skittles rainbow

Easy Home Science Experiments You Can Do With Your Kids


How do you get kids interested in science? Make it fun and hands on. These science experiments are guaranteed to get your kids excited and you don’t need any science knowledge to do them. Just a bit of common sense and a few household ingredients.

Cornflour Magic

You will need:  1 cup of cornflour (it can be any size), 1 cup of water (it has to be the same cup as the one you use to measure the cornflour), 1 large bowl, a spoon,  and food colour (optional)

Add cornflour into the bowl. Add the water and food colour. Mix and play around with the mixture.

  1.  Scrunch up the cornflour into your hands and see if you pick it all up and roll it into a ball. It will become a ball and look like a solid as long as you keep moving the ball between your hands.

  2. Now keep your hands still with the cornflour ball still in your hands. What happens?

  3. Dip your finger into the cornflour mixture, it should be a liquid. You can stir it gently and it look and feel wet.

  4. Stir it really fast. What happens?

  5. Punch the cornflour mixture with your fist. Did it splash?

You can do this on a large-scale, watch this video with the same mixture in a swimming pool.

Skittles Rainbow

You will need: 1 packet of Skittles, a large flat white plate, some water

Place the skittles in a large circle around the edge of the plate. Add water into the middle of the circle but don’t drown the skittles. Do this carefully so that the skittles do not move. Then keep still and watch what happens.

  1. Repeat the experiment with hot water. Do you see a difference?

  2. Repeat using M and M sweets.

  3. Repeat but make a square shape with the skittles.

skittles rainbow

Elephant’s Toothpaste

You will need: 1 sachet of instant dried yeast, 1 small plastic water bottle, 120 ml of hydrogen peroxide (6% strength), a large squirt of washing up liquid, 3 tablespoons of water, food colouring.

You should have most of the ingredients at home, except for the hydrogen peroxide. You can buy this from any chemist. Hydrogen peroxide has a shelf life and over time it changes to water. So don’t use an old bottle that’s been lying around your house for months.

If you do not have safety goggles, then an adult should do this part.  Hydrogen peroxide can irritate your eyes and skin and safety precautions are written on the bottle. Pour the hydrogen peroxide into the empty water bottle. Then add the washing up liquid and food colouring. You can stir the mixture gently. Now place the bottle in a large deep tray or in the sink as it can get messy.

Children can do this part of the experiment. In a separate container, mix the dried yeast and water. Then quickly pour this mixture into the bottle. Do this quickly if you want some drama.

  1.  Try different food colours.

  2. hydrogen peroxide is available in different strengths, try the same experiment with different strengths.

  3. Try different shapes containers, the longer and narrower the container the quicker the foam rises up and out.

Here’s a video of my experiment.

 

The Science of Teaching Science


My weekly science lessons are the highlight of my week.  Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching on the other days but Tuesdays science class combines my two favourite things – teaching and science.  Students who need science tuition don’t know how to learn science and remember it.  To learn science there are three steps:

  1.  first need to understand it

  2. then apply it to questions or even real life examples

  3. then remember it

When I was at school my Biology teacher would dictate pages and pages of notes for the whole lesson.  Occasionally we had a practical lesson, but the best lessons were the ones where she would ask us to put our books away and ask questions.  We would spend the whole lesson taking turns to ask her questions related to the topics we had been studying. This method of teaching helped us to understand, apply and remember the topic.

My science lessons are student led, I have a lesson planned, but most times I walk in not knowing what I will end up teaching.  I encourage students to use scientific words when asking questions and when talking about science.  New students rarely contribute to class discussions and don’t understand how science matters to their lives.

A new student will ask “Miss, is it true that mobile phones can kill you if you use them too much?”

Whereas a regular student will ask “Miss, is it true that the microwave radiation emitted from a mobile phone can cause mutations and lead to cancer?”

Do you see the difference? This was a question which came up in a physics topic on the electromagnetic spectrum.  The discussion continued onto cancer to treatment of cancer to Ebola to vaccination to drug discovery to forensic science and so on.

