Me: video game noob and a very tired teacher

These days I’m dragging my feet into this video game world, its rules, terminology, and other related things. One thing is for certain: you don’t want to be called a “noob.” I could think of worse things but that term seems to push player’s buttons. It’s supposed to be insulting to call or be called a “noob” yet the term is teasingly used among friends for poor play.

According to Wikipedia, ” Newbienewbnoob, or nub is a slang term for a novice or newcomer, or somebody inexperienced in a profession or activity.”

I’m in the latter category: My kids call me “noob, “but it doesn’t offend me. My noobiness is obvious when I can’t control my avatar’s movements in the game and can’t pass through doors or climb ladders. I continually ask: “What’s that?”; “How do you do that?”; “Why do I keep…?”; or “What do I do now?”

We play “Bed Wars” on the BlockMan Go app. It’s a 4 team game of 4 players who buy gear, blocks, and weapons though coins earned at each of their base’s iron forge. To get better gear and upgrade your weapon’s arsenal, you build bridges to other lands to get diamonds and emeralds. You also need to build to other team’s lands to destroy their defended bed. If you die or get killed, you respawn but lose all your inventory; however, if your bed is destroyed, you cannot respawn after dying.

My role is limited; I defend the bed with blocks, build one bridge to nearby the diamond land, gather diamonds to upgrade our team’s forge, and try not to fall into the void. It’s stressful and I wonder how my fingers don’t move as fast as I want them to.

Still, they want me on their team. It’s flattering, but it’s too much together time. We already spend an inordinate amount of time together as a homeschooling family. This activity cuts into my nap time, alone time, bathroom time, phone time, etc. I’m guessing they want me to play so I’ll lose track of time and not yell at them to stop playing. Just sayin’…

When we play, we refer to each other by our usernames. They like to show off their skills and give me tutorials. Ellis comments that I’m like her little sister in video games and that she needs to teach me how to do things. Other times, Elliot tells me to “stay back…I got you” while he kills off opponents or gets revenge on the enemy who killed me.

Avatars: Ellis (Far left), Elliot (middle), me (far right); my updated Avatar is a winking eye

Another game we play is Skyblock; you mine for blocks and use them to build your land in the sky. This is my favorite game; who thought mining could be this fun and pleasant! Kids got me better gear and unbreakable cross/ slash thunderbolt staff that I can use to defend myself from other miners who want to steal your inventory by killing your avatar. fend off attacks from other miners in the advanced mining area for higher cost blocks. Rare and special blocks can be attained through trades with other players or by using coins to buy them by selling the blocks you mined or with gcubes (gold cubes you buy with money).

We’ve kind of gone overboard and have built all kinds of structures along with making up stories. We have an evil scientist who grows poisonous berries, a young Apatosaurus dinosaur that suddenly appeared on our land (we are caretaking and teaching him while we look for his parents), kids made their stone generator business that makes stones with water and lava (cost is 1 emerald per use). Ellis also made a graveside for my father in law who passed 7 years ago, as well as one for Chris’ friend who passed recently in Dec. 2020.

I’ve been on edge since kids love these games, along with Minecraft and others, and I feel they will never stop playing. But I can’t fight it all the time, so I’m reluctantly changing my approach. This may be my rationalizing, but playing together gives us an opportunity to reverse teacher and learner roles, learn about internet safety, make good decisions, problem solve, build creatively, research information they need, understand sportsmanship, and discuss different ways people think and act on video game platforms.

This is their new obsession, so I’m seizing this opportunity to revolve learning around it for them. Being my kid’s teacher has its rewards and surprises, but in uncharted territories like this, I find the ride wild, uncomfortable, and unbelievably frustrating!! I’ve emphasized the positives here, but it gives me migraines to work with it. ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿคจ๐Ÿ˜…

For every teacher, parent, and others in the second month of this school year, praying that we survive, stay healthy, and help kids on their road to become their best selves!

Feeding the busy builder birds, at least trying to

Few years ago, one of our windows was thoroughly streaked with bird poop: only that window. Turns out it was a bird who converted the overhang into its own cozy condo. I called a local office (can’t recall the specific place) to have someone remove the nest, but I was advised to leave it undisturbed till the nest was abandoned. Dismantling the nest was illegal.

It stayed and they continued to leave daily presents for us on, under, and around the window.

So it wasn’t a surprise when recently we noticed berserk activity from a group of random birds; zipping from tree to tree. They weren’t a flock: it was just arbitrary flying around of different sized birds. When they were camouflaged inside the tree branches, we could hear little “beep” sounds, similar to a home smoke alarm that is low on battery. They’re probably building nests for spring hatching. Hopefully the nests will be built only in trees and not in the previous condo space above our window.

Hypothesis: birds are building nests for the winter; they will lay eggs soon

When we discovered small v-shaped nests in several trees, we wanted to feed them, especially during this busy building season. A quick search about healthful foods for birds explained that bananas are beneficial to birds’ healths. Perfect for using up bananas that are starting to brown.

