Thursday, 8 May 2008

The Giant Overexhuberant Flying Sausage

We've managed to start our project on 'flight' this week with a look at the history of hot air balloons and I was hoping to continue today. However, after finishing their morning 'chores' the kids got involved in their own 'thing' and - seeing some creativity and learning happening all on its own - it felt best not to interfere.

Ds2 decided he was going to teach dd1 (age 4) how to write her name. He wrote her name - phonically correct, but otherwise wrong - on a piece of paper and then proceded to draw some letters with dots that she was to join up for him. Being the independent type (alas, seems to run in the family) dd1 had other ideas, but managed to join a few dots before drawing her own capital 'A' . Talk about well chuffed! Ds2 however was none pleased at this rebellion in the classroom and they soon parted company with him going off into another room to follow his own creativity and her left to draw smiley caterpillars on the remaining piece of paper.

Ds2's project for the day (totally spontaneous and uninitiated by me) appeared to be sticking a plastic 1/2 litre fizzy drinks bottle and a clear plastic tube together and then making a hole in the side. Originally it was to be some kind of breathing apparatus, until ds1 pointed out the failings in breathing back in the air you have just exhaled.

'You'll die!' he exclaimed dramatically.

Sensing an 'educational moment' [fanfare of trumpets] I explained about breathing in oxygen and how exhaled breath contains water vapour (hence the steaming up sides of the bottle) and carbon dioxide, which wasn't, generally, the best thing to be breathing back in again. He spent the next few minutes faking dizziness from inhaling too much carbon dioxide, which everyone ignored. Adjusting his ambitions for his new invention he decided to reassign it to being a super large drinking bottle. I didn't like to point out the one failing in this revised plan - it wasn't watertight!

Ds1 in the meantime had disappeared off to 'make some things on the conservatory table'. He has learnt - sadly from experience - to ask permission to do this. I suppose this is a result of me ranting at him like some demented mother just as I'm dishing up the dinner when I have found the entire table covered in the contents of our scrap boxes and art cupboard. Fortunately this doesn't seem to have had a serious long lasting effect on his creativity. Today his creativity was directed towards making a Darth Vader ('well something similar but not the same') outfit - i.e. a mask and body armour - from items out of our 'scrap' box*.

[*note for those who don't have such a thing, the scrap box is full of all those things that normal people throw away and that I probably should if I had any intentions on keeping a 'tidy house'. And no, I have no idea what a 'tidy house' is or where it is kept, but would be interested to find out...]

What I hadn't realised at the time was that he had already created drawings of his 'design' in the hours between breakfast and then - i.e. when he should have been doing his chores- and that he was working from the designs, now laid on the conservatory table. I was really quite impressed with this planning and foresight (not one of my strong points) and started doing that home ed mother thing, emphasising to him about how lucky he was to be home educated and how creative and wonderful he was etc etc...Eventually he managed to wriggle free from my motherly grasp and continued to work on his creation with only mild bemusement at my sudden outburst of adoration.

The Darth Vader - 'well something similar but not the same' - face mask was made from a black plastic food tray with slits cut into it. He asked me if we had any elastic [big sigh] - It's pretty typical of our household that somewhere in the house we have a huge carrier bag full of lengths of elastic, but I'm darned if I can find it ANYWHERE! No doubt it's in the same place that all ds2's socks have gone. After an unsuccessful search I helped ds1 cross the road to go to the corner shop to buy some elastic to fasten it around his head. Which reminds me, he's still got my change - no wonder I don't have any money in my purse.

For the chest armour he used the black cardboard from a disposable bbq that we'd burnt veggy sausages on the previous day. The writing ' disposable bbq' was still emblazoned across his chest. Perhaps that's intergalactic code for 'bad guy', who knows...

In the meantime I'd been looking at some videos on the internet about hot air balloon making and found an interesting one on making a solar powered balloon using black bin liners See for instructions].

So, minutes after showing it to the kids, I was back at the corner shop - the eighth wonder of the world - buying cheap black binliners.

We used 4 bin bags and cut the ends off to make tubes which we then stuck together with sellotape. Sealing one end and filling with air before sealing the other end, we basically ended up with a huge black sausage. We then experimented with it on the pavement outside our house

Don't worry folks it's not a UFO, it's just that nutty home ed family again.

Thankfully we were cautious enough to attach some kite string to one end as it was quite a windy day and it would have ended up either in the road or tangled in the telephone wires if we hadn't. It took a few attempts at getting air into it before there seemed to be a result of sorts. Then as the air inside heated it did seem to rise up, well a bit. I'm not sure how much of the success was due to design or just the fact that it was a bit windy where we were standing - pretty much any plastic bag would have been flying in that wind - but it was fun. Eventually we tied it to a drainpipe in our shared driveway where it flapped around for the rest of the day.

...that reminds me, I must go and bring
it indoors now. Our next door neighbour is registered blind and she might find it a little disturbing when she encounters a giant overexhuberant flying sausage in her driveway!

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