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First Lego League, Architect Studio 3D, Support Group Wish List

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, January 05, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 1 January 5, 2007
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2007 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the first issue of our 8th year in publication! :-)

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!




Notes from Heather
-- More First Lego League
Helpful Tips
-- Math War Game
Website Winners
-- Architect Studio
January Featured Resource
-- Raising Leaders
Question of the Week
-- Your Questions
-- Your Answers
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

As our regular readers know, my boys were involved this year
with a First Lego League robotics team.

Here's a great article about another all-homeschooled team and
how much hands-on science they got to learn through this great
opportunity! I personally learned so much about nanotechnology,
this year's theme, that I'm teaching a class on it at our homeschool
co-op this session. (Interesting field where science fiction can
become a reality -- but also scary for that same reason.)

By the way -- our "all-girls-all-homeschooled" team came in 2nd in
Michigan of 50 teams at one of two state tournaments in SE Michigan
this past month. The 1st place teams will compete at the World
tournament in Atlanta, GA. Maybe next year we'll be there!


"Lego league gives students a leg up on science"

by Sandra Diamond Fox - NEWS-TIMES - Danbury, CT

Commitment -- this is the word that comes to mind after hearing
how five young boys dedicated four hours a week, every week, for
the past four months towards creating a science project from
scratch. Earlier this month, the Bricklayers, a local Lego team
made up of five boys between 10 and 12, proved how their commitment
paid off when they got the chance to compete in the state Lego
tournament at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.

Out of 50 winning teams from five regional tournaments in Bridge-
port, Old Lyme, Enfield, Vernon, and Berlin, the Bricklayers
came in third place in creative presentation and 13th place in
robot performance.

The competition is held every year through the FIRST LEGO
league, an international organization created in 1998 and run
entirely by volunteers, said Julie Yen of Danbury, the team's
coach and mother of team member Joseph Yen, 10. "The league
gives children the opportunity to solve problems utilizing math,
science, engineering, and technology," she said.

The other team members are David Hale, 10, of Monroe, Owen
Sandercox, 10, of Newtown, Tristan Speed, 11, of Bethel, and
Andrew Early, 12, of Bethel.

"I had first heard about the Lego league last year through a
friend in my homeschool organization," Julie Yen said.

Yen, who homeschools her son and daughter, Madeleine Yen,
7, said that all of the boys on the team are also homeschooled.

"The 2006 Lego challenge for the 9-to-14-year-old category was
to build a robot and program it to accomplish a minimum of six
tasks," Yen explained. To accomplish this, the team used the
Lego Mindstorms robotics kit, which is completely kid-friendly,
she said.

The second portion of the challenge involved using "nanotech-
nology", defined as the exploration of existing sciences at the
molecular level, in order to develop something that is non-existent.

For their project, the team chose to create a new way to recycle
consumer waste, called Nano-Recycling, Yen said.

To be eligible to compete in the state tournament, the team won
the "Gracious Professionalism" award at the Ragged Mountain
Regional Invitational on Dec. 9 at Catherine M. McGee Middle
School in Berlin, said Jonathan Yen, Julie Yen's husband and the
team's coach.

"This award reflects the understanding and good practices involved
in teamwork, spirit, and the thrill of competition," he said. "Given
that this was our rookie year, this was quite an accomplishment."

When the boys began working with the Legos, winning was the
furthest thing from their minds, Jonathan Yen said.

"We did this for fun and to provide a good learning experience," he
said. "Winning was just icing on the cake for us."

Working on the project "was a true team effort," said Jonathan Yen,
director of Information Technology at Radio Computing Services in
White Plains, N.Y. The children made every decision on their own
-- from choosing a project, to deciding how to create it, to determin-
ing the best way to present it, he said. "It was a completely self-
directed exercise."

Team member Andrew Early's mother, Polly Castor of Bethel, gives
the coaches a lot of credit.

"I greatly appreciate all the work that Julie and Jonathan did for the
team," she said. "They offered the team the use of their home every
week, designating a huge table in their living room to work on."

Parents took turns each week bringing over dinners for the boys,
Castor added.

"It was a really cool experience," said her son, Andrew. "We learned
so much doing this, especially about breaking down the atoms to
their basic elements so that they can be reused."

