Saturday, February 23, 2013

Are you a BIRD Watcher? FREE Birdwatcher Resource

The Homeschooler’s Guide to Project FeederWatch is a FREE eight-page document that contains ideas for families participating in Project FeederWatch. These lesson starters will help you teach multiple subjects using birds and will inspire creative ideas for science related art projects, designing and building feeders, strengthening math skills, and assisting children in conducting a research project.  In addition, participation in citizen science will improve a child’s observation and note-taking skills while providing a meaningful way to use the internet: to explore and enter data.

THIS IS A VALID LINK it takes you to this page (

If you want to dive a little further.... In addition to the lesson starters, BirdSleuth has also created a full curriculum kit with homeschooling families in mind.

The Science Investigator’s Kit for Homeschoolers comes complete with lesson plans and supplemental resources, such as a children’s first field guide, CD Rom, student journal, Bird Log Book, and Project FeederWatch membership. This kit does cost and has to be ordered through Project FeederWatch, but the eight-page Homeschooler's guide is still FREE to download!!

Summer Scholastic Enrichment Programs

Summer Enrichment for
  • Free
  • DC/Local Area
  • Out of the Area

Microsoft Summer Camp for Girls Grades 10-12 (DigiGirlz High Tech Camps)
This is a three to five day experience providing girls with a better understanding of what a career in technology is all about. Two essays are required. Applications are available online FREE!

DC/Local Area

American University "Discover The World Of Communication"
This American University summer program in association with Newseum and AFI offers high school students in grades 9 - 12 the opportunity to explore the world of communication through 19 noncredit classes that include such filmmaking, script writing and video production, directing and acting for the camera, photography, news writing and more.

City Year, Washington DC (Americorps)
Graduating seniors who are not sure what they want to do after high school should consider applying for a paid community service position with City Year, Washington, DC., a group of 17-24 year olds committed to full-time service for ten months in the Washington, DC community. Benefits include: living stipend ($200 per week), health care coverage, free metro pass, and $4,725 educational scholarship. For more information email: or email: or call: 202-776-7780, Amanda Seligman. Recruitment open houses will be held once a month at their headquarters: 918 U Street, NW, 2nd floor, Washington, DC 20001.

District Of Columbia National Guard Youth Leaders' Camp
Enrollment for the District of Columbia Youth Leaders' Camp must be received by the beginning of June. Accepted students will be required to attend one of two pre-camp orientations in June. Applicants must be ages 13-15.

George Washington University Summer Scholars Program
A six-week residential program for rising seniors giving them the opportunity to earn college credit, access university resources, and preview an authentic college experience. 10-day minicourses are offered to rising 10 th -12 th graders in Law & Evidence, Photojournalism, Election Politics and Biomedical Engineering. Call 202-242-6802

Georgetown University’s Summer College at Georgetown University
Engaging courses that will help students advance their preparation for success in college. Courses include Summer College, College Prep Program, Law and Society, Journalism, Leadership and Ethics, Sports Industry Management, International Relations, and more. Students are admitted on a rolling basis; admission is competitive and early applications are encouraged. Limited partial tuition scholarships are available.

Georgetown University Pathways to Success 
Invites current sophomores and juniors who have a 3.5 GPA or higher and a genuine interest in science to their summer mini-semester in the health sciences. The program runs from Mid-June to mid-July. Students who enroll at the of their sophomore year are expected to return the following summer as a rising senior. Interested students should contact Joseph Riggs at 202-687-1309
George Washington University's Computer Science Summer Camp
Courses in game development, animation, Java, and robotics. Sessions are held in July. No programming knowledge required. Middle school and high school students are invited to apply. Please visit our website at

Maryland Summer Centers For Gifted And Talented Students
The Maryland Summer Centers engage gifted and talented students entering grades 3-12 in unique summer programs at a number of locations across the state. Tuition varies for these one or two week residential and nonresidential programs with a focus on the arts, sciences, mathematics, technology, engineering, history, law and government, and creative writing. Financial assistance is available. Please visit

UMBC Upward Bound Math And Science Summer Residential Program
This federally funded program is designed to introduce high school students to mathematics and science careers. All expenses for field trips, meals, and housing for the six week summer program is paid for by the U.S. Government. Students must be in 9, 10, or 11th grades with minimum 3.0 GPA and be low-income or first-generation college status.

University of Maryland, College Park
Women in Engineering, E2@UMD, rising juniors and seniors.

