Today marks Day Five of Laralee’s trip to Idaho with the kids to visit her family. For the past few days I’ve always had stuff to do (work, going out with friends, New Year’s parties) but today has been pretty slow. I worked on taxes for a bit– whee!– but soon hit a wall because I don’t have all of the necessary paperwork. I guess I’ll have to wait for that particular pain.

Anyway, this evening I’ve been planning the curriculum for the second-grade science class La and I are going to teach this semester. Our first class is this Friday so we need a list of lessons, materials, and a general feel for how we’re going to fill an hour every Friday with interesting, fun, and educational science experiments. Should be fun.

After a while of that I started poking around Wikipedia, because I wanted some ideas about topics we could discuss. I realized that since every article is heavily linked to related information, one can hop topic to topic pretty quickly, diving into either deep details about a particular thing, or hopping over into a completely different field. It’s actually quite fun, and this evening I’ve read about all sorts of esoteric things:

  • the Oort Cloud and Kuiper Belt
  • the Permian Extinction
  • the Antarctic Convergence Zone
  • the Pangaea supercontinent, and the ten or so that preceded it
  • what determines the timberline on a mountain
  • where the phrase “beating a dead horse” originated
  • why having a certain muscle attachment on the femur allowed early dinosaurs to dominate the biosphere
  • the “island of stability” in high atomic numbers
  • Of course not all of this will be useful for a group of a dozen second-graders, but it’s sure fun to learn something new. A day without learning something is truly a day wasted.