Latest exploits

My eldest son has decided he wants to build a petrol engine go-kart, and is busy designing it. He has been looking on youtube and various websites for ideas as to how to go about this task. His Grandpa gave him an old lawnmower to take to bits, and yesterday he worked on this out in the garden in the sunshine - getting very oily in the process - and removed the engine from the mower. He has been trying to source other materials, and today at our home education group, he asked around to see whether anyone has a welding kit. He found out that one girl's Dad has a factory and a huge garage where he undertakes projects such as my son is interested in - this week constructing an air-conditioning unit using a coolbox, a fan and some bottles of iced water!! My son was so impressed, and now plans to go over with his Dad to talk to this other Dad about possible projects - and assistance with welding. He also found a welding course online, and sent an email enquiry to see whether he would be able to undertake such a course if accompanied by an adult. All of this is great, self-initiated learning. Most of the time, I haven't a clue what he is talking about - centrafugal clutches etc - but he seems happy and engaged. Between times, he is still talking about trying this boys' grammar school. I don't know how he will get on if he is having to conform and do as he is told all day every day, but we shall see ....

Today we were in Stoke at the Museum and Art Gallery where we looked at skulls and measured them, using some higher level mathematics to record the data and evaluate whether the skulls were closer to modern man or to apes. The man running these sessions (We have done other workshops with him in the past) is just a fantastic facilitator, and the youngsters get a taste of real scientific research and its relationship to mathematics, history, geology, RE ... He is excellent and provides challenge for children at all levels. What I like best about him is that he talks to them as fellow scientists in a completely unpatronising way, and they come up with some brilliant questions and ideas, which he engages with so well.

In the afternoon, we had a look at a few sculptures, and then had a go at some portraiture and then some clay sculpture ourselves - with varied (and fun) results!