Friday, 26 June 2015

When the panic is over...

Oh, oh, oh!  I have so much to tell you...

Do you remember in my post: A bit of drama! Well, I take it back about Ernie the swimming instructor.  I think he's actually really great...

Monday, 22 June 2015


There isn't actually a genie in the bottle it's science but it's very magical to watch!  This is a great one to do with older kids or as a demonstration for younger children.


Manganese dioxide (MnO2) is a catalyst that will decompose hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen gas.
2H2O2 + MnO2 --> 2H2O + O2 + MnO2 where MnO2 is the catalyst.


We can make this look rather spectacular but you will need to take safety precautions: Goggles, gloves, protective clothing and closed toed shoes.  Also, it’s best to do this in a well ventilated area. 

Although the products produced in this experiment are oxygen and water, it produces a lot of oxygen and oxygen is highly flammable, so take care. 

The catalyst used in this experiment is called manganese dioxide which is dangerous to touch so use gloves, it is extremely dangerous to consume, if eaten ring immediately for medical advice, if the dust is inhaled and the person who inhaled the dust struggles to breathe provide oxygen and call for medical advice.

The hydrogen peroxide in this experiment is much stronger than the sort you buy from the chemist, this strength would quickly burn your skin or eyes so be very careful when handling it.

This is also an exothermic reaction.  This means that during the experiment heat it produced.  Do not touch the bottle!!!!

Now for the fun…


Equipment and chemicals required to do this yourself:

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Science, Maths and Website design...

I have recently been asked to write a post about these three subjects and it’s made me think…  There is a lot to be learnt when designing your own website.  My eldest has just started and really it has been very educational.

If you have thought about building a website for your child, or letting them have a go, here are some of my thoughts…

Firstly, there is a lot of maths behind web design.  There’s the calculations of the layouts, shapes, working out ratios – Golden Ratio and Golden Rectangle being one of those.

It’s quite fascinating and I think maths is beautiful, through maths we can create the most beautiful of images and beautiful images are key to a good web design after all.

Most of us think of maths as the opposite of creative, due to the fact that it’s precise and requires logic perhaps.  However, it is because its geometrical shapes, that are so perfectly and precisely measured and created in maths, what we achieve is truly beautiful – that is my opinion anyway.

Using websites to teach science, or present an idea to show how something works is an incredibly important resource.  Science is a very practical subject and websites allow us to see things in 3D.  They allow the user to interact and see science in a way that can be difficult in the real world, making diagrams come to life, something that just cannot be done in a book. 

If you want to know a bit more about webpages and how they are made check out the BBC’s page: How are web pages made?

But who has the time to create these wonderful websites, learn all the html and come up with designs that will impress your audience quickly?  Well, unless you are a whizz at computer programming with an artistic eye this might be very difficult or time consuming.  There is a lot of maths in programming in general. 

Websites use html mostly, unless you a whizz at it, it can be a slow process which is where WYSIWYG editors, otherwise known as website builders, help.  Here are 10 of the best that you can check out here: 
I'm not saying that learning to code, learning computer programming, is pointless.  I think it's really important for kids to learn, my girls love using Scratch and my eldest has taken an interest in HTML very recently too.  Saying that, it's still good to know all your options too and, if you are in a hurry, or you're not ready to do all that coding yet - it's definitely worth looking into Website builders.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

GIVEAWAY for this Father's Day! A Smartphone projector!

Father's day is close, Sunday 21 June! Have you got him a present yet?
Every year it's difficult thinking of what to buy, my girls are looking for presents to get their dad at the moment, when I was asked if I'd like to give away one of these Smart phone projectors. They are made by Qwerkity and don't just to these but loads of unusual gifts for father’s day!    It gave me so many ideas!

This smartphone projector particularly stood out for me (I wouldn't mind one myself) it just looks so fun and guess what!  I have one to give away to one of my readers! 

How cool would it be having your own mini cinema in your own home! It seems simple to use from what I can see, something that anyone could use.  It's compatible with all smartphones so now you can watch your YouTube films and Netflix on a big screen instead of small!

So how can you enter this give away?

All you have to do is:

  • Comment on this blog post with your idea for the best Father's day present
  • Click on the Rafflecopter link below and complete as many entries as you like. 

  • Please tweet and share this competition with your friends and visit An Ordinary Life?'s Facebook Page!

This competition will run until Friday 19th June 12am.

