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Category Archives: Field Trips

Easter Holidays and Beyond

Well, the Easter holidays have been and gone

and I’ve been totally slack with my blogging…again.

But I do have some ‘what-I-think-are’ valid excuses.

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On Easter day, we spent the day with family,

in particular, my little nieces Miss Aria, 5, and Miss Evie 2.

Their mother was in hospital overnight for her pregnancy to be monitored

so we made sure these little people had a lovely day.

Isn’t Miss Evie a cherub?

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I could just eat her up, she’s so cute.

I love the two year old attitude.

There’s nothing ‘terrible’ about it.

The twos are terrific.

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It’s when their little characters start showing themselves.

(Evie got annoyed with my picture taking

so she decided to snap a picture of me in return.)

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Then, at lunch, the girls’ daddy arrived to see them

and tell them that they got something extra special for Easter –

a new baby sister

(just a smidge undercooked at 33 weeks).

Her name is Isla (the ‘s’ is silent)

and she was 2.5 kg (which is 5lbs 8oz)

(She’s actually only 4 ozs smaller than Ethan was at birth.

They are the same length, although her head is a centimetre bigger,

but she is uncooked and Ethan’s cooking timer was complete.)

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So I spent the beginning of my holidays hunting for 00000 outfits for little Isla.

That was fun!!

I used to fret that I’d never get to buy sweet little girl things since I had boys,

but, with three nieces to spoil, I can have all the pink and purple fun that I want.

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We also spent a chunk of time over the holidays,

helping babysit the two bigger girls

while their parents spent their days and night with little Isla.

(This is why you need to live close to family if you can.)

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We took the girls to the Ipswich Art Gallery for their holiday program

but it was terrible this time around.

It’s the only ‘bad’ thing we’ve attended there.

There was hardly anything to do

and a really long wait for the main event

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…a disco climbing web.

which Miss Aria didn’t even want to climb in once she saw it.

‘Her boys’, as she calls my Little Men, weren’t allowed on due to age restrictions

and she wasn’t going on by herself

so that hour of waiting was a total bust.

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To redeem the day, we went for ice-cream

and a little play in the shopping centre playground.

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It always amazes me what these little people can get my teenage boys to do.

How many 16 year old boys would climb into a playground boat with a two year old?

He was helping her climb around in the boat

and taking whatever orders Miss Evie dished out.

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Secretly, I think Brayden enjoys the opportunity to play as a little kid again.

He really gets into the girls’ imaginative games.

Here they’re checking for ‘cocodills’ (Evie’s word) in the water

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Anyone who walked through the playground,

Evie would warn them about the dangerous cocodills.

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During the holidays, we also had the Commonwealth Games.

It was pretty much a non-event in regards to all the hassle they’d warned us about.

The Coast resembled a ghost town and driving places was a pleasure.

Hubby even went with a friend to a couple of events.

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Over the holidays, we also drove out to Goondiwindi,

a 4.5 hour drive from our place.

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We drove out there to visit Hubby’s Grandmother, the boys Great Grandmother,

who is almost 98 now.

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Hubby spent a lot of time in Goondiwindi growing up

as his grandmother had a massive sheep farm just outside of town in New South Wales.

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If you didn’t know already, Goondiwindi is on the Queensland and New South Wales border.

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The border is the Macintyre River

and this old bridge takes you across to New South Wales.

Yes, our trip included a trip to New South Wales.

We always drive across and back

just so we can say that we took an interstate holiday.  🙂


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The motel we stayed in was a dump though.

(I won’t name names as that’s just mean.  Perhaps they are doing their best.)

No, it wasn’t our first choice; the better places were full for some reason.

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I actually liked the layout of the rooms.

The family room had two decent rooms, each with a tv, and a bathroom.

I just didn’t like the condition of the rooms.

Our air conditioner could very well have come off Noah’s Ark.

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The furnishings were in desperate need of repair.

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And my personal ‘favourite’ was the bedside lamp they expected me to sleep next to all night.

(I didn’t, by the way.  I put it on the floor.)

Check out the dust on that thing.

Yes, both were as bad as each other.

But, we survived.

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On the way back home,

(Why are the return trips the longest and most boring?!)

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we stopped in at Toowoomba to check out the Da Vinci Machines exhibition

at the Cobb and Co Museum.

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We’ve been to this exhibition before when the boys were much younger

and to be honest that presentation of it was much better.

The Cobb and Co Museum didn’t seem to have the ideal space for the exhibition.

