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Three children *** Two dogs *** Two parents *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That's us!

We've been blogging since January 2010.

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Just a thought….

"A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe."

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  • Briony I loved these large poppies when we had our allotment, you just never knew where they were going to pop up each year as they... 25 Jun
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Time to smile

"God has an inordinate fondness for stars and beetles."

- J B S Haldane

Debs Random Writings

I’ve been featured by

education

Dear Daughter: About Patterns and Science

broken-sugar-bowl-quilt-block-diagonal

Dear Daughter

I’m back with the 24th quilt block and 21st letter for your Dear Daughter Quilt. I’ve chosen the Broken Sugar Bowl block, this time. I like the pattern, but I struggle to see why it’s a sugar bowl. Is it just me? I guess I can see a break, but if you showed me this quilt block, I’d be unlikely to guess the name in a million years. It could be the fabric I chose, making me see a different pattern in the finished block.

Maybe it’s like looking up in the sky and seeing a cloud in the shape of a snapping crocodile, while the person next to you sees the same cloud as a person lying down in a hammock. As humans, we are set up to search for patterns and try to make sense of them, which brings me almost too neatly to the subject of this letter. Science and patterns.

Made up language

Science is about recognizing the patterns in the world around us and within, and wondering.

broken-sugar-bowl-quilt-block

Numbers, equations and scientific terms are our way to express, manage the understanding and communicate these patterns. It is a made up language. The number 3 is made up. Two horse shoes, one sat on the other. Another symbol could easily be universally substituted and it would not change the value. So long as we’re all using the same symbol, we can communicate.

We use the language to explain the rules of the universe, or, in other words, the patterns they make. The patterns are already there.

Do you remember when you were younger and you used to add glitter to your Christmas cards? First you would add glue to the card. Arranging it carefully. Depending on the type of glue you used, you might find it difficult to see where you had already glued. Then you would sprinkle the glitter on and shake off the excess. Almost by magic your pattern would appear.

That is the same with science. It is already there. More than we can see yet. Using our made up language, experiments and observation, we can reveal it.

broken-sugar-bowl-quilt-block-and-pumpkin

Learn the language and patterns/rules

Science, at your stage, is learning the language (and wondering).

You are unlikely to make big scientific breakthroughs at this stage, in exactly the same way that you were unlikely to write a best-selling novel while learning to read and write. Not impossible. Just unlikely, but maybe one day.

You are learning the basics and beginning to wonder. You need this knowledge.  You need to know the patterns so that later you will notice when something doesn’t fit. It may seem to break the rules.  Also you’ll need the basic rules so that you can use them to their full potential and apply them. Maybe putting different patterns together, to make something amazing. (Thinks aeroplanes)

You will have moments when the penny will drop and those will be wonderful moments. Savour them. There will be plenty more of them, given time.

Science Lessons…..

You love science. You always have. You always loved joining in the experiments that we have tried at home. Leading the others and helping to explain it to your younger siblings. Teaching me a new way to express it, in some cases. I really liked that. I know that you are finding one of your science lessons boring. A bit dry.

broken-sugar-bowl-quilt-block-and-roses

Solution

May I suggest that you look at this subject slightly differently? It involves the use of maths. Maths is a useful language for expressing a pattern. Don’t believe me? Let me try and explain.

Imagine an algebra equation. A mixture of numbers, letters and signs. The letters represent numbers that are either unknown or could be a whole range of numbers. If you were to repetitively substitute numbers into the equation, and work it out, you would begin to create a pattern. (Think graph.) That is a formula. All it is, is a few (hopefully!) well placed letters, numbers and signs that represent a bigger picture, or pattern.

Maths allows this science subject to be expressed. It makes/reveals the patterns. The patterns help you to solve the puzzle. If you approach this subject as if it was a series of puzzles to be solved, would that make it more interesting? Your teacher, unknowingly, has become the clue giver.

sugar-bowl-with-broken-sugar-bowl-quilt-bowl

I hope I’ve offered you a different way to look at science. I hope it inspires you to tackle your studies with fresh insight.

Look for the patterns.

As ever

Your loving mother


There are more quilt blocks and letters to read here. Some funny. Some serious. You can also read about why I started the Dear Daughter quilt for my daughter.

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Sparking imagination. The Pitt Rivers, Oxford

oxford-natural-history-and-pitt-riversImagine walking into a museum. It is light and airy. Looking up, you can see the ceiling towering above. Display cabinets form rows in the middle, on the ground. By sheer osmosis, you seem to absorb information as you walk in. At the back, you come across a door way. It opens up into another room of similar size. This time darker. Like a twin to the first. This is the Natural History museum and the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford.

Sparking curiosity. It made the perfect atmospheric outing, this weekend, especially running up to Halloween. If you are a fan of Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials, you will find it strangely familiar.

oxford-natural-historyThe first part of the building is the Natural History museum. It’s housed in the most beautiful, victorian building. It is light and airy, and set up to educate. Even the columns are made from different stone, with the type and location chiselled in at the base. Intricate iron work all the way to the roof.

beetle-display-at-oxford-natural-historyThere is nothing fusty about the exhibits. There is a lot. I’m not sure at what point during our visit, the Boy stopped saying “Look at this”, every few seconds. Or when he conceded that he couldn’t possibly see everything in a day.

I love beetles. Thrilled to find this display. Regular readers may notice that I have the same quote in my sidebar. Each beetle has a series of tiny squares of paper behind it, with tiny printed words, skewered by the same pin as the beetle. Intricate and precise. Keeping important information with each beetle.

natural-history-museum-in-oxfordNot into beetles? No worries. There was something to interest everyone. We haven’t visited for a few years (here), so it felt new and fresh to the children. They’ve reached the stage where they spend more time reading the displays and sharing interesting facts. Walking each other back to view something of great interest.

