Sunday, 23 March 2014

A Scientific Weekend

Following the bridge-building event on Thursday, we decided to stick with a structural theme for our Home Ed group on Friday, so we set the kids two challenges; to build the tallest structure they could out of spaghetti, marshmallows and jelly babies, and to create a waterproof boat to sail a jelly baby across the washing up bowl in. Grace's team started by getting stuck into waterproofing an egg carton.
Meanwhile the toddlers were getting on with some very important colouring...

Once the boat was finished, they moved on to the "tallest structure" table, but quickly discovered that it was quite a hard challenge, and decided to go for the longest structure instead!

At the end of the session, when all three boats were complete, they took to the water. All three floated, and none of the jelly babies got wet, so the day was pronounced a great success!

Grace's team's boat floating
(complete with "motor"!)
On Saturday we went to the University of Southampton's Science and Technology event. After a couple of false starts, we arrived mid-afternoon, and it was absolutely packed. There were some interesting tables, and Luke felt it was very worthwhile and enjoyable. In honesty, I felt that there were too many people for Jude (and me!) to feel comfortable, and too much stimulus for Grace; she didn't seem to be able to really focus on at any table for more than a couple of seconds, because there was always another interesting one right next door. 

The soil table was extremely well run, however; the students provided big trays of soil and rubber gloves, and while the children played in the soil, gently engaged them in conversation about why soil and worms are important. There was nothing in the soil for them to discover; it was simply a way of engaging their hands while they talked about the properties of soil - perfect for our kinethestic learner!

Jude discovering worms
We learned a little about how bioethenol could be made from algae, and then saw it in action firing a bunsen burner, which was being used to inflate a hot air balloon.

Luke and Grace found out about the problems of space junk, and some of the possible solutions (and issues with) removing it. Apparently there currently are around 20,000 items of space junk in orbit around the earth.

Tracking space junk
Both children were transfixed with the Lego Rover which could climb over obstacles and "knew" when it had reached the end of the course.

We heard part of a lecture (it was very hot, very packed and the children were getting hungry and grumpy) about science/magic, in which a mad looking professor explained how science can produce some very magical looking effects. He was able to make water jump out of a bowl, and a metal tube "sing"! He also played the theramin...

We just had time to look at some optical spectrum illusions, before heading home via the beautiful electric sports car.

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