I find that teaching science in this way helps the students to remember more as it relates to their lives.  It makes science less abstract and more interesting.

teaching science

My science lessons are every Tuesday from 4.30 to 5.30.  Call 01582 402225 to book your child in.

Student Alert: Why Didn’t I Pass My Mock Exams?


You revised, you went to revision classes at school, you paid attention in class, you did your homework, yet you still didn’t get the grades you hoped you would. What did you do wrong?  If you are wondering this, then read on.

This week I have had numerous calls from worried parents who have said the same thing to me.  Their child works so hard, yet it doesn’t show, what could be the reason?  They saw their child sitting at their desk with their books open, sometimes even staying up late to get the work done.

Experience tells me that any child can learn, if given the right tools.  It’s all about focus, technique and time.  If one of these three elements is missing from revision, then it won’t work.

FOCUS

The obvious meaning is to avoid distractions, and really really concentrate.  Don’t procrastinate.  One of my students can take up to 10 minutes just getting her books out, another will leave out the tricky topics hoping that they won’t come up.  One student had a super organised study area, where she had a collection of text books, notes, past papers and worksheets, but no real revision had actually taken place.

The other meaning is to cast aside all the stuff you don’t need.  Only revise what is going to come up in the exam.  If you don’t know what will come up, then you need to ask your teacher to print off a syllabus. Then tick off each topic as you revise it.  It will show your progress and will ensure that you don’t miss anything out.  If you missed out questions or revised the wrong topics, then you didn’t FOCUS on the right things.

 

TECHNIQUE

1.  What’s your learning style?

We all learn in different ways.  I am an auditory learner, so I prefer to watch videos or listen to talks and lectures.  Sometimes I like to make notes, and use highlighters to help me remember things.  Find a learning style that suits you and one that comes to you naturally.  If you don’t have a preferred way of learning, then use what works.  This infographic will help you find out your learning style and how you can use it to study better.

what type of learner are you

2.  Test yourself.

There’s lots to revise so break down each topic into smaller chunks.  Revise that chunk, and then test yourself.  So many students will revise without doing past papers and tests.  Worse still, they do the past papers and wait for their teachers to mark them.  How will you know if you got the questions right? It’s like cooking something to eat and not eating it!  Mark the papers yourself, look at the wrong answers, and then figure out how to get the right answer.  Then do another paper and repeat.

TIME

I was watching a TED talk on YouTube called “The First 20 Hours — How To Learn Anything.  The speaker claims that all you need is 20 hours to learn something and is worth watching. Did you devote this much time to your revision?  If you did fail your mock exams, then now is the time to get organised.  Watch the video and then act on it.

Thought Of The Week


So here’s my thought of the week…
So many year 11’s are under pressure right now.  They have to go to extra classes arranged by the school, even at the weekend, they have to finish off all of their coursework and revise for mock exams.

21014146-hard-work-of-the-student
The pressure is so much that don’t know where to begin.  From experience I know that they struggle with getting organised and don’t realise the seriousness of exams until it’s too late.  They cannot see the bigger picture, that a little bit of work now will make less work in the future.
Parents can only push them to a certain extent but the end result depends on the child.  If the child is not motivated, then you can be paying for the best schooling and extra tuition but it will not make a difference.  Schools can put on booster sessions and revision sessions until 8pm every night.  This will tick all the boxes and show that they care for their students of course but will the child be focussed and make the most of the time?
Until effort is made, and I mean real effort which involves engaging the brain when revising, and putting in the hours, the rewards will not be gained.
My A* students are already at the finishing line, they had their notes organised from day one, they realised that it takes an enormous amount of time, they realised that success only comes with hard graft, not because your mummy and daddy are nagging you to work.
Is this pressure a good motivator?  Are we being too harsh on our kids?  Or is it a necessary life skill to learn?  They are teenagers, and have a right to choose what they do with their time, but when faced with deadlines and work loads, should they ignore them or work on them?

21 Ways To Revise GCSE Maths


  1. Start revising early in the year (about now) and learn the work you do in class.

  2. Get a copy of your syllabus and go through each bullet point.  Any topics you don’t understand should be highlighted.

  3. Write a list of all of the topics and cross them off the list once you’re sure you know them.

  4. When you revise topics make notes on the method and then do a few examples, then try some questions yourself on that topic.

