Dont-panic-homeschooling.png

We’re social distancing or isolating, we’re worried about our families and our communities…and now we have to be teachers too! Here are some ramblings, musings and top tips from me. I am a science teacher (primary and secondary), a mum (2 boys: Year 7 and Year 8) and had a rather wonky educational journey myself.

What is education anyway?

Probably easier to ask what is not education. What activities could you possibly do in your house that don’t involve your child learning something new, practising a skill, discovering, exploring or creating? I can’t think of any! Yes, even the PlayStation. Although I’m refusing to believe my boys claims that Fortnite is so educational that they don’t need to do anything else. Helping with cooking, laundry, gardening are all learning. Are you working from home? Do your kids actually know what your job is? Now’s the time to find out! My kids are going to be practising their classification skills by doing my filing this afternoon ūüôā Yes, children need to learn to read, write and add up. So we can do a bit of that but it doesn’t need to take all day.

What if they get ‘behind’?

In ‘normal’ life, families move house and children change schools all the time. Different schools use different schemes of work, teach the curriculum in a different order, use different resources and even have different exams. Children coming into a new school may re-learn things they’ve already done or miss out things completely. They adapt, it works and they’re OK.

Home education is a valid and increasingly popular choice. I’ve worked with many home ed families over the last couple of years and I’ve learned so much from them! There are as many reasons for choosing home education as there are home educating families. For some, it is a short term plan, for some it grows into much more. I’m sure that there will be many families who will fall in love with the freedom of home education during the school closure and will continue when this is all over. And many children who have chosen home ed, then move into school and they adapt, it works and they’re OK.

Through my teaching career I’ve worked with so many children who have English as an additional language. Some in the very early stages of learning. They spend some time picking up the language while not taking in much of the subjects being taught. They have some catching up to do but they often get the best results in English in the end! They adapt, it works and they’re OK.

My own education was a bit wonky as my parents were slightly nomadic artists (being a scientist is my rebellion!). I didn’t start Reception until mid-May as we were living in a caravan in France. I attended two different primary schools due to a house move. When I say different schools, I mean DIFFERENT schools! The first was a small church school which focussed entirely on the Bible, old-fashioned handwriting and the three Rs. The second was a whole new world…we did creative things, science, DT, projects and learned handwriting that people could actually read. I was so behind on all of these things but way ahead on the ‘boring academic’ stuff. We moved to Spain when I was just starting Year 9 and then had a couple of years off before starting Year 10 a year late. I never did Year 9 at all but I’ve got a degree now so I think it’s fine. I adapted, it worked and I’m OK.

These are all examples of children having to adapt and catch up when they enter a new class. Our children will not be doing that. They will not be the one child trying to play catch up. All of the children who are currently at home and go back to school whenever they reopen will have learned different things. The teachers will adapt, it will work and they’ll be OK.

I don’t have time to be a teacher!

Many of us are now trying to juggle work, doing shopping for self-isolating relatives and neighbours, doing all the usual household stuff and then having to add teacher, school cook, children’s entertainer, school nurse and teaching assistant into the mix. Possibly for more than one child of different ages. Sounds impossible! But really it’s not. Firstly, don’t panic. That’s very important. You’ve got this. Secondly, you don’t need to be ‘teaching’ from 9-3 every day. Teachers don’t do that. By the time you take out registration, assemblies, break, lunch, tidy up time and the amazing amount of time you have to allow for small people to get coats on, it’s about 3-3.5 hours a day. And it’s not all writing and maths! A chunk of that is PE, art, DT, project work, ICT, science, history and geography. You can still do all of these things but they don’t need to involve sitting at the table and being ‘taught’. Also don’t forget that a normal maths or English lesson usually consists of the teacher doing ‘standing at the front teaching’ for about 5 minutes. The rest of the lesson is devoted to children working independently, practising their skills and being supported and guided by the teacher. In an hour, with a class of 30, a bit of simple maths shows that each child gets an average of 2 minutes direct support from the teacher. Just imagine how much you can get done in a hour of focussed work together.

