Homeschooling S.T.E.A.M.: Fruit – Lemons

In the interest of full disclosure here, I have to admit that the kids didn’t actually pick lemons as a favorite fruit. Actually, now that I think about it, they didn’t pick apples, either. That being said, I thought it would be fun to do something with a citrus fruit, so I tossed lemons into the curriculum. Apples, well, apples just felt like a natural inclusion since they’re so common. Luckily, the kiddos are so busy learning the science and having fun that they didn’t think to question why certain fruits are being discussed. And, as it turns out, lemons were an enjoyable inclusion.

We started out with a selection of books about lemons. And lemonade. Because, as it turns out, books that talk about lemons usually do so only so they can talk about lemonade. Still, I did find some good ones​.

  • We started out with The Red Lemon by Bob Staake, a book whose illustrations seemed to captivate the kids.
  • Next was Lemonade for Sale by Stuart Murphy. This was more math than it was story, and I worried the kids wouldn’t enjoy it. This turned out to be an unfounded concern, though, as they were fascinated both by the story and the idea of tracking profits.
  • Also on the lemonade topic was Curious George Lemonade Stand by H.A. Rey. Personally, I didn’t care for this one, but familiar characters so seem to entertain the little ones.
  • The hands-down favorite of the bunch was Under the Lemon Moon by Edith Fine. This was a tender book about magic, understanding, and the power of hope. And lemons. And there was a chicken. Plus, it taught some Spanish words and phrases, so extra bonus points for that.

We continued​ with our haiku series this week. These were weak examples, but little brains were distracted today.

Interestingly, they are asking me now if they get to write haiku. Surprising. Hopefully they aren’t too disappointed when I have to move them to a new writing skills!

The experiment today was a blast. Lemon batteries. The kids got to play with wires and LED lights, so they were happy as can be! I adapted the project from the fantastic Smithsonian Maker Lab which is just packed full of great projects. This was especially nice since the equipment was very easy to come by.

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All it took was some lemons, a few pennies (pre-1982 to get that good copper content…), Galvanized screws, Double Ended Leads Test Clips, and some LED lights. I had them do the experiment one step at a time, and we talked about the science happening at each stage.

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We rolled the lemons, cut slits in them, stuck in the pennies and the screws, and talked about how the two metals became positively and negatively charged. Then came the cords…which they found exciting.

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They tried connecting things all kinds of different ways, checking to see what completed the circuit. Then there was that moment of magic where the light finally lit.

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The gasps filled the room and the kids beamed brighter than the lights. It was amazing. Then they tried the experiment with fewer lemons to see if the light would still work. They they chained, oh, fifteen or so together and checked how bright one bulb would burn…and how many lights a battery of that size could power. They learned so much about batteries and currents and what it means to gain or lose electrons…and I learned a few things, too. It was a wonderful time. And then we all went outside to relax and smell the flowers. Just one more thing that makes homeschooling so fantastic.

I wish you and yours a wonderful week and home you join us again next week. More fruit science to come! Happy learning!

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