Another part of our eclectic life is homeschooling. Here's a snapshot and links from a grasshopper study. We let the kids watch online video excerpts from the 'B' Movie Beginning of the End (Grasshoppers overrun the earth), took questions ("Why would they think grasshoppers would want to eat people?" "Do grasshoppers really chirp like that? How do they chirp?" etc), then studied a real grasshopper with an Intel microscope. The latter is a nifty little gadget (we got it for $30) that hooks up to the computer so you can view the magnified image on your computer screen. The kids were thrilled to snap a picture of the ommatidia (eyes) below.
We also had the kids brainstorm about design features and interesting aspects of the grasshopper - e.g. think about how the human leg has a different organization from the grasshopper leg (knees face opposite direction), and what advantages and disadvantages this difference might have. The book the Robot Zoo (also a website below) was also a cool way to compare design and form and function.
The Robot Zoo Grasshopper
B Movie Site: Beginning of the End