Top tips to get prepared

  1. Don’t panic. I know I’ve mentioned this already but seriously, don’t.
  2. Let the school take the strain. Right across the country, teachers are working their socks off to provide activities that your child can do at home. Don’t re-invent the wheel. Wait and see what they come up with first. Then use it if works for your family, adapt or look for other ideas if not.
  3. Be a hoarder! No, not toilet rolls and beans. Keep interesting bits of recycling, you never know what engineering project might come out of that. In 7 years running science camps, we have discovered that the most popular activities are often not the ones that involve the very expensive rocket launcher or the ones that use resources that I was still laminating and cutting out at 3am…it’s the ones that involve a big box of junk and a challenge!
  4. Don’t declutter just yet. It’s very tempting to use this time to have a good clear out but don’t jump too soon. Old toys that are no longer played with might just get a new lease of life now the children have more time. Old clothes can be a textiles project. Many things might be repurposed in ways that won’t imagine but our children probably will!
  5. Google is your friend! Even specialist teachers are not afraid to look up answers to student’s questions, we are all still learning. You do not need an encyclopaedic knowledge of every subject to help your child learn. We live in a time when all the information in the world is at our fingertips, don’t be afraid to use it.
  6. There are so many resources out there to help home learning. Don’t try to do them all at once! Keep an eye on the Fab Science website, Facebook page and Facebook group. I’ll be sharing lots of ideas, resources and experiments and in the group you can share your own too.

Most importantly…enjoy it!

When have we ever had such an opportunity to learn new things with our children? To allow them the space and time to follow their own interests? This is an uncertain time but also one full of amazing possibilities.

Take care,

 


Potions-kids-500.jpg

Have you ever tried to inflate a balloon using magic (and chemistry)? This experiment uses the reaction between an acid (vinegar) and an carbonate (baking soda) to produce lots of fizzy carbon dioxide gas.

What you need:

An empty plastic bottle, 500ml or smaller.

Vinegar (any type)

Baking soda

A balloon

Spoon

Funnel (or roll a piece of paper into a cone)

Safety goggles

What to do:

  1. ¬†Put your goggles on. This activity is safe but vinegar can squirt out if there’s a small hole in the balloon!
  2.  Carefully pour about 100 ml of vinegar into the bottle.
  3.  Use the funnel (or rolled up paper cone) to put a couple of teaspoons of baking soda into the balloon.
  4.  Stretch the balloon over the top of the bottle without letting the powder drop in.
  5. ¬†When you’re ready, tip the balloon so that the powder falls into the bottle…it should inflate by itself!

If you want to impress your friends or family, you could say a ‘magic’ spell when you tip it and prove that you should be off to Hogwarts!

So what’s going on?

The vinegar is an acid and the baking soda is an alkali, these are opposite types of chemical and they will react together. Because the baking soda is a special kind of alkali called a carbonate, the reaction makes lots of carbon dioxide gas. This is the same gas that we make in our bodies when we release energy from our food (and then we breathe it out).

Think like a scientist:

This activity is a demonstration. To make it into an experiment, you could try changing the type of acid…you could use lemon juice, orange juice or a different type of vinegar. Or you could try adding a different amount of baking soda, use different shapes of balloons or different sized bottles. Remember, science is all about asking questions and working out a way to find out the answer!

You can find out more about acids and alkalis with our Colour changing cabbage experiment and if you like reactions with vinegar and baking soda, check out volcanoes.

If you would like to try out lots more experiments with your very own Fab Scientist, we can bring the Fab Science lab to your birthday party, school or event. Get in touch to find out more.

 

 

 


Rockets-500.jpg

Make your own bottle rockets!

All you need is: a piece of plastic plumbing tube (very cheap in any DIY store), a short piece of hose-pipe, an empty lemonade bottle, some paper, glue and Sellotape.

To make the rocket: roll a piece of A4 paper around the plastic tube. Use glue to keep the paper rolled up but do not stick it to the plastic tube! Push the paper over the end of the plastic tube so that you can fold the end over and stick it down with plenty of Sellotape. Take it off the plastic tube and that’s your rocket done…it’s that simple! You can decorate it if you like.

