coding · stem · teaching · Uncategorized

science, Science, SCIENCE!

That’s the answer! What is the question, then? The question is what I’ve been up to since my last post! Science parties, science clubs, talking about science, planning to do some science related activities and making a business out of science related clubs and sharing the enthusiasm for STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) with our young people! Including Code Clubs, obvs.


So last Saturday I did my very first party for Sublime Science. I am not traditionally one for an easy transistion into anything. And this was no exception. The party was an ‘Ultimate’ party, so basically including EVERYTHING that Sublime offer in their parties! The basic stuff AND Climate Chaos AND the Wacky Rockets modules! All in all I was there for 3hours (I only get paid for 1.5 btw). I was feeling a little bit nervous (understandably I’d say!) so on the Friday before, I asked my daughter and a couple of her friends to go through a practice with me. I think they enjoyed it!

I did the lemonade fountain as well! However, I only had one bottle to play with and I accidently knocked the lock for the mentos and got absolutely soaked! The kids loved it, obvs. But it did mean noone was ready for filming it!! And yes, there was slime making too! My daughter, the slime expert, was not impressed with the Sublime Science Slime. Until she added some of the fake snow, that is!

This is me, JetPack Jan, ready to play my part!

(Chanting ‘enthusiasm, enthusiasm, enthusiasm’ under my breath!)


Can you see the fear?

It was a blast! I loved it. It was also the hardest £36 I’ve ever made! They were loud, rowdy, distracted, and lovely all at the same time… and that was just the adults! Well… it was a party!

Roll on Saturday for another!!



Last week also marked the first after school clubs for STEMKids! What’s that you say? Glutton for punishment… who, me?!

Balloon Car

We started with a ‘Balloon Car’. Provided with the bits and pieces needed we set about creating.

NB Something to note if you’re going to give this a go. The cardboard ‘wheels’ have a rough and smooth-ish side. If decorating, best use the rough side as the smoother side is easier to get the wooden dowels (axles) through!

One child felt it appropriate to ‘just’ blow up the balloon over and over again, then it was useless as air power! Another child got frustrated with their car being ‘rubbish’ and stamped on it!

Apart from that, nearly all managed to complete their balloon cars and it was so awesome to have a little race at the end! 🙂 Here is my practice one.

Balloon Car

So, I learned that it would be a good idea to demonstrate putting it together before they get started. And it’s a really, REALLY good idea to have a sellotape dispenser!

That is definitely a project on my list to do with my very own STEM group at my kids school. If you’d like to have a go, you can find the instructions here on wiki.

Steady Hand Game / Frustration

The second group had enjoyed a Young Engineers club during the summer, so we are working on a different curriculum. For their first project with me, we built a ‘Steady Hand Game’ where you have to guide a wire loop along a piece of wire without lighting the bulb.

Steady Hand Game

Frustratingly, winding the wire around the ‘contact’ for the bulb was sooooo difficult, I had to visit each child in turn! Leading to a lot of waiting for the others 🙁

Here I learned, rather late, that it would have made sense to just tape it on! If you would like to have a go, instructions can be found here on Energizer. Or, if you have a micro:bit, have a go at the Code Club version called ‘Frustration’ that counts how many times you have touched the wire here! You may remember I used that version to show off at the drop-ins for the library code clubs…

Frustration at the library

Anyway, despite the ‘difficulties’, it was awesome, and I loved it!

All in all a fabulous science-y week!

My own STEM club business

And now to planning my own Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Coding clubs! I’m so excited. I have managed to secure delivering an after school club at my kids school, it is starting on Friday!! Aaaarrrgghhh!

We are starting on animation, I believe that 3D clay stop-motion is what the kids will be most interested in. I have done a similar thing before, with my sock frogs instead of clay, always planned to do more and just not got around to it yet!

Would you like to see it? Well… you asked! Here it is…

What do you think? I’m quite proud of it! The idea came from an awesome author that does these stop-motion animations of the creatures from her books quite regularly. She’s on Facebook as ‘Celestine and the Hare’. Have you heard of her? If not, you should totally check her out, and her books, and her hand felted characters too! Here’s a link in case you’d like to check her out now!

The video aligns with something else I am very passionate about – reading. And any encouragement we can offer to parents to share reading and rhyming and singing with their children is so important. It really does improve children’s literacy.

Anyway, that is for another post! I will show you the animations that the kids make when they’re complete!

How to teach animation in a group setting?

I have been worrying over this! During my research, I found an interesting article online about ‘Animation Camp’ that has given me some ideas on how to start this first session in the club. The article is a case study written by Mike Roy, charting how he had set up a summer camp teaching kids the history and the art of animation, you can read it at

The case study is set over 4 days. We will have 3 hours in total, so I will have to shorten it considerably. The club is all about having fun, so I will keep the actual teaching to an absolute minimum and put the emphasis on creating. Do you think that it would be best to work in groups? Everyone gets to make at least one clay character, with the actual animation a group project. If you have any ideas, then please let me know!


That’s it for now. I need to do some planning for my tutoring sessions coming up tonight. Hope to chat with you again soon!


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