When the team made the robot, "we all assigned different roles to
each other," said Joseph Yen. "I was the aimer, which I found to be
very hard, but still a lot of fun."

From all the hours they worked together, the boys learned about
respecting each other's opinions, being polite, and presenting their
own ideas in a diplomatic fashion -- all of which are important life
skills, Jonathan said.

Joseph Yen said he can't wait until he gets the chance to work on
another project for next year's competition. "I had a great time doing
this," he said. "It was one of the best things that has ever happened
to me."


Do you have comments to share? Please do!

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Math Game

"One fun way we have found to memorize addition and subtraction facts
is to play 'Math War'. Basically, cut index cards in half to make
flashcards (or if you want bigger cards, don't cut them in half). Write
a problem, vertically, on each one, but don't include the answer. You
can make a set of subtraction and a set for addition, you can even
make extras of some of the harder ones. When you are ready to play,
use an even number of cards and deal out the stack between you, face
down. Then take turns turning up the top card. Your child has to
figure out which answer is the largest number - the largest sum (for
addition) takes both cards, which goes on the bottom of their stack
to use in playing. Play continues until one player has all the cards.
For subtraction 'War' you can also say that the lowest answer gets
the cards.

It makes for a much longer game, but you can mix the two decks as
well." -- Cindy - http://www.homeschoolingfromtheheart.com


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Winning Website

Architect Studio 3D

The great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed hundreds of
houses throughout his long and distinguished career. Each home was
uniquely fashioned to meet the needs of its owners and the particular
qualities of its location. Wright inspired a generation of architects.
On this website students can design a house, walk through it in 3D,
and then share it with the world. You can also learn more about
architecture, past and present, and explore Frank Lloyd Wright's life
and work. If you have a budding architect, you'll definitely want to
check out this site! (Best for ages 10 and up.)

-- Brought to us by Cindy at HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com --


This new section is to share great curriculum resources or
homeschooling 'helps' that motivate, mentor or inspire me as a
parent. Here is my winner for January!


P.S. I have personally reviewed and I'm utilizing the package at
the link above, so if you have questions you want to ask me
personally before making a purchase, please feel free to email me.
If you'd like to add your own testimonial, please write to me about
that too! ;-) Send emails to: Heather@FamilyClassroom.net

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I am leading my homeschool support group and I'd like to have
some ideas of what really ministers to you when you attend your
support group. All ideas are welcome!" -- Melinda E.

Our Readers' Responses

"Melinda, I would recommend that you focus more on support for
the parents, and less on activities for the children. Providing
resources, sharing helpful hints and ideas, listening to motivational
homeschool speakers (either in person or on tape), and mentoring
new homeschoolers are examples of the types of services that might
be worthwhile. Be sure to involve the fathers.

One of the reasons this newsletter is so popular is that it offers the
*parents* practical tips, encouragement, and help for their challenges
and problems." -- Mary Beth A.


"I would say the thing that was a big help to me, when I was in a
group, was having time to just chat. Something I looked forward to
every month was a 'Mom's Night Out'. We went to a sit down
restaurant (preferably one where you can all sit together in a little
bit of privacy... such as a meeting room). We would discuss things
pertinent to the group and activities, but also just get to know one
another and exchange ideas. Being home all day with the kids --
sometimes you need a little adult conversation."-- Martha in Indiana


"We don't have support group meetings per se, but we moms do
meet one night a month. Sometimes we will share things that have
really helped us (a book, a tape, or even a household product or
time saver). But the most beneficial thing we do is share prayer
requests and actually pray while we're together. I think this has
bonded our group more than anything." -- Rhonda

Answer our NEW Question

"I am trying to find a workable system for recording activities and
how to put them for review for unschooling. I have decided to take
that route since he learns so much more. I am learning so much
just following his interests. If there are any unschoolers please
give me some workable ideas. Thanks so much." -- Julianne


Do you have some practical ideas for Julianne?

Please send your answer to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net


Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if we can help you out in a future issue!

Our Searchable Newsletter Archive

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or search on a specific word or phrase in issues all the way
back to January 2001! Just go to this link:


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Tags: first lego league, raising leaders, lego robotics, math games, architecture curriculum, frank lloyd wright, drafting, organizing a homeschool support group, starting a support group, homeschooling support, local support groups, homeschool reviews, tips

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