To make the rocket launcher: attach the hose to the neck of the bottle, again use plenty of tape to make sure no air can escape around the sides of the hose. Stick the plastic tube on the other end of the hose and make sure it is well sealed too. Your rocket launcher is ready to go.

To launch the rocket: Find an outside space that has plenty of room for a safe launch. Make sure the rocket can’t hit anyone or end up in a road. Slide the paper rocket onto the plastic tube. If you STOMP on the bottle, the air inside will be squashed and will rush through the tube under high pressure. This will make the rocket fly up in the air. You may want to get someone else to hold the tube so that you can get a really big stomp!



Elf-science-needs-you-500-1.jpg

Christmas has arrived in the Fab Science lab!

We have a handful of dates left this year for a last minute bit of festive science. Book a ‘naughty elf’ workshop as a Christmas treat for your class. They can try out some real chemistry to sort out Mrs Christmas’ mixed up biscuit mixes and turn their hand to forensics to identify the naughty elf!

1 workshop = £150

2 workshops = £250

3 workshops = £325

4 or 5 workshops = £400

…this works out at just ¬£80 per class or ¬£2.67 per child!

Each workshop is for one class and is usually an hour (but can be flexible to fit around the school day). Multiple workshops must be on same day to take advantage of discounted prices. Can be adapted to work for Key Stage 1 or 2. Prices are valid within 1 hour travel time of the Fab Science lab (Bishop’s Stortford), please get in touch for a quote if you’re further away.

Available December dates are: Monday 2nd, Thursday 5th, Monday 9th, Wednesday 11th, Thursday 12th, Monday 16th.

Don’t forget we offer Fab workshops all year round. You can choose from curriculum-linked sessions for just one class or wow the whole school with an enrichment day such as Potty Potions – a Hogwarts-themed chemistry class. Every event is designed by a qualified science teacher to be 100% fun and 100% educational. Click here to go to our schools page for details.

If you would like to book a visit from Fab Science, either for our Christmas special or later in the year, please get in touch. Call 07799 624777 or email schools@fabscience.co.uk and we’ll talk you through the options.

Fab Science Elf with test tubes

 

 


Ri-grant-500-2020.png

The Royal Institution offers a grant of £500 for schools to receive visits from a range of STEM enrichment providers. Applications open Wednesday 30th September and close on Friday 23rd October. Successful schools will be able to choose a visit from any provider listed in the STEM directory.

Fab Science is a member of the STEM Directory so we could bring a whole day of hands on activities to your school. We offer theme days with a big emphasis on practical work and real world science…with good dose of awe and wonder thrown in! We cover the East of England, London and the South East. If you are out of this area, visit the STEM Directory to find a provider near you.


Choose from Potty Potions (Hogwarts themed chemistry), Fantastic Forces (air pressure and rockets), Sweetie Science (great for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory literacy links) and Fab Forensics. We also have a range of curriculum-linked workshops for specific year groups such as a gruesome tour of the digestive system for Year 4 or Geology Rocks for Year 3. See our schools page for all the options. We can often adapt our sessions to fit your topic or science week theme, get in touch to chat about what we can do for your school.

Our activities are carefully designed by an experienced science teacher to enhance your science curriculum and maximise opportunities for hands on experimenting. Each session is led by two presenters (at least one of whom will be a qualified teacher), we bring all the kit and even do the washing up. A teacher’s guide is included, with information on the activities, background science and ideas for follow-up work in the classroom. This allows teachers to fully experience the workshop with their class…no need to take notes!

We can do up to 5 sessions in a day, this could be hands on sessions for 5 classes or an assembly for the whole school followed by 4 workshops for individual classes. For the grant application, a larger number of children taking part is preferable (ie, the whole school). We offer discounts for multiple day bookings to allow larger schools to have hands on workshops for all of their classes. If you obtain a grant, we are happy to invoice for any extra sessions separately and you could still take advantage of the discount.


