Saturday, 22 March 2014

National Science and Engineering Week part 2

WOW! Can't quite believe that Saturday has arrived - what a week we have had.
So here is a mini diary of what we have been up to this NSEW

Monday - a return visit to St Thomas' Primary Lydiate near Maghull in Merseyside. They decided to theme their NSEW around Alice in Wonderland so we created a special show just for them full of science magic with potions that changed colour when you followed the instructions on the label...SHAKE ME. Giant test tubes that went all different rainbow colours when Helen added a squirt of a greenish coloured liquid. Invisible balls of jelly that felt like eyeballs and a disappearing Cheshire cat. We all had a super time wearing our bunny ears.

Tuesday - a 5.00am start ( yes really!!) to get packed and pick up Helen for our day with Brabins Endowed primary school in Chipping in Lancashire.
in the middle of nowhere

a very early morning coffee en route

It was lovely to visit this picturesque and tiny village school again and the pupils were thrilled to see us. We shared our NSEW show with a few extra bits thrown in, for the very youngest and then for the older pupils. There were not many in each session so the "show" became very hands on for everyone.
Helen all ready to go

As the smell of toast wafted around the hall we had a short break and then it was two workshops back to back, first with years 3&4 looking at some of our amazing smart materials and setting up an experiment for the week investigating polymers. Years 5&6 continued the investigation looking at hydrogel balls to see if using hot water sped up their growth and what happened if you used coloured or salty water. After a great day we headed back down the M6 home, to unpack and get ready for the next day.

Wednesday - off we went to Warrington to visit Sankey Valley St James primary school where we did two shows - one for each key stage.

between shows at St James'

After lunch we did two workshops with mixed groups yr4&6 and yr5&6. We had a close look at how handwarmers work and discovered who had the warmest hands before making a batch of bathbombs. Sue ended up looking like a smurf as Josh accidentally squeezed the colour just a bit too hard and made a blue fountain!

Thursday - another new school for us - Dee Point Primary, Blacon in Chester.

This school has a caravan and three rhinos in the front garden!! We were working with key stage 2 today so started the day off with a show for the whole key stage and giving most of year 4 and their teacher a cold with our giant blue rhinovirus and Helen's glittery "snot". Then we moved out to a mobile classroom with year 6 where we got up close and personal with some of our smart materials and of course made some bath bombs. Year 6 were off swimming in the afternoon so let us use their classroom for a session with year 5 and then a final session of the day with year 4. Huge fun was had by all and the mobile smelled beautifully of bubble gum fragrance!

Friday - off to Knutsford for Tameside's Primary Headteachers conference at Cottons hotel. It was super to meet lots of other providers of exciting educational resources and - good for us - there were not many other science companies. After fantastic drumming display by some very enthusiastic school children we all manned our stands for a morning market place.

We had taken lots of our gadgets and gizmos for the teachers to play with while we chatted about how we could enrich their science lessons. Our energy sticks were an enormous draw - we could have parted with them many times over if they had been for sale (of course we love them so much we wouldn't let them go).

So a good end to a fun week and now all that is left is to wash up and tidy away the equipment....and then pack up for Ellesmere Port's STEM week at the National Boat Museum on Monday.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

ASE NW conference

We had a brilliant day today at the ASE NW conference at MMU Didsbury campus.
Our session was fully booked - a super group of teachers interested in getting more hands on  practicals into their science lessons.
We started by sharing how to find the RSC Primary Science video clips on You Tube for inspirational ideas.
Then we investigated handwarmers and using them as a heat source, we explored a range of smart materials that react to temperature.

So many of the teachers saw the incredible potential of our Energy Sticks for teaching circuits in electricity

Plus of course we  couldn't leave out the wonderful and oh so tactile hydrogel balls

We shared our latest acquisition - a hydrochromic colour change shower curtain that seems to be white until it gets wet and then WOW!

we were able to answer lots of questions and give suggestions for exciting science lessons
and as a final bit of fun we all had a go at Art on a Plate

Lots of the delegates had brought either Tablets or smart phones so plenty of people were able to photo and video their fun which is exactly what we suggest you do in your class. Pictures printed out and mounted on black paper make a stunning display!!

Friday, 14 March 2014

National Science and Engineering Week part 1

So from not too far away suddenly it is here.

That means National Science and Engineering Week which is one of our busiest times of the year.
Usually the British Science Association (the BA) suggests a theme and produce activities to help schools and presenters come up with ideas.
Last year the theme was Inventions and Discoveries looking at science through the ages and how it has impacted our lives. We created a special show which was very popular and also huge fun to present.
This year there is a very open brief with just a suggestion that primary schools might like to think about science in the future and where it might take us.
We have gone with this idea and created a brand new show INTO THE FUTURE looking at some of the amazing innovations that science has produced recently and thinking about where we might go.

Regular readers of this blog will know that we love using modern and smart materials in our shows so we have built on the show from last year - taking some of the best ideas and see where they could develop in the future - and also added some new ideas with some of the incredible materials we have come across during the last year.
We've been researching science trends - a huge subject - and noticing what seems to be on the horizon.

The huge advance in technology and how young people use it has a big influence on our show -communication is totally different for today's youngsters from smart phones through to e-readers. So our shows reflects that strand.

But we couldn't let the youngest of our audience forget what fun toys can be so we have some of our vintage toys to compare with modern ones and spark ideas about toys of the future.

So we have a busy couple of weeks - watch this space for updates on our adventures!!

Toothpaste trials

We had a great day last Friday at Upton Heath Primary School near Chester.
We were working with the infant department as part of their science week with the emphasis on being healthy.
So we took along Timmy to help us deliver our show All About You with lots of fun exploring our senses, sorting out a huge basket of food goodies to create a lunch pack for Timmy and finding out how we pass on colds.
Two brave volunteers put their hands into our feely tubs to discover what on earth was in them and then they even had a go at our Grot Bags which hold weird and wonderful objects that feel very strange indeed.
Two more volunteers tried to identify what was in our eggs just by the smell and then we all tried to find out what was inside a set of plastic eggs just by gently shaking them and listening to the noise
After doing a bit of exercise we discovered how fast our hearts were beating and one lucky young man heard his own heart bumping away out loud on our giant heart machine.
Finally we found out why it is so important to use a tissue when you have a cold.
We saw what the rhinovirus that lives in our nose looks like and then we passed a cold around the room using glitter gel.

After break we were in the classroom creating our own toothpaste to try against shop bought. Of course we couldn't try it on our own teeth so we used ceramic tiles to clean.
We found out that our home made toothpaste is just as good as the shop one - although I am not sure I would want to have mine coloured dark blue which seemed to be the favourite colour!
All four infant classes had a hands on session, getting up close and personal with images of our skins cells, sweat pores and plaque on teeth.
A really great day....and we will be back in the Autumn term because those clever teachers at Upton Heath have taken advantage of our birthday offer - buy one get one half price!!