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WeLearn4Fun take (School) Holidays

14 January, 2011

I don’t know if it’s just because our family loves to learn, that we choose to do learning activities in our holiday time, or because we home educate and have a lifestyle of learning, we see the learning opportunities more easily.  Our recent “little day out” was no exception.

Inspired by the NSW Premier’s Kids’ Adventure Challenge we ventured out to the Powerhouse Discovery Centre where they store 50,000+ items in the Powerhouse Museum collection that are not currently on display.  They are usually only open once a month, on a Saturday, but are also open during school holidays.  I had never been there before so it was all new to me also.

While the collection of items available on display is limited there is still plenty to see.  There are collections of stethescopes across the ages, vehicles like a gypsy caravan, a tram, a double decker omnibus and a steam road roller.  There are costumes worn by ABBA, props from the Sydney Olympics and weird and wonderful machines.

During the school holidays there are also plenty of craft-y activities available.  There were some simple colouring activities for the younger children next to the display of vehicles (with wheels to add on to your vehicle with split pins so they actually turned) and slightly more complicated activities like making a balloon powered boat, a thaumptrope and a book of optical illusions.

There was also a show by the crew at Fizzics Education in honour of the International Year of Chemistry, called Chemical Capers.   The show was engaging and fun.  The presenter did a great job of explaining scientific concepts in a simple manner while not glossing over things or being patronising.  He showed us how glow in the dark stars work by using a large square of the vinyl used to make the glow in the dark stickers and a “black light”.  He showed us how to blow up a balloon using a simple chemical reaction.  We learnt that chemical reactions require heat – by building a simple circuit with a 9V battery and light globe – and then cooling the battery down with liquid nitrogen.

There was also a nice area outside where we could sit and have a picnic lunch and climb on a massive climbing frame made with rope.

We had a wonderful time at the Discovery Centre and will be keen to go back again next year when the Kids Adventure Passports are available again.

While we were there I also purchased a book written by Shaun Tan called The Odditorium.  I have since discovered it was based on an exhibition held in 2009.  The concept behind the Odditoreum is that Shaun Tan, primary school aged children and, later, members of the public viewing the exhibit were asked to make captions and write stories that explained what some of the weird and wonderful items in the Powerhouse Museum’s collection were.  We are hoping to make our own little book, labelling some of the weird and wonderful things we found at the museum.

PS Sorry about the small size of the photos.  I couldn’t find my “real” camera yesterday and had to just use the ultra-basic camera on my phone.

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