  5. Do as many questions as possible, especially on subjects that you find difficult as practice is the only way.  You can get questions from:

    • Text books

    • Revision books (for example CGP books)

    • Homework sheets

    • Class tests

    • Past papers

  6. Online websites such as mymaths.co.uk or bbc bitesize.

  7. Practice loads! do loads of past papers and if you run out of past papers to do, do them again, especially the questions you didn’t do so well on.

  8. After revising a topic, go through past papers but only do the questions on that topic.  For example if you’ve just revised circle theorem, do past paper questions on circle theorem only. 

  9. Your textbook is full of explanations and worked examples you can follow, study and use to improve your understanding. It’s generally a good idea to find a topic you need help with, read through the explanation (looking up anything you don’t understand), before following along with the examples.

  10. After every exam paper, make a list of what you did poorly on and revise it.

  11. Revise with a friend or work in a small group. 

    • You can explain maths to your friends.

    • Your friends can explain things to you.

    • You can work together on problems.

    • You can test each other.

    • friend
  12. One of the most effective ways to learn a new skill is to write down the steps you have to take – either as a list or as a flowchart. 

  13. Make flash cards, but double sided ones, the reverse side having questions on it or page numbers from your text book where you can find these questions.  You could have a set for each of the following:

    • FORMULAS.  The formulas you need to memorise for the exam

    • METHODS.  How to work out a problem, for example the method for working out Pythagoras.

    • DEFINITIONS.  Write down the meanings of maths words you need to know.

    • NEED TO KNOW.  In maths there are quantities and number you must know off by heart.  Such as grams in a kilogram or square numbers.  One side has the question, the other side has the answer.

    • flash cards
  14. Make a cheat sheet.  This is one sheet of A4 paper with a summary of everything you need to know.

  15. Go online and revise topics by watching videos or practicing questions online.

  16. Create mind maps.  There should be a word/question or something in the middle of the page, with questions, facts or methods coming out.

  17. Create posters.  Make them colourful and big so that they catch your eye.  Display these posters on your walls so that you see them all the time.

  18. Use highlighters and shade/colour in important facts from text books and workbooks.highlighter

  19. If you have a really good set of notes or still have your maths workbooks from school, then you can write questions in the margins to jog your memory as you read.

  20. Use sticky notes to write down formulas and facts, they are quick and easy to do, as you learn each fact, just throw the sticky note away.sticky notes

  21. LOOK at a worked example of a question.  COVER it.  WRITE it yourself and work it out from memory.  CHECK to see if you’ve done it right.  If you’ve missed something out or done it wrong, TRY AGAIN.

If after all this you are still not getting anywhere,  let us do the work for you.  Book  a free assessment and let us take care of things.

How To Choose Your GCSE Subjects


During year 9 you will need to choose your GCSE subjects.  These are the subjects which you will study in year 10 and 11 and eventually get examined on.  Making the right choices at this stage can have a significant impact on your future opportunities and educational achievements.

English, Maths and Science are compulsory, but you have to choose at least one subject from the following categories:

  • Arts (including art and design, music, dance, drama and media arts)

  • Design and Technology

  • Humanities (history and geography)

  • Modern Foreign Languages

So what should you before making the choices?  What shouldn’t you do?  What factors affect year 9’s when they are making their choices?

Choose Subjects You Enjoy

GCSE’s are 2 year courses at school, so you want to make sure that you enjoy the majority of your time in lessons and if you like the subjects then you are more likely  to do well.  That’s why its important to choose subjects which you are interested in and the ones that you enjoy.  What if there is only one or two subjects you like?  How do you choose the rest?  Go through each of the subject choices you are given and tick off the ones you like, then think about why you enjoy them.  Is it because you like the way it is taught, for example do you enjoy science because it’s a practical subject, or do you enjoy history because you have an interest in the past? Then choose subjects which would also have these features, for example design and technology is a practical subject, and english literature also involves reading and learning about things which have happened in the past.