I chopped up 2 bananas into pieces and strung it through the middle (I cored it with a small straw) with twine. Ellis crushed up nuts using a mortar and pestle, which she sprinkled over the banana. 

Strung pieces of banana through twine to hang on the tree branches
Lots of birds flying around this particular tree. We were certain the birds or squirrels would eat this nuts-banana treat, but when we checked the next day, it was untouched. We removed this treat after 2 days and put it out for the neighborhood squirrels.
A potential spot to leave our treat. When we saw the nest, we agreed to hang it on this tree. You can see the nest higher above the blue circle. The banana treat is circled in blue. I overestimated my height and underestimated the tree’s height.
Day 2 of checking on this banana treat. It was half-eaten.
Day 3. Safe to say the bird/s loved our treat. All eaten.

We enjoyed the process since we could follow up and see whether a bird had eaten the treat. It wasn’t easy going unnoticed by the birds with all the crunchy leaves littered on the ground. Although it would’ve been delightful to see the birds eating while we looked, it wasn’t going to happen with 3 pairs of eager eyes staring at them.

Conclusion: one treat by a nest was consumed. The others were pulled off the tree branches and given to squirrels. At least the leftover was consumed by a happy squirrel. Yay, we all win!

This picture was posted yesterday for “Silent Sunday” before I realized I would write a post about it.  That’s the context of this picture; kids perched on the rails calling birds, squirrels, any critter would do, to come and eat the banana treats.

Update of egg floating experiment from previous post

The egg in our science experiment from 8 weeks ago still floated inside the glass of dissolved salt water. However, the layer of salt crystals on top of the egg became thicker even 3 weeks after I wrote that post.

I mentioned that I would crack the egg when more of the water evaporated (I should have measured the difference to have specific data though; even measuring the difference of the evaporation levels would’ve been a good lesson). Next time!

I carefully moved the thick but crumbly crust of salt onto the counter and cracked the egg in the sink. The egg white, thick and gooey, slowly spilled out where the crack was made. I guessed that maybe the yolk would be black or have turned into a moldy green color. But it was a fascinating finding!

The yolk formed into a squishy round shape and it held its shape even after a poke. My hypothesis is that the egg absorbed the salt slowly through its shell. I need to check with Chris, our science guy at home, but I’ll just trust my guts and post anyway!

If you have a hypothesis to share, please do! Will be interesting to see what ideas you come up with.

Simple egg experiment and looking at that egg 5 weeks later

My kids and I did this experiment about a year ago and it was a lot of fun to do. But we didn’t fully understand the concepts covered, like density and buoyancy, so we redid it.

Goal of the experiment was to show how salt water has more density than plain water, which will make the egg float. Floating is buoyancy.

Supplies: a glass cup, enough water to fill half the cup, an egg (uncooked), salt, and a spoon to stir.

Instructions: The recipe called for a certain number of tablespoons of salt with a specific ounce of water, but I just decided to do it my way. See what happens. Even when I follow instructions, it’s a hit or miss. It’s all a learning process anyway.

We filled 3/4 of water in a tall glass cup, added (around) 4 spoon fulls of salt and stirred away. Once the salt particles dissolved, we gently plopped the egg into the cup. It floated down. After many tries of adding salt, stirring, and dropping the egg into the cup, we finally got the egg to float.

The process was slow since the egg had to be gently spooned out of the cup each time we needed to add and stir the salt. Many tries later, the egg finally floated; even with a poke down, the egg bounced back to a float.

SURPRISING RESULT, as a result of not knowing what to do with the egg post experiment: That cup of salt water and egg has been sitting on our kitchen counter for a month now. This was an interesting find…unexpected results! In the beginning, the water level was at the third ring from the top.

Post observational findings:

  1. water slowly evaporates
  2. even with evaporation, the egg still floats
  3. salt crystals formed on top of the egg
  4. No changes occurred on the egg
  5. Still floating, laden with salt crystals on top
  6. After most of the water evaporates, we’ll crack the egg to see if it’s changed

If you have an extra egg and time on your hands, you should try this experiment and see what you find!

I hope I covered the concepts correctly. I’m learning with the kids too and piecing my science knowledge one experiment at a time.

Hairspray the puffy part of the Dandelion

We picked two fuzzy dandelion heads to try our experiment. As is usual with dandelion puffs, any movement blew away the little florets. And I just learned that a seed can travel up to five miles and the part that blows away is called parachutes; a descriptive and suitable name.

Kids walked carefully shielding the puff with their free hand. Once outside our home, we hair sprayed a dandelion puff to see if it would keep its form. It did! A few days later, only the stem withered but the hair sprayed part remained the same.

Comparing the 2. As I’m looking at the picture now, I don’t remember the control dandelion puff being so squished at the time (honest: did not do that on purpose to show a vast difference). Anyways, you can see the one of the right holding its shape from the hair spray.