Posted by: palmettoislandgirl | March 20, 2014

Homeschool Science Choices


Sometimes the thoughts and ideas, events and activities I’d like to share here are so frequent and my family is so busy, I don’t always have time to put anything together to post.  Here of late we have traveled so our children can participate in 4-H events in our state.  Four-H programs and projects offered by the Clemson University Extension Service and the South Carolina State University 1890 Extension Service provide our children with opportunities to interact with their peers and challenge them to work hard to meet goals, learn new skills and take part in healthy competition.  We live on twelve acres of land and our goal is to improve our ability to operate a small sustainable homestead.  Through livestock and garden projects our family has learned a bit more than we already knew about those areas. 

Over the years the children gained experience in raising poultry, goats, hogs, and rabbits in addition to their dogs and cats.  The latest project involves learning how to judge livestock.  In February we traveled to the Clemson REC to participate in the Livestock Safety Workshop and one thing led to another and now the kids are attending the Livestock Judging Classes to prepare for the state competition next month.  They are not certain how these skills will be used in the future but they will have them to call upon and that’s important. 


Searching for and collecting clues during GPS Competition

Just last weekend we traveled to Midlands Tech, Airport Campus for the kids to participate in the third annual 4-H Engineering Event.   Individuals or teams competed in one of the following events:




  • Rocketry
  • Robotics
  • Wind Energy
  • Bridge Building
  • Trebuchet
  • Egg Lofter

My children participated in the GPS competition. 


The GPS contest will be set up using a Garmin GPS unit. The coordinate system that will be used is degree decimal minutes (DDM). This is a decimal version of Degree Minutes Seconds. DDM is used by geocachers and a growing number of other GPS enthusiasts. In this format, coordinates look like this:

 Example: N47° 37.216′ W122° 19.75′.

The north/south and east/west position remains unchanged. The difference is that the seconds part of the location is converted to a decimal by dividing the seconds by 60. Position format is a feature that should be adjustable in the GPS unit.


 Contestants will work as a team to complete the score sheet in the allotted time (30 minutes). The course will have alphabetic stamps hidden at known coordinates just like a geocache would be hidden. Teams will be given coordinates on a sheet of paper at the competition and the time clock will begin. Following the given coordinates in exact order will formulate a word or phrase for the team. Each team will have a different word or phrase that they must complete. Each team will have to find the same number of points.   Guidelines for GPS Teams

The livestock judging classes are instrumental in that they are designed to “teach youth to evaluate a group of livestock animals and measure them against a standard that is commonly accepted as ideal and to defend their ranking of those animals. Judging activities teach youth observation, organization, and verbal skills which are critical to their development”.

The objectives of the South Carolina Livestock Judging Contest are to:

Measure participant knowledge in the following categories:

  • Making accurate observations of livestock.
  • Determining desirable traits in animals.
  • Making logical decisions based on these observations.
  • Discussing and defending decisions for placings.

Practicing livestock judging techniques on group of heifers


Instill an appreciation for desirable selection, management, and marketing techniques.

  • Develop the ability to select and market livestock that will satisfy consumer demands and provide increased economic returns to producers as well as meet the needs of the industry.
  • Understand and to interpret the value of performance data based on industry standards.
  • Become proficient in communicating using terminology of the industry.
  • Provide an opportunity for participants to associate with professionals in the industry.
  • ·Clemson Extension Livestock Judging Handbook 

As a homeschooling family, incorporating these kinds of programs and competitions along with their handbooks give us access to great science hands-on projects.  We don’t have to plan a science fair, develop guidelines, find judges, or pay exorbitant fees.  We just choose which science project we want to focus our attention, prepare and go participate.  This has been quite helpful to us and through 4-H we have incorporated similar instruction and activities as a school with an FFA, Future Farmers of America, program.  Our children participate in events that are open to both 4-H and FFA students and for the most part the criteria for the competition are the same.  More and more home school families are enrolled in 4-H and enjoying the experience, I know we are.  Sometimes we have to cut back on the number of projects we take on but that’s a good problem to have. 








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