There were a few dedicated corners of Da Vinci exhibits

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but a number of the exhibits were scattered all through the museum,

making it somewhat like a hunt.

But we enjoyed our time there anyway.

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The exhibition wasn’t focused on Da Vinci’s artworks,

although there were a few key reproductions included.

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It was focused on his ingenious inventions

which have been built as models for this exhibition.

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Although the boys were much younger when they first visited this exhibition,

it surprised me that they remembered a number of the exhibits.

This Archimedes Screw was one of their favourites, then and now.

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Not all of the exhibits were hands on,

but quite a number of them were

so it’s a great exhibition for both young and old.

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We’d never been to the Cobb and Co Museum in Toowoomba before

so we took a little time to check out their displays.

I was really astounded at the sheer height of the coaches.

This picture doesn’t do it justice.

Suffice it to say that, standing next to this coach, I could not see inside it.

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They say that EIGHT people fit inside this coach.

From what I could see, you’d only comfortable fit two people on each of the two seats inside,

but I think they must have squeezed three on each.

Imagine that with your great big dresses with all its layers.

Oh and two passengers would have to travel up with the driver.

That would have been the best view but I suspect you’d end up rather dusty.

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Oh and my favourite thing at the museum was these energy dome things.

There were three of them and I wanted to take them all back to the Brisbane Science Centre.

They were so cool.

Much better than the plasma ball they have at the Science Centre.

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Before we left the museum, I had to take a picture of the tree in the car park.

It was huge.

(Why do photos never show extreme sizes very well?

Am I just taking the photos wrong?!

I’ve actually been working on my photography

and have only used the manual settings all holidays.

I’m pretty impressed with myself.)

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Back home, we got on with the mundane stuff.

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Yes, there were book parcels received during these holidays.

I mean, of course!!  🙂

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We also received daily photo updates of Miss Isla.

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Baby Isla was kept in hospital for a couple of weeks

until she was breathing well on her own

and feeding properly.

Then she went home to her sisters.

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And Aunty Tracey went for a visit too

…and a cuddle of course.

Baby Isla is perfect.

(I love this photo I took of her.

It’s my favourite.)

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She just needs to do some growing to fill in all her old lady wrinkles of skin.

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The day we visited, Miss Evie was delighted to have her boys come and play with her.

Not sure the boys felt the same way about spending all day with a two year old,

but they survived and it’s good future dad training for them.

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Somehow Miss Evie even got the boys playing dolls in the doll house!

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Oh I haven’t shown you the doll house, have I?

My dad made it for Aria’s 5th birthday.

Yes, that’s a solar panel on the roof

…I mean, of course.

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The solar panel runs all the lights inside the doll house.

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Those drawers at the bottom pull out

to reveal additional spaces.

One is a backyard pool area and the other is for storage.

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Oh and most of the furniture and trinkets in the house

were 3D printed especially for the house by my brother.

My mum made all the soft furnishings and did the wallpapering.

(Yes, that’s Frozen on the Samsung tv.)

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Check out the 3D printed bathroom.

Yes, even the toilet and the toilet paper.

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Um, yes, I might also have spent some time playing in this doll house with Evie.

And, no, I might not have been doing it for her enjoyment.

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Anyway, now the holidays are over and we are already two weeks into the new term.

We started the term with two full days of STEM workshops at QUT.

The first day the boys did a wind power energy workshop

and the second day they did a bionic arm workshop.

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Sadly, I don’t have many photos of the workshops.

The mums don’t get to go inside with them,

which is a good ‘classroom’ experience for the teens,

but it means we have to rely on the photos the teens take for us.

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Both days, the boys also participated in different Cube activities.

(The Cube is a giant two storey touchscreen interactive experience).

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Anyway, that brings me up-to-date with now.

And, on that note, I better go and do some planning for the week ahead.

🙂

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Abducted by Aliens? Nope.

We’re still here.  I’ve just been unmotivated to blog.  But life continues as will this blog.  🙂

So what have we been up to during our online absence?

To be honest, we’ve mostly just been hanging around doing our usual thing.

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We have had a few birthdays in this time.

Brayden turned fourteen

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and Ethan turned sixteen.  How did they get so old?!!

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We’ve also had a couple of outings.

We’ve been on a trip to Jurassic Ark in Gympie

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where we got the chance to dig for fossilised logs.

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Some children worked on further exposing already discovered logs but we chose to start working a new patch of dirt.

We got excited when we hit something hard with our spade but it turned out to be… just a rock.

Oh well.  Better luck next time.

