You Should Homeschool Just so You Can Take This Road Trip

1-20130131_115944

One of the reasons we homeschool is so that we can travel.

It is both a blessing and a curse that I am in a perpetual state of planning for the next adventure, even when that next adventure is only back to Philly to see family for Mother’s Day.

We love our home but both my husband and I dream of someday traveling the U.S. with our kids to roam this awesome country.  Seriously, my husband’s dream car is an all-wheel-drive Sprinter van!

mbz sprinter 4x4 2

Total Hot Rod

The thought of deciding which landmarks matter, locating them, and planning a route is daunting, though – – even for a super-planner like me.  For a while I was going to use the sites from World’s Largest to lead us but, as it doesn’t cover the entire country, I think I’ve found something better.

Thank goodness for smart and fun people like Randy Olson, a PhD candidate in Michigan State University’s Computer Science program, who created an algorithm using an itinerary that

  • included stopping at least once in every state in the lower 48,
  • only stopping at National Parks or landmarks,
  • and only being able to take the trip by car.

With no traffic, this trip will take approximately 224 hours (9.33 days) of driving in total.

Here are the sites:

  1. Grand Canyon, AZ
  2. Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
  3. Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID
  4. Yellowstone National Park, WY
  5. Pikes Peak, CO
  6. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
  7. The Alamo, TX
  8. The Platt Historic District, OK
  9. Toltec Mounds, AR
  10. Elvis Presley’s Graceland, TN
  11. Vicksburg National Military Park, MS
  12. French Quarter, New Orleans, LA
  13. USS Alabama, AL
  14. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL
  15. Okefenokee Swamp Park, GA
  16. Fort Sumter National Monument, SC
  17. Lost World Caverns, WV
  18. Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center, NC
  19. Mount Vernon, VA
  20. White House, Washington, DC
  21. Colonial Annapolis Historic District, MD
  22. New Castle Historic District, Delaware
  23. Cape May Historic District, NJ
  24. Liberty Bell, PA
  25. Statue of Liberty, NY
  26. The Mark Twain House & Museum, CT
  27. The Breakers, RI
  28. USS Constitution, MA
  29. Acadia National Park, ME
  30. Mount Washington Hotel, NH
  31. Shelburne Farms, VT
  32. Fox Theater, Detroit, MI
  33. Spring Grove Cemetery, OH
  34. Mammoth Cave National Park, KY
  35. West Baden Springs Hotel, IN
  36. Abraham Lincoln’s Home, IL
  37. Gateway Arch, MO
  38. C. W. Parker Carousel Museum, KS
  39. Terrace Hill Governor’s Mansion, IA
  40. Taliesin, WI
  41. Fort Snelling, MN
  42. Ashfall Fossil Bed, NE
  43. Mount Rushmore, SD
  44. Fort Union Trading Post, ND
  45. Glacier National Park, MT
  46. Hanford Site, WA
  47. Columbia River Highway, OR
  48. San Francisco Cable Cars, CA
  49. San Andreas Fault, CA
  50. Hoover Dam, NV

The realistic timeline of finishing the tour is about 2-3 months, which means that even Schoolers could take this trip on summer vacation!

Mr. Olson not only created a list of landmarks to visit, but also created a second road trip with a more urban feel with stops at the TripAdvisor-rated Best City to Visit in every contiguous U.S. state.

Here is the original post he wrote, which explains it all.

I don’t know when we will get our Sprinter.  And I don’t know when we will do this trip.  But with half the work done for us, I know that someday, we’ll do it.  I hope you will too.

An Afternoon in Manhattan

This gallery contains 11 photos.

  Joe had off last week and we decided to take a last minute trip to New York City.  Freedom to travel is one of my favorite benefits of homeschooling. After visiting family, we spent an afternoon in Manhattan.  I’ve … Continue reading

The Egg-crushing Egg-speriment

20130321_133340

We visited The Butterfly Place two weeks ago where we witnessed three-hour-old Chinese painted quail chicks.  They were so tiny and fuzzy bumbling around near their olive-sized eggs taking cover with their Dad.  Awesome!

The field trip reminded me to try this simple egg-speriment from Steve Spangler Science.  We all LOVED it!  I simplified it for my young kids so if you’d like more detail, go directly to his site.

Here’s what you need:

  1.  At least one raw egg.  We used an even dozen.  The kids were so stunned at how they could control how the egg cracked and how the insides felt so cold and slippery.  They really enjoyed playing with them.

    What is it about kids and their joy in the messiness of life?

  2. A bowl.
  3. A knife.

Wrap your hand completely around the egg and squeeze as hard as you can.  After the two older kids and their friend did this, I tried it too.

None of us could crush it!  Our UPS man, who thought we were weird for asking him, could not crush it either.

Eggscellent.

Eggscellent.

Then, we held the egg between our pointer finger at the top and the thumb at the bottom and squeezed as hard as we could.  No cracking!

I'm crushing your egg.

I’m crushing your egg.

Next, we tapped the egg with the edge of the knife.  The idea is to concentrate the sharp edge on a tiny part of the shell so it will crack it.  As we tap, tap, tapped, we noticed the shell breaking apart.

Now, the questions:  How is it that a whole hand could not crack the shell but one tiny little point could?  And why?  (Hint:  it has to do with even forces like Dad sitting on the egg vs. uneven forces, like, say, a beak pecking at a small piece of the shell).

The link above includes a whole explanation.  You can also see a video of the experiment here.

This is a great experiment for talking about the anatomy of an egg as well as its nutritional value and purpose.  My kids would have listened to anything as long as I let them squish around in those slippery eggs!

Check out one of the other egg experiments we’ve tried at The Bouncin’ Egg.

If you’d rather see Chinese Painted Quail chicks hatching, check this out:

Philadelphia Homeschool Days, Spring 2013

If anyone is in the Philadelphia area looking for homeschooling information, Gwen Fredette at Philadelphia Homeschool is a wonderful resource.  Here is her latest post listing some of the many businesses in the Philadelphia area that have special homeschool days or homeschool events coming up:

Homeschool Days, Spring 2013.

I LOVE PHILLY (and miniature golf at Franklin Square)!

I LOVE PHILLY
(and mini golf at Franklin Square)!

Thank you, Gwen!

Have you Ever Seen a Sheep on a Treadmill?

We took a field trip to The NH Farm Museum this past week, where we learned about boiling down sap and how to tap a tree.  We tasted sugar on snow, donuts, and johnny cakes w/maple syrup.  We saw a real blacksmith making metal hooks, chased some chickens (naughty Joseph), and took a horse drawn sleigh ride.

My very favorite part, however, was this sheep on a treadmill:

wpid-20130316_142625.jpg

I wish I could find one of these for my kids.

According to our friends at the Farm Museum,

In addition to their usefulness as wool and meat animals, sheep could be put to work in other ways.  Treadmills like this one were designed in the 19th century to harness energy of a moving sheep, goat, or dog and use it for threshing, churning butter, shelling corn, and other tasks. 

You never know what you are going to learn when you get out there into the big, wide, world!

P.S.  It’s officially NH Maple Weekend!  More than 100 sugar houses in the state will be open and ready for fun.  It’s also Maine Maple Sunday on the 24th.   And Vermont Maple Open House Weekend!  And don’t forget about New York Maple Weekend!  If you’re in Connecticut and looking to visit a sugar house, look here or here for Massachusetts, or here for Rhode Island.  A University of Rhode Island researcher has found over 50 compounds in maple syrup that play an important role in our health. It’s basically a health food.  And now’s the time to get some!