Saturday, April 5, 2014

Science is Sweet - How to Make Cell Pie

We're studying cell structure in our 5th grade science section right now. Rather than simply drawing another diagram we decided it would be pretty sweet to make a pie that illustrates the parts in a simple animal/plant cell.

We didn't just glop stuff in there though, we studied the characteristics of the elements in the cell and tried to find ingredients with similar properties that would still be pretty tasty if mixed together in a pie.

Here's the list of ingredients we came up with:

Brodie might have a Mitochondrion in his mouth in this picture.

We added everything together and the results were pretty sweet! 

One tip, if you decide to try this at home, make sure the whipped cream is super stiff or all of the organelles will sink right in to the cytosol. If it's too soft, stick it in the freezer for a few minutes before you begin. 

In our homeschool nothing's handed to you, so here are some links if you want to find out more about the physical characteristics of all the parts of the cell. 
  1. Nucleolus – Cherry 
  2. Nucleus – Jello
  3. Ribosome – Sprinkles
  4. Vesicle – Jelly beans
  5. Endoplasmic Reticulum  
    1. Smooth – Hot Fudge
    2. Rough – Hot Fudge with Sprinkles
  6. Golgi Apparatus – Strawberry Jelly
  7. Cytoskeleton – Pirouline Cookies
  8. Mitochondrion – Candy Orange Slices
  9. Vacuole – Peanut M&M
  10. Cytoplasm (Cytosol)  –  Whipped Cream
  11. Lysosome – Gushers Fruit Snacks
  12. Centrosome – Twizzlers
  13. Cell Membrane – Graham Cracker Crust
Can you guess why we chose these ingredients? Would you have picked something different?  Let us know in the comments below!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pranks for Kids with Aspergers to Pull Off on April Fool's Day

April Fool’s Day can be quite a confusing holiday for kids with Asperger’s Syndrome. The very nature of the celebration is to breech the social protocol they are already struggling to understand. It’s a fine line for kids who get caught up on technicalities to try to distinguish between pranks performed on April 1st and the bullying they are warned to be wary of the other 364 days of the year. However, I’ve found that helping my Aspie son learn how to dish it as well as take it has been more rewarding than shutting him off to the whole experience.

Pulling a prank on April Fool’s Day is a lesson in empathy for Aspie kids. It’s easy for them to get frustrated or confused if they only experience the observance as a target. Planning a creative prank and then effectively implementing it lets them know how it feels to be the prank-er instead of just the prank-ee. Offering an insight into why other kids are pulling pranks helps them understand pranks on April Fool’s Day are not meant to be taken as personal attack, but are an effort to include them in a celebration observed by the community.

Because it’s pretty hard to prank yourself, there is no point in celebrating April Fool’s Day alone. It is a social holiday so encouraging kids to participate, even if it’s pulling just one prank, shows them it’s ok to get a little silly and join in cultural experiences no matter how impractical they may appear. It might take a couple of attempts before they understand pranking someone doesn’t mean just annoying them but it’s an opportunity to show off how clever they can be which makes most Aspies I’ve me thrive.

Need some inspiration? Here are 4 practical ideas for Aspie prankstes to pull on their families this April Fool’s Day. They all pass my son’s “comfort level” test, meaning he would feel comfortable doing them because they are not meant to hurt any ones feelings and they don’t do any physical damage to people, places or things.
  1. Say what? – Make eye contact with your sister from across the room. When you know she is looking whisper the words, “I love juice.” She won’t be able to hear you but reading your lips it will look like you are saying, “I love you!”
  2. Half Baked – Use a brown marker to write the letter “E” all over a piece of paper. Place the paper in a metal baking tin and cover with aluminum foil. Tell your mom you made brownies and try not to laugh too hard when she discover the brown E’s you left for her aren’t what she expected.
  3. Sneaky Feet – While no one is looking, place a 12 inch ruler inside your dad’s shoe. When he goes to put it on say, “Stop! There’s already a foot in there!”
  4. Play Pals – Cut the letter “U” out of construction paper and slide it in the cover of a book. Tell your brother, “I don’t feel like reading. I want to play with you all day.” Then pull the paper U out of the book and walk away playing with it.
This are just a few suggestions to get you started. Let us know in the comments below what wonderful pranks you pull off this April Fool’s Day!