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We learned a lot about fossils and the fossilisation process.

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We were particularly impressed with the stalactite machines.  Using the same process as stalactites need to grow in caves, the folk at Jurassic Ark have ‘grown’ their own stalactites.  They’ve done this to show that stalactites don’t take millions or even thousands of years to grow, merely the right conditions.  The stalactites in this image are almost two years old and are already 25 cm in length.  Within, say, a hundred years, they’ll be quite impressive looking stalactites.

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In the time of our absence, we’ve also visited the Marvel Exhibition at GOMA.

Hubby and Brayden are both Marvel fans and were keen to visit, so Ethan and I tagged along.

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Personally, I thought it was overpriced.  But my Marvel lovers thought it was money well spent.

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We thought the free green screen photos were a nice touch though.

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We also took a trip into the Science Centre for their “Mathamazing” exhibition.

Both boys were introduced to the ‘Tower of Hanoi’ puzzle (although it was called the ‘Tower of Brahma’ in the exhibit).

and enjoyed the challenge.

You have to move this stack of discs to the other end but you are only allowed to move one disc at a time and at no time can a bigger disc be on top of a smaller disc.

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Brayden loved this jumbo version of the same puzzle.

(Actually, as I type this, Brayden is working on a 9 disc version of this same puzzle.  I knew we had one in the house somewhere and I only remembered where as I was uploading these photos.)

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Brayden loves and excels at all things spatial.  He can just ‘see’ how to solve puzzles like these without much of a challenge.

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The boys timed themselves putting together this giant soma cube.  Their fastest time was 20 seconds.

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Ethan is a different thinker to Brayden.

Brayden sees and does.  If he can’t do it quickly, he’ll move on.

Ethan however works at a slower pace but will stick with a problem that interests him until he solves it.

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Ethan worked for ages on this puzzle – he had to ‘fly’ in and out of Canberra, stopping only once at all the locations in the shortest flight distance.

He finally figured it out and we could move on.

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This past week, we also went to the Ekka with my parents and my little nieces.

It was a huge day out.  Little people are exhausting!

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We spent our morning checking out all the Ekka animals.

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And our afternoon, checking out the rides and activities.

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Aria, once again, convinced her teenage cousins to ride the baby rides with her.  She has them wrapped around her little pinkie.  Thankfully, her choice of ride was a little more manly than last time’s tea cup ride.

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Oh my.  We must have fed a dozen zombie clowns balls.

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How is it that this activity so enchants little kids.  It’s certainly not the quality of the prize you receive, that’s for sure!

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And little Evie, well, she was happy doing anything.

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I suppose I really do have a valid reason for being so absent on the blog of late.  Every weekend, for what seems like forever, and even some days in between weekends, we have been at my deceased FIL’s house.  The whole family is working together to sort it out and get it on the market.

You know how people will advise you to never have a garage sale…well, we are having a garage sale.  There is just soooo much stuff in this house.

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Oh and the other side of clearing out someone else house – all of the stuff that finds it way back to your own house.  This photo was taken on the very first day of hauling stuff home.  It got a lot, LOT worse than these few piles.  I’ve been slowing working through the piles, reassessing and rehoming items.

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Yes, some semblance of school has been happening amidst everything else.

Last week, we finished reading “Sachiko:  A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story”.  It you want a change from reading Sadako’s story and you are looking for something a little more challenging and informative, trying “Sachiko”.  We thought it was excellent and we appreciated learning something about Nagasaki.  So much of the focus always seems to be on Hiroshima.

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We also finished reading “Mansa Musa and the Empire of Mali”.  This book showed me just how little we know about the continent of Africa.  They have a fascinating history.

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I also read “The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu”.  Did you know that Timbuktu was an actual place?  It’s like the El Dorado of Africa.  This book actually tells two stories.  It tells the distant past history of Timbuktu and its more recent history, where Jihadists tried to destroy the books of Timbuktu but were too late, thanks to the efforts of a librarian, who smuggled almost all of the books out of Timbuktu.

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We are one chapter away from finishing “The Road From Home”, which tells the true story of an Armenian girl during the times of the Armenian genocides.  We’ve been reading a lot about genocides this year as it really upsets me to think that so many genocides have occurred in our recent history and yet we know so little about them.  They seem almost wholly forgotten, especially by the current culture who seem to care more about climate change and environmental destruction than the annihilation of whole groups of people.

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We’re also still reading “Great Expectations” and “The Iliad”.  We don’t read these kinds of books quickly.  They must be nibbled and savoured and talked about.

