Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Day In The Mountains, A Day At The Park



Song:  Legends Of The Fall Theme



We had our first snowfall of the season a few days ago.

Although it was just a light dusting of snow which had fallen...
it was nice to, once again, see snow.





Alex completing one of his projects for school.

Alex had two projects to finish before the following week.

He had worked all day and into the night (till 10 P.M.) for two nights straight...
so he could finish them before the weekend...as we were planning to visit the 
mountains that Saturday...and he had one other assignment to complete on Sunday.




On Saturday...
we took a drive to Truckee and then on to Donner Lake and Pass.
There was only a light dusting of the mountains a few days prior...
however, the snow hadn't melted so much over the few days since.









Alex had fun playing in the snow for a short while.

We then took a short drive back to Reno...
where we went to a park which runs along the Truckee River in Reno.







 The house in the background was well landscaped.

It was just after we had taken this picture that we arrived at our minivan 
only to find that it wouldn't start due to some electrical malfunction
(the battery was still good...some kind of short in the wiring somewhere).

I had to call for a tow to an auto repair facility while we walked a couple of miles 
to a Casino to eat dinner and enjoy the rest of our night.



This is the backyard of the well landscaped home.
The owner had planted beautiful trees in his yard...
and had incorporated nice walkways...
a smaller homelet and an office shed in his backyard.




We then went to Circus Circus Casino to try another restaurant.
We were just waiting here at this small sports bar and eatery until our seating was ready 
in a Sushi restaurant just beyond this one.


While the Sushi was good...
my favorite is still Sky Terrace Sushi at the Atlantis Casino.


After dinner we stopped by an ice cream store for dessert.


At Circus Circus Casino...
there is a mini arcade area where Alex had some fun.





After Alex had enjoyed his time at the arcade...
we caught a taxi home.

I have only ridden in a cab a few times in my life.
I am amazed at how expensive they are.

Hopefully, our car won't be too long in the shop.
I will find out come Monday.

These things happen...
and we didn't allow it to ruin our night
(I was happy it hadn't happened in the Sierra Nevadas).

Just as in life...
you do what you can do in adversity...
you don't worry about things you cannot control
(other than to properly plan for such adversities)...
and you extract from life...
that which you can.

While things may fail you...
you must never fail yourself
(Yes...the old lemonade out of lemons type of thinking).



Post note:  The result of the online nationwide speed math result...
Alex had not only made the top 100...
Alex had finished 15th in the nation
(two day online at school competition involving
thousands of easy math problems in a set time period).

Not bad.
Alex is fast...
but his forte is higher math understanding...
and not easy math speed calculation.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Alex's Assignment - Design Test For Life Science



Song:  Into The West

Rendition:  Calikokat



Alex was assigned to design his own test again...
this time for his 7th grade Life Science Class
(he had gotten 110 points out of 100 - +10 points for extra effort
in his last one for Social Studies).

He got home and started right on it.

He was excited to be doing another one...
especially after his encouraging score on his last one.

He worked for 3 hours straight...
and then he showed me his test.
He will turn it in tomorrow.

He was also assigned two more projects which are due next week...
so he must get busy and finish them by the end of Sunday.

The reason I am showing his homemade tests is because of the great 
value doing such assignments are...besides being a format for other children to follow
in the design of their tests.












Alex has always loved writing instructional manuals...
reviews, short stories, tests...etc.  

He used to spend hours of his free time writing such things...
ever since he was very small.

Alex loves the creative aspect of such exercises.
He just loves opening his school book and finding good 
information to write about.

This is what school should be...
igniting the fire of passion in the child
through the use of interesting and challenging assignments...
ones where the child learns important principles and concepts...
and is then able to demonstrate them in a creative manner.

I am sure the test the teacher had in mind would have been 2 or 3 pages in length.

Alex's test was 11 pages in length...
and he couldn't wait to hop right on his computer to start the assignment.

Alex worked straight through his assignment without a break...
he was filled with glee while typing up his test...
and he was filled with great pride at his creation.

That, my friends...
is learning at its best.


Post Script:  Yesterday...Alex got his grade for his self designed test...

120 out of 100 points  (+ 20 for an exceptional design).




