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SERC Biomimicry Science Fair is Still On

The Biomimicry Science Fair scheduled for 10 am today is still going on as planned. The road in is snowy but passable. Drive safely and give yourself extra time to make it in. The snow should stop by Noon and then start clearing up. Our scientists and educators are looking forward to seeing your student’s work.

Please make the decision to come in or not based on conditions in your area.



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Spring Home School Registration Cancelled

We regret to announce that registration for the Spring Home School Classes at SERC is cancelled. Karen McDonald, SERC’s longtime Coordinator for Outreach and Public Programs,  has accepted a position elsewhere in the Smithsonian, and we will not be able to provide the high quality programs that SERC is known for, and that you have come to expect, until such time that we can find someone to shoulder those responsibilities. Our other public programs and campus access will continue as scheduled.  The Biomimicry Science Fair for February is still going on as planned.

We hope you’ll continue to support SERC and its research and education programs and we look forward to welcoming you back to the SERC campus.  In the meantime, we hope you will join us in wishing Karen success and happiness in her future endeavors.

We’ll announce future classes on this blog.

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For those in the 9 am (5-7 yr. old) class please come to the 10:30 am class or the 1:30 pm class. These later classes will still be going on. Drive carefully out there.


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Home School Classes For Tomorrow (Wed.) January 22nd Are Cancelled Due to Inclement Weather

Please e-mail the instructor, Karen McDonald (McDonaldK@si.edu), if you can make the class for Thursday, January 23rd. Class times for the 23rd are 9-10 am for 5-7 yr. olds and 10:30 am-Noon for 8-12 yr. olds.

If you can’t make the Thursday class time please also e-mail. We will also hold a make-up session, an announcement for this make up time/date will be e-mailed out.

Stay safe out there!

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SERC Education is Now on Facebook

We have decided to create a SERC Education page on Facebook so that you can receive updates not only about home school but also camps, upcoming lectures, talks, special opportunities, weather updates, and more. We’ll live feed into the FB page from this blog as well. We’d like to invite you to join at: https://www.facebook.com/SERCEducation .


For those in the Science and Math in Action Block:

I added one new video that was brought to my attention by one of the home school parents. It’s a great video (26 min) by Disney using Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land. It very nicely covers the Golden Ratio and the magic of math found in every day life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZH3PBdH5WQ

Film Class Students

Here are the links from the previous class about using Window’s Movie Maker and also lav mics.

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Pre-Class Prep Materials for the Crystals Class

NOTE: We will be cracking open geodes in class so please wear long pants, closed toed shoes, and bring eye protection if you have it. We’ll also have some eye protection to borrow. If you have geodes that you would like to share you’re welcome to bring them to class, but please put your name on them using masking tape.



  • Crystallography
  • Crystal
  • Crystallization
  • Atom
  • Crystal systems
  • Geode

 For All Ages:

http://www.ccmr.cornell.edu/education/ask/?quid=742 this is a Question and Answer page, from Cornell, all about how crystals from. It’s all text so you may need to read this to younger students.

http://skywalker.cochise.edu/wellerr/students/crystals/project.htm this is a good page all about the different shapes of crystals. We’ll be making these shapes in class (for 8-12’s)!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laMZAJ2L_1Y Here is a 10 min. video from Discovery Channel all about the giant crystals found in the Naica Crystal Cave in Mexico. It will amaze you!

http://homechemistry.blogspot.com/2010/03/salt-crystal-trees.html this is a great laboratory protocol for growing salt crystal trees at home. It’s quite easy and done with household items.

For Parents:

http://www.hometrainingtools.com/captivating-crystals-newsletter/a/1564/ this page had a neat background on crystals (at the bottom) and at the top it has two different recipes for growing crystals at home, and comparing crystal growth between borax and sugar.

Who is the Infinite Spider?

Some of you may have noticed that I am posting with the name “The Infinite Spider.” This is actually my personal blog user name, through which I am running about four other blogs for Home School, Volunteers, Estuary Chesapeake, and my own blog.

You are welcome to check out my blog or follow the postings at http://theinfinitespider.wordpress.com/.  The blog is for  those who love nature and those teaching science and nature classes. IF YOU NEED A GOOD LIST OF PLACES TO BUY SCIENCE RELATED CHRISTMAS GIFTS OR CLASSROOM SUPPLIES check out the Nature Gifts and Teaching Supplies tab.

I Need Pictures of the Crab Hydraulics Class, Can You Help?

I would like to write a short article for the SERC blog or newsletter about our blue crab hydraulics class. If you have any pictures that you’d be willing to share please send them to me at McDonaldK@si.edu. Thanks!

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For the second class of Rocks, Gems, and Minerals we do not need students to bring in anything to exchange, though they may bring in minerals and gems that they would like to share. Please be sure that they bring anything to share in clearly labeled containers with names on them so that there is no confusion.



  • Rock
  • Mineral
  • Gem
  • Mineralogy
  • Luster
  • Specific gravity
  • Crystal form
  • Cleavage
  • Fracture
  • Tenacity
  • Hardness
  • Transparency
  • Friable
  • Lapidary
  • Gemologist
  • Carat

Resources for Everyone (5-12 yr.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8a7p1NFn64s this video (10:21) is a great introduction to the properties of minerals.

http://geopubs.wr.usgs.gov/open-file/of00-144/ download the poster “Minerals in our Environment” from the USGS and learn about how we use minerals in our everyday lives.

http://www.mnh.si.edu/earth/text/2_0_0.html check out the gems and minerals page from the Smithsonian. Click around to the different links.

http://www.minerals.net/ a neat guide to gems and minerals.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqbiXx4KOcQ a catchy song about rocks, gems, and minerals (old school).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-bw7_u3gSQ here’s a short video about testing the hardness of minerals (1:19) it’s not professionally done but a good reference.

8-12 yr. olds

http://www.mineralogy4kids.org/ here’s a good overview site of “Mineralogy for Kids,” again, it’s a bit texty but interesting.

http://core.ecu.edu/geology/woods/MineralPropertiesExplain.htm this page had a lot of text, but the content is good. It’s best for older kids but a good start.


http://facweb.bhc.edu/academics/science/harwoodr/geol101/labs/minerals/ this page is for advanced students, but a great resource. It would probably be best for high schoolers, but the identification quiz is great.

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