Good luck!
Lisa x

Competition Terms & Conditions:
  • The giveaway will run from 12am on 17th June 2015 and run until 12am on 19th June 2015, GMT.
  • The prize is for one Smartphone Projector from Qwerkity.
  • Open to UK residents aged 18 and over.
  • Entries can only be completed through the Rafflepcopter widget.
  • All entries will be checked and verified.
  • The winner is chosen at random from all valid entries.
  • The winner will be announced 20th June 2015 and the winner will be emailed, as well as announced through An Ordinary Life's social media pages.
  • The winner will have 48 hours to respond with their details, otherwise a new winner will be picked, following the same procedure.
  • The prize will be sent out to the winner direct from Qwerkity.
  • All efforts will be made so that it is received in time for Father’s Day but it cannot be guaranteed.
Find more information about the Smart Phone Projector here

Monday, 15 June 2015

Science: Fizzy fun!


This is a great experiment to play with the kids inside the house or in the garden on a warm day.


Chemicals and equipment needed:

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Science: Neutralisation reactions


Chemicals are made up of atoms, atoms contain ions – ions are electrically charged particles, they are formed when atoms loose or gain electrons.  Ions of alike repel and opposites attract, much like magnets!

Electrons are particles of negative change. 

In an atom, electrons form a negative charge that balances out the positive charge of the protons in the atomic nucleus.

Electrons are extremely small, they are about 1000 times smaller than a proton.

If you truly want to understand what is happening in this experiment you need to know which ions are produced by alkalis and which ones are produced by acids.  You will also need to know the ionic equation for neutralisation which I have included at the end.

One of the safest experiment you can perform which will give you the result you need is Citric acid and Bicarbonate of Soda and this is how to perform your experiment...

Dinosaurs for maths and experimenting with...

Learning styles! 

I have written a lot about learning styles on this blog and now my youngest is beginning to take an interest in the more academic subjects I am thinking more about them again!
We did study a bit about flying insects this week due to Harmonie, my five year old, and her fear of flies.  It didn't help much but it was worth a try.  It has taken the edge off her fear so we'll play more with that idea.  We did find a dead bee on our travels and so had a look at it more closely.  She was most intrigued.

However, mostly this week, as a family, we have been drawing - the girls have even got me into drawing a bit too...

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Juggling home education with four children!

I have just realised, it has been a long time since I wrote a 'how our journey of home education is going'.  Well, here's an update for those who love to read about it...

How busy I am these days!  I'm not complaining, however, fitting everything in is exhausting at the moment but I am hopeful that it will all be worth it.  The buzz from seeing kids experience the wonders of science for the first time certainly keeps me going!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Science: Step by Step how to make a working Model heart

This model isn't a perfect model of a heart but it is a simple but fun way of demonstrating how the heat pumps blood and to learn a few of the names of the part of the heart.  

As you make your own model, I will take you through the steps there are some interesting facts to learn along the way.

Here's how I made it.

You will need:

Monday, 25 May 2015

STEP BY STEP: How To Make Colour Changing Silly Putty!

I am doing a Science Crazy party for an 8 year old boy at the end of the month and one of the requests was silly putty.  I recently purchased some thermochromic paper and this gave me an idea...

I went off to Amazon to buy some of this: Thermochromic Black Colour Changing Ink Paint and had a little play...


And this is how I made my colour changing silly putty and how you can make some too!

Links in this page are affiliate links and help support this blog and keep it running.  Your help is appreciated! Thank you!

You will need:

Thursday, 21 May 2015

FREE entry: World Archaeological Festival

The UCL Institute of Archaeology emailed me to tell me they will soon be hosting the World Archaeology Festival.  It's a Free entry.  This is a one-day annual event taking place on Saturday 13th June from 12pm-5pm. 

There will be a range of drop-in activities suitable for all ages in the Institute building itself and in the adjacent surroundings of Bloomsbury’s Gordon Square, including:

  •          How to Make Flint Tools
  •          Prehistoric Butchery
  •          Fragmented Frescos
  •          Cave Painting
  •          Underwater Shipwreck
  •          Whose Poo?
  •          Pottery Making
  •          Sandpit Archaeology
  •          Fish Mummification

There will be hosted guided tours of the Institute's internationally acclaimed collections and there will be opportunities to handle archaeological finds.

Admission is free and no ticket required and the event is open to all.  I am really excited and hoping to make this event myself so I may see you there!

For more information about the activities check out there event page and website! 

For more information about archaeology check out CBA's Festival of Archaeology as well as The Institute of Archaeology.  There is also a Facebook page and they're on twitter.

Monday, 18 May 2015

How to make a model Neuron and more...

So recently we have been looking at how the brain works.  So we got hands on and made models.
As I make science models with kids, I talk to the kids about what each part represents and how it actually all works for real.  If you want to learn about Neurons check out my STEP by STEP tutorial blog post by clicking on the photo of the neuron below...

Friday, 15 May 2015

Science: How does your brain work?

