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.

 

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Easy Revision Strategies For Science


I learnt how to revise science the hard way, through failure, trial and error and pure determination.  I got through my GCSE exams by reading through my science books – once or twice!  I was lucky to have a good memory.  Then I did my A levels and discovered that I had to do a lot more reading, but just reading wasn’t enough.  I had to read, write, talk, test, draw, re-write, re-read, re-test and repeat. It still wasn’t enough and it wasn’t until I started my degree that I really understood how to learn properly.

Has this ever happened to you? When you think you’ve done enough revision and realise after the exam that you didn’t know anything?  Now that I have been teaching for 22 years, I have seen thousands struggle like I did, but if you follow my very simple guidelines, you will save so much time and avoid the stress.

Step 1: Make sure you have decent notes.

If you are lucky, your teacher may give you printed notes so you won’t have to write your own.  I ask my students to show me their science books and what I usually see is half-written experiment write ups, loose worksheets and maybe a few answers to questions from a text-book.  You cannot revise from these.

So get hold of a course syllabus.  What’s that?  It’s called a specification and you can download it from all the examining board websites.  Make sure you know the title of your course so that you download the correct one.  Sometimes teachers give out a summary sheet at the end of a topic which lists everything you need to know, and have notes on.  topic listGo through the list or the syllabus and start writing notes on the topic IN YOUR OWN WORDS.  If you are just copying, you are not thinking.notes

Be warned, this step takes the longest, and more so if you don’t have the right sources of information.  If the notes in your books are not enough, use textbooks as opposed to revision guides.  I find that revision guides don’t go into detail, so only use the revision guides as a quick reference point but they won’t explain anything. If you still need more notes then go onto BBC Bitesize like I have explained in this post and top them up.

One of my students had to do this for all of the topics she had studied since the beginning of year 10.  She gasped and said,

“Miss that’s long! It will take me ages.”

Yes it will, but you will only have to do this once.

Step 2: Transform your notes

I took inspiration form @study_motivation101 on Instagram. She posts pictures of student notes and revision techniques and they all make you want to do the same.

For this step you will need:

  • highlighters

Highlight the keywords and important bits in your notes. Make a key to colour code your notes so you could use one colour for all formulas, one colour for all definitions and one colour for all the tricky bits you keep forgetting. highlighter

  • plain paper

Draw mind maps.  Write the topic title in the centre of the page and then branch out.  The first time you do this, don’t look at your notes, just add on everything you can remember.  It doesn’t matter if it’s just a few words. Then look at your notes and fill in the gaps.  Use diagrams, charts and tables in your mind maps too.mind mapmind map

  • felt tips

Using colour will keep you awake while you revise. The more colourful the better.  Write in different colours, draw bubbles around important information and underline keywords.  You can even write questions in the margin in a different colour to test yourself as you read your notes.

colour

  • index cards

Read your notes, and now only write down the most important information. Index cards shouldn’t have lots of words and should be used as a “quick look” guide.  Look at the way they have been used in the picture below. Use colour, diagrams, highlighters, and subtitles to break up the information into manageable chunks.index cards

  • post it notes

Use post it notes to remind you about important points. You can also cover some of your work with them and write a question on them.  The answer is revealed under the post it note. This student has used post it notes directly on a revision guide. post it

Step 3: Practice questions.

As you go through your notes, always think about how you will be tested. What questions could be asked?  Write questions for yourself as you go along, the simplest ones could be just recalling facts.  For example when revising a diagram on the digestib=ve system, you could write down the question “name 5 parts of the digestive system and put them in order”.

The second type of test questions could be end of topic tests you have done at school. Ask your teacher for these and go through the questions again.

The third type are usually found in text books at the end of each page or chapter.  They usually have answers too, so a good place to start.

BBC Bitesize also has end of topic test questions.

Step 4: Download past papers and their mark schemes.

Many students get to step 3, and then think they know it all. The game isn’t over until you have done some real exam questions. This will get you used to the wording of the questions and you will see that questions are repeated (although they are not exactly the same).  When you have revised a topic, answer and mark the exam questions just on that topic rather than answering a whole paper. Learn how to mark the questions so that you don’t have to wait for your teacher to mark them.

For my students I have created custom made exam packs focusing on just one topic at a time.  Once they have mastered every topic in that paper, I let them do the whole paper.  I have created exam question sets by topic.  Below are some of the ones I have done so far.  They do not have answers yet.

OCR 21st Century C1, C2, C3

OCR 21st Century C1.1 exam questions (which gases make up the air)

OCR 21st Century C2.1 exam questions (properties of materials)

OCR 21st Century C3.2 exam questions (where does salt come from)

OCR 21st Century P1, P2, P3

OCR 21st Century p1-1 exam questions (planets and solar systems)

OCR 21st Century p2-1 exam questions (radiation and photons)

OCR 21st Century p3-1 exam questions (how much energy do we use)

OCR Gateway P1

gateway p1 cooking and comm with waves exam questions

gateway p1 data transmission exam questions

gateway p1 heating and cooling exam questions

 To summarise

              how to revise 1how to revise 2

 

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.

Fast Track To Success – Kip McGrath Summer School 2013


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 6th August 2012 to the 28th August 2012.  Classes are from 10.00 am with lesson durations of either 1 hour 20 minutes, 2 hours or 3 hours.