Choose Subjects You Will Need For Your Future Career

Do you have an idea of what you’d like to do after you finish school? Certain subjects can help you to get there. For example, if you want to be a journalist subjects like English and Media Studies are going to be very useful. The first place to start is the National Careers Service Website where you can actually search for the job you want to do.  The website will tell you about what sort of work you will be doing, the hours you will be working, the salary, the qualifications needed and the skills and knowledge you need.  Some careers have entry requirements at GCSE, for example it is recommended that you choose triple science if you want to do medicine.

Choose Subjects You Are Good At

Are there any subjects you don’t have to try very hard at but get good grades in?  Are there some subjects that your friends struggle with but you find easy? 

Never Ever …..

  • Choose a subject because you think it’s easy. 

  • Choose a subject because you like the teacher.  There is no guarantee that you will have the same teacher and the teacher may leave before you finish the course.

  • Choose a subject because your best friend is doing it.  Your friendship may not last!

Finally, speak to teachers, careers advisors and family members who might be able to help you choose. 

Fast Track to Success – Kip McGrath Luton Summer School 2012


Click here for the 2014 Summer School Programme.

When a child starts school in September after a 6 week summer break, I have to spend at least a couple of lessons going over work they should know.  Sometimes I have to go down a level of work because the child has forgotten the basics.  Most teachers will tell you that this is called “THE SUMMER BRAIN DRAIN“.

Children have too much time on their hands during the summer and they forget some of what they learn during the school year.  Avoiding this can save time, and for children who have exams coming up, this can be the difference between a pass and a fail.  Academic summer schools can help, as long as the work is tailored to your child’s needs and they have a target to aim for.

How To Avoid the Summer Brain Drain

Past experience has taught us that parents want a more structured approach to their children’s summer learning.  They want to see proof of progress.  Parents want to take advantage of the free time available during summer and are looking for more than just a child care provider.

The Kip McGrath Luton Summer School will run every Tuesday and Wednesday in August from the 1st August 2012 to the 29th August 2012.  Classes are from 10.00 am.  This year, the format of these 2 hour classes will be the same format as normal term time Kip lessons, but with a little added extra to cater for your child’s specific needs.

The three programmes that will be running are the 11+ and Common Entrance Programme, the GCSE Maths and English Programme and the Kip Summer Booster Programme.

To enrol your child or for more info, please call Dr Samina Rashid on 01582 402225 or fill in the online form at the end of this article.

If you are a new student we can offer you a free assessment to pinpoint your child’s learning needs and design an individual programme of work to target their areas of need over the summer months.

The 11+ and Common Entrance Programme

The 11+ exams will be in November 2012 and common entrance exams will be in either December 2012 or January 2013 depending on which school your child will be going to.

Kip McGrath Luton will be offering intensive summer courses in 11+. The courses will familiarise the students with all the types of questions and teach them strategies and techniques to raise their chances for success. Children will be tested before and after the course to monitor progress.  It is recommended that children attend the Tuesday and Wednesday classes for this programme.  We will cover:

  • verbal reasoning

  • non-verbal reasoning

  • English

  • maths

GCSE Maths and English Programme

This programme is open to all year 10 and 11 students and any year 9 students who are sitting their exams early.  Many schools enter all year 11 children for early entry GCSE English and Maths exams in the November before they leave school.  This means that when children start year 11 in September, they have just less than 2 months in which to prepare for the exam.  Children (and parents) panic when they realise this and often it is too late to get help. Please my blog post on this topic to get a more in-depth view.

The summer break is an ideal time to work on key skills needed to pass exams.  As well the academic content of the GCSE subjects, we will also teach your child how to answer exam questions and how to revise.  All too often children lose valuable marks in exams because they have mis-read the question or not answered it fully.  Some children need to be taught how to revise and we will teach them different ways in which they can remember what they have learnt.

Summer Booster Programme

This is our most popular programme designed to give your child that extra boost before going into the next academic year.  All children from age 5 to 16 can attend.  The added extra options are:

    • spoken English

    • science

    • essay writing

To enrol your child or for more info, please call Dr Samina Rashid on 01582 402225 or fill in the online form below.

If you are a new student we can offer you a free assessment to pinpoint your child’s learning needs and design an individual programme of work to target their areas of need over the summer months.