University of Maryland, College Park: LIFT Summer Pre-college Program
For students entering Gr. 10 - 12.
For more information call 301-405-6785.
University of Maryland, College Park: LIFT Summer BRIDGE program
For students entering college in the fall of 2013.
For more information call 301-405-6785.
University of Maryland Science Immersion Program
The Summer Science Immersion Program consists of one-week sessions available during the month of July from 9:00-4:00 daily. This program is for rising high school juniors or seniors who are interested in forensic science, biomedical science and animal behavior, and Physiology. Last year there were over 200 applicants for 100 slots and the average WGPA of students admitted to the program was 3.83. For more information call 301-404-3353. Required: essay, transcript and teacher recommendation.
University of Maryland: The Portz Scholars Summer Program
A four day residential experience hosted by the Honors College athe Univ. of MD designed for academically serious-minded students who value and look forward to a college education.

University of Maryland Young Scholars Program 
Targets rising juniors and seniors who have a strong academic record and a desire to excel to experience college life while earning three academic credits. 4 courses are offered for three weeks in month of July.
MICA Summer 2013
offers a pre-college studio residency program in Baltimore or in Tuscany during the summer month. Visit or call 410-225-2219.

MICA Pre-College Studio Residency Summer Program
The Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore invites high school students to participate in their summer program. Up to 40 full and partial Gelman Trust scholarships based on merit will be awarded to outstanding rising juniors and seniors who've been accepted into the summer program. For information about the program email
Montgomery College “How to Succeed in College”
For high school seniors who want to prepare for success at Montgomery College. This is a two-week orientation program earning one credit at MC. Visit

Montgomery County Youth Programs
Offers enrichment programs for students in K-12. Visit

Natural Resources Careers Conference
This seven-day conference is designed for Maryland high school students interested in pursuing a career in forestry and natural resources. Students will learn about working in the field of natural resources, the education required and career options. The cost of the program is paid by the country Forestry Boards.

NIH Summer Research Program For High School Students
Twenty-five students will be selected for the Summer Research Program for high school students interested in careers in the Biomedical sciences. Student will work eight weeks in the summer with an assigned advisor and receive a stipend based on grade level.

Recreation Department Summer Teen Volunteer Opportunities
The Montgomery County Department of Recreation's Youth Services and Therapeutic Recreation Program is seeking teen volunteers who would like to train to become recreation leaders to provide assistance for the department's summer camp programs. Teens must be 14 years old by the start of the summer session and be able to commit for the entire session.

Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, Maryland Leadership Workshops
Brings together accomplished student leaders and students with leadership potential from around the state of Maryland to network and develop the skills necessary to succeed in all facets of their lives.

White House Initiative on Educational Excellence For Hispanics Internship (2013)
The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics seeks talented students to intern in Washington, D.C. This is an unpaid internship. Interested students should visit their college and career center.

Out of Area

Offers worldwide sailing, scuba diving, community service and marine biology camps for teens.

Adventures Cross-Country (ARCC)
Has offered innovative experiences for teenagers in community service, language, and leadership for the past 26 years. Visit or call 800-767-2722

Alfred University
Offers summer programs in entrepreneurial leadership, swimming, creative writing, computer engineering, theater, equestrian camp, astronomy, women’s leadership. For more information visit

AIFS Summer Advantage
Offers summer programs in China, England, France, Italy, Russia and Spain. Students can experience university life before they enroll in college. Excursions and extracurricular activities are included.

AIU High School Diplomats
Brings American and Japanese students together at Princeton University for a 10-day cross-cultural and educational exchange program. All current sophomores and juniors are encouraged to apply. There is no cost to the participants. Japanese is not a pre-requisite. It runs from July 27 – August 6th. Applications must be postmarked by Jan. 8th. Visit for more information

ASA Summersion 
Offers college prep and cultural immersion programs. Call 800-752-2250.

Boston College Summer Experience Program
Spend 6 weeks at Boston College taking college courses and earning college credit. It is open to highly motivated rising seniors with outstanding academic records. For more information call 617-552-3800 or email

Boston University Summer Term
A high school honors program and a summer challenge program. The High School Honors Program offers talented rising seniors a rich environment for personal growth through academic achievement. The Summer Challenge Program is an opportunity to preview college life and course-work in a non-credit setting.

Broadreach College
Educational summer adventures for teenagers 13-18 years old. Their academic adventure division, Broadreach Study Abroad Adventure for Middle school, High school and College Students, offers college-accredited programs in marine sciences, cultural studies and language immersion in unique destinations around the world. Please call 888-833-1907 for more information.

The Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel
For outstanding Jewish students who are 11th graders. The program’s goal is to increase understanding and tolerance among the different Jewish denominations. It is an expense paid program in Israel followed by a fall seminar in NYC. Fellowship awards are based on merit. Visit for more information.

Brown University Pre-College Summer Program
Motivated high school students are invited to experience all facets of life on an Ivy League campus. Students can choose from either seven-week credit courses or shorter mini-courses in a wide variety of subjects.

Career Explorations
Offers high school students the opportunity to explore career fields in four and five week internships in Boston and New York.

Carleton College
A summer writing program from during the month of July for college-bound juniors with strong reading and writing skills.

Carnegie Mellon 
Discover Carnegie Mellon. Summer residential experience for HS juniors or seniors on campus for six weeks. Programs: Advanced Placement, Architecture, Art, Design, Drama & Music; National High School Game Academy. To learn more: call 412-268-2082 or email

The University of Chicago
A wide variety of unique programs for high school students. Students may choose from an array of undergraduate courses to take for credit.

Choate Rosemary Hall Summer Program
Offers two, four or five week residential programs. Students leave the program with better time-management and study skills.
Concordia Language Villages
Offers a summer language immersion camp for students 7-18 years old.
Cornell Summer College
Two three-week, three-credit programs for talented sophomores, juniors, and seniors from around the world. Students take fascinating courses with leading Cornell faculty members. Earn college credit and experience college life. Admission decisions are made on a rolling basis.

The Curie Academy
A one-week residential program designed for high school girls who excel in math and science and want to learn more about careers in engineering. Students must have completed at least algebra II and have a minimum GPA of 3.0. For further information, contact 607-255-6403 or email

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Muslim Pen Pals

The writers over at Miriam Poppins have come up with a great idea!!

They are developing a program to host Pen Pals for Muslim children named:

Around the World & Back: Muslim Pen Pals with Mariam Poppins.

So many times our children feel isolated in their environments, as Muslim children, especially children living in the West. This is an progressive and innovative idea for our children. Something that they need and will help to build strong connections with their brothers and sisters in Islaam across the United States and hopefully across the GLOBE, inshaa Allaah!

Please get your children involved and teach them the importance of maintaining brother/sisterhood with their fellow brothers and sisters in faith. It will teach them consistency, writing manners and it will also provide us (as parents) the opportunity of involvement in our children's lives and education.

In their words:

"As salaamu alaykunna, we are starting a Muslim Pen Pal Group. If anyone is interested here are the rules :)

The Rules for Participating: You have to write one letter a month (at least) and post that you received your letter online- (no address are needed in the picture please), addresses only can be used for what it was given for- for your child to communicate with another child. You have to have written permission from the parent if the address was to be used otherwise prior to use.

And most importantly have fun!

The goal: Is to connect the hearts of the Muslim community throughout the world starting at an early age"

 May Allaah grant them the best of success. Ameen!

Connect to Mariam Poppins on Facebook

and connect through the Blog

Monday, January 21, 2013

The "GH" is Silent

The English language is stupid. There I said it... I admit it. Although I deem myself a connoisseur of grammar. Okay, it is not so stupid, but it certainly is frustrating. Especially when you are trying to teach your children proper English. But wouldn't that be the Queen's English? Proper "American" English then. But that changes at the drop of a hat... or a catch phrase. With all of the irregularities in the English language, which are far too many to count or even be bothered with, it does not shock me that our children would rather speak in slang or "txt tlk" instead of taking the time to learn about predicates and subjects, verbs, nouns, pronouns, proper nouns.... ARGH! I just want to throw my hands up.

There is so much confusion in the English language that... 

Did you know you can spell FISH like this? G H O T I

Seriously. Okay here I'll prove it to you:

What sound does the GH in "Laugh" make? F

What sound does the O in "Women" make? I

What sound does the TI in "Motion" or "Vacation" make? SH

There you have it... I have to go feed my ghoti in their ghoti tank now. Of course, this was a joke. The word "ghoti" is not even a real word. But it showed the inconsistency of English spelling.

Oh by the way, GHOTI can also be a silent word.

Look it up for yourself and get back to me : ) 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Why Is It Called a Pizza Pie?

Is it because of its round shape? Did pizzas begin in dish-style, like a quiche or a pie? Were pie's actually flat, like pizza, before it developed a deep dish, to hold in the pie ingredients? Or maybe because Dean Martin said it... and said it was Amore'?

Maybe because they are so doggone unhealthy... That's Why!! 

Seriously though, we haven't the slightest idea.

But that is what prompted our internet mission to find out "WHY" a pizza is sometimes called a pizza pie.

