- You won’t have to look after the class hamster in the holidays, in case it gets eaten
- No barking, caterwauling or hamster wheel squeaking at 2am
- Cheaper than a horse. Trust me on this one!
- You can pretend you’re in Slytherin even if you got another house in Pottermore. You never know, parseltongue might be a GCSE in the future.
- Your mother will never come into your room.
I was lucky to go to a senior school which focussed heavily on the sciences with more science than arts classes at A level, so I’m thrilled that the importance of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) is getting more profile generally, particularly for girls. Thanks to our school, many of my female school friends are very successful doctors.
So I’m thrilled to have the amazing Suzie Olsen on my blog today. Suzie is a systems engineer in Phoenix, Arizona. She currently works on the search and rescue system for the US Coast Guard. She is also the author of Annie Aardvark, Mathematician and creator of the blog STEM Spark. Suzie’s spark is to encourage students, especially girls and minorities, to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). She lives with her husband and child, performing STEM experiment after STEM experiment with her own kid. Please do check out her website – it’s fantastic.
I asked Suzie to pull together three easy STEM activities we can all try with our kids. Enjoy!
STEM Adventures are Everywhere
In my book, Annie Aardvark, Mathematician, the main character Annie loves math so much that she decides she’s going to have a math adventure while she forages! She finds different things to count as she hunts for her daily meal, ending with ten ants. Annie exclaims, “What a fun math adventure! I can’t wait until my next one!” And just like Annie, you and your children can have a fun STEM (science, tech, engineering and math) adventure anywhere you go! Below are a couple of different ideas for your STEM adventure.
Whether in the city or nature, there’s a couple of different ways to have an engineering adventure. The first is look for a problem to solve: is there an area in your neighborhood that needs improving or fixing? Is there an animal having an issue with collecting food? Is there human or animal congestion where you are at? Is trash gathering in one place on the ground? Try engaging your kids in an impromptu brainstorm on different ideas on how to fix the problem, and then decide which idea is the best one for fixing the issue. Give it a twist by qualifying during the brainstorm how the best idea will be judged (such as “What’s the most fun way to fix this problem?”) If possible, try building the solution, put it in the problem area and test it. Did it work? Did it reduce or eliminate the problem? (This process is called the engineering design process.) Another fun engineering adventure is to collect different materials from where you and your kids are, like trash, sticks, stones, forks, plates, and so on and try building a mini-house out of these materials. Can you get the house to stand alone? And if so, how long does the house stand?
Science Collection Adventure
A flower or leaf collection is a fun way to have a science adventure when you and your children are out and about. Your child could carry around a reusable bag and every time they see a leaf or flower they don’t have, they can gather it up and put it in their bag. Then once home, you and your child can dry the leaf and flower and glue it into a scrapbook. You can research online together the name of the flower or tree that the leaf came from and then label it in the scrapbook. Of course, be wary of poison leaves (like Poison Ivy) or flowers (like Oleanders) and make sure you have permission before plucking a flower or leaf off a tree (anything found on the ground is probably okay).
Math Counting Adventure
Whether taking a walk around your neighborhood or hiking a trail in the mountains, children can count the objects they come across, just like Annie did in her first math adventure. If it’s a familiar or frequent route, try creating a pre-made checklist going from 1 specific item up to 10 specific items they must count (or just impromptu count whatever they see). Items you can have your kids count while they’re on their walk include rocks, flowers, weeds, birds, lizards, other types of animals, insects, leaves, clouds, people, airplanes/vehicles, buildings, trees, and so on. There’s no limit of what kind of item they count, so as long as they’re having fun hunting for that item and counting it!
Wherever you and your children may be, I hope you have a fun time on your STEM adventure! Happy STEM’ing!
DS: “Mum, I can drive at 15.”
Me: “No you bloody well can’t.”
DS: “I can. I’ll prove it to you.”
Quick Google later, and he shows me that you can get a license at 15 years and 9 months. Who knew that? Why so early? His excitement is already unbearable.
I learnt to drive in my parents’ diesel estate car. I took my driving test at rush hour in London. We sat in traffic most of the time, pulling into a side road to do the three point turn and emergency stop before rejoining the traffic jam. The most exciting part was the cyclist lurching across a pedestrian crossing. At the end the examiner asked if I knew where third gear was. I pointed it out to him. I passed.
I still remember the registration number of my first car, A764 CPH. A very sporty silver Metro City.
Anyway, whilst DS dreams of a sports car, I enjoyed this blog from Fraser’s Fun House
I realised recently that I rarely talk about the girls despite them accounting for two thirds of the Fraser clan – this is partly because they would most probably die of shame – so today I’m going to dedicate a whole post to them! A recurrent topic in our house lately is the length of […]
- Beautiful setting
- Spotlessly clean
- Far easier than camping
- Literally none from my perspective.
- There was virtually no internet so I expected some teenage grumbling. I was wrong. I confess I was surprised by that, but not going to complain.
- In future, I predict a downside will be getting a space. Book early!
“What? You’re packing for him?” My mother is outraged. “You packed all your own stuff for a holiday from when you were nine and it was perfect.”
Perfect? Really? I have no recollection of ever packing myself, or being praised for it.
I’m always puzzled when I see people dragging vast suitcases at the airport. What have they got in there? I can’t imagine taking so much stuff for a week on a beach? Skiing, yes. Camping, yes. But a week in Spain? I’m not actually sure I own that much summer clothing. I’ve even packed my espresso machine and my bag is still smaller. Actually I would trade a pile of dresses just to make space for the espresso machine if it came down to it.
I’m a member of a great decluttering group on Facebook who were lamenting the challenges of packing. They were shocked when I said my last trip was ten days and I travelled hand baggage only and that included my horse riding helmet. And a pair of boots. And my espresso machine. So I guess I pack light.
Anyway, it’s all granny’s fault that the kids are packing for themselves this year. I’m off duty.
“Everything’s packed mum.”
DS Trip 1
- One t-shirt
- A quill pen and bottle of ink
- A wooden treasure chest
It’s all very neatly packed in a 5 inch metal dinosaur tin. Even by my standards, that is extremely light packing.
DS Trip 2
- Mouse for the home computer
- Pillow. Apparently this is not negotiable, it is coming with us. Does it count as an item of hand baggage itself? Otherwise I’m going to be impersonating a pregnant lady through check-in.
- Flip flops. We’re off on a family trip to the north of Scotland. I add a raincoat.
- Cropped vest top – striped
- Cropped vest top – ribbed
- Cropped vest top – sparkly
- Denim mini skirt
Yup this is for the Scotland trip too. The midges are going to have a field day. I almost comment on the scant size of the clothing but then realise I am turning into my mother, so bite my tongue.
Top tips for light packing
My three top light packing tips would be
- Pick a colour scheme so you can mix and match.
- Throw things out/ give to charity when you finish. I don’t bring flip flops home at the end of summer as they are inevitably on their last legs by then. Ditto t-shirts and sun dresses that I know I will replace next year.
- Accessories allow you to change the look. I love my jewellery pouches. I actually have two – a larger one for city breaks and a smaller one for outdoorsy trips.
Would you trust the kids to pack for themselves?
What’s the strangest thing you (or they) have packed? I once took an anchor instead of a suitcase on a flight. That got strange looks when it arrived on the luggage belt in Turkey.