Monday, 13 August 2018

5 Minute STEM Activity 14 - The Diver

This project helps you to understand some really complicated Scientific principles, including pressure, volume and buoyancy - but it is really easy and it's fun... And you don't need anything special.

The Diver
Neutral Buoyancy

A water bottle with a screw top lid.
Small square interlocking construction bricks - 4 stud LEGO or similar.
Sticky Tack or Dough

Sunday, 12 August 2018

5 Minute STEM Activity 13; Floaty Paper Boat Challenge

Playing with water is great fun, but always make sure you are safe. Never lean your body over water more than 5cm deep without a safety harness or a responsible grown up, in case you fall in. You actually only need a sink half full of water to test your boat, but safety first...

We Are Sailing
Make a floating boat

A4 Paper - it will not survive it's bath, so scrap paper is perfect.
Wax Crayons

Hopefully you've made a paper boat before, and if not then it's definitely time. Paper isn't generally a very floaty material, but our boat can float for 5 minutes or more...

Saturday, 11 August 2018

5 MInute STEM Activity 12 - Cleaning With Acid

Every child has to make their coppers shiny at least once, it's a right of passage. This is a very effective experiment to make us all consider what we are really putting into our mouths and tummies...

Shiny Pennies. 
Cleaning the filth from money

Money - only coins. 1p and 2p 'copper' coins work best.
Small cups or jars - NOT metal. Glass is best.
Acids - for example, Cola, vinegar, lemon juice

Sgt. Stubby Movie Review, Activity Sheets and Plush Sgt. Stubby Giveaway (3 winners)!

Sgt Stubby was released in cinemas in the UK this weekend. An animated movie which is a more grown up film than you might at first expect, especially as the star is a very cute little stump-tailed Terrier dog. This is the story of the official mascot of the 102nd Infantry Regiment (United States) and America's most decorated dog.

The movie is set in wartime and features wartime events, including frontline battles and infantry in trenches. It's noisy and honest, and my boys at 8 and 9 understood the storyline with depth.

The film tells the story of the real four-legged American hero, Sgt. Stubby, and when it starts he is a stray, rescued by a young 'doughboy' just as America declare war they are joining World War 1 and havoc really begins. The young man takes Sgt. Stubby with him as his infantry mascot.

Friday, 10 August 2018

5 Minute STEM Activity 11: Mind Control

Human beings think we have free-will to do whatever we want, but nature has other ideas. We are bound by instinct and our bodies' will in just the same way as fish returning to their spawning grounds and birds flying South for Winter. Most of it is necessary to keep us alive and protect us from harm, or at least used to be necessary, and we often take our cues from people around us...

Mind Control
Control your family

Another person
We react to what other people do and even copy their actions - it is built into us and has protected humans from potential danger and made us 'part of the pack' for thousands of years. There is safety in numbers, not only because our mates can help us fight off bears, but they can help us spot potential dangers too.

There are absolutely loads of things you can make other people do without discussing it. Not everyone will fall for every trick, and a few people won't be completely caught out by any - but you should get some degree of success with anyone. Here are a few to try. If you want to prove your powers, write down what you are going to make them do, and show them afterwards.

Nerf Laser Ops Pro Alphapoint Review (age 8+) for Hasbro

We love Nerf and their latest release is the Laser Ops Pro range. Brand new laser battling blasters which bring Nerf, Laser Tag and augmented reality together in a brand new and very different type of battle to any other Nerf we've ever played with... and it's really rather fun.

In the box are 2 x Nerf Laser Ops Pro blasters and 2 x rubbery armbands to hold smartphones - which are optional. You will need 8 x AA batteries - 4 for each blaster. The packaging is great. Plastic-free and you have storage for your set afterwards to keep it all safe.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

5 Minute STEM Activity 10: Blowing out a candle with gas

We can't see lots of things, including a lot of gasses, but we can prove that they are there. We can create Carbon Dioxide gas very easily, and because it is heavier than air, we can use it for a trick...

Blowing out a candle by magic...

1 candle - a tealight is perfect
1 bowl with about 1cm water in the bottom
A small jug, mug or beaker.
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 big glugs of vinegar (about 1oz)
Cling Film

CBBC Summer Social Review 2018 Croxteth Hall And Country Park, Liverpool

Lat weekend we were guests of CBBC and Croxteth Hall And Country Park for the CBBC Summer Social. The weather was on our side, dry and not super hot, and unusually gates opened at 9.30am, so we set off bright and early, in time to take a few photos before the crowds really descended.

The CBBC Summer Social is a festival for families with children aged around 0-11, and loads of children's TV favourites were there. It was lovely to find the whole site is really flat and relatively compact, especially when you consider what they managed to fit in!

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

5 Minute STEM Activity 9: Spoon Catapults

Cavemen probably played with miniature catapults as children, the technology is incredibly old. They are very simple to make and this is one of the simplest. It is a great way to use energy and motion to create different types of energy and motion. Mechanics, powered by your finger...

Spoon Catapult
Fantastically Flingy

Small collectible toys, rubber are best*. The type that come in blind bags and don't cost more than 50p each - then your mum won't be mad you won't be sad if you do temporarily lose any (don't use your favourites).
Dessert or soup spoon
Plastic water bottle, half full of water with the lid on tightly or cardboard tubes (kitchen roll or crisp tubes).
Sticky tape
Plastic bowls or similar for targets

*Small objects to fling - if you don't have any small collectible toys or yours are too precious to risk losing, you can use tightly crunched up paper. There are other rules:
a. Your objects cannot be metal or glass, or feel heavy or hard like metal or glass - e.g. dice.
b. Your objects cannot have sharp edges, points or corners.
c. Never aim towards animals or people, and watch out for your cat/baby brother getting into the way.
d. Your objects must not be bigger than the spoon, if they overlap the edges, they're too big.

