For a few days now, I’ve been wondering what “kelua” means, noting that, certainly in its written form, it seems to be one of the most common words in the Malay language. And now I know. It means “exit”. And today, sadly, saw the young people I’ve been working with all week exit the room for the last time, as our programme of creative workshops came to an end. And while the first day had focused on Sums and the second on Shakespeare, we were definitely going out with a bang today – with Science.
In the morning, the Juniors showed all the curiosity that scientists need as they unpicked “the science of science”, identifying scientific skills and comparing them with their own strengths. Equipped with this new understanding, they worked in teams on three challenges, each associated with one of the three natural sciences. The biology challenge saw them “acting out” the neural pathways of the body, while their exploration of chemistry required them to work out the structures of a number of different molecules - with no prior knowledge of chemical symbols (and no help from me). The physics challenge saw them using just 12 pieces of A4 paper to design and build free-standing platforms capable of taking my weight (no mean feat, I can assure you!). The first three offerings achieved different levels of success – but the fourth stood triumphant and unflinching as I climbed aboard.
The Seniors arrived as were enjoying a delicious dish of noodles,just-wilted spinach and fried bean curd – and quickly got down to Interplanetary Tours. After pooling their knowledge and understanding of the solar system, they came up with some intriguing questions they wanted answers to. “Do wormholes exist?” and “Why are meteorite storms so rare?” I managed relatively easily – but there were others that left far more room for debate, scientifically speaking. “Was the Apollo programme just propaganda?” for example!
With their minds wide open to a range of possibilities, the young people then worked in groups to use drama to explore the day when interplanetary tourism would be possible. Given a destination and a Fact Sheet, each group needed to teach its audience three new things about its target planet – and each succeeded. This being drama, of course, they each had an additional challenge – to give their characters a real, scientific problem to deal with (or not). So the Voyage to Venus was all going swimmingly until there was a problem with the oxygen supply …
The Journey to Jupiter, on the other hand, was imperiled by an enormous Jovan storm – a fitting end to the day as no sooner had the sun gone down than the sky sprang to life again, lit up by lighting in one of the tropical rain storms I’ve been waiting for. This still wasn’t The Big One, though – apparently the rain has to go sideways before that title can be earned.
With the children finished for the week, I’ll sit down tomorrow with Cordelia and Cassandra, from Learning Adventure Resources, to reflect on the week that’s gone. But not until Cassandra’s taken me to a couple of Buddhist temples. Friendly and welcoming as ever, the sisters asked what I’d like to do in my free time – and that was top of my list.