We visited the museum three times this week!
No, we weren’t there to see the dinosaurs
or the cool kangaroo skeleton.
(We hit a kangaroo last week in our new car,
so we definitely weren’t at the museum to see kangaroos!)
We were at the museum three times in one week to attend the “It’s Atomic” workshops.
They were excellent and we highly recommend them.
They’ve run these workshops a few times now
so there will probably be a chance to catch them next time if you missed out this time.
The workshops were arranged like a classroom setting
with Ian Stuart, a retired high school Science teacher, leading the class.
There were homeschoolers at every workshops we attended,
(Homeschoolers know a good thing when they see it)
so we were learning classroom etiquette as well as Chemistry.
My boys quickly got the knack of classroom quirks though.
And it was a ‘proper’ classroom too with worksheets to complete after every activity.
These were good for reinforcing the learning.
Ian was an excellent teacher.
He was very accessible to the students and worked with each one.
Parents were required to attend with their children
and encouraged to interact.
We appreciated that.
It also meant that we learned as much as the children.
As every class required an understanding of the Periodic Table,
the workshops began with a lesson on elements and the Periodic Table.
Hands on activities were a key component of these workshops
so the children were then given samples of elements to weigh, record and compare.
At the end of this activity, they had a developing understanding of atomic mass.
(Rest assured. Safety was number one.
This lead has a special coating.)
In the first workshop, we also explored atoms and how they can be used to form molecules.
I believe this molecule is nitrate.
(Brayden came home and wanted to continue making molecules with our molecular model set.
That’s when you know a workshop was excellent.)
The second workshop focused on subatomic particles,
and started by exploring static electricity.
The children used statically charged rulers to make little pieces of paper “dance”.
They also played with a static generator
called a “Fun Fly Stick”.
They used the static generator to make tinsel “fly” around in the air.
Oh yes, and give their parents electric shocks!
Then we got down to business and learned about subatomic particles (electrons, protons, and neutrons) in atoms.
We made models of the subatomic particles in the atoms
of the first ten elements on the Periodic Table.
I believe this is an atom of Boron,
this is Oxygen,
and this is Neon.
See, I told you I learned stuff at these workshops.
To demonstrate their understanding,
the children then had to record, on their worksheet, what they had learned.
My boys did not like the ‘role playing’ activities in the third workshop.
(It could have had a LOT to do with the fact that we had left home at 4am to collect family from the airport).
The children (Lithium ions and Fluorine ions) worked together to arrange themselves as a salt (Lithium fluoride)
after learning about ionic bonding.
Then, my boys (little Hydrogen atoms) had to find themselves an Oxygen atom to covalent bond with
and walk around the room holding hands. 🙂
Later in the third workshop we explored the role that electrons played in electric circuits.
We dissolved salt and sugar in water and explored which solution would conduct electricity.
We also tested the conductivity of various elements.
After that lesson I finally understood why metals conduct electricity and non-metals do not.
Yes, there’s an actual explainable reason!
We learned so much at these workshops.
They were truly excellent!
They’ve given us a roaring start on our Chemistry studies this year,
and an excitement and interest in Chemistry
that was not there before.
Thank you Mr Stuart for your exceptional teaching.