• About Farm School

    "There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
    James Adams, from his essay "To 'Be' or to 'Do': A Note on American Education", 1929

    We're a Canadian family of five, farming, home schooling, and building our own house. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 18/Grade 12, 16/Grade 11, and 14/Grade 10.

    Contact me at becky(dot)farmschool(at)gmail(dot)com

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Science shopping

Even with no plans to attend a home school conference or convention this Spring (the big one next month conflicts with a. calving, b. Arts Festival, c. previously scheduled 4H activity, and d. calving), something in the air has compelled me to start making shopping lists of educational resources and waving my credit card around.

Today it was science shopping, motivated mainly by Boreal Northwest‘s free shipping offer, which expires at midnight tonight; the new website design has some glitches, but I think I managed. I ordered the painted lady butterfly larvae (the “replacement” set of five larvae is enough for my little class), some pH strips, and a few more test tubes for our collection.

Then, because Boreal doesn’t carry any animal model kits, I hopped over to Efston Science and ordered the Skilcraft visible horse model, useful since our mare Joy is pregnant and should have her foal in the next while. And, after seeing the Skilcraft visible cow model at an agricultural show last year and thoroughly disappointed that it has been discontinued, darn it, I settled for the only other option in the visible cow arena, the Bitz visible cow model (which seems awfully stingy compared to the nice Skilcraft one; you can see the Bitz box here, by the way). It goes well with the farm, home school science, and also Laura’s 4H beef club (I’m thinking she can bring it to a meeting for show and tell when it’s done).

Then, because Tom was looking over my shoulder, he suggested that I type “model engine” into the search box, because he figures the kids should know vehicle anatomy as well as livestock anatomy. He also has fond memories of one from his school days. Of the two choices, the Smithsonian Motor Works at Efston vs. the Revell Visible V-8 Combustion Engine 1/4 Scale Operating Model Kit at Boreal, we opted for the former with visibly firing spark plugs. It’s about half the price too.

I’d like to think that all three models will last through next year, but I know my bunch and I’ll be lucky if they have any left to start off the new school year in September.

By the way, if you have a thing for visible engine scale models (unlike yours truly, who never thought she’d be Googling let alone buying such things), there’s a rather nifty website on the history of such things over here. One V8 engine model looks pretty much like another to me, but I rather like the old 1950s boxes.


9 Responses

  1. Hi Becky! I’ve been looking over your science posts for inspiration while planning next year.

    One quick question- I was excited to read that you had ordered butterfly larvae here in Canada, as I had not been able to find a source before that would ship here. But when I went to the Boreal website, the “fine print” said that the butterflies could not be shipped to Canada??

  2. You make me want to buy something, too!!

  3. Becky – I have to tell you that we have the Smithsonian one – it probably won’t take you long to do it – but it’s a good basic starter.

    Do you have any place you could get an old motor? (I know on our farm old motors were just “there” LOL) – that’s the best “model” of all!

    Please post pics of the new calves! (and have fun with those test tubes!)

    :) Penny

  4. coffeemama, I can’t find that similar “fine print” anywhere on the Boreal website. And it would surprise me, since Boreal is in Ontario and calls itself the the leading supplier of science materials and equipment to teachers throughout Canada. I know the website says that a USDA permit may be needed for some states, but that’s in the US, not here. Have you contacted them to ask? I’ll send them an email later today just to double-check. I know CHER in Calgary has the larvae too, but they charge as much for shipping as for the larvae, which was out of the question for me.

    Wisteria, is that a good thing or a bad thing?!

    Penny, thanks for the good report on the Smithsonian one. There were some fairly ghastly reviews at Amazon, better ones at another hobby website. We do have old motors, and even if we didn’t have some on the farm, we could get them easily from the garages in town; and one of Tom’s uncles is a semi-retired mechanic who would love nothing better than to spend time with the kids taking things apart and putting them back together. But Tom wants to start the kids off with something “visible” so they can see and understand what’s going on under the surface.

  5. I don’t know who would be luckier, the Uncle or the kids :)

    (LOL) Do they have Guinea Pig models? That’s about the only livestock we currently have (definition of livestock = hay eating).

    We found Bill Nye the Science Guy videos at the library yesterday – consequently there have been several earthquakes and volcanoes occurring here at our house! I’m excited to find them – to buy them new is $50US apiece (thanks Disney….).

    Looking forward to hearing about your fun!

    Penny (PS to Wisteria – Becky has a way of doing that….)

  6. […] Becky pipes up with Canadian science suppliers and I found this at Efston Science and a few cheaper […]

  7. Thanks for taking the time to answer, Becky. Here is the blurb on the butterfly kit and extra larvae page:

    “Product Information

    The Live Butterfly Garden kit comes with a beautiful, airy, butterfly-friendly garden habitat, a certificate for five FREE painted lady butterfly caterpillars and a complete butterfly care and instruction guide bursting with fascinating butterfly facts and cool activities. Note: Butterflies can only be shipped within the Continental USA. We cannot ship to Hawaii, Mexico, or Canada.”

    I will email Boreal and ask them about it. After re-reading it, it just might be the certificate that can’t be redeemed in Canada??

  8. coffeemama, I think I may have found the problem. I think you’re looking at Boreal’s link for the “Butterfly Garden Kit”, which is here,


    and which doesn’t have the word “LIVE” in a green rectangle underneath.

    What I ordered are the “Replacement Larvae for LIVE Butterfly Kit”, which is listed under “Butterfly Larvae Kit”,


    No big green garden “habitat” (we’re going to make our own with a wooden frame and some light netting), but the kit does also come with nutrient, brush, spoon, and instructions.

  9. Penny, pictures coming soon — stay tuned. I’m sure guinea pig models are even harder to find than cow models. Though as I recall Carolina Biological down south has quite the collection of preserved thingamabobs. Possibly even GPs, ick.

    Disney has a way of doing that. See if you can also find some of the Mr. Wizard shows on DVD (my kids prefer him to Bill Nye, who seems a bit more (fr)antic…)

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