adventures in unschooling


Lemon Power


Recently at our Homelearner’s Co-op, Anja led some experiments with baking soda and vinegar. Cassius asked me if I knew that some acids, like lemons and some bases can conduct electricity. When we were at home, Cassius asked Rosalind for her meter. He stuck both the ends of the meter in a lemon and was disappointed to see no reading on the meter.

Rosalind explained that the meter just measures voltage or current, it didn’t create a circuit. Rosalind was curious where he got the idea from and he said that it was from a video he had watched on BrainPOP. They watched it and Cassius said he was confused – he was thinking lemons created electricity not conduct it.

This got Rosalind thinking about making batteries from citrus fruit. She sent him the experiments included below. As it turns out, he was right, you can power things with lemon power not just conduct electricity through it

Electric Lemon Experiement

“Find a dime and penny dated before 1987 and wash them thoroughly. Have a parent cut two slits in another juicy lemon, about 1/4 inch apart, and insert the coins halfway into each slit. Stick out your tongue and touch both coins simultaneously. You’ll feel it tingling–that’s electricity!”

This picture is of Cassius and Anja testing their lemons. At first they didn’t put the coins close enough, but when they moved them, it worked.

I found Cassius’ original experiement interesting because it was something he tried because he had an idea and wanted to see if it worked. The fact that it didn’t work led him him learning even more to figure out how to make it work.

Rosalind and Cassius figured out that the penny had copper plating and the dime has nickle plating. We also figured out that the Canadians held on to having these metals in our money longer than the Americans so if we followed the American dates we should be safe. We had to soak the coins in vinegar for a while to clean off the oxidation.

BBC planet earth

At Cassius’ request Rosalind lent us the BBC planet earth series. It’s five DVD’s with three episodes on each one. Cassius says, “It”s quite good and interesting!” He enjoys the information about the animals most of all.

We talk about our thoughts as we watch it. We talk as much about the surprising information as we do about the film making. We’ve noticed that there is more of a focus on the visual images, which are amazing, than information. We also noticed the techniques they use to build dramatic tension. We both would prefer if they didn’t do this. For example they use scary music when a lion is hunting but happy music when a dolphin is hunting. Cassius thought it would be funny if they switched the music around. He also noted that if you’re cute when your hunting you get the happy music. He is considering becoming a vegetarian – I can’t believe it’s taken this long!

Rice Lake


We went for a lovely walk around Rice lake the other day. We met a fisherman who caught two Rainbow Trout while the kids were talking to him. They asked the fisherman all sorts of questions, for over a half an hour. It was very exciting when he caught the fish.


Pond Leach

A captive audience

A captive audience

Trying to get it out was challenge!

Trying to get it out was challenge!


Rosalind found a leach in her fish tank and brought it over for the kids to look at. She loves Biology and could tell the kids about it and answer all their questions. Rosalind thought this was a vegetarian leach but she wasn’t positive. Anja & Rosalind wanted to dissect it, so they could see what was inside it but all the other kids (especially Cassius) out voted them. It would have been much easier to see the parts of the leach if it was dead ,But Rosalind told the kids that you can often find things that are already dead if you want to get a better look.After looking at it under the microscope they all walked to the pond at Hastings Park and set it free. Then they picked grapes from the arbor in the Italian Park


top of the leach

top of the leach

bottom of leach

bottom of leach

The kids turned the microscope upside down and put the plate on top of it to get this picture.

Academie Duello Falconry

Cassius was generously offered a grant to attend Academie Duello’s Knight camp this summer. He was the only student taking the camp for the third time, so he got an hour a day of private falconry lessons. A mother described her son’s experience with the falcons to me as “life changing”, and I’d have to agree, it was amazing.

Cassius hasn’t got around to learning how to tie shoes yet, but now I know I don’t have worry since he can tie a one handed falconers knot with his eyes closed.

Cassius’ teacher said he would make a wonderful veterinarian, and of course he wants his own falcon now! I never expected Cassius’ love animals and love of fencing would meet.

Viking longboat

We had a lovely two hour sail in the sun last Saturday aboard The Munin, a half size replica of a 9th century Norwegian viking longboat. The Munin sails on weekends from the Heritage Harbour at the Vancouver Maritine Museum. The suggested donation is $10/adult, $5/kids or $20 for a family. It was more than worth it.

More information at (this website seems to be down right now,
but it is usually functioning)

It was a lot of work to row out into the harbour. Paris was sad at first that he couldn’t row, but once I got fired from my rowing post ( I pushed when I should have pulled one too many times) he felt a bit better. Once the beautiful sail was up we got going faster than the crew had ever gone before.

The Munin

A half size replica of the Gokstad ship.

Type: Viking longship
LOA: 40 ft
Built: 2001 (Launched 2001-07-07)
Owner: British Columbia Viking Ship Project
Lying: Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Mosquito Larvae

I knew there was a reason I was telling Paris not to drink the four day old wading pool water yesterday! Cassius found some mysterious larvae swimming in it today and wanted to take a closer look at them under our digital microscope.

He was compassionately thinking of ways he could care for them forever, until a image search revealed that they were mosquito larvae! Since he been waking every night since our camping trip crying “make the itching stop!” he suddenly decide that wasn’t a good idea to keep the pool filled with stagnant water until we move. The strange tube at the end of their tails are breathing tubes. The magnifigation 10X and the large mosquito measures 208 pixles. (8 millimeters I think)

We found the following information on the Kids Splash Website:

When a female Mosquito is ready to lay her eggs, she searches for stagnant (still) water with plenty of rotting detritus and bacteria for her larvae to eat. Her antennae can smell the gas that the bacteria make when they decompose detritus. More gas means more food for her young!

The Mosquito goes through four stages during its life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The eggs normally hatch into larvae within 48 hours. Larvae must live in water from 7 to 14 days depending on the water temperature. During this time, the larva molts 3 times and grows to almost 1 cm. After the larva molts the fourth time it becomes a pupa. The pupa is lighter than the water and floats on the surface. The pupa does not eat. In 1 to 4 days, the adult Mosquito comes out of the pupa. It rests on the surface of the water until its body dries and hardens enough to fly away.