Monday 26 November 2018

Project 61: Scientific Enquiry

During Project 43: Museums we bought Monica Learn with Peppa First Science from the Science Museum, and decided to use it's simple experiments as the basis for this week's project.
Learn with Peppa: First Science
We've done a number of science projects previously (Project 19: Science and chemistry, Project 30: Electricity, Project 37: Metals, Project 54: More Chemistry!), and we took the project as an opportunity to revisit the process of scientific enquiry. We started by reading about scientific enquiry in the Junior Illustrated Science Dictionary, which actually provoked surprisingly interesting questions about the differences between primary and secondary resources and the sharing of data online.

Most of the time was spent on the 11 experiments in the book, of which we completed 8. Each experiment introduces a key concept, such as weight, states of matter, sound waves, light, gravity, and buoyancy. As well as doing the experiments, where appropriate we also explored the concepts further. For example, looking at the whole of the electromagnetic wave spectrum and seeing how visible light is just a small part. Whereas the children had experience of infrared from the sensor in the Nintendo Switch controller, we created our blacklight to highlight ultraviolet light.
Highlighter pen under a homemade blacklight
Finally we got them to design their own experiment, and explore an aspect of their local community. They decided to explore the frequency of different coloured cars going along a local busy road. They particularly liked that they could make it into a competition, with each of them picking the colour they thought would be most frequent. Solomon won. 

Tally of car colours on the Oundle Road

Next week: Money!

Monday 19 November 2018

Project 60: Transport

Transport was selected for this week's project, and we started the week by watching a wide variety of videos on the history of transport and some future innovations. 

They were particularly interested in cargo ships and the impact of containerization:

All three children (including the 2 yr old) really enjoyed an afternoon at the London Transport Museum, happily spending four hours looking at the various exhibits and objects. Monica particularly liked the buses, Solomon the new Future Engineers exhibit, and Sam the 'choo-choos'. 
London Transport Museum
As a more practical activity we got the children to do the WeDo 2.0 Speed guided lesson. Like most children, Solomon and Monica love Lego and the WeDo sets are a great introduction to more scientific builds, programming, and experimentation. In this case, you explore the impact of different wheel sizes on the speed of the car.
WeDo 2.0 Speed

Next week: Scientific enquiry

Monday 12 November 2018

Project 59: Designing a computer game

It was Solomon's birthday this week and (unsurprisingly!) he wanted to pick something to do with computer games. We have previously done quite a few computer and computer game projects:

So this week we tried to get them to think more about the design of computer games, potential input devices and designing their own pixelated characters.

We started the week by watching some more videos on the history of computer games, and the film Pixels, where the world is invaded by 1980s video games (currently available on Netflix). The TED-Ed video was particularly good, but unfortunately it's only part 1, and five years later we're still waiting for part 2 to appear!

We went to Namco Funscape on the South Bank in London for our trip out. It's the closest you can get to an old fashioned arcade these days, albeit with a greater emphasis on the variety of input devices (e.g., guns, dance mats, and snowboards) and winning tickets. Solomon has already declared that he wants to go again for his next birthday as he loves it, and wants to win lots more of the Pac-Man merchandise!
Namco Funscape
At home we explored the different sorts of input devices that you could create with a Makey-Makey, and built the Nintendo Labo fishing rod. The Makey-Makey is a circuit board that you can plug into your PC and create new input devices by making simple circuits. Nintendo Labo allows you to build new input devices for the Nintendo Switch by combining the controllers with cardboard.
Playing Tetris with the Makey-Makey

Playing with the Nintendo Labo fishing rod
Finally the kids designed their own computer characters: Croc-a-roo and Sissy the Robot.
Croc-a-roo and Sissy the Robot
Solomon's Croc-a-roo is designed with traditional gameplay in mind "it snaps and jumps at baddies in a moving platform game". Monica's character is more genre-busting: "Sissy the Robot walks about waving her arms at people and then goes to live with Peach*".

*from the Mario franchise - intellectual property rights mean nothing to children!

Next week's project: Transport

Monday 5 November 2018

Project 58: Exercise

We let Monica suggest an idea for this week’s project, and she suggested exercise, so we started the week by looking at the importance of exercise and the three main different types of exercise (aerobic, strength, and flexibility).  During the course of the week we had an exercise session focusing on each of the three different types of exercise.

For aerobic exercise we took the kids for a run around the estate where we live (going on a route which was approximately 1 mile long). Solomon took 11 mins 40 seconds to complete the route and complained every step of the way, Monica took 12 mins 34 seconds but happily ran the whole way.

For flexibility we introduced the children to yoga, and the Cosmic Kids Yoga YouTube channel which combines yoga with a story. The kids did the ‘Going on a bear hunt’ and ‘Popcorn and the pirates’ workouts and really enjoyed them.

For strength, we went to a nearby park and did some pull-ups on the monkey bars, some squat jumps, step-ups, and calf lifts.

There were a wide range of other resources we also made use of: we did a ‘Fit in 5’ workout each day (which is available on Sky TV); we watched a BBC Terrific Scientific programme about the effects of exercise on our brain; and the Children’s University of Manchester had a nice section on their website about exercise, different types of muscles, and how the heart works.
We finished the week with some measurements: we took everyone’s weight and height, and worked out our Body Mass Indexes using the NHS healthy weight calculator; and the kids measured their pulse rate before and after doing some burpees to illustrate how exercise gets our hearts pumping faster.

Finally they finished by drawing a picture of the type of exercise that they enjoy doing:

Next week: Designing a computer game!