Thursday, 23 February 2012

Toys are us!

Having a wondeful time creating a new show for National Science and Engineering Week in March.
The theme this year is MOTION which gives huge scope so to make a show that we can keep running after the event I have come up with something all about forces but using toys to explain.
It isn't a unique thought - there has been a section in most curriculum topics about toys and forces but I am hoping that my take on it will be just that bit different.
I have started where most other teachers would start with Bruegal's wonderful picture of children at play in 16th century.
click to see Bruegal's painting of children in16th century

I used this many years ago with a class of 11 year olds looking at how toys had changed over time. What was really interesting was that the toys had changed but the games hadn't - at least not for my class.
We observed our own school playground and saw a group of girls spinning on the spot, a rough and tumble (nice euphemism there!) some juggling, the modern equivalent of 5 stones ( jacks to me) and of course Chase.

My dad who is quite an accomplished wood worker made me some replica toys especially a cup and ball and a Lenten rattle ( can you imagine the racket that must have made - what fun)

So I am starting there - looking at Tudor toys, how they work - where is that off switch????
Then we will head off through Victorian toys, tin clockwork toys and the emergence of plastic through to today.
I have managed to acquire some wonderful resources on the way and as we look at how batteries changed the way we played with toys but also how alternative energy toys and gizmos are becoming more popular we will be thinking about the forces needed to make the toys work.
I will have to get a volunteer out for the  space hopper and probably the hoola hoop too!
Our first booking for this show is on 5th March - hopefully we will be able to get some images but none of me on a space hopper!!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Going LIVE!

WOW! how hard can it be?
This having your own company thing is not as easy as it looks!!
Actually I am having lots of fun but getting the nitty, gritty down tight is very time consuming. Things like a web site - I know a bit about this area from my previous life in Flintshire as an advisor for schools - we used to teach pupils how to create a simple web site. BUT creating a commercial one -with all the bits and bobs that you need for a business is a different ball game.
So after more time than I would have liked our website is actually LIVE with most of the pages up and running. There is more to do - sorting out T&Cs, giving enough info but not overloading, creating downloadable pages........
And of course the real job is creating the actual shows and workshops - I have 6 years of experience in doing that but starting from scratch is a mammoth task. At Catalyst I had a whole room of resources to inspire me!
So far I have four shows pretty much finished - at least they will be ready to go within a couple of weeks.
I have created 1 biology, 1 chemistry, 1 physics and 1 that is a mixture of all three!!
I didn't plan it that way - it just evolved: healthy humans, changing materials, forces and light/colour ( which is the mixed one - a bit of physics obviously, some biology in how our eyes work and I intend to do a bit of chemistry in flame testing and colour change reactions.) Plus some psychology too in thinking about how colours affect our mood - that is going some!!!!
For anyone interested - have a look at our website

A super bit of news - when I worked at  Catalyst science centre I had a great team - Carrie-Anne Parkes an amazing historian turned scientist whose real passion was Egyptology but turned her hand to so much more and was the creator of wonderful resources. She has taken a post at Quarry Bank Mill with the National Trust in their education team. She is back in her beloved history - and is doing well! Good luck CAP!

The other member of the team was Helen - my right hand and the one who always had my back. She as over 4 years of experience in science presenting and many more in museums and galleries.
Helen Ross
I am thrilled to announce to my readers that Helen has decided to join me in this venture as the other half of Science2U.
This is great news because it is always more fun on the road if you are not on your own but also she is Ms Organised which anyone who actually knows me will tell you I really need.
With Helen on board we may actually get out there on time, with resources and at the right school!!
So welcome Helen  - now Science2U is really on the road.