Saturday, August 13, 2011

August 7-13


So my computer has apparently decided that 6 weeks on the road is enough for it, thank you very much, and now refuses to turn on. With just one week left and a public computer available in the hotel lobby, I've decided to just leave it to think about what it's done until I get back to Ontario. Unfortunately this means I can't post pictures this week. :(

I did have a request to talk a bit about what kinds of activities we do with the outreach camps. This past week we did a shortened camp week, two hours in the morning with the younger kids (aged 5-9) and two hours in the afternoon with the 10-13 year olds. By now we have our favourite activities so we took this as an opportunity to do just those.

A big hit is a teeth demo. Someone at the Actua office found a bunch of creepily accurate ice cube trays shaped like a set of teeth. We use plaster to make a set of teeth, carve in some cavities and smear them with yellow play dough. The kids get to use real dentist tools (donated to us) to clean them out. It's awesome how into it some of the kids get, and if any of them finish early we just re-gunk their teeth and call it "a year since the last dentist appointment". The first week we had a few kids ask for some extra play dough to make braces so now we introduce that as an option.

The teeth are part of "Health Day" which gives me the opportunity to get all excited pointing out different bones on X-rays and answering questions about why we get sick. There's also a casting activity and a super gross digestion demo which is a huge favourite.

We do a lot with playdough. Another hit acitivity is play dough mining where the kids have to mine for one colour of playdough and sell it back to the store to make camp dollars. I get to be the environmental officer and fine them if they aren't mining sustainably (one week there were signs warning about the 'mining waste' being stored on desks because they got tired of being fined for it). I like to throw in mining trivia if they're really tearing things apart. If you can't afford your fine, you must answer a question, or answer a question to get an extra camp dollar. Some weeks we'll use the camp dollars for every open build activity, which makes it an added incentive for everything else. Are you talking while the instructor's doing a demo? 10$ fine.

The last one I'll mention is electric play dough. Imagine you love science, and your absolute favourite thing about science is electricity. You like to connect it up and make things move or light up. BUT, you're seven years old, so your hand eye co-ordination is similar to an adult with winter gloves on, and twisting wires is so boring. That is the genius of electric playdough. Using conductive playdough made with salt, and separating it using insulating playdough made with sugar the kids can build a circuit connecting 9V batteries to a bunch of LEDs to learn about electricity. This is my favourite one to lead because most people really don't know a lot about electricity, so I get them interested with the explanation, but they still don't quite believe me until I stick the LED into a seemingly ordinary hunk of playdough and have it actually light up. We like to challenge them to light up as many LEDs as they can, and had one group a couple weeks ago smash any record by connecting 104 LEDs to 6 9V batteries. The electric playdough is actually based on a TED Talk about creativity in teaching. I haven't watched it, so let me know what you think.

I'm in Fort St. John now waiting on a new team member. Will and Yasmine headed out this morning, done with Outreach for the summer. Later on tonight I'm going to pick up Kate, another Outreach Team veteran who's been with the Nunavut team for the last 6 weeks. We'll be in Blueberry River this week which I'm excited about. :)


1 comment:

  1. Wow! These are amazing activities. I wish I had known these things when I was teaching. Maybe the current teachers in the family are taking notes... XOX Bernie