This year, the format of these classes will be the same format as normal term time Kip lessons, but with a little added extra to cater for your child’s needs.

We will be running specialist workshops in the following areas, so when booking your child’s place, please specify which workshop you would like to enrol your child on.

To enrol your child or for more info, please call Dr Samina Rashid on 01582 402225 or fill in our online form for a free assessment.

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.

11+ and Common Entrance

The 11+ exams for Buckinghamshire will be brought forward to early September 2013.  Common entrance exams for private schools will be in either December 2013 or January 2014 depending on which school your child will be going to.

Kip McGrath Luton will be offering intensive summer workshops in 11+ and the common entrance exam. The workshops 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 workshop 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

  • numerical reasoning/Maths

Example questions in the new 11 + tests can be found here.

GCSE Maths

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.  After the initial assessment on your child’s academic ability, we will design a unique programme for your child to follow.  This means that we will work on your child’s weaknesses and gradually tailor the programme so that they are working at a level above their expectations.

Students need to know what the best revision strategies are. Effective revision methods like using mind maps, flash cards, colour coding and using practice questions are taught hand in hand with subject knowledge so that your child can see which ones work the best for them.

All too often children lose valuable marks in exams because they have mis-read the question or not answered it fully. Students on this workshop will learn how to read exam questions properly, how to understand the language of exam questions, how to keep track of time, how to judge the difficulty of a question and how to tackle exam nerves.

Spoken English

The speaking and listening unit in English is often overlooked and teachers will focus more on the writing and reading units.  In this workshop every student will learn to improve their speaking and listening skills and apply them to their english lessons at school as well as their daily life.  Improving speaking and listening reinforces and extend children’s developing reading and writing skills.

  • Students will prepare and present a 10 minute presentation on a subject of their choice.

  • Students will learn how to recite a poem

  • Students will lead discussions and debates

  • Students will read with expression, a chapter from a book of their choice

We teach the students about:

  • maintaining a physical presence through effective body language and eye contact

  • having a clear voice with effective use of volume, pace, rhythm and intonation

  • using dramatic appropriateness for different activities

  • engaging the audience

Creative Writing and Essay Writing

This workshop will encourage students to tap into their natural creativity and imagination.  Students learn how to express themselves and tell engaging stories, while picking up good writing habits for a lifetime.

Essay writing is an essential skill for senior secondary and tertiary students.  Kip McGrath’s popular Essay Writing workshop covers all the essential essay writing skills from analysing the question to editing the final draft.

Our in depth and comprehensive essay writing workshop covers common areas of weakness in student essay writing including:

  • Not answering the question – learn how to analyse the question, plan a well structured answer and write a proper opening and concluding paragraph

  • Poor opening argument and essay structure – learn the features of a good thesis, develop skills in analytical reading, presenting a balanced argument, supporting that argument.

  • Editorial writing – learn how to advocate a specific point of view and write a convincing and clear argument

  • Exam essay writing – learn how to write a clear, concise and well structured answer within a time limit.

  • Speech writing – learn how to write an essay designed to be spoken, understand the key elements to successful speech writing, learn how to deliver and present a speech

Taught by qualified English teachers this Essay Writing workshop will give senior students the skills and confidence they need to approach the rigours of both assignments and exams with confidence.

Science

Our science classes always have a practical activity followed by activities to explain the science behind them.  Students will learn to use scientific terminology in their lives and apply the science they have learnt to their own experiences.  The classes are packed full of information covering the national curriculum, but with plenty of opportunity to have discussions and ask questions.

We also cover exam technique and revision methods in this workshop.  The new GCSE has “6 mark questions”, which require a good understanding of the topic but also the ability to understand what the examiner is looking for.  For students doing triple science at GCSE or the Higher paper, we teach them how to approach these type of questions effectively.

Get Ready For School and Little Learners

The transition from pre-school to more formal learning is a significant one for children. It can affect their interest, motivation at school and their future school success. Kip McGrath’s specialised Get Ready for School programme is a gentle introduction to learning which aids the smooth transition from pre-school to “big” school.

Our Get Ready for School programme is an essential for parents who want to ensure the initial school experience is a positive one for their child.

The programme includes activities that promote both learning concepts and school readiness skills.

  • Alphabet

  • Counting

  • Recognising letter sounds and names

  • Writing letter sounds and names

  • Shape Recognition

  • Number Recognition

  • Identifying colours

  • Visual Discrimination

  • Memory Skills

  • Learning behaviours

  • Fine motor skills

  • Hand & Eye Coordination

  • Writing one’s name

  • Pencil grip

Course Highlights

  • Fun and stress free learning

  • Carefully structured course introduces new concepts each lesson and revises previous concepts.

  • Build children’s confidence in their ability to learn and interact in a learning environment

  • Reduce the stress of the initial formal schooling experience

Little Learners

Little Learners education programme for nearly new school children.

Develop a love of learning in your child from the start of school years. Help your child transition from Kindergarten to Year 1 and improve the chances of school success.         Little Learners focuses on building the foundations of literacy and numeracy by engaging children in a variety of structured, yet fun learning activities.

How will your child benefit?

Develop, improve and reinforce learning in:

  • Basic reading including phonemic awareness

  • Comprehension

  • Alphabet and counting

  • Addition and subtraction

  • Number recognition

    Kip McGrath Luton Summer School
    Kip McGrath Luton Summer School