Month: September 2017

New Scientist Live 2017

New Scientist Live 2017

When I saw the adverts for New Scientist Live in the newspaper, I wasn’t sure whether it would be a little too grown up for children. After trawling the website I decided to take a risk and book tickets. After all, anywhere that tells you you’ll get to be a human remote control for Mario has to have something to entertain the whole family. It turns out we were right to take a risk and the place is AMAZING for kids and adults alike.

Held at the ExCeL centre in London, it was easy to access and we were waiting at the doors at 10:00 raring to go. With a detailed timetable online,  we had already planned what were must sees for the both of us and couldn’t wait to go in. I’d chosen to get us the VIP upgrade on our tickets as we really wanted to attend the talk with Tim Peake, Helen Sharman and Al Worden which was truly inspiring.

The first stand we encountered was from The University of Manchester, who were demonstrating DNA. B made a bracelet (I think representing strands of DNA), and we were shown how to split DNA from strawberries.

Next up we found the Middlesex University stands and B truly found his tribe. With everything from controlling a game of Mario with your own body, to a virtual reality rollercoaster, this stand had it all. Due to age restrictions on wearing the headset, B had a modified “ride” on the rollercoaster, fuelling his desire to design them even more.

Next up was the much anticipated legendary space talk. I wasn’t sure whether B would manage an hour listening to the speakers, but he did so with aplomb. Sometimes our children do surprise us with their capabilities. Hearing the stories from these people was astonishing. Debating about potential visits to Mars, whether to revisit the moon, and just how will they create the spaceship capable of all this, was fascinating. The resounding points for me though, were on how the whole world collaborates on space projects. It doesn’t matter what the political situation is, the space program overrides differences and works together. Something we could all learn from.

We took a quick break for lunch (I even managed to find a gluten free vegan option) and back to the stands. Our first port of call was to The Mary Rose Trust. We held (and sniffed) a piece of original rope from the infamous ship and chatted all things Henry VIII. This has inspired us to plan a trip down to Portsmouth to visit the historic dockyard.

Our next discovery was the Bloodhound supersonic car, something B knows far more than me about, I expect thanks to Whizz Pop Bang magazine. How better to learn about engineering than boxes full of K’Nex, an air pump, tubes and a smooth surface. We had great fun building a car, testing it out and then making modifications to improve it.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon hurling jellybabies at castles, looking at bone density with the use of ultrasounds, discovering the amazing app courtesy of Education Harbour and programming a robot to play with Hot Wheels.

The event is on until Sunday so there is still time to visit. We can’t wait until next year!

Not Back to School

Not Back to School

Wow! Just like that it’s September again and summer has gone in a flash. At least it feels like that in this house, after weeks of dancing and football holiday clubs. The home education community is awash with Not Back to School posts and hashtags from everyone from the unschoolers to the structured families. It’s quite a celebration of an eclectic kind. If now is the time that you’re seeking out your own home education community or interested in how it all works, this is where activity starts to pick up again after the summer hibernation.

As a family that thrives with structure and routine we are back with our heads in the books. This year would see B in Year 3 if he was in school, and with the plan to return to school for Year 7 it’s time to knuckle down a little. Looking back it seems Year 1 was a period of recovery after events that happened at school. Year 2 was all about dabbling in different methods and finding what worked, and Year 3? Well that’s about putting our successes into practice and running with it. Of course the most fantastic thing with such a tailored education is that we can tweak and modify along the way. Its an evolutionary journey, not one set in stone.

Our home education sees us follow the national curriculum fairly rigidly. It’s often quite a surprise that home educators are under no obligation to do this, and if we were looking at home education up until 18 then we may take a different stance. I was filled with a fair amount of dread piecing together our English work for this year due to the emphasis on the grammar involved but B has dived in with aplomb. As a fan of rules generally in life, what’s not to like about rules in your written work? We’ve also planned a lot of fun around The Iron Man and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which we will be studying this year. For me this year has involved a huge amount of planning. We want to fit in as many of the fun activities available this year, but also have goals set in getting through the work that needs completing with contingency planning in case of disaster!

Having a year and half under our belts now, I also feel a lot more confident in where to look for resources, how much time to spend on a subject, and how there are such a variety of people home educating, it doesn’t matter if your journey looks different from everyone else’s. As long as it is working for your family, then that’s good enough.

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