Oh Google, here we come, to find the plethora of information you have for us! We enjoy the internet and it's conveniences. However, some of its conveniences are more annoyances (like SPAM) and then we don't like the internet so much. It has, nonetheless, made researching so much easier for us. Much easier than say, calling random Pizza shops and saying "Hey, you're Italian and you own a pizza shop... so why are pizza's called Pizza pie's?". We're not going to get into the fact that pizza's aren't really Italian... not right now. I can just imagine the number of hang ups that I would get from people thinking that we were prank calling. Google, as an added bonus, helps save on the gas on going to the library.

I have nothing against a good library visit. I actually prefer it, it teaches the kids how to research and be independent in seeking knowledge. I grew up on getting information in places like Webster's Dictionary, Roget's Thesaurus and Encyclopedia Britannica. Now all our kids have to do is Google and Wikipedia and voila! instant information. Even with Wikipedia's inconsistencies, people still file over to it for information and some teacher's are accepting Wikipedia as a viable "source/reference" (I don't!) but some do. So, the local library is the first choice, but when it's 10:00 at night and you are searching for an answer to that gnawing question (yes, it's gnawing!), the option of the library is out the window.

Back to the "pie" or "pizza pie" or "pizza" or whatever you want to call that deliciously, scrumptious, doughy, cheesy thingy...

Why are people calling a Pizza a "Pie"?

Let's see what different members of my brood came up with.

Well first we have to figure out exactly what a "Pie" is right? 

Well according to Wikipedia (insert laughter here!!):
 "A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients. Pies can be either "filled", where a dish is covered by pastry and the filling is placed on top of that, "top-crust," where the filling is placed in a dish and covered with a pastry/potato mash top before baking, or "two-crust," with the filling completely enclosed in the pastry shell. Pies can be a variety of sizes, ranging from bite-size to ones designed for multiple servings"
 So... Wikipedia says a pizza is a pizza; a pizza is not a pie. Right?

Not satisfied with that answer... pizza isn't exactly an American English word, now is it...

Let's see... we can take a mathematical approach to this word pie (or Pi) 

Pi is a mathematical expression. A circle is a shape with all points the same distance from the center. It is named by the center. The circle to the left is called circle A since the center is at point A. If you measure the distance around a circle and divide it by the distance across the circle through the center, you will always come close to a particular value, depending upon the accuracy of your measurement. This value is approximately 3.14159265358979323846... We use the Greek letter π (pronounced Pi like PIE) to represent this value.

Extra Tidbits: This number π goes on forever. However, using computers, π has been calculated to over 1 trillion digits past the decimal point.

So, since π a mathematical constant that is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, and since a circle is round and well... can be cut into pieces like a Pizza... could this be the reason for calling a Pizza... a Pie (or Pi)?

But... we still aren't satisfied!

Let's talk Etymology!

The term "pizza" first appeared" to appear in a Latin text from the southern Italian town of Gaeta in 997 AD. However, upon further investigation we find that this goes much further than that. Somewhere around the 1st century, B.C. it is said that the Roman poet Virgil (known for his epic, the Aeneid), wrote about what is known today as Pizza:

Beneath a shady tree, the hero spread his table on the turf,
with cakes of bread;
And, with his chiefs, on forest fruits he fed.
They sate; and (not without the god’s command).
Their homely fare dispatch’d, the hungry band invade their trenchers next,
and soon devour to mend the scanty meal, their cakes of flour…
See, we devour the plates on which we fed.

Then there is the option that Pizza was developed even earlier than that by the Persians (around 500 B.C.-ish), where the soldiers baked a flatbread on their shields which they then covered with cheese and dates. (yum?) And according to Oxford English Dictionary (which origin is favored, though the entry notes that it is unattested) the Old High German word “bizzo” or “pizzo” meaning “mouthful” (related to the English words “bit” and “bite”) and was brought to Italy in the middle of the 6th century AD by the invading Lombard's.

Whatever the origins of the word for pizza, there’s no denying it is absolutely deliciousness of combinations of sauce and bread, cheese and meat and vegetable toppings. It quiets rustling children (and rumbling stomachs) and unites people, no matter who they are across a dinner table!

Let's see what YOU all come up with AND SHARE IT!! :)

High School Students: 2013 Journalism Workshop

The workshops give high school students in the DC area an inside look at careers in journalism.
Application deadline  January 25th  2013.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What is a Group of Squid Called?

Yes, so was I. It totally would make sense right?

What exactly in the English language makes sense, however? With our homophones, homonyms, homographs, antonyms, synonyms, similes.... on and on. It is enough to drive us MAD!!