My Pet Story (Gary the Cat Update) - with Petplan

It's about time I updated you on what Gary is up to, although it is with a degree of disappointment that I inform you he still doesn't have a 3-storey cat hotel, but you never know, one may just be in his near future... Black Friday is only getting closer...

For anyone who has missed Gary's story, he arrived, he squealed (for an hour). We let him in, he repaid us in hugs and a terror of the outdoors, followed by a persistent inability to have a wee. The internet raised some of the money, the vet took a hatchet to Gary's credentials and he's been just fine since.

He's only 3 and he's had the most adventures of any animal I've ever had.

Gary is the only cat I have ever actually tolerated liked. I'm not a natural cat person, I like dogs - but don't tell Gary. He's very excited by passing dogs, but I don't think he intends to befriend them.

Monday, 6 August 2018

5 Minute STEM Activity 8: The Banger

The Butterfly Effect suggests that when a butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon jungle, the ripples around the world might cause a roof to blow off in China, an apple to fall from a tree in the UK, or a Russian woman's hat might blow away. We see the butterflies' wings flap, but we can't see the waves of pressure it causes. In this activity we can hear them though...

Bangers and Sound Waves 

A sheet of A4 paper

World Calligraphy Day 15th August #SaySomethingSpecial

World Calligraphy Day isn't just about showing off your calligraphy skills (thankfully because mine are very limited!), it's about getting everyone writing. Manuscript Pen Company have partnered with Birmingham Children’s Hospital and created the ‘Say Something Special’ campaign.

The campaign is encouraging as many people as possible to write a special letter to the children in  Birmingham Children's Hospital. These can be sent to: Say Something Special c/o Small Man Media, 2nd Floor, 6 Waterloo Road, Wolverhampton, WV1 4BL. All of the letters will be forwarded on to Birmingham Children’s Hospital alongside some Manuscript products for the hospital to use for their art classes and play sessions.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

5 Minute STEM Activity 7: Is it warm, or is it cold?

Today's 5 minute activity is one of the very simplest, but most effective. Our bodies and brains are incredibly complicated and clever, and most of the time they work together really well, but it is possible to confuse our brains and make it appear that something isn't what it seems.

Is it warm, or is it cold?
Confusing Your Brain.

Your hands
1 bowl cold water - from the cold tap
1 bowl lukewarm water - 2/3 cold and 1/3 hot
1 bowl warm water - comfortably warm and toasty

Friday, 3 August 2018

5 Minute STEM Activity 6 - Turn Black To White (well, almost...)

Science can't explain everything, but sometimes it has a very simple explanation for something that seems impossible. If you hit yeast extract (Marmite, Vegemite etc) it appears to change colour from very dark brown to very light tan colour, almost from black to white. But why?

Turn black to white.
Marmite Bashing. 

1 level teaspoon Yeast Extract - Marmite, Vegemite etc.
A spoon, fish slice or other utensil to hit the yeast extract with.
A plastic plate or shallow bowl - not a Melamine camping plate, it'll break. The softer sort of plastic.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

5 Minute STEM Activity 5 - Step Through A Hole In A Postcard

Here's something for the engineers of the future to get their teeth into. You can make a hole in more than one way, and if you do it carefully, you can even walk through a hole in a postcard...

This activity is quite hard because it requires concentration and careful cutting. Younger scientists may need older assistance, and there is always sticky tape!

Step Through A Postcard

A postcard sized piece of thin cardboard. A postcard is perfect, cereal box is great.
A light coloured, thin felt tip or a pencil or wax crayon
A thick marker or felt tip in a dark colour.

Grandpa's Old Watch by Angela Poulain Personalised Adventure Book Review

Grandpa's Old Watch is one of two 'My Little Adventurer' personalised children's story books written and illustrated by Angela Poulain. Suitable for reading together or for independent readers, these are adventure story books, where the reader makes choices about what will happen next...

I've reviewed with my 8 year old. Ordering was incredibly easy, the personalisation is a bit limited, but my son opened his book and immediately shouted, "The kid in this book has the same name as me. Is that why you got it for me?". So that was a hit!

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

5 Minute STEM Activity 4 - What is Gluten?

Lots of people are diagnosed Gluten-intolerant, but it's very hard to understand what that actually means. It's very easy to 'make' Gluten, and when you do then you will be able to understand why people with Coeliac Disease have trouble digesting it...

What Is Gluten? 
Separating flour.

1 cup of flour - strong bread making flour is best.
A bowl.

If you don't have bread flour then use plain flour. I've used plain flour here just to show that it can still be done, but bread flour gives a much better result. If your mix doesn't seem to be working, wait half an hour and come back. It's not failure, it's science!

Crate Creatures Surprise Review (age 4+)

Crate Creatures are a brand new toy and they're actually rather good. Furry animal monsters captured inside a crate, your job is to release them and befriend them. It's easier than it sounds - although these little critters will shout and growl and try to scare you off. It's as if they don't understand you're being kind...

This is packaging genius. The crate is the packaging for the toy, but also the storage and the actual toy. It's brilliant. It's common for my 8 year old to play with the box, he doesn't usually play with it more than the contents.