Saturday, 27 February 2016

Rocks and minerals: igneous rocks

We've been using a long-ago downloaded resource from Currlick to study rocks with dd (The title is Intellego Unit Study Soils, Rocks, Minerals and Fossils - I'm not sure that it's still available to purchase) . Many of the links are out-of-date, but it's been a useful prompt to watch videos and do a few experiments.

Here we are, using wax crayon shavings to replicate some of the processes involved in the rock cycle.


 Sedimentation (sedimentary rocks)

Pressure (stamped on the folded foil)


Some of the intro videos we watched:

Intro to different types of rocks/rock cycle

Igneous rocks:

Video on identifying igneous rocks:

This week we looked at pumice rock as an example of an extrusive igneous rock:

(you can get pumice at most chemist shops in the toiletries/bathtime section. We bought ours for around £1 at Wilkinsons.

Experiment with floating rocks:

Thursday, 25 February 2016

C14 robotics team return to help out at the FLL nationals in Loughborough

C14 Robotics team were invited by the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) to return to the First Lego League UK & Ireland finals as volunteers. In return last year's champions had a free hotel stay in a 4* hotel, a  lovely evening meal and free lunch (yes there is such a thing). It was fab to see them back as a team (albeit, minus a few members) and the boys had a lovely day. 

A few of us parents manned a stall, to answer questions about the robot, the team, their trips to America and Spain and all things FLL. We were busy all day! Congratulations to the West Linton team who are the new FLL Uk & Ireland champions!

The boys, posing :)

(Below) Getting together with Berrelium 6, previously known as the Dalton Brobots. The team met Dalton Brobots in Spain at the European Open, and again at the FLL nationals in 2015 and have stayed in touch. Berrelium 6 didn't get any awards at the weekend, despite all their hard work, but they remained cheery and it was wonderful to see them again. Perhaps next year?

C14, being 'busy'.

C14 helping out at the robot tables:

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.
(We have decided to use this totally blank periodic table so we can add our own pictures/samples and titles )

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


More photos

Exploring St Louis.