Tonight is the night of the full moon, and that means it’s time for a report from the River Houses Lunar Society.
The Lunar Society is one of our big and wonderful long-term plans to encourage homeschoolers to participate in real online research projects and share their results with other homeschool families. Here’s an outline of the idea, along with a list of some of the great projects that homeschool students (and their parents) can join and contribute to, from history to geography to physics to natural history to mathematics to meteorology to literature to galactic exploration:
Browse through that project list and find one that would be a good fit for your family. Before you know it, your students will be learning a host of valuable skills and your little home academy will be on its way to becoming an international research powerhouse. 🔬 🔭 🖥 🦋 🔍 ⚗️ ⛏ 📖 🌲 😊
Over time, it’s my hope that these monthly reports about the Lunar Society will become something like a forum where homeschoolers participating in online research can share their achievements. As a simple example, here’s my own personal report for the past month on two of the projects I participate in, eBird and SETI@Home:
On the eBird site (eBird.org), sponsored by Cornell University, I’ve been mainly tracking the birds in a small riverside park near me (eBird hotspot L6926932), and since our last Lunar Society report I’ve added 27 new checklists (daily observation reports), bringing my eBird total to 335. When all the checklists are combined you can really see the seasonal distribution and migration chart for the year develop.
You can start keeping a similar list for a location near you — your backyard, or a local park or other natural area. (Helping to track a local park or eBird “hotspot” will let you generate more interesting results.) You can even add photos and sound recordings to your reports if you wish. Just pay a visit to the eBird website (ebird.org) and start exploring.
The SETI@Home project (setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu), sponsored by the University of California, uses idle time on your computer to perform complex calculations on radio telescope data, looking for extraterrestrial signals. (Really!) I’ve been participating in this project with my computers for a long time and I recently created a River Houses team page for future development. Once your computer is signed up to participate, you can print “certificates of computation” that shows how much data you’ve individually analyzed and how much your team has analyzed.
The River Houses team (of which I’m the only current member) is up to 5834 “cobblestones” (units) of contributed computation for SETI@Home so far. You can participate and get a regular certificate of your own — it’s just the thing for your homeschool bulletin board. 😊
And here’s another level of skill development for your high-school (or even advanced middle-school) students: once you have a few weeks or months of data, you can start graphing your contributions. Using Google Sheets, I’m setting up a simple interactive chart of the current SETI contributions for the River Houses team. It’s just a test at the moment — something that we can refine, develop, and expand in the future.
The Internet provides exceptional opportunities for homeschool students to participate in real research projects like these in a variety of scientific and scholarly fields, something that would have been impossible only a few years ago. Pay a visit to our Lunar Society page to see many more projects your family can join.
What scholarly and scientific discoveries have you made in your homeschool this month? 😊
❡ Calling all photographers: If you’ve got a budding photographer in your homeschool, one group project you can participate in is the Wikimedia Commons Photo Challenge. A different theme is chosen each month; just sign up and follow the instructions to submit your own entries. Once you’re a registered participant you can also vote for each month’s winners. 😊 📸
❡ Books in the running brooks: If you decide to participate in eBird, our recommended homeschool reference library (riverhouses.org/books) includes an excellent bird guide that would serve your family well. And for any astronomical projects you may join, our recommended star atlas will help you orient yourself to the objects you are studying in the starry vault above. 🦉
❡ Whether they work together or apart: This is one of our regular Lunar Society Bulletins about the many cooperative research projects we recommend to homeschool students. Add your name to our free weekly mailing list (riverhouses.org/newsletter) and get more great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 🗞