This post is one in a series of educational things to see and do in the greater Houston area. Visit Homeschool Houston for more ideas!
This past fall, we signed up for a couple of homeschool classes at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. For our review on the museum itself, check out Homeschool Houston - The Houston Museum Of Natural Science.
We took two classes that fit within the theme of the Middle Ages -- we are studying all things medieval history this year, and I was delighted at the synergy these classes would offer our journey through this time period.
First up was the Castle Time Lab. Students were introduced to the basic structure of a castle through a half-hour lecture and slideshow. I thought the instructor was knowledgeable and engaging.
During the lecture, students labeled the parts of a castle on their own diagrams:
Lastly, we created aerial views of a castle, trying to place all of the elements as strategically as possible:
This particular class was geared for grades 1-8, and there were indeed children of all ages present. It was probably too basic for my almost 14 year-old, but I thought the class was informative and enjoyable, particularly since it fit so nicely with our at-home discussions. Class fees also include entrance to the museum, so it is well worth the time and minimal expense involved. Most classes are in the $8-$15 per person range, depending on which group you book your class selections through.
The second class was entitled Siege Machines, and focused on catapults from medieval times. After a short lecture, students made a simple working catapult from Popsicle sticks, masking tape, clips, and liquid medicine cups:
We had a different instructor for this class, and again, I thought she was interesting and engaging, handling the rather large class well -- going around to the different tables to make sure everyone was putting their catapults together correctly, and offering assistance when needed.
Of course, the best part is getting to use the catapult! At the end of class, students could go out into the hall and practice launching a payload (marbles) into a bucket.
The catapults were also used at home later that day -- so, the fun continued.
There are different ways to sign up for homeschool classes at the HMNS. We have found the web-site Homeschool and Beyond to be very convenient. Classes are generally $15 for a one hour class, or $30 for a two hour lab, per person.
We always explore the museum after class, as well. Three hour parking is easily available on the street. If you want to stay longer, you may end up having to move your vehicle, or paying the fairly steep parking garage rate at the museum.
Bring your lunch if you plan to stay over the lunch hour. There is a pricey McDonald's located inside the museum, but is handy for a quick drink or snack.
If you attend a homeschool class at HMNS, let us know how it goes by dropping us a line in the comment section!