How To Revise 2 – Do Some Mock Exams


There are many aspects to creating good study habits, and the first of these I have already mentioned in a previous post which is to get organised.  Creating a timetable can save many precious hours as we come to exams.

Another component of revision is going through past papers.  In fact this should be included in your revision plan.  Giving yourself mock tests can highlight how you work under pressure and it will show you the gaps in your learning.  Going over your revision notes many times is a pointless exercise if you haven’t  tested your knowledge .

When you are ready to do a mock exam (at least three weeks before the exam), make sure that you do it under exam conditions and that you keep to the time limit.  You may have gone through exam papers in class already, so choose an exam that you know you have not seen before.  Make sure it has a mark scheme so that you can give yourself a grade when you mark it.  Mark yourself strictly, and as you go through the paper analyse what went wrong.  the table below summarises the most common types of mistakes students make and how to fix them.

What went wrong

How to fix it

I couldn’t do the question on a specific topic Go over the mark scheme and make sure you understand the answers.  Go back over your notes and revise this topic again.  Then redo that question.
I didn’t finish on time Why was this? Was it because you spent a lot of time trying to remember your work to answer the questions?  If so, then you need to revise more so that the information is at your fingertips.  You shouldn’t have to rack your brains to remember things.
I made silly mistakes This is the most common reason why students get low marks.  Get into the habit of checking your work at the end.  Aim to finish 10 minutes before the end of the exam so that you have time to do this.
I didn’t read the question Use highlighter pens or underline key words in the question.  Learn to skim read so that you can pick out the important information in the question.  Exam questions are very wordy and you can easily lose yourself in the background information.  Learn how to get to the heart of the question.  A good way of doing this is to imagine you have to tell someone what to do in the question without reading out the whole question.
I left out a lot of questions Never leave a blank answer.  Especially if it’s a multiple choice or a one mark question.  If you skip the question thinking you will come back to it at the end, you might forget.  So make an educated guess and write something down.

A week before their A2 Chemistry exam I taught 2 different students.  The first got a D grade last year and the second got an A grade.  And in my opinion, both seemed to know their subject equally well.  But what differentiated them both significantly was that the A grade student had completed and marked 4 full exam papers and highlighted specific questions for clarification from me whereas the D grade student had attempted 1/2 a question paper, not marked it and not even highlighted the parts that she needed further support on.

Upon marking these papers, the A grade student was getting a C grade and the D grade student was failing.  A day before the exams, the A grade student had completed and marked and read through at least 3 times all past papers since 2002 and the D grade student hadn’t attempted any.  Her excuse being that she had other subjects to revise for.

What actually happened was that getting a bad grade in the initial mock exam seemed to motivate one student and de-motivate the other.  It made her face her fears and her “fight or flight” instinct kicked in.  The D grade student chose”flight”.  But, if she had stuck to her timetable and been more organised, and maybe started going over past papers 3 weeks before the exams, then would the results have been different?  We shall have to wait and see what grades both students get.

When Private Tuition Is Not Enough


I did an assessment on a year 12 pupil yesterday (age 17), who will be sitting her GCSE Maths in 9 teaching week’s time. She wanted to get a C grade, but when I tested her, she was working at a low E grade.

She was also re-taking her GCSE and got an F the first time round. That meant that she had only improved by 1 grade since starting her course 7 months ago and that’s with approximately 4 hours of maths per week at college. So it’s not difficult to do the numbers here. It’s plain and simple that 9 weeks of tuition (an 80 minute session per week) is not going to get her that C! In fact it would be nothing short of a miracle if she did. And that’s exactly what I told her.

From all my years of teaching experience, I have learnt that to pass maths you need to

  1. Learn the different methods of working out maths problems

  2. Memorise formulas

  3. Practice using these methods and formulas

  4. Go over past exam questions

Revision and learning is like building a wall. One brick at a time is laid and cemented together to make a wall. But if those bricks are not solid enough or the cement hasn’t had time to set, then the wall will be weak and inevitably break. So don’t leave your revision to the last minute or think that having a few extra lessons is going to be enough to pass your exams. It takes hard work, organisation and dtermination!