Saturday, 22 August 2015

Summer geography: part 1 (structure of the earth)

Dd and a friend have been doing some hands-on geography over the summer. We started with the structure of the earth. Using plasticine we made globes in various coloured layers to represent the layers of the earth (there was a little bit of freestyle' involved, but I think dd got the gist). The girls also made cardboard 'earth dials' of the different layers. (I'll add the link if I can find it). We've been using The Kingfisher Geography Encyclopedia as a background read.



Making the 'earth dial'

Cutting the plasticine earth in half

Ta da!


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Chemistry: Making a giant periodic table (with links for printable periodic tables)

The boys only have a few more (I)GCSE exams to take (in June), so I've been taking a small breather and trying to get back the rhythm of our old home ed. It's not easy when we've been totally focused on box-ticking and hoop-jumping for the year.

After several months of not-much-chemistry I'm picking up where I left off doing Ellen McHenry's 'The Elements" with dd. If you haven't checked out Ellen McHenry's website, please do. There are lots of fab freebie printables to download, as well as various downloadable curricula to purchase. We've used both The Elements and Carbon Chemistry (a follow-on programme) with my boys and I can highly recommend them. They are particularly ideal for that tricky pre-teen age, when children often seem to want a bit more of a challenge, but still want to do lots of hands-on learning. 

So, today we were back to the periodic table and learning about atoms by using Skittles sweets to show electrons in their orbits. Of course we use sweets for our demonstrations as much as possible. It gives me an excuse to go to the shop and buy chocolate for myself. Not that I need excuses ;)

Inspired by what we've learned today dd and I are now in the process of making a giant periodic table. The hope is to make one large enough that we can actually stick little bags of examples of the elements (the non-radioactive ones) onto the table. Or at least stick photos on. Well, that's the idea. 

Dogzilla not really helping with our giant periodic table

You can find various printable versions of the periodic table here. 
http://sciencenotes.org/printable-periodic-table/
(We have decided to use this totally blank periodic table so we can add our own pictures/samples and titles
http://sciencenotes.org/blank-periodic-table/ )

The files will print out to standard A4 size.

To print out a really massive version, on more than one A4 sheet:

1) Download the PDF of the table you prefer. 
2) Open up the PDF
3) Click on print. This will open up the various print options.
4) Select 'poster' (on my screen this is to the left of the print options, about half way down, and has a little picture of 4 sheets of paper)
5) Increase the size of the tile scale (I've just printed mine out at 500%). You might need to click in another box to refresh, but you should find a small image displayed showing how the pages will be arranged.
6) When you're happy with the size, confirm that you want to print.
7) Stick the pages together. You might find it helpful to click print again, put in the same tile scale and refer to the little preview to help you piece together the jigsaw of pages. 


Tuesday, 5 May 2015

C14 Robotics team: finally over the jet lag and now sitting exams

C14 team members had a week to recover from the excitement (and exhaustion) of the US before most of them sat their GCSEs. Ds1 has gone off this afternoon, having been ill all day yesterday, to sit English, his weakest subject. It doesn't bode well.

He needs to pass English or Maths to get onto the college course he wants to do. If today is a wash-out, we have 3 weeks to cover - again - an entire GCSE maths syllabus. When you're dyslexic and need to cover something 10 times to remember it and there's still no guarantee you won't have fog-for-brain on the day, exams can seem like some truly awful lottery.

To distract myself from the stress and worry I am going to post up some photos from the team's time away. It has been an amazing experience from them all, and even though they didn't come back with any awards, they are still the UK & Ireland FLL champions.


C14's pit area, decorated like a souvenir shop on Oxford Street

A brief moment to chill out

They took The Queen with them. She had to have her own pass.


Arriving late on stage (oops, overslept!) but just making it there for the medals

You wouldn't believe how many people came up and asked them what country they were from.
Maybe they didn't make it obvious enough?

Stress at the competition table

Selfies

More photos

Exploring St Louis.


Thursday, 12 February 2015

C14 robotics team now have a fundraising site! http://www.charitychoice.co.uk/fundraiser/c14-robotics

C14 Robotics, First Lego League UK & Ireland champions, now have a C14 fundraising site to help get the team to the World Festival, USA, 22-25 April 2015.

http://www.charitychoice.co.uk/fundraiser/c14-robotics



The team have a lot to raise and a long way to go. I don't like to ask for money, but please give if you can, however little.


For more information about C14 and First Lego League check out the C14 website

Stay updated on their progress on their Facebook page. Every message they've got from you guys has given them a boost, so please do wish them luck!



Tuesday, 3 February 2015

C14 Robotics team are UK & Ireland First LEGO League champions!!!

C14 Robotics, a team of home ed teens from Berkshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire, have won the UK & Ireland First LEGO League championship! 

From their press release:

"...The nine young budding engineers, now have to raise £10,000 to be able to compete in the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) World Festival in April 2015, alongside more than 100 other teams from all over the world. The event is being held in the St Louis, MO, at the Edward Jones Dome, seating more than 70,000 people.
The team comes from Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Hampshire and compete as the team C14 Roboticsin FLL, a worldwide competition building and programming a Lego Mindstorms robot to complete a course of obstacles and tasks.

The teenage engineers won their place after being crowned the UK & Ireland Champions at Loughborough University on the 1st February, presented by Rt. Hon. Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education. C14 intends to follow in the footsteps of the last two UK teams to attend the World Festival, and once again bring back the winners trophy..."

More information about the team and First LEGO League on the C14 webpage . Follow their progress on their Facebook page  








Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Christmas is coming! (Apparently)

After weeks of nagging from dd I concede and get the Christmas tree out of the loft. The boys dont care either way. No, correction, ds2 is a willing participant once the 20 year old tree is assembled, but neither of my boys are quite the magpies us girls of the house are.

" Ooo shiny thing!"
" Ooo, another shiny thing!"

 It's no wonder three sets of our 'christmas lights' have remained hung in our house all year round for the past 4 or 5 years.


The shock of being removed from the box is, as usual, evident in the tree's response. I'm always surprised to find it still has needles each year I unbox it.



The gearbox on the van fails and I make Christmas decorations with dd. (There is probably some denial psychology going on there. )

Frugality (is that a word?) rules. Free fabric (from sample books thrown out of shops), buttons from our button jar, stuffing from an old pillow, ribbon from a tat shop at £1 a roll. Looking cute, even if I do say so myself.