A Week of Chemistry Workshops

18 Jan

 We visited the museum three times this week!

No, we weren’t there to see the dinosaurs

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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!)

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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.

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The workshops were arranged like a classroom setting

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with Ian Stuart, a retired high school Science teacher, leading the class.

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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.

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My boys quickly got the knack of classroom quirks though.

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And it was a ‘proper’ classroom too with worksheets to complete after every activity.

These were good for reinforcing the learning.

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Ian was an excellent teacher.

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He was very accessible to the students and worked with each one.

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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.

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As every class required an understanding of the Periodic Table,

  the workshops began with a lesson on elements and the Periodic Table.

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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.

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(Rest assured.  Safety was number one.

This lead has a special coating.)

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In the first workshop, we also explored atoms and how they can be used to form molecules.

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I believe this molecule is nitrate.

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(Brayden came home and wanted to continue making molecules with our molecular model set.

That’s when you know a workshop was excellent.)

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The second workshop focused on subatomic particles,

and started by exploring static electricity.

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The children used statically charged rulers to make little pieces of paper “dance”.

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They also played with a static generator

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called a “Fun Fly Stick”.

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They used the static generator to make tinsel “fly” around in the air.

Oh yes, and give their parents electric shocks!

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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.

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I believe this is an atom of Boron,

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this is Oxygen,

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and this is Neon.

See, I told you I learned stuff at these workshops.

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To demonstrate their understanding,

the children then had to record, on their worksheet, what they had learned.

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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.  🙂

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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.

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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!

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We learned so much at these workshops.

They were truly excellent!

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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.



Posted by on January 18, 2015 in Science


8 responses to “A Week of Chemistry Workshops

  1. Sarah

    January 18, 2015 at 3:04 am

    Oh boy, my ds would have loved that! In fact, he would have loved it so much, and got so enthused, he would’ve been disruptive. LOL

  2. homeschoolhoneymoon

    January 20, 2015 at 10:18 am

    we went there last year, only one workshop, looks like Mr Stuart has added a lot more things!

  3. Jen in Qld

    January 22, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    That sounded like a lot of fun. The teacher sounded a lot like my high school chem teacher. I will have to watch out for this one. By the way did you know that GOMA has E.T. on soon. Only $9 each for adults. Dh and I are going to watch the Lord ofthe Rings trilogy over three weekends. Love cheap movies!

    • Tracey

      January 22, 2015 at 11:40 pm

      We love our Readings Cinema on the coast. Ticket are $8.50 all the time. We went and saw “Unbroken” the other day. It was brilliant!

      • Jen in Qld

        January 23, 2015 at 2:01 am

        Lucky you! Have your boys seen E.T. yet? We watched it at home about 3 months ago but I would love to see it on the big screen like when I was young.

  4. Tracey

    January 23, 2015 at 2:50 am

    Yes, they’ve seen it. It wasn’t really their cup of tea. But I loved seeing it again. I remember seeing it at the drive in when it first came out. Yep, it’s official. I’m old.

  5. Petra

    January 25, 2015 at 10:16 am

    This event looks amazing 🙂 pity we weren’t there to attend!


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