To apply for the grant, visit https://www.rigb.org/education/stem-grants during the application window. If you plan to apply for funding for a visit from Fab Science, please get in touch if you would like any help with the application.


Party-bags-500.jpg

At Fab Science we want to create the perfect party for your young scientist…right down to the party bags!

We have three options to choose from; standard, premium and a special one for Harry Potter potions parties. We bring the party bags along to your party, ready filled and left open for you to add the cake.


Standard party bag Р£4.50

Each bag contains:

  • a mini experiment kit – pH indicator paper to try out some kitchen science
  • rainbow glasses – make all lights look like rainbows!
  • a test tube full of jelly beans
  • a ping pong ball – to recreate one of the experiments from the party
  • a glow stick
  • ideas of experiments to try at home

Premium party bag Р£7.50

Encourage every guest to carry on experimenting at home with their very own science goggles! The premium party bags also include some very cool ‘rattle’ magnets, a mini experiment kit, rainbow glasses, a test tube full of jelly beans, a ping pong ball, a glow stick and ideas of experiments to try at home.

Potions party bag Р£6

Perfect for a Harry Potter potions party! Young witches and wizards can make a note of all their spells and potions in a Hogwarts notebook. Make sure muggles can’t read your spells by writing with the special ‘magic’ pen. This pen writes in invisible ink and has a UV light in the lid so that only you can read it! The party bags also contain a mini experiment kit, rainbow glasses, a test tube full of jelly beans, a ping pong ball, a glow stick and ideas of experiments to try at home.



Hoop-Awards-2019-Winner-Badge-500.png

We’re so excited to announce that Fab Science camps have been voted the Best Holiday Club in our region in the 2019 Hoop Awards!

Our team have run nearly 200 camps, been visited by thousands of young scientists and hopefully inspired many of them to get stuck into science. We always aim to make each camp 100% fun, while being educational, interesting and inspiring the children to learn more. All of our Fab Scientists are passionate about including every child and encouraging exploration and experimentation in every activity. We know that we make every event the best it can be so we’re incredibly proud that this has been recognised in the Hoop Awards.

We’d like to say a huge THANK YOU to all of our lovely customers who voted for us in this award and who continue to support our camps and events.

 


strawberries-500.jpg

All living things* have DNA; animals, plants, fungi, even teeny tiny bacteria. It’s what makes us who we are. At ‘All About Me’ camps, we made models of DNA and also had a look at some real DNA that we extracted from strawberries. There were lots of requests for instructions on how to do this at home so here is the recipe!

You need:

  • Two strawberries
  • Surgical spirit (available in any chemist)
  • Washing up liquid
  • Table salt
  • Ziplock bag (use pestle and mortar to avoid using plastic bag)
  • Plastic cups or beakers
  • Small glass (shot glass would be ideal)
  • Small sieve or tea strainer
  • Tweezers or cocktail sticks

 

What to do:

  1. Put the surgical spirit in the freezer at least an hour before you start. Leave it there until step 8.
  2. Remove the leaves from the strawberries and put the fruits in the bag.
  3. Mash the strawberries! This is the fun bit…don’t break the bag though. You can squash the strawberries in a pestle and mortar (or bowl and spoon!) instead to avoid plastic waste.
  4. To make the extraction mixture which will break open the cells and let the DNA escape: measure 90ml water into a beaker or cup, add a teaspoon of salt and two teaspoons of washing up liquid. Stir slowly…we want it mixed but not bubbly.
  5. Add 4 teaspoons of the extraction mixture to your bag of mashed up strawberries. Mix GENTLY.
  6. Sieve the strawberries into a clean beaker.
  7. Pour this into your small glass. The DNA is now free in the mixture instead of being stuck inside cells but it is VERY thin so we can’t see it.
  8. Carefully pour some cold surgical spirit on top of the strawberry liquid. You should see a cloudy white layer appear, this the DNA! The alcohol makes it clump together so you can see it. You can pull this out with tweezers or a cocktail stick to have a proper look.

