Observing the Longest Solar Eclipse of the Century

Yesterday, July 22nd, we were able to observe a near total solar eclipse from Taiwan (it was a total solar eclipse when observed from southern China, but Taiwan lies that much further south that it was only a partial solar eclipse here). This will be the longest solar eclipse of the century, so needless to say we prepared to make this a perfect homeschooling opportunity.

We couldn’t get our hands on the special shades needed to observe the eclipse, so instead we used the pinhole cameras the boys had made some time back. But the urge to glance upwards was almost irresistible, despite warnings this could lead to serious eye damage – so when a patch of dark clouds passed in front of the eclipse I snapped some shots.

In truth it is easy to think this is only the moon during the day. But the light was otherworldly and as we watched day turned to pitch darkness on the news in some places in southern China, you become aware of the awesome power and light that radiates from even a sliver of sun – because even during the partial eclipse here that left a sliver of sun, it was still bright enough to seem like ‘merely’ early morning. Follow this link to see some amazing photos of the event shot by other photographers in different parts of Asia where the eclipse could be seen. I especially like the tenth image – now why didn’t we think of that! 🙂

Taxonomy Scavenger Hunt

This past week we had a bit of fun teaching the boys about taxonomy in their science class at home.

First we did a bit of initial reading on the topic before we set out on a little field trip to see the special Darwin exhibition at the Taichung Science Museum. The exhibition was great, although I would have loved it if it had been in English as well as Chinese. Luckily I read “The Kiwi’s Egg: Charles Darwin and natural selection”, by David Quammen about a year ago, so I was able to answer the barrage of questions the boys had. Emil was fascinated by the exhibition, taking his time to read and thoroughly explore the exhibits. Esben is still not able to read as many Chinese characters having just finished first grade, so Tim walked around with him, while I tried to keep up with Emil.

The next day we went out looking for anything interesting they could find on the grounds at the university next door, ranging from organic to man-made, rounding out the selection with a few things from around the house as well.

We then created taxonomy cards for each item determining whether it was organic or not, the material, color, symmetrical or not, whether it would float in water, etc. For most items we could guess whether it would float or not in water, but a few created disagreement, so had to be tested. We were surprises to find that BANANAS FLOAT (actually, that had been my guess, hum, hum, but nobody agreed with me) and the boys discovered that some things float initially until they absorb too much water …

Finally they grouped these items, first making groups according to whether they were organic or not, then regrouping according to color, and so on.

For the last two days the boys have been attending an insect summer day camp at TaiDa university in Taipei, which seems like a great follow up to this initial class at home. I am looking forward to hearing all about it when they return tomorrow …

Crafty Kids

One of the first things many people comment on when they first come to visit is the fact that we don’t have a television. We hardly notice unless they remind us, but as the boys are growing older we have noticed that they have a great love of books – perhaps even more so because they don’t have a TV to entertain their little minds for hours each day.

Emil usually makes a little reading ‘cave’ in the corner of our sofa by surrounding himself with pillows and can stay there reading for hours.

So I figured it might be fun to make some bookmarks for their books and that is what we did one afternoon … totally nerdy, I know. We got some fun supplies, like paper punches, ribbons and wavy cardboard and they had a blast with it.

The next morning I found them busy making more, haven woken up early to keep crafting away while we slept in …


Esben ready to kick some bad *ss

Last Saturday Esben finally qualified to take the official black belt test in Taekwondo and passed. When he received his belt with his name engraved on it he was sooo proud and mommy was even prouder!

waiting to compete

Emil will qualify in a few months as well, but most importantly both boys continue finding their daily practice lots of fun. Since they are being homeschooled it provides lots of social activity, not to mention exercise – these days they come back drenched in sweat as it is still hot and muggy even during the evenings.

A few months ago both Emil and Esben won silver medals in the regional major’s taikwando competition.

As Tim and I watched the sparing match that won Emil his silver medal from the sidelines we were probably more nervous than him 🙂 Now ain’t that just typical?

the coach is really encouraging

Emil receives his silver medal

Art Class

On Sunday’s I teach an art class to Emil, Esben and three of my friends’ kids, Karina, Rachel and Lauren. There is a big age span from 5-12 years, so finding suitable assignments isn’t always easy. The older kids are able to learn a bit of technique, while I want the younger kids to just draw or paint whatever they are inspired to do. Last week we made sculptures from aluminum foil, a great way to get them into sculpting without all the mess of clay – and with five kids and a distracted art teacher that has to be a consideration. While the kids get into it, we mommies sit around and commiserate to a glass of wine. We are all European women married to Taiwanese men. We would probably commiserate even if we were married to European men … Tim wisely goes and spends time with his second wife, his computer:-)