BrainPOPpers Hayley and Jude had the pleasure of attending the first Blackpool Celebrating Science Conference, an innovative event where children from local schools had the opportunity attend lots of different science based workshops.
The day ranged from handling creepy crawlies and constructing erupting volcanoes, to making bananas chime with a MaKey MaKey.
The conference brought representatives from primary schools around the area to St. Mary’s Catholic College; a school specialising in maths and computing with fantastic facilities.
St. Mary’s kindly let BrainPOP UK and the other workshop leaders take over classrooms and labs for the day to put the kids through their scientific paces, and of course to inspire the teachers with different ways science and ICT can be incorporated into lessons.
Though the first group was as quiet as you would expect for first thing in the morning in a strange venue (and one filled with big kids!) it wasn’t long before they opened up and started getting stuck in.
First up we got them to tell us what they already knew about electricity and the types of things we use it for, then showed them the BrainPOP UK Electric Circuits movie to bridge any gaps in understanding and introduce the concept of conductors and insulators – our focus for the day.
The Desk of Curiosities
After the kids told us what they learned from the movie about conductors and insulators they then came up to what we dubbed the “Desk of Curiosities” which was crammed with a selection of oddities from our homes and the BrainPOP UK office.
The kids had the opportunity to feel the objects and work out what they were made of, then voted as to whether they thought they would or wouldn’t conduct.
They had fun working out what some of our troublesome items were such as a marble apple and some sneaky items like a ceramic statue with a hidden piece of copper tape.
We went through the piles of “yes”, “no”, and “maybe” objects by connecting them up to a MaKey MaKey and testing them by using this piano made in Scratch. If the object conducts then the piano would chime! We even had all the kids hold hands and used ourselves as one of the conductors to start a talk on safety around electricity.
We purposefully chose some surprising objects like the banana and the Play Doh and the kids got a chance to reassess some of their guesses when a result surprised them. In the end we finished up with our conduction hall of fame and talked about which ones we were most surprised by and thought of other things we’d like to test if we did the experiment again.
One of the best moments of the day was when one group (disbelieving that the banana we had just tested could really conduct) insisted that we peel it, break it in half and eat a piece before they believed we hadn’t tampered with it! That constant questioning lies at the heart of good science.
We finished up by making our own game pad to control BrainPOP’s GameUp games – the most popular one of the day was a maths game called Dublox which we played as a team. There were even kids who had finished other workshops watching us at the windows working out the puzzles for when it was their turn later!
A Grand Day Out
All in all we had a wonderful day hearing all about what the kids had learned and experienced in other workshops (the creepy crawlies were particularly popular) and seeing how much fun they had in ours. We got some fantastic questions about electricity and conductors from the kids, and even the secondary school prefects who were guiding the students to their workshops couldn’t help but join in to help solve Dublox.
The kids seemed to enjoy the day as much as we did and we received some lovely feedback from both teachers and children. A teacher from Devonshire Primary School said, “It gave me ideas on how to use ICT in science. Useful videos to use as part of a lesson. Would use in a lesson and interested in getting a ‘MaKey MaKey’!” and a quote from one of the children who attended, “I really enjoyed it. I learnt that it doesn’t have to be a metal as a conductor.”
If you’d like to give trying out BrainPOP and the MaKey MaKey in your own lessons you can find a lesson plan to try based on this workshop here.