Tuesday 26 January 2021

Projects 168: Robots

This week's project was prompted by two robot kits the boys had been bought for Christmas, and they still hadn't had a chance to build. These were merely the latest in a long line of robots we've accumulated in the house, so we took the opportunity to do some activities with all of them, as well as a bit more programming.

Sam had been bought Tobbie the Robot, a kit that once put together will follow you around. He really enjoyed putting the robot together, and managed to stay focused for the whole 3.5 hrs that it took!

We got out Sphero, which had first made an appearance the previous week (see Project 167: Shapes), and the children programmed him to go around a maze. 

We got out the Lego Boost and built the robot cat (last seen on Project 83: Music):

Solomon put together the first of fourteen potential robots in his solar powered robot kit (although it could do with a bit more sun!). 

And finally, we got down the R2D2 LittleBits robot, and the children drew shapes on paper with it, before de-assembling it to turn R2D2 into an intruder alarm. 

We also watched Big Hero 6:

Next Project: Poetry 2

Thursday 21 January 2021

Project 167: Shapes

As another lockdown started the BBC announced a raft of new 'Lockdown Lessons', so we thought we'd follow along with the first programmes of the week and do a project on shapes as they were covered.

Of the three Reithian values of public service broadcasting (educate, inform, and entertain), the BBC lockdown lessons focus more on 'entertain' than 'educate', so while it was interesting to see what the fuss was about, we won't be watching them again!

Over the week we explored shapes through a shape hunt, Geomags, and the 'Dive into Shapes' geometry kit we bought for Project 111: Geometry. We also did the pentomino puzzle suggested by the 'This is not a maths book' book, and followed the instructions for drawing 3D pictures with perspective.  

We got out some shape-based puzzles, and played lots of Blokus (a family favourite!):

We also introduced the children to the Sphero Bolt robot, drawing a robot made up of different shapes and then getting the Sphero to draw it out on the floor.

Next project: Robots

Saturday 16 January 2021

Project 166: Animal Farm

Often communism and the cold war are touched upon in other books that we have read or films that we have watched, so it seemed like a good idea to introduce the topic in an accessible manner in the form of Animal Farm and the Russian revolution. 

We  read both the original book, and a graphic novel version to make it more accessible to Sam. 

They were given a presentation on the connections between Animal Farm and the Russian revolution, with Solomon particularly enjoying the OverSimplified introductory videos:

Finally we watched the 1954 Animal Farm animated film, which all the children enjoyed. Although its differences to the original work did seem to reflect the CIA's financial contribution. 

Next project: Shapes

Project 165: A Time Capsule

A couple of stairs in the house needed to be fixed, and this required the removal of some plasterboard to access the underneath of the stairs. Before plastering it up again we decided to make the best of a bad situation, and make a time capsule as this week's project, leaving it to be found by someone in the future. After all, if any year deserves a time capsule it is 2020. 

They selected items to reflect their lives and the year, and each wrote accompanying letters on some archival quality paper. 

The children also learned about the Voyager space probes and the sorts of information that was shared on those time-and space capsules about human civilization. Finally we watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture about the finding of the space probes - we expect our capsule to be equally impactful!

Next Project: Animal Farm

Sunday 3 January 2021

Project 164: Boats and ships

Sam got to pick this week's project as it coincided with his birthday, and he seemingly picked boats under the misapprehension that he'd actually be able to go on a boat. Unsurprisingly, this wasn't possible at the moment, but he did learn a lot about the different types of boats that have existed over time, and how they float. 

As well as an extensive presentation on boats, they did an experiment to see who could design the best boat with aluminium foil to hold the most paperclips:

And put together, and decorated, their own paddle boats (bought from Amazon):

Finally we revisited a couple of nautical films we'd watched as part of previous projects: Moana (see Project 73:Moana) and Jason and the Argonauts (see Project 33: Ancient Greece).

Next project: A Time Capsule. 

Projects 163: Rocks and Minerals

The week started by reading and watching videos about the different sorts of rocks and minerals, and how they are formed in the rock cycle:

The rock cycle was then illustrated by a science experiment from Twinkl that used crayon shavings to show the formation of rocks. 

The project was primarily picked as another way to get the family out of the house during the ongoing pandemic, and it also included a rock hunt. We not only found a variety of rocks, but smashed some open to look at the crystals inside.

Smashing rocks is harder than you imagine, however, even with the right tools!

Next week: Boats and ships