Children’s Blog

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Crafts!

Yesterday the kids got creative with some everyday, recyclable materials! Paper plates turned into rainbows, paper towel tubes turned into periscopes and popsicle sticks turned into puppets!




January Workshop - Smart Spinner

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In this month's workshop, we built Smart Spinners. This involved programming a motor to start at the press of a button on the computer, and setting a proximity sensor to automatically turn off the motor when the spinner was released.

We also talked about Isaac Newton and his Three Laws of Motion, and Michael Faraday who demonstrated the first working motor. I showed the kids how to recreate Faraday's "homopolar motor" with a battery, a neodymium (really strong) magnet, and a piece of copper wire. If you want to do this experiment at home, you can obtain neodymium magnets from Amazon. (Make sure you keep them away from small children--they're really strong and potentially harmful if swallowed.)

I also demonstrated how a motor can be turned into a generator to produce electricity, using a toy windmill to light a small LED.

Lastly, we watched a video of our same LEGO Smart Spinner being demonstrated on the International Space Station in microgravity (see below).

I hope everyone had as much fun as I did, and maybe even learned something. See you next month!



Royal Institution (UK) Christmas Lectures

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Watch online!

The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures for children and families have been an annual tradition in the UK since 1825, when they were started by Michael Faraday, whom we discussed in our LEGO workshop with the Smart Spinner.

This past year's series was called "Sparks will fly: How to hack your home." The title is a little bit of a misnomer, but the lectures themselves are a lot of fun and quite educational. 

Luckily for us, we can now watch them online at the RI Channel. Pictured above is Prof. Danielle George demonstrating a LEGO robot with a smart phone brain that can solve a Rubik's Cube in under 5 seconds.

The grand finale of this episode features a robot orchestra performing the theme music from "Doctor Who." Another episode culiminates in the transformation of an office building's facade into a giant game of Tetris.

I recommend watching the lectures with the entire family. If you're interested at all in technology and science, the programs are highly inspirational and very entertaining. In fact, anyone who attended the January LEGO workshop will recognize some of the experiments that were directly inspired from this show.

PS. I also recommend browsing around on the Royal Institution website. It's a well-designed site with lots of science, history, and even games. Of particular interest is the companion page to the Christmas Lectures. It'a called Things to Do with Stuff, and features several science projects for kids to do at home with common household items.


Teaching Math with LEGOs in the UK

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'With its slogan of “There’s more to maths than facts,” MoreToMaths will, according to Lydiksen, allow teachers to concentrate on “the learning process”. This view is endorsed by Birchfield’s headteacher, Hugh Myott, who sees Lego as boosting his pupils’ creativity and teamwork.'

Family Cooking Club!

Last night 10 families participated in our first ever Family Cooking Club! This month we perfected our cupcake-decorating skills, it was fun and tasty! Stay tuned for the next session!! If you missed out on the fun, here's a link to some of the recipes and decoration tips we used!


                                 (practicing our piping skills)


                                 (the finished products... a snowman and a cup of cocoa)



LEGO bricks build better mathematicians

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"A study carried out by the University of Derby has found that LEGO plays a vital role in the development of maths skills in children."

Read more at the University of Derby, UK.