Alex's Science Experiment Set Up - Phase III



Song:  Painting The Sun

Artist:  David Lanz



With all of the equipment gathered and the culling of the plants 
of dissimilar height completed
(after comfortably exhausting their seed reserves after sprouting in darkness...
some of the plants were dying)...
Alex and I moved on to the next phase of his science experiment
(the exposure of the plants to various spectrums of visible light...
to either prove or disprove his hypothesis of red light being the single 
most used band of light the plants use to grow).


I had bought more black poster paper to make into tubes to fit around each plant.

For every color and the clear plastic...
I had glued aluminum foil around the upper halves of each tube to reflect
enough light around the inside to ensure each plant had adequate exposure
(I had bought a special full spectrum plant light for this purpose).


I then cut each poster paper to appropriate width strips so we could roll and tape 
them into tubes (Alex and I spent hours doing this...the paper was very stiff).


I made 3 tubes each of Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Opaque, and Clear
(only the Opaque had no foil inside).

I then taped the top end of each tube with the appropriate color and left
some spacing between the downward facing plastic and the top of the tube
for free gas exchange, and heat and moisture release.


I had picked 21 plants of the most similar height and plants of as equal vigor as I could...
out of 140 sprouts we had growing.


I then taped three like tubes together and placed them over the same color groups
(I had decided that to pick as equal as possible plants to start out with
outweighed starting the plants at separate times.
We simply made three simultaneous trials).


As the placement of the tubes over the plants is a delicate operation...
I did it...and will do so each time Alex must record the height of each plant.

The opaque tubes are in the background for the no light control group
(to control for unexhausted plant seed energy).



The control plants under full spectrum lighting without tubes are on the right.

The light set up is on an automatic timer.
It is set for 10 hrs. a day of light (optimum for Mung Bean Sprouts).

Alex is keeping an experimental log for each measurement he does over the next month.

I am taking pictures of each step in the experiment.

He will then have to compile his stats and make his report.

He will then have to make a presentation board showing his notes...
pictures, results, and full report.

For right now...
it is just waiting and measuring for the next month...
or until the sprouts reach the top of the tubes.

At the conclusion of this experiment...
it is Broccoli and Daikon sprouts for salads (I have seeds)...
and Shishito pepper plants to fire grill (if I can get the seeds)...
to make for easy and healthful eating.



Saturday, October 20, 2012

Autumn In The Sierra Nevdas



Song:  Air

Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach


Alex deserved a little break today.
I took him on a little Autumn color tour in the Sierra Nevadas.

It was a short day trip (4 hours in total).

While I realize that the fall colors here are nothing in comparison to the northern states...
particularly on the upper eastern seaboard...
it was a nice drive with good color (for mountains of mostly evergreen trees).

There were isolated patches of trees which turn color...
and this was just one of many nearby drives available for fall colors.





This was near the Mt. Rose Summit (approximately 8,800 ft elevation here).

Lake Tahoe is in the background.



(No...Alex does not have a pot belly.  Both of us wear very large and loose fitting shirts...
which billow out...giving the false appearance of having large bellies...
honestly...Yes...in my case too.  We choose comfort over style.)

We are at a lookout point near the northern tip of Lake Tahoe.



Alex loved the views (approximately 8,000 ft.)

The placards had arrows above them giving the direction 
to the listed areas around the lake.


We stopped alongside the hwy. and saw this stream just yards off the road.

There were some nice colors here.
We simply must get a better camera...
the colors were much more vibrant than shown here.




We continued on near the area listed as E on the map.



These are near Hope Valley.

Farther down the highway...
there was this large beautiful meadow which was lined with solid yellow leaved trees.  
I couldn't take any pictures as I could only see it from
the road and there were no immediate turn offs. 
 A short while later..
we had seen a trail head to the meadow...
but as it was getting late in the day...we just continued on.  
I shall keep it in mind for next year.






Alex has been working hard.
He said he had done well on the On Line Math Competition.

Although the testing was easy...
not nearly the difficulty of other math competitions...
it was a test of mental endurance.

Over the two days at school...
he had done thousands of problems.

We will find out how he had done some time next week.


Alex had a relaxed day in the mountains and he had seen some new sights
(he finished up his normal studies before we left home at approximately 2 P.M.).

We will finish it up by going out to eat somewhere later tonight.

I love finding new places to take Alex.

Just as with all parents...
we enjoy the places because our children do.

When the smile on their faces outshine the location...
we have done our job.
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