Welcome to our blog.

….. Making pretty things
….. Simple living
….. Growing a family

Three children (17, 15, 13)*** Two parents *** one dog *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging since January 2010, about everyday happenings that bring us joy.

Just a thought….

“A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe.”


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girls in engineering

Creativity and being an engineer

glowing house set finished box STEMLast 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.

glowing house set circuit finishedThe 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.learning about electronics circuits STEM Education activity family

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.

learning about electronics circuits STEM Education activity(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.

lighting up electronic circuit STEM Education activityOh, and what of the blue LED?

The original problem?girls learning about electronics circuits STEM Education activity

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.

glowing house set finished

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)

Mini Makers Fair Bristol

copper kettle fire

If there was an event that was made for our family, it was the Mini Makers Faire in Bristol today. Science, technology, crafting and a good dose of recycling thrown in. Even a little bit of history, but most importantly, there were buckets and buckets of creativity.

copper kettle tree

copper spoons as conductors

Each exhibit, we stopped at, strengthened the children’s knowledge in a fun and exciting way. In this outside exhibit, each copper spoon completed the electric circuit to send flames out of a different kettle. Nothing like a dramatic display to sear information into memory.

fruit keyboard

Inside the faire, the children were fascinated by the banana keyboard. While one tapped each of the bananas in turn to produce a different note, the children joined hands and held the orange to complete the electric circuit. The laptop screen showed them which note was being pressed. If only my school science lessons had been so much fun.

wooden automata frogs

The wooden automatas really captured their imaginations. The frogs took turns trying to catch the fly and I loved the flying ham to the left. (Wish I had taken a better photo). First time I’ve seen a tin can being used as a base for the mechanisms. Very neat.

The children are really keen to have a go making an automata or two.

flapping bird automata

There was so much there. We stopped to talk to the people with the wasp display and the archaeology finds from the nearby dig. There was a very effective display of vortex current using a dustbin. Among all the modern technology, there were spinners and weavers, and a lady crocheting yarn made from strips of crisp packets. It really was the most perfect event for us.

origami fox robots

These roborigami foxes were a hit. The children tell me that they responded when hands were put close to them. They also made an endearing, almost yapping sound.

origami fox robot

What’s not to like when someone can combine origami with electronics. Did I mention the 3-d printer and the toothbrush head that vibrated across the table?

All in all, the faire was inspiring and fun. I’m sure they’ll be talking about it for some time to come. Not a bad start to the Easter holidays. Oh, and we came home with a little science and crafting project. I think I know what we’ll be doing tomorrow.


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