How much science do you do with your kids?

How different do you think the world will be when the kids grow up? And what sort of skills are you offering your kids to cope with these changes – from technology to climate? Maybe time for a bit of extra science?  For more ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children follow this blog or get my book Homemade Kids, out of the library. This post is by Nicola Baird, also see www.nicolabaird.com

Pumpkin and lentil soup for an outdoor picnic during half term.

Pumpkin and lentil soup for an outdoor picnic during half term. Nell only liked it because she was a bit cold and definitely hungry!

I’m really good at offering any kids I’m entertaining the chance to go outside – because that’s what I like doing.  I’m not so good at exploring science (despite having an MSc!). So it seemed a great opportunity to take Nell, 13, to see a proper 3D printer at the Maker Fair run at the London College of Communication building in Elephant and Castle this weekend.

Using the electric current Nell worked out how to light the LED and then how to make a tune - just by moving playdough.

Using the electric current Nell worked out how to light the LED and then how to make a tune – just by moving playdough.

Every school should have a 3D printer, or organise for someone to come in and talk through the potential of this amazing device. I love the way they can be industrial or suitable for a home office, and I love the way they make you think differently about creativity. But once we’d understood the principle and seen some not very interesting outcomes in frankly horrible material – a vase, some plastic toys – we moved on to the kids’ activities.

Nell did some exploring with currents and playdough (this only works if you put salt in your playdough).

Broken saucepan lids get customised (aka mended) using Sugru.

Broken saucepan lids get customised (aka mended) using Sugru.

I was sidetracked by the Sugru stall. This is an expensive mouldable glue that makes fixing things, or customising them, incredibly simple. Of course the fair had bargain prices so I bought a few packets thinking this is the sort of item that makes an amazing stocking present, and an even better gift for me. I think if I was only ever given Sugru for the rest of my life I’d be happy and at £10 for three small portions (in panther pink) that’s a useful tip for anyone out there who might ever be inclined to buy me a present. Or have a hard to buy for friend…

The fair was brilliant: it was full of families with keen teenage boys looking at the new devices on show. It doesn’t seem fair that boys so often get more time exposed to science  – but after 20 mins at the show Nell’s phone went into buzz overdrive and she soon was lost to text plans about how to meet her friends to go to the cinema. I guess you win some, and lose some. The point is to try. Good luck.

Over to you
What have you done this weekend that has really felt like science?

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