 

*All cellular life on Earth has DNA. Some viruses have another molecule called RNA instead but it’s a bit of tricky question to decide if viruses are actually alive anyway. Of course, we don’t know if any lifeforms that may exist on other planets have DNA or something else entirely.


Halls-for-hire-Hertford-500.png

When you book your birthday party, there are so many things to think about: food, entertainment (Fab Science obviously!), party bags, guest lists, decorations…the list goes on! And where are you going to have all this fun? Here are some venue options if you don’t fancy having it at home. We aim to keep this list updated but please let us know if you spot any problems.¬†

Hertford Methodist Church Hall

Nice hall with easy access to outside space for exploding lemonade! Plenty of parking and a small,¬†enclosed courtyard. Note that although the address is Ware Road, the car park is accessed from Townshend Street (which is one way so go via Railway Street). Contact for bookings: Chris Lawn ‚ÄĒ 01992 552669

Sele Community Centre

This is a nice, modern hall and you can book just half or both sections. Plenty of parking and nice kitchen. Morning or afternoon session Р£65 whole hall, £35 one section. Email janet.guinn@yahoo.co.uk  or call 07904 340951. Website www.selefarmcomunitycentre.co.uk.

Hornsmill Community Centre

Very nice hall but limited parking and a bit tricky to find! £10 per hour. For enquiries, email hornsmillcommunitycentre@gmail.com. Online booking only. Website www.hornsmill.co.uk

The Mission Room, Hertford Heath

Tiny hall but good for small parties. Perfect for Potty Potions as has a definite feel of Hogwarts! The kitchen is quite small (and the toilet is accessed through the kitchen), no car park but have never had trouble finding somewhere to park on the road. Only £20 for a whole morning or afternoon session. Booking information at www.hertford-heath-church.org.uk/mission-room.

Port Vale Scout Hut

Quite modern for a scout hut! Parking is OK, just make sure you come into Port Vale via Beane Road as the town end of Port Vale doesn’t connect to this bit! Contact 01992 302444 or email Jan: hallhire@3rdhertford.org.uk.

Waterford Village Hall

Older style hall but has a park and field right outside. Good for rocket launching!  Morning or afternoon hire is £75 at weekends or Monday to Thursday is £47. Waterford and Stapleton residents will receive reduced rates. (£50 or £28). Contact 07584 123958 (Monday-Friday 5-8pm only) or email waterfordvillagehall@gmail.com. Website www.waterfordvillagehall.co.uk.

St John’s Church Hall, Hertford

Older style hall with more modern kitchen. £17.50 per hour and parking for 15 cars. Contact  07538 141853 or email hall@stjohnshallhertford.org.  Can book online from the website www.allsaintshertford.org/hall.

Hunsdon Village Hall

Self-contained rear garden; part paved, part lawn. Limited parking but usually plenty of high street parking. Hire charges Рweekdays £12 per hour. Weekends £15 per hour. Additional £10 per 4 hours to hire kitchen. Contact bookings@hunsdonvillagehall.org or visit www.hunsdonvillagehall.org.

Tonwell Village Hall

£10 per hour. Contact 07795 985551 or email tonwellvillagehall@gmail.com

Standon and Puckeridge Community Centre

Contact 07854 916404 or email info@standonandpuckeridgecc.co.uk for information and hire rates.

3rd Ware Scout Hut

For enquiries, email bookings@3rdwarescouts.org.uk. Website www.3rdwarescouts.org.uk.

Thundridge Village Hall

Small carpark. Monday to Friday and Sun Р£42 for 4 hours hire. (£28 for residents). Saturday 10:30-1 -£40 (£28 residents) or 1-6pm Р£65. (£40 residents). Contact 01920 467152. Website www.thundridge-wadesmill.co.uk.