Each had their favourite. For Eldest, she spent time examining all the bird displays. We were all shown the origins of bird nest soup.

For Middle one, she loved the elephant skeletons and the size of them.

And the Boy. Well, his favourite was through the door, in the Pitt Rivers part of the museum.

toys-in-pitt-riversStrangely enough, I don’t seem to have a photo of the shrunken heads that he found fascinating, so instead I’m showing you an entirely separate display of toys that I liked.

The Pitt Rivers museum has the most amazing collection. If you are interested in anthropology then this is the museum for you. They have cabinets full of musical instruments, weaving, masks, votive offerings and witchcraft, fire starting implements, native canoes, samurai armour and swords, ceremonial paraphernalia, tally sticks…. and so much more. It is like wandering into the most amazing, old curiosity shop. Each item labelled to enlighten you. Often handwritten in the most precise, tiny writing, which makes you question the size of the writer.

(images of spectacled, learned mice writing labels by candle light)

Under some of the display cabinets are more exhibits in drawers which you can pull out to view. There is so much to see. Something for everyone. A dream of a place for anyone that has ever wondered about something from the past. Just about anything.

This is the part of the museum that I would not like to be alone in. Kept darker to delay fading of the exhibits. It has a more eerie feel to it, but maybe that’s just me.

oxford-natural-history-skeletonsBack in the Natural History museum, among the animal skeletons. I think it was Eldest that suggested how interesting it would be if everything in the museum came alive again. I’m not sure I share the same understanding and appreciation of the word “interesting” as she obviously does, but I do admire her curiosity and imagination. The perfect place to spark both.

beetlesI’ll stick with the beetles.

Please, don’t come back to life!

Details

There are lifts between floors, giving access to wheelchairs and prams.  There is nearby on-street parking, as well as a park and ride. Not the cheapest options, so if you are prepared to walk and make a day of it, then there are alternatives.

The museum is free to visit, with donation boxes around. There is a cafe on the second floor with cakes, sandwiches, children’s box and drinks, giving excellent view of the ground floor of the Natural History museum and the building as a whole.

 

Sharing. Good idea.

Travelling with a patchwork games bag

patchwork nought and crossesWhen I travelled as a child, I always had a clutch of books. While others couldn’t read in the car, I would have my nose in a book with no ill effect. I would read for most of the journey. Once finished, I’d gaze out of the window enjoying the moving scene.

I am the youngest of four, it eventually reached the stage where my older siblings found other pursuits more interesting than holidaying with the family or they were away at school. Suited me as, I tended to have the back seat of the car all to myself. No one to argue with. Room to spread out.

Later, I travelled by train and plane for work.  I looked forward to these journeys as I knew I’d have plenty of time to read. I went through shelves full of sci-fi and discovered the best train station book stores to buy my favourites from.

In contrast, my children prefer to have travel entertainment which is more interactive and collaborative. They like I-spy type of games that they can all play together. I make spotting lists for journeys, or they will make up stories together. Sometimes there are arguements but mainly they are happy. A good job as all three of them sit along the back seat together.

patchwork games bag pull stringThis summer, to help break up the journey, I’ve made a drawstring patchwork travel bag with nine squares. I’ve used fabric, from my stash which are nature themed. My favourite bees and fire fly fabric among them. They are 2.5 inches squares, allowing a 0.25 inch seam allowance. I picked out my blue seashell fabric as the backing, which I used for my pin cushion. I must use it more. It gives a perfect holiday feel.

seaside version of noughts and crossesInside are more of our collection of pebbles and stones. I am determined to find uses for our previous seashore finds. This time I’m putting them to work as markers for noughts and crosses, or tic-tac-toe. My version is Pebbles and Shells.

There is something about holding a pebble in your hand that is truly calming. They are all the perfect size for the squares. If any are lost, we can replace them. I won’t even have to worry about littering.

magic square patchwork bag gameThis bag has a secret. On the under side of all the pebbles and shells, I’ve marked on numbers. 1 to 9. figuring out the magic square This set can also be used to work on the magic square. If you haven’t come across the concept before, the idea is that each row, column and diagonal should add up to 15. It is great for practising adding up and stretching logic muscles. It could be timed and played as a competition.

Yet again they are having too much fun solving the puzzle to realize they are practising their maths again.

magic square patchwork bag game diagonalAlternatively, they could use it as a memory game, matching number bonds. Finding 2 and 8, or 4 and 6 for example. Or make up stories about the different patches. I remember my sister doing this for me when I was younger than them.

I’m sure the children will dream up other games to play with this travel bag. I’ll add in a deck of cards, so I can teach them a few card games too. Also a ball of wool. Finger knitting is a great way to pass the time and literally keep little fingers busy!

Hopefully, this summer we will take it on journeys, and maybe into restaurants, to play as we wait for our meals to arrive. I love how the patchwork turned out and I certainly won’t mind bringing it out of my bag for us all to play with. Even in the busiest pub. It is light and small, making it perfect for travelling.

drawstring patchwork travel games bag

What do you take on journeys or holidays to keep children entertained while they travel?

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Photos

There have been cases when people lifted my photos and words, and used them without credit to me or asking permission first. Using them for their own commercial gain. I have now added a level of security to deter people from doing this. Apologies to people who do play nicely. If you would like to use any of my photos, please contact me.

Copyright notice:

All my words and photos are copyrighted to me. They cannot be used for commercial benefit by anyone else. If you would like to use any of them, then please ask me first and don't just take. Written permission only. Don't pass my words, photos or ideas off as your own. It's not nice.