Okay so I'm digressing a little... actually a group of squid is called a shoal, which is also a name for a group of fish. Although squid are not fish, right? Well because squid also swim in schools, this is why they are called a shoal.

This prompted our home (actually ME, and then I prompted everyone else!) to find the "group names" of other animals and we came across a REALLY great site: The Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center that gave us a very detailed list of Animal Congregations.



ApesA shrewdness
AssesA pace
BadgersA cete
BatsA colony
BearsA sloth, sleuth
BuffaloA gang, an obstinacy (I suspect these refer to old world buffalo; use "herd" for American bison)
CatsA clowder, a pounce; for kittens...A kindle, litter, an intrigue
CattleA drove, herd
DeerA herd, bevy (refers only to roe deer)
DogsA litter (young), pack (wild), cowardice (of curs); specific to hounds...A cry, mute, pack, kennel
ElephantsA herd
ElkA gang
FerretsA business
FoxA leash, skulk, earth
GiraffesA tower
GoatsA tribe, trip
GorillasA band
HippopotamusesA bloat
HorsesA team, harras, rag (for colts), stud (a group of horses belonging to a single owner, string (ponies)
HyenasA cackle
KangaroosA troop
LeopardsA leap
LionsA pride
MartensA richness
MolesA labor
MonkeysA troop, barrel
MulesA pack, span, barren
OttersA romp
OxenA team, yoke
PigsA drift, drove, litter (young), sounder (of swine), team, passel (of hogs), singular (refers to a group of boars)
PorcupinesA prickle
RabbitsA colony, warren, nest, herd (domestic only), litter (young); specific to hares...A down, husk
RhinocerosesA crash
SealsA pod, herd
SheepA drove, flock, herd
SquirrelsA dray, scurry
TigersA streak
WhalesA pod, gam, herd
WolvesA pack, rout or route (when in movement)

Birds in general A flight (in the air), flock (on the ground), volary, brace (generally for gamebirds or waterfowl, referring to a pair or couple killed by a hunter)
Bitterns A sedge
Buzzards A wake
Bobolinks A chain
Chicks (of many species) A brood; clutch
Coots A cover
Cormorants A gulp
Cranes A sedge
Crows A murder, horde
Dotterel A trip
Doves A dule, pitying (specific to turtle doves)
Ducks A brace, flock (in flight), raft (on water) team, paddling (on water), badling
Eagles A convocation
Finches A charm
Flamingos A stand
Geese A flock, gaggle (on the ground), skein (in flight)
Grouse A pack (in late season)
Gulls A colony
Hawks A cast, kettle (flying in large numbers), boil (two or more spiraling in flight)
Herons A sedge, a siege
Jays A party, scold
Lapwings A deceit
Larks An exaltation
Mallards A sord (in flight), brace
Magpies A tiding, gulp, murder, charm
Nightingales A watch
Owls A parliament
Parrots A company
Partridge A covey
Peacocks A muster, an ostentation
Penguins A colony
Pheasant A nest, nide (a brood), nye, bouquet
Plovers A congregation, wing (in flight)
Ptarmigans A covey
Rooks A building
Quail A bevy, covey
Ravens An unkindness
Snipe A walk, a wisp
Sparrows A host
Starlings A murmuration
Storks A mustering
Swallows A flight
Swans A bevy, wedge (in flight)
Teal A spring
Turkeys A rafter, gang
Widgeons A company
Woodcocks A fall
Woodpeckers A descent

Reptiles and Amphibians
Crocodiles A bask
Frogs An army
Toads A knot
Turtles A bale, nest
Snakes, vipers A nest

Fish in general A draft, nest, school, shoal (some authors claim that the common "school" is a corruption of shoal, and therefore incorrect)
Bass A shoal
Herring An army
Sharks A shiver
Trout A hover

Ants A colony
Bees A grist, hive, swarm
Caterpillars An army
Clams A bed
Cockroaches An intrusion
Flies A business
Gnats A cloud, horde
Grasshoppers A cloud
Hornets A nest
Jellyfish A smack
Locusts A plague
Oysters A bed

They also provided us with some really great reference books to take a gander (or a gaggle since there are more of us *wink*) at and go further into the rabbit hole of our expedition on Animal Congregations. So, if you fancy in learning the derivation of some of these names, or if you just want some fun reading, check out James Lipton's book entitled "An Exaltation of Larks" 2nd edition (Penguin Books 1977). And for Birders interested in avian nomenclature should see Bruce Campbell and Elizabeth Lack's "A Dictionary of Birds" (Buteo Books 1985).