Booking your Fab Science party: get in touch with us first to check dates. We’re always happy to hold a date for a few days while you check out venues.¬†


Halls-for-hire-Stortford-500.png

When you book your birthday party, there are so many things to think about: food, entertainment (Fab Science obviously!), party bags, guest lists, decorations…the list goes on! And where are you going to have all this fun? Here are some venue options if you don’t fancy having it at home. We aim to keep this list updated but please let us know if you spot any problems.¬†

Ugley Village Hall

We like this hall as it has a verandah outside…perfect for exploding lemonade even if it’s raining! You can hire both rooms so have a separate space for the food and there’s plenty of parking. ¬£6 an hour for small hall, ¬£10 an hour for larger one. Contact 01279 814052 to book.

Great Hallingbury Village Hall

This hall has a huge field attached, great for summer picnics…and even has enough space for rocket launching! Decent kitchen, separate room for food and oodles of parking. ¬£10 per hour. Contact 01279 651757 to book.

Bishop’s Park Community Centre

Choice of halls and you can book the garden too which is nice in the summer. Plenty of parking in Tesco carpark and handy having Tesco next door for anything that gets forgotten! Kitchen and tables are shared between both halls. Club room £9.38 an hour, main hall £13.13, garden £7. Book via Town Council: 01279 715004 or click here for online booking.

Thorley Community Centre

Two halls with shared kitchen. Close to a field so may be able to try a rocket launch and next door to the pub for the grown-ups to recover after the party! Plenty of parking. Small hall £8 an hour, large hall £13. Only available on Sunday afternoons as they have regular bookings all day on Saturday and Sunday morning. www.thorleycommunitycentre.co.uk

Markwell Pavilion

Two halls, each with its own kitchen. Nice central location (it’s in Castle Gardens) but parking can be tricky. You can usually park one car next to the venue but all guests would have to park in town and walk over. Main hall ¬£10.50 and hour, Elsie Barrett Clubroom (smaller but still good size) ¬£9 an hour, both together ¬£16.¬†Book via the Town Council: 01279 715004 or click here for online booking.

Parsonage Lane Hall

You have the park right outside which is great for keeping kids entertained while you are setting up! Plenty of parking. £11 an hour. Click here for website.

St Michael’s Mead Community Centre

Small hall is suitable for parties up to around 15 children and has its own kitchen. It also has a door opening straight out onto a small garden area. The main hall is huge! Great for big parties and has a large kitchen. Plenty of parking. Main hall £20 an hour, small hall £10 an hour.

Little Hadham Village Hall

Large hall with a park and huge field next door (enough space to launch rockets!), plenty of parking and a good sized kitchen. £18 an hour (£15 for village residents). Click here for website and online calendar or email lhvhbooking@gmail.com.

St John’s Hall (Stansted)

Big hall with a good kitchen. Parking can be a bit tricky, especially if there’s a church service or wedding on! ¬£9-¬£10 per hour, contact¬†st.johns.church@btinternet.com or click here for website.

Hockerill Scout Hut

Not the most beautiful or modern of buildings as it’s a Scout hut but it’s a big space with a decent kitchen. Bit tricky to find as it’s down a tiny little lane off Heath Row. Contact for booking: 01279 863789 or email valerie.judge@1stbishopsstortford.org.uk

Manuden Village Hall

A bit pricey at £26 an hour but a bright, modern, large hall. Full catering kitchen, plenty of parking and outside space. Click here for website.

Havers Community Centre

Two halls which can be made into one large space by folding back the dividing wall. Parking is a bit limited. Main hall £10.20 per hour, small hall £8.20 or both for £16.40. Book via the Town Council: 01279 715004 or click here for online booking.

Albury Village Hall

Beautiful building with children’s play area outside, modern kitchen and parking. ¬£17 per hour (¬£12 for Albury residents). Click here for website.

Farnham School Hall

This is a school hall but self-contained with it’s own kitchen and toilet. It’s a bright, modern hall and having the playground is great for keeping kids entertained while you’re setting up. There’s enough room for rocket launching in the playground too! Call 01279 771339 or email admin@farnham.essex.sch.uk for bookings.

Booking your Fab Science party: get in touch with us first to check dates. We’re always happy to hold a date for a few days while you check out venues.¬†