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A Science Escapade by Cognitive Whizz

Thursday, 17 August 2017

I have always wanted to expose the boys to science and do some fun science experiments together. But blame it on my laziness and poor science knowledge, I hesitated. Fortunately, science is all around us. So, there are plenty opportunities to explain why things happen and the science behind it. Real life application you see.

Do you know that science can occur in fairy tales too? Fairy tales are always so magical and fascinating but there are actually science concepts behind the magic! Big J was thrilled when I told him he's going for a science class, with a fairy tale twist!

A Science Escapade!


We were invited by Cognitive Whizz to try out its holiday science program during the June holidays. Held at BrainFit Studio, 'A Science Escapade!' is a 4-day program that integrates fairy tales and hands-on science experiments. Using stories that children are already familiar with, they will need to help the characters in the stories to overcome challenges with the help of science. Through the fun and engaging hands-on experiments, children will develop problem solving skills, critical thinking skills and of course understanding of the science concepts!


Big J enjoyed himself so much during the 4 days and I'm excited to share with you what went on in the class! First up, here are the highlights for the 4-day program. I'm quite amazed there are so much to learn from a simple fairy tale.


Each lesson lasts for 3 hours. Each day, the children will be introduced to a fairy tale and carry-out 3-5 interesting experiments to learn about the science concepts. Real life examples are also introduced to show how these science concepts can be applied to our daily life. I can assure you that your child will be busy thinking and engaged every minute in the class! Let me bring you through Day 1 to have a feel of the program.

How Are You Feeling Today?


The session started off by asking the children how they were feeling. I think this is a very clever way to get the children to start interacting. It is also a way to provide assurance to the children that their feelings are being acknowledged.

On each day, the children were introduced to four new words to describe happy, sad, angry or scared. By day 4, they have learnt 12 new words to describe their feelings!

I am overjoyed to learn about science!

Fairy Tale Time


Next, it is story time! Look at the children listening attentively to the story of Hansel and Gretel. As the story was read, Teacher Denise related the emotions, that the children had learnt earlier, to what the characters experienced.


Science Time!


After reading the story, here comes the interesting part. Teacher Denise told the children that the wicked witch is chasing after Hansel and Gretel. She asked the children how they can help Hansel and Gretel escape more quickly. The children started suggesting them to drive a car, ride a bike or even take a rocket to escape from the witch!

The teacher showed the children some pictures of vehicles and asked what they have in common. Almost immediately, majority of the children said 'Wheels!'


Teacher Denise then took out a balloon racer without wheels and demonstrated that it doesn't move well due to friction between the cardboard and the table. The children said that the racer needs wheels! After attaching the wheels, the racer was able to move smoothly. She then explained that the contact area between the car and the table is now smaller and hence less friction. Therefore, the racer is able to zoom away!


Through this experiment, children learnt about the first science principle for the day:

"Friction acts in opposite direction of the moving object. The bigger the contact area, the greater the friction. Wheels reduce the contact area, hence lesser friction." 

The children were broken up into smaller groups to build their very own balloon racers and get some hands-on experience to learn about friction. Each group has about 4 - 5 children to a teacher. The teacher guided the children along patiently.



Here's Big J trying to blow a big balloon to make his balloon racer move fast!


After the fun, the children are invited back to their seats to complete the worksheet to reinforce their learning. The booklet is fully coloured to attract the children's attention.


After this, Teacher Denise continued to introduce the children to the next science principle:

"Newton's 3rd Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."

Again, she brought the focus back to the story of Hansel and Gretel. The children were asked which direction should the racer be facing to escape from the witch. They first placed the balloon facing the witch and realised that the racer ran towards the witch and the witch caught them! So now, they placed the balloon with the straw end facing the witch. The air from the balloon escaped through the straw, blew up the witch's hair and the racer got away!

More real-life examples were given to reinforce their learning. For example, when riding a scooter, we kick our feet backwards so the scooter can move forward!


The last science principle the children learnt was about Energy Conversion:

"Stretching something elastic stores potential energy. Anything that is moving has kinetic energy."

The children were asked why the racer is able to move despite not having any petrol. Teacher Denise shared that potential energy is stored when the elastic balloon gets inflated with air. As the air escapes, the stored potential energy is converted to kinetic energy, zooming the racer away.


To recap what they have learnt that day, the children were asked to pretend that they were snakes slithering on the ground. They realised that they were moving slowly due to friction. Then they were asked to pretend they were horses galloping. They were able to move fast because the contact area with the floor is smaller and hence less friction.



Next, they had a game of tug-of-war. The children were divided into two teams, one representing friction and the other non-friction. The non-friction group realised they could hardly move when there are equal number of friction members. However, when the friction team got smaller, the non-friction team could move more easily! They observed that it is easier to move when there is less friction and that friction acts in the opposite direction.


As a finale, the children had a racer race to see whose racer will go the furthest. They tried to blow big balloons so there is more potential energy to be converted to kinetic energy for their racer to go far!


Parents' Update


At the end of each session, parents are invited into the room for a parent briefing. Teacher Denise will share the key highlights of the workshop, the experiments and activities done and what the parents can do at home to reinforce the knowledge with the children.

She will also follow-up with a very detailed summary of how the day went via WhatsApp. The summary even includes snippets of conversations that the children had said in class. How comprehensive!


Verdict


Big J has definitely enjoyed the workshop! He also learnt many science concepts and he is able to apply what he has learnt to real life situations. For example, he was telling me to fill up glass bottles with water so he could make music. He also said he wants to do some of the experiments again.

I really love that the workshop is highly interactive and provides many opportunities for the children to do hands-on learning. I believe that kids can learn better when they are able to touch and see what is happening. There were many useful examples given to allow the children to understand the concepts. Instead of just giving them the information, the activities allow opportunities for the children to observe, hypothesize and form their own conclusions!

The small group learning was well carried out. The teachers are helpful and patient while guiding the children.

Another feature that I like is the parents' update. I don't think there are many workshops around that provide such a detailed update than 'A Science Escapade'. The teacher even went the extra mile to note down what individual children said and pass on this information to the parent. Parents like me will be assured of how the child is doing in class. They also provide notes as to how parents can further reinforce the learning at home, perfect for parents like me who struggle with science!

Do note that what I have written above is only for the first day of the workshop. In the subsequent three days, the children continued to explore more interesting science concepts about Density, Oxygen and Sound & Light. Each day is filled with many fascinating experiments and activities! While I was waiting outside the room, I could hear the joyful laughter of the children and that shows the children really love the workshop!

If you are interested to sign up for the science workshop during the next school holidays, do keep a look out on Cognitive Whizz's Facebook Page. I heard the next workshop will be in the November / December holidays.


Cognitive Whizz

Contact No.: 9009 7086
Email: info@cognitivewhizz.com


Disclaimer: We were sponsored complimentary workshop with Cognitive Whizz to try out its 'A Science Escapade' holiday program for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was involved. All opinions, texts and photos are mine, unless otherwise stated.

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