Thursday, March 29, 2007

Paper Science

Don't seem to have had much time to myself to blog this week.

Brief recap:

Tuesday we went down to the Medway to join together with other families to celebrate B's 5th birthday. She appeared to have a lovely time, and the kids certainly did - if the noise was anything to go by!

Wednesday was a day of trying to catch up with lots of stuff, personal, household etc, as well as trying to get some answers out of the hospital. Apparently, my thyroid test result is back but "needs to be signed by a doctor" before they can give it to me. In the meantime, they have no space to see me so I was advised to go and see my GP instead.

Today Roarke was in Oxford again, so up early to take him to the station, and put a loaf on for the boys, and get the washing on. At least it means I get some of those things done before the boys are up! Must admit though that I fell back to sleep in front of breakfast news, and didn't wake till 8am when William came down.

Yahoo groups have had problems today - at one point I had 253 emails which were actually only 14 seperate ones as the rest were duplicates! Its been a chore keeping the inbox clear today.

In the afternoon we had the photographer around from the Guardian, to do the photos to go with Dave Hill's piece. We'd started the afternoon's projects without him, but he came in half way through and coped admirably; pottering around the room in the background whilst chaos reigned. He did assure me that he'd got a mixture of the "chaotic" and the "calm"... funny, I don't remember the calm bits!

So, what were we doing?

Well, I'd got some 153 empty (unused) coca cola large drinking cups off of Freecycle and been trying to think what to do with them.

Inspired by this Cup Tower experiment, Paper Cup Walk one, and the Paper Bridge experiment from Zoom, we looked at load bearing, stress, pressure, how buildings are designed etc.

First, I divided the cups amongst the three boys. They each had to try and build the tallest tower - that at least stayed up long enough to be measured! Hilariously, William built the tallest (2.1 m!), with Joshua second with 193cm (though it took him another hour to do it after William!) and Samuel with 186cm.

We got into a huge discussion over architectual styles, talked about costs - ie who could build tallest with the fewest cups was in effect the "cheapest" - and then looked to see how one had to balance cost against safety (in this instance, the stablity of the structure). Samuel realised that when he ran around the room the tower fell down, and that this was caused by the air wave he was making (he learnt THAT of course standing on a railway bridge train spotting eurostars!).

We then built a bridge - out of paper! Seeing how to make one sheet of paper strong enough to take increasing weights. Joshua found that the number of 1ps that the bridge could take didn't match the number of folds - ie it took 2 1ps as a flat sheet of paper, but only three if you folded the paper in half, and 5 when it was folded again (so into 4). The strongest bridge he made was by folding the paper as a concentina, taping the ends (to stop it springing back open) and then turning it on its side and putting the coins into the folds - very ingenious!

We discussed why that bridge was stronger than the others.

Then, we looked to see how many cola cups it took under a piece of cardboard to take William standing on it, again looking at difference strengths of shapes and structures, spreading of loads etc.

During the whole time we were doing this - some 2 1/2 hours! - I was talking to them about loads of different subjects, concepts etc and in effect they learned HUGE amounts. Stuff that will stay with them - unlike if they'd been in a class listening to a teacher drone on at the front. It certainly "goes in" for Samuel when we learn that way.

So a really, really good afternoon - though I must say I never want to see another coca cola cup! Said to the photographer that I hope someone didn't tell him to airbrush out every coke logo!

We also had a quick go on another microscope; we've taken charge of the science equipment donated to our group, and there are two working microscopes (more powerful than the little Chad Valley one Joshua has) together with several boxes of prepared slides. Although a lot of the slides seem to be damaged or corrupted due to age (and probably handling by lots of school kids, as they are ex-school equipment!) there are still some good things there. Samuel was slightly put off by the "mamal foetus" - so was I to be honest!

All the boys were totally hyped up by the end of all the building, and having another photographer around (though I must be getting blaise as I realised I hadn't even brushed my hair or checked my lipstick when he'd turned up, so goodness knows how I'll turn out!) and to be honest I'm now so worn out I'm not really coping with that very well.

Still, I've made dinner, and am now just waiting for Roarke to come home. Haven't heard from him but I assume he's on the train ok.

Definately an early night tonight - I think I've earned it!

1 comment:

Emma said...

I should think you did earn that early night - phew!
Love the piccies though and it all looks a lot of fun :-)
I hope Jonathon is keeping well. x