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We’re also reading “Up from Slavery” by Booker T Washington.  It’s a lot more readable than I was expecting and we are thoroughly enjoying it.

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Our documentaries have fallen by the wayside a bit recently but we have viewed a few things.

We watched “Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels” which was excellent.  I highly recommend this one.

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We watched this docodrama about the ‘founder’ of McDonalds.  It left a very bad taste in our mouths…and it had nothing to do with their food.  You must watch this one, but, I warn you, you’ll not be happy with Ray Kroc. I feel really bad for the ‘real’ founders of McDonalds.

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We’ve also been watching “Physics 101”.  We loooove all of these dvds.  Did you know that, in a double rainbow, the second rainbow’s colours are reversed?  I did not know that!  Now I’m hunting double rainbows to see for myself.

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Currently, we’re watching Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” as we’re off to see a performance of it this week.  It’s such a great story.  I wonder why it’s not one of the better known play.  Oh and if you haven’t fallen in love with Shakespeare yet, you have to give it a try.  Skip reading the play.  That’ll bore you to death.  It’s not meant to be read.  It’s meant to be performed and experienced.  Read a children’s abridged version, to get the storyline, and then find yourself a good production to attend.  I promise you.  You won’t regret it.  (For Brisbanites, I recommend Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble or the Brisbane Shakespeare Festival in the park).

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On another level of education, my Marvel lovers are educating me in the world of Marvel.  Below is my current curriculum.  I’ve already ‘studied’ Thor and am currently working on the great classic, “Captain America”.  Hey, this is important learning…apparently; and it’s not as bad as I was expecting.  I’ve been quite enjoying them.

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Coming up in our viewing world are the following (with some censoring where necessary of course).  I’m looking forward to all of these.

Oh and we went and saw the latest movie, “Dunkirk” too.  I was so looking forward to it.  It’s a miraculous and amazing story but the movie just didn’t do the story justice.  I was quite disappointed with it.

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Finally, in our listening world, we are ploughing through the Fablehaven series.  Yes, I know.  This book set is unopened.  We ended up listening to the audio instead of reading the books.  We’ve been doing a LOT of driving back and forth to my FIL’s house and needed something to listen to.  Never fear. Fablehaven is such a good series that the books are a must own anyway.

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And, finally, for all my book loving readers, here’s a shelfie, as the net likes to call random photos of books.  These are some of the books that I’ve been buying and we’ve been reading (or plan to).  I’m drooling just looking at them.  Yes, that’s how I measure my days, in books I have purchased and books I have read.

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Well, on that note, I have to dash.  We have to watch the second half of “The Winter’s Tale” tonight.

I’ll try to be a better blogger.  I promise.  🙂

 
 

The Aussie Lego Store

Last week we went to visit the new Lego store at Dreamworld.

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Yes, I have a Lego lover living at our house

(the child, who, while in the US last year,

was bemoaning the fact that Australia doesn’t have any Lego stores,

and who came home to Australia to find out that Dreamworld was building a Lego store).

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Oh and if you don’t have a Dreamworld ticket or pass, don’t worry.

You can access the store from the outside without a ticket or pass.

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Inside the store is all the Lego your little (and big) Lego Lovers could desire.

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It’s a pretty decent sized store.

(And we’re seen a few

– our Lego Lover dragged us into every Lego store he found in the US

on the east and west coast).

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All around the store, there are Lego creations.

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Some with an Aussie flavour,

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and one to remind shoppers that you need a ticket to go beyond the store into Dreamworld

(at least that what we thought it was doing).

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There was even a miniature ‘Lego’ Lego store!

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Of course, there is the famous Lego Pick-a-Brick Wall

(If you plan on filling a cup with bricks, make sure you check out youtube

for the best methods of stacking those bricks to get the most bricks for you money).

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There’s also “Build a Minifigure” stations,

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where you get to mix and match different minifigure parts to create your own combination.

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Of course, we didn’t leave the Lego store empty handed.

Lego Lover left so much drool on one of the new Lego Batman sets,

that I relented and purchased it for him.

Thankfully, the prices were pretty reasonable.

Some of the prices were a bit more than the department stores,

many were the same,

and some were even cheaper (but only by a smidge).

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My little Lego Lover is over the moon about the new Lego store,

especially since it’s just up the highway from our house.

I’m not sure if my wallet is excited about that though.  😦

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Posted by on February 12, 2017 in Field Trips, Technology

 

Hadron Collider Exhibition

This weekend we went to the museum’s Hadron Collider Exhibition.

