The perfect project, I think, is one that combines creativity and learning. This STEM activity fits the bill. Middle daughter really wanted to make an articulated hand. I’ve seen the project before, but was impressed by how clear the instructions were in the Amazing! magazine. Middle is now of the age that she can follow the instructions by herself, with very little
interference help from me.
We used my glue gun to stick the straws to the cardboard. The only other change she made was using cardboard from a cereal box instead of corrugated cardboard. The end result is remarkably sturdy, and strong enough for everyone in the family to play with.
She raided my dressmaking tools and found my loop turner, which is used to turn spaghetti shoulder straps the right way round. Having a latch hook at the end, it was perfect for pulling the wool through the straws.
We used the glue gun again to stick the rubber bands to the back of hand, so the hand will return to a flat state.
We recorded a video to show you how good the movement turned out. I’ve sped it up. It only takes 12 seconds.
Linking up with Fiona’s Trash 2 Treasure linky
If you would like to find out more about the Amazing! magazine, I have a competition running at the moment to win a copy of the magazine, so you can see for yourself. Competition open until the end of April 6th.
Anyway, click here Now closed.
Last year, I bought a Glowing House Set for my Middle daughter. I wanted something that coupled her curiosity in science and her artistic nature. It was both a craft and engineering project.
Over the Christmas holiday, she sat down and made the houses. Putting the houses together, decorating them and creating the electronic circuit. All by herself.
The electronics in the roof are the clever part of the kit. She used electric paint, (the black lines in the photo above) to make the circuit which linked the LEDs to the battery and the light sensor. It’s called cold soldering. A great way for a child to make a circuit without risking burnt fingers.
It worked. The houses lit up when the light sensor was triggered in the evening. Very cool for an eleven year old. Only slight problem was that the blue LED was not lighting up. The rest were working. By then the electric paint was dry and would become brittle if broken. Not great for problem solving, as it would destroy the working part of the circuit, so she carefully removed the blue LED.
She took the problem to her father and he had a solution. (Aren’t Dads great?) He found a breadboard (the white board above, not for slicing loaves) to test the blue LED. It didn’t take long for all the children to join in. Pushing in the jumpers, resistors, transistors and lights. Making LEDs light up and the noise component to vibrate noisily.
(little brother joining in)
They made mistakes. Some components died. I cannot lie, but they had even more successes and they learnt so much. Oh, those curious minds. The hands on experience, of putting the circuits together, was perfect. They were captivated.
Oh, and what of the blue LED?
The original problem?
It was dead. It happens. Do you know what, I’m glad it didn’t work? I would not have thought of buying her a breadboard to experiment with. If all the components had worked in the original kit, she would never have experienced the process of isolating the fault.
She loves both kits and has learnt so much. More importantly, she wants to do more.
Steps on to soap box: This is NOT a sponsored post, in any shape or form. I am fortunate to have an engineering father who saw no reason why his youngest daughter shouldn’t become an engineer too, and provided encouragement. That was me, and I did. I’d like my children to see no barriers to pursuing careers in science or engineering, if they want to, especially my daughters. This kit is perfect for stretching her experience. I also love that it does not patronize her or seem to overtly attract her by being obviously for a “girl”. No stereotypes.
(steps off soap box)
I’m on a roll this year. Already another quilt block complete. I have two sewn up, but when I suggested that I use both with this letter, you sweetly declared that you’d prefer one square to one letter. No problem.
Every block pattern is measured and scaled up on to my square of freezer paper. Multiplying and dividing the lengths until I can replicate the pattern, just so. Then cut up, ready for the english paper piecing. It has to be precise. I number them so they’re sewn up in the same order. I enjoy this process as much as the stitching.
And here comes the topic of my letter to you: Maths. You chose your GCSE Options last week. By the end, there was a tough choice to make and you made it. One throw away comment was that it was a shame you couldn’t drop one of the compulsory core subjects. Maybe Maths. *internal gasp from your mother. reach for chair.*
I let it pass. Not happening, so no need for us to discuss. At that moment.
It did surprise me though. You see, the idea of giving up Maths never occurred to me at your age. I kept up Maths all the way through my education, even on to my professional exams.
I am not a Maths genius, but I do love numbers. I love patterns. I love maths. Not all maths. A couple of areas never caught my imagination and I’ve not used them since school. The rest I like. I see them as puzzles to be solved. From talking to people, I know that being faced with a Maths problem can be daunting. Instant block goes up. Where they see a problem, I see a challenge and the chance to solve it.
I’ve enjoyed helping you and your siblings with your homework (only KS2 examples blogged: here, here and here). It’s been fun to revisit areas of Maths that I’ve not used for a while. I’ve loved crafting ways (because it is creative) to show you how fun it can be. Sometimes waking you up in the morning, telling you about a fun way I’ve dreamt up to use the Maths we discussed the night before. Admittedly you don’t always share my enthusiasm at 6:30am*. In retrospect, it might not be the best time for the conversation, but I do get excited when I create a new way to play with the numbers and methods.
I often think that my love of numbers and words are about equal. (Strangely English was another subject that I kept up throughout school.) Both allow you to communicate your ideas. Prove your point and maybe that is why I like them so much. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing it all fit together.
I know you wouldn’t admit it, but I have seen you enjoy the chase of the answer. You race me when we work together. You, doing your homework. Me, so I can check your answers. I sense hope.
So I’m not going to give up persuading you. Not on my watch.
Maths. Is. Fun.
You are in top set maths. You can do it. You quickly grasp concepts and see the patterns, but you are not feeling the joy. Yet. My job now is to carry on showing you the bigger picture. Then maybe you will see Maths as less of a problem and more of a puzzle to be solved.
(Maybe not so early in the morning. How about I give you half an hour to wake up?)
You loving Mother
PS. Have you noticed how the middle part of the quilt block looks like a cog. I didn’t notice until I stood back and looked at it. Sometimes its just easier to spot a pattern if you take a step back.
* 6:30am is the time she wakes up on a school day. Ha! Hope you didn’t think I just woke her up early to talk Maths.
More Dear Daughter letters, with their quilt blocks, can be found here.