Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Archimedes Discussions

The girls and I have been reading Archimedes and the Door of Science together, as part of Living Books Curriculum Year 3.  It's been interesting to read what life was like in Ancient Greece.  We're now starting to learn about some of Archimedes' discoveries of simple machines, like the screw and the lever.

Today, we read about Archimedes making a bet with King Hiero that he could move whatever heavy object King Hiero gave him to move, no matter how large.  The king told him to move a ship out of the harbor that all the king's slaves had not been able to move.  Archimedes set up a system of pulleys, and moved the ship with one hand.  Needless to say, he impressed the king.

We also read about a discussion Archimedes liked to have with King Hiero.  Archimedes believed that the most perfect thing was a well-reasoned idea.  King Hiero said that such ideas were useless unless they could be applied in a practical way.  I asked the girls which they thought was better - thought, or application. They told me they agreed with Archimedes.

I told them we would try dinner using Archimedes' method.  I would think about a fabulous dinner, from preparation to serving.  I would ponder all the ingredients and think about exactly what I needed to do to make such a dinner.  I would ruminate on the process of cooking and what would happen when the ingredients were combined.  Then, when Todd came home, I would tell him all about my well-reasoned dinner plan, and see what he thought of it - all theory, no food on the table.  Somehow, they didn't think that sounded like a very good idea!  Ha.

We read about "work," and how the scientific definition of work is the action of forces on things.  I showed them how hard I could work by poking Emma in the leg several times.  She didn't find that nearly as amusing as I did.  

We also read about level 1, level 2 and level 3 levers today, and found them a bit confusing.  We're going to make real levers tomorrow so we can see how they work.  A level 3 lever is something like a fishing pole.  It really makes no sense looking at the pictures in the book, but we could imagine it better when we thought about how a fishing pole works.  I have a feeling we may need to involve Todd with this lesson.  They are supposed to be "simple" machines, and I'm sure we can make the levers.  I guess I should be thankful we're not to the math part yet.  Bleah.


  1. Loved this Archimedes book!

    Thanks for the comment on stripping the white off the table. Sadly, that idea would not have come to me. I don't have a lot of craft skills!

  2. I loved that Archimedes book!

    Thanks for the table top stripping suggestion. Sadly, that idea would not have come to me as I'm not very crafty :)