Have you visited yet?  Are you planning on visiting?

Do you have any idea of what the Hardon Collider is or does?

Initially, I didn’t.

I think I have a basic understanding of it now.

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Firstly, a hadron is a particle which is made up of quarks.

Protons and neutrons are hadrons.

So, a Large Hadron Collider collides hadrons.

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The Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, does these collisions within a 27km circular tunnel,

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which is 100 metres below Switzerland and France.

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Within this tunnel are beam pipes.

These pipes contain protons (remember, they are a hadron) in a vacuum.

One pipe send protons in a clockwise direction and the other sends them in an anti-clockwise directions.

These protons are accelerated around the 27km circular path at incredible speeds.

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Most of the LHC ring is made of incredibly powerful magnets.

These magnets steer the protons around the circle.

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Liquid helium flows through these magnets keeping them at an incredible -271.3 degrees Celcius,

which is only 1.9 degrees above the lowest possible temperature, absolute zero.

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When you cool metal it shrinks, and these pipes shrink about 30 metres when they are cooled.

To compensate for these compressions and expansions,

thousands of flexible connectors are positioned throughout the circuit.

Interestingly, when they first turned on the LHC in 2008,

one of these connectors failed to operate properly,

causing a breech in the circuit,

which led to liquid helium violently venting out and damaging 750 metres of the collider.

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This caused massive delays.

It was 2010 before it was ready to begin collisions again.

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Within the collider, there are also magnets that squeeze the proton beams together

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so they can collide inside one of the 4 large detectors.

(There are also 3 smaller detectors).

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The largest detector is over 25 metres tall,

which is huge compared to the size of the objects being collided,

objects we can’t even see because they are so small..

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When they collide, the protons are smashed into their smaller components.

These collisions create temperatures that are much hotter than the sun.

(Recent collisions have created temperatures 100 000 times hotter than the centre of the sun!)

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Physicists then analyse the data to see what the collision has created.

With 40 million collisions every second, the physicists rely on computer analysis to deal with all the data.

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It was the Higgs Boson that the physicists were looking for in their first experiments at the LHC

and, in 2012, they announced that they had found it.

(Watch the dvd “Particle Fever”, if you want to see what excited physicists look like).

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The Higgs Boson was the final piece of the Standard Model puzzle that physicists had been working on.

This is the model physicists currently use to explain all the basic ‘ingredients’ that they believe make up the universe.

(Nope, it’s not the proton, neutron and electron anymore.)

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Oh and don’t worry.

Just because they’ve found the Higgs Boson, doesn’t mean that all their questions are answered.

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So that’s what I learned at the Hadron Collider exhibition.

It’s very well presented.

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The experience starts with a short video

(but make sure you arrive 15 minutes before your time so you have time to look at the exhibits leading up to the auditorium)

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After the video, you begin your walk through the simulated LHC tunnel and offices.

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There are artifacts from the LHC to see

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and plenty of videos and audios to listen to.

(I really appreciated the subtitles and printed texts on all the audio components).

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As you walk through the simulated halls, pay attention to all the little details.

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On the physicists’ noticeboards, we found this treasure…

(If you can’t read the catchline it says, “Fun Fact: Ex-particle-physicists make the worst biologists.)

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Our favourite funny was this Schrodinger’s Cat one.

(You’ll have to look up “Schorodinger’s Cat” if you don’t find it funny.)

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Within the simulated office, you had to take your time and look around properly.

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There were lots of little details that you could miss if you were in a hurry.

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This was the simulated office of one of the people who were analysing the Higgs Boson data.

Make sure you stay to watch her reaction when she realises they have found the Higgs Boson.

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This exhibit was a visually spectacular one,

with lots of details

and stacks of reading.

We highly recommend it… with a couple of restrictions.

Firstly, I wouldn’t bother taking young children or younger students to see this exhibition.

It is not geared towards younger learners who can’t grasp what is happening at the LHC.

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And secondly, to get the most out of the experience, I would prepare your students before going.

My family read this new release book, “Smash:  Exploring the Mysteries of the Universe with the Large Hadron Collider”

(It’s a graphic novel but beggars can’t be choosers when there’s so little written about the LHC and particle physics for younger audiences)

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We also watched “Particle Fever” which was an excellent documentary

and, if you can only do one thing in preparation, I would watch this dvd.

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With the right audience, who is fully prepared to engage with the information, the Hadron Collider exhibition at the Brisbane Museum is well-worth a visit.

 

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2017 in Field Trips, Science