got a full hour of additional observing.

In addition to sharing this with my 12, 10, & 9 year-old kids, we shared it with many people in the park as their baseball and soccer games were ending.  We grabbed everyone within reach and asked them if the want to see Venus.

Some were skeptical at first (one guy thought I was trying to sell him something) but once they looked at it themselves the wonder and amazement on their faces was very rewarding.

Young children, parents, and grandparents all were amazed by the tiny black spot in front of the sun.  Many had heard that this even was occurring but didn’t think it could be see without any special equipment (besides solar shades or welder’s glass).

What a great experience!  I was able to do some homeschooling in action with my kids and share this marvelous event with approximately 50 other people.  The only regret I have is not bringing my telescope and whiteboard to the park.  I’ll be sure to remember it in 2117.


Transit of Venus Will Be A Sight to Behold

The past two months I’ve done a monthly blog post about astronomy and the things you can observe from your own backyard that people have observed for thousands of years. This month, rather than talk about multiple events, I want to focus on one major event: the transit of Venus across the disc of the sun.

This rare astronomical event will not happen again for another 105 years!  Arguably, nobody alive today will see it again (unless you’re frozen and then thawed out when it happens again).  The previous transit occurred in 2004 and it was a sight to behold!  You won’t want to miss this year’s transit.

I was able to observe this marvelous event in 2004 when it last occurred.  The photo at the beginning of this post is one of the images I captured during the event.  You can view others in a photo gallery.  I can tell you that it is a sight to behold! Seeing another planet pass between the earth and the sun really helps you realize the special place we have in our solar system.

I’ve compiled a number of resources that you can use to find out more about this event. Don’t forget your eye protection when you look up!

As I find more resources that I think will be beneficial, I’ll continue to add them to this post.

Continue Reading →


Teach Your Kids to Code – WHS 36

Computers are becoming more and more pervasive in our lives.  Kids learn to use them at a very young age these days and for some their interest goes beyond playing Angry Birds or using Facebook.

If you have a kid interested in learning to write programs, where do you start?  What resources are there available for the homeschooling parent?  Fortunately, the same tools available to public schools are available to home educators. Continue Reading →


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