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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Typing in Chinese

I realized that many people are not aware that their Microsoft Word allows them to type Chinese characters. I have been asked numerous times how I do it so I thought it would be nice to just post the instructions here.

This was how I turned on the Chinese Language mode in my Microsoft Word...
(I am using windows XP):
You have to add on Chinese as one of the Language options by going to
  • Control Panel
  • Regional and Language Options
  • Languages
  • Details...
  • Add - Chinese PRC(Chinese simplified)

After that, there should be a little icon at the right hand bottom of the screen that says EN or CH. Left click on that and you should be able to choose between EN(English) or CH (Chinese).

If you are using Vista, refer to this site for instructions.

Once you can type in Chinese characters, you can make your own flashcards and worksheets. Also useful when you want to search for Chinese book titles online.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Light (part 2)

Here are two optical instruments we made while we were on the topic of "Light".

This is our periscope made by cutting and re-shaping a cereal box. It was painted white so it will camouflage with our white walls. ;-)

I found a place that sold little pieces of mirror quite by accident! God's providence! The periscope turned out to be a wonderful toy for play and my boys are now begging to make another extremely long one so they could spy on each other when they are on different decks of their bunk bed. What a practical application?!

This is our second instrument; a pin-hole camera made from a cream cracker tin. We wrapped blue paper around it and decorated it with gold stars to give it a whimsical look.

This is an example of what we looked at.

And the inverted image on the screen (made of tracing paper).

Here are some pointers if you want to make a pin-hole camera too:
  • Use a big tin if possible
  • Line the interior of the tin with black paper
  • Pin-sized hole will produce quite a dim image; a toothpick-sized hole worked better for us. (the bigger the hole, the larger your camera has to be)
  • Design a way to move your screen in or out so that you can get the image in focus
  • Image will appear clearer if your eyes are cupped.

Related post : - Light

Monday, September 14, 2009


First we read a 2-page spread from a book I have selected. Next, boys do a notebook page. Whenever possible, we try out an activity that demonstrates what was covered in our reading.

Here are a few picture-worthy activities we did...

We learned that light could come from various sources. Looked at how light was produced in a glowing hot wire. Read about how an incandescent bulb works. Set up a simple circuit to see the bulb light up. (You wouldn't believe it, but this is the only incandescent bulb I have at home!)

We read about the various behaviours of light through and on various material. Played with flashlights mirrors and such. (Oooh... lots of excitement here!) After experimenting with lens, we took a look at the physics behind the eye. Here is an interactive site that explains the workings of the eye and how lens can help correct eye defects. (ignore the registration request by clicking on "maybe later")

We tested to see how light travel in a straight line...

See how the angle of reflection is the same as the angle of incident ray...

We split white light into its rainbow colours using our home-made prism (made by taping 3 pieces of microscope slides together, using a plastacine base and filling it with water).

Observed this same phenomenon right in our aquarium that day and wowed at it. Later, we discovered that we get this treat everyday! (Lot of good information on rainbows here.)

We made our own coloured lights to see how colours mix. This was achieved using coloured cellophane papers (red, blue and green), kitchen towel cardboard cores and 2 torches.

Red + Blue = Magenta...

Blue + Green = Cyan...

Red + Green = Yellow...

The tough part about this experiment was that our torches were of different brightness. The "correct" secondary colours would only show up well when the two coloured lights were of about the same intensity. The colours were more obvious when we shine them on a white surface at a very close range. However, my camera could not capture these. The coloured spots turned out overexposed. :-( I decided to post the pictures that had less obvious secondary colours. These were taken with the lights shone from further away. (I am not a professional photographer!)

I was at first tempted to not try this experiment ourselves (and a few other activities also...). Instead, just settle for watching a video clip of a similar experiment done very professionally (or simply reading about them). Then somehow, somewhere, this quote jumped at me as I was deliberating:

"Accept no substitute for fun!"

It was like a wake-up call! I was resolved to not short-change my little guys. Well, ... it is fun for me too. ;-) I am making this our motto for Science from now on!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Space Rocks at Breakneck Speed

We completed one whole chapter in our Exploring Creations in Astronomy book in record-breaking time! It was the lesson on Space Rocks. All done in one afternoon! Why? Because we wanted to catch the meteor shower - Perseids. (That was the second week of August)

We and another homeschooling family headed to the Lim Chu Kang cemetry (at almost mid-night) to have an unobstructed view of the night sky. The peace of God was with us... so it was not spooky at all ;-) Unfortunately, we were not able to see anything exciting; no shooting stars. We were mentally prepared for that. Well, at least we tried...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Why the long silence?

I have been having a lot of trouble with blogger for the pass few months. Every time, it is a different problem.

First, my edit page was all messed up so that I could not "see" my draft. After that several other page formats gone all wrong as well. It took me time to search through the Internet to get the problem fixed. Even then, it was a temporary fix as the same problems keep resurfacing. Later, on some days, I could not upload pictures. Many times blogger would just hang on me! Much frustration has caused me to leave blogging for a while.

That did free me to do other things (so that is good)... and after that, I kind of lost momentum... ... ... ;-b

Surprisingly, I am not pressured to keep posting. As I know that even when I haven't had any new posts lately, the my old posts are still read by many. Thanks to those who took the trouble to email and encourage me. Just wanted you all to know that I am in the process of getting things ironed out. :-)

I do have quite a number of drafts; mostly waiting for pictures to be added. A backlog of about more than a month worth of posts would take quite a while for me to sort out!
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