Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Pointy stick, o pointy pointy

Just a quick one tonight; LoveFilm have delivered Penelope for me, and to say I am looking forward to it would be an understatement. But first, in a shameless attempt to grab some geek points, here's a five minute experiment that's as much to do with showing little people how to record experimental findings as teaching them about the nerves that help them to feel.

You will need two pokey sticks - knitting needles are good - paper and pencil and a willing victim. The idea is to demonstrate the differing density of nerve endings over your body, and figure out the most sensitive parts (steady!)

Choose the area to work on - classics are the fingertips and the back, but legs, feet, toes, arms all are worth it. My little scientists got a bit carried away poking me with knitting needles, for some reason.

Touch the person with either one

or two points, held about a centimetre apart, and ask them to tell you how many points they feel.

I have only just realised what short stubby scientist fingers I have. Harumph.

Record how many times they get this right. We tried 4 times on each body part.

Once you figure out which areas are most and least sensitive you can vary the distance between the needles - if you put them 5 cm apart, can you now reliably distinguish one from two touches on your back?

You can make a little chart, and probably could get creative with graphs and so on.

There is a variation of this that has you running a pencil point slowly up your forearm and noting the places where it feels icy cold as you encounter a nerve ending, but I think mine need to be a bit bigger before we do this. I remember marking the points with felt tip pens and plotting them out when I was about 12. That explains a lot.

And now, though I love you all dearly I'm going to have to spend a little quality time with a glass of red, a bowl of butternut squash lasagne and James McAvoy ...

Monday, 22 September 2008

Bit of a milestone

We have had a very exciting weekend; we travelled to Bournemouth for a beautiful two day family wedding at a lovely hotel (whose website insists on launching a very dodgy voiceover so I refuse to link to them!).

There was sun and a ceremony looking out over a gorgeous sea view:

There were special party dresses:

There were sparkly shoes:

There was a classic wedding car with an elated couple:

There were VIPs- at dinner we met the director of the BBC News at Ten (see, I do get to hobnob with important people occasionally).

There were stunning table decorations, party bags for the children and how gorgeous is this for a wedding favour - colour coordinated personalised rock!

And in the evening there was a surprisingly good band. I had to pity the poor souls though - they were trying their hardest to be very cool but had a gaggle of 5 little girls jumping up and down in front of them all evening. Tiny Small outlasted me in the evening dancing stakes by a good hour. I think we're in for a going-out battle in ten years' time!

And then to cap it all, Miss Tall Small finally lost her first tooth in the car on the way home after wiggling it for well over a week. Fortunately we had already made a tooth holding hedgehog, based on MollyChicken's pattern, and the tooth fairy paid her visit last night, leaving two shiny silver coins in the pouch (yes, I know hedgehogs don't really have pouches but neither do they have wonky smiles or felt spikes).


Thursday, 11 September 2008


Had you going. No, the earth has not fallen into a black hole due to activities in Switzerland, but geeks all over blogland have been squeaking in excitement (yes Lesley and Emma, I'm looking at you). It's actually a relief to discover other people as nerdy as I am.

Anyway, to celebrate, the little cookies and I planned to build a Large Hadron Collider in the cupboard under the stairs, but we didn't have enough toilet roll tubes, and besides, I'm not sure I want to come face to face with Higgs boson when I'm reaching for the hoover. We couldn't let the day go unmarked without any physics experiments at all, so we fell back on this fun one which shows them the effects of air pressure (and gets them giggling too).

All you need is some stiffish paper (hello cover of Boden catalogue - receycling in action, huzzah!), a bendy straw, some sticky tape, some blutack, a little bit of foil and some stickers or pens.

Cut out a circle of paper (10-15cm diameter), cut a slit from one edge to the middle and fold it into a wide cone. Decorate it (this is nominally a craft blog after all.)

Cut a small hole in the tip of the cone and poke through the short end of the straw. Trim off the other end of the straw unless you have superhuman lung capacity. Use blutack to seal the straw into the cone.

Scrunch up the foil into a little ball - this is where you need to experiment a bit- if it's too big the littlies can't blow hard enough to lift it up.

Apply to the lips and PUFF!

Have you any idea how hard this was to photograph?
It took me about 80 photos to get this one
. Poor Tall Small nearly passed out!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Getting our money's worth

In these cash strapped, credit crunchy days I think it's important to get our little ones used to the concept of working for a crust. How about ...

chalk smashing (fabulous for tension relief):

flour grinding:

metal detecting:
interior decoration

and digging for valuable artefacts?

A few weeks back we visited Butser Ancient Farm on an Open Day, which in all honesty we expected to keep us occupied for about an hour. Six hours later we were still there, and had learned all sorts of new skills. So if the recession really bites I shall be able to spin and weave my own wool and Mr DC can smelt metal to make coins. Oh, and we learned a good trick for using less fuel on our fire this winter - turns out if you're a lazy wotsit and let the ash build up instead of cleaning out the grate every time a single log will burn for hours. Well, that's what the archaeologist told us but I have no idea if it actually works yet - and besides, what would the neighbours think!