This is a fun way to learn about the main different parts of the brain!

For this I am going to use play dough to make a brain, simply because it’s really easy to get a variety of colours and for this brain all we will need is 6 different colours of play dough!

There are the six main parts of the brain and they are separated.  Each part doing different jobs.  I will go through the jobs of each part of the brain as we do this activity.


We will start with the Cerebrum.  The Cerebrum is made up of four parts which are known as lobes.  WE will start with the Frontal Lobe.
Roll out your first colour.  Curl it up like a worm and shape it so it looks something like this…

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Digestion: How do enzymes breakdown food?

Digestion begins in the mouth, you might know that we chew our food to make it small but there is something else that happens in our mouths that helps breakdown food further.  This thing is an enzyme known as AMYLASE.


Amylase is an enzyme that breaks down starch.   Depending upon the amount of reducing sugar present, it can be from light yellow-green to almost brick red in colour after heating the solution in a boiling water bath. It doesn't detect non-reducing sugars.

Chew on a bit of bread for a minute or so.  Don’t swallow.  The taste of it changes.  Can you tell what your saliva, well the amylase in your saliva, turns the starches into? 


It’s true, you can turn the starch in your bread to sugar just by chewing it and keeping it in your mouth.
This happens because of an enzyme called Amylase.  Amylase catalyses (catalyses means causes a reaction) the hydrolysis (hydrolysis means the chemical breakdown of a compound due to a reaction with water) of starch into sugar. 

Amylase is present in human saliva and in some other mammals and this is where the chemical process of digestion begins.

Foods like bread, potato and rice become sweeter as we chew them as they are high in starch and this starch is turned into sugar by the amylase as we have already discovered in our first science experiment. 

The pancreas and the salivary gland make amylase to hydrolyse dietary starch.  This is then converted into glucose by other enzymes to supply the body with energy.

The pancreas produces lots of digestive enzymes.  Enzymes are imperative (that means absolutely necessary) in the digestive process.  Each enzyme has a specific job.  Like a jigsaw, they will only fit and breakdown the substances they were made to break down:
  • An Amylase enzyme will only fit into a carbohydrate, a starch and break it down into sugar
  • A protease, like pepsin, will only fit into a protein and break it down into amino acids
  • A lipase, lipids, will only fit into fat and break it down into fatty acids or glycerol

We can do an experiment that proves that starch I turned into sugar, as it happens in the mouth as we mix food with saliva.  To do this you will need: 

  • Corn flour
  • Amylase
  • Iodine - here's how to make your own: click here
  • Water
  • 2 test tubes with lids, one for the iodine and one for the solution we will make up.
  • 6 Petri dishes or a clear plastic bag.
  • 2 pipettes
  • Optional: Benedict’s solution – if you use this you will also need an extra pipette.


Add ¼ teaspoon of Amylase and ¼ teaspoon of corn flour ( the corn flour is the starch) to one of your test  tubes. 


Fill the test tube with water, tap water is fine, so it is 1/3 full.


Put a lid on your test tube and give it a gentle shake


Test for starch.

Hypothesise about what will happen when you mix the solution you have made with iodine.

In one your petri dishes (or on a small area of your plastic bag if you don’t have petri dishes) put a drop of the amylase and starch solution on using one of your pipettes.  Always use this first pipette only for the amylase and starch solution.

Then, with the second pipette, drop the smallest drop of iodine onto your drop in you petri dish (or on your plastic bag).

It goes black!   This means starch is present.


Leave the solution for 5 minutes.  Repeat STEP FOUR – don’t forget to your hypothesis.


Leave for another 5 minutes and repeat STEP FOUR.  Do this another 4 times.

On the last test you should notice that when you mix the iodine in with the solution it’s no longer black but it’s yellow.  You should also notice that each time you test the solution the colours will go from black, to brown, to orange and then yellow.  This means that the starch has all been turned into sugar.

If you have the Benedict’s reagent solution you could test to see if simple sugars are present in the solution.  If there is sugar present the solution will go a green to yellow colour, if you heat your solution in a bath of boiling water the colour will turn to a brick red colour.
Benedict’s reagent solution does not detect not-reducing sugars, but will detect the simple sugars form in the reaction of Amylase and starch.

I hope you enjoyed this experiment.  If you want to learn more about digestion why not click on the image bellow and go to a fun project to learn about the rest of our digestive tract...


Friday, 1 May 2015

More Crazy Fun Science!

So last week's Science Crazy we were looking at the lungs. 

It was great fun!  We made our own model lung, if you want to try it out at home visit my blog post: how to make a model lung...

(Click the image for the link to activity)

And we learnt about carbon dioxide and had fun with our self inflating balloons...