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Getting tech savvy at family Science Clubs is not just for the kids! Blog by Jude Eades

Monday 9th January 2017

I don’t want this blog to read like an advertorial for Science Oxford but just so you know, the following paragraphs are basically me eulogising about our family programme.  I’m not writing this because it’s my job to market our activities (well maybe just a little bit) but because I’m a mum and have experienced first-hand the value – for parents and their children – of attending one of the entertaining science-focused activities that we run for families.
Independent research has shown that encouraging children to engage with science at an early age enables them to flourish in our increasingly technological world and make more informed decisions about their lives and futures. Sadly, the current primary school curriculum doesn’t have much space for science but we know that teachers understand its educational importance – bookings for our primary-focused science shows and workshops are consistently high and the feedback from teachers and pupils alike suggests they’d like more of the same.

Science Oxford’s Technology Projects Officer Sarah Townson 

It’s one reason why we run Saturday science clubs throughout the year in Oxford and Abingdon. The clubs provide fun, interactive and practical workshops for young people aged 5 – 16 and their families on a wide range of scientific, computing and engineering topics; everything from space exploration and coding to forensics and ecology. It’s a chance for children to explore further scientific concepts they may have come across in class or learn something new – in an informal and engaging setting. Our brilliant education team is on hand with the equipment and enthusiasm to make the science clubs a popular weekend destination.

As the mum of a nine-year-old daughter who enjoys doing ‘science stuff’, these kinds of opportunities are priceless – for both of us. We recently went to a festive coding workshop for 9-12 year-olds to learn how to programme a CodeBug – a cute, programmable and wearable device designed to introduce simple programming and electronic concepts to anyone, at any age.

CodeBug decorated as a Christmas Pud, Reindeer or Star!

We were tasked with writing a code to make the CodeBug flash ‘Merry Christmas’. After much confused grumbling (me) and serene instruction-following (daughter) we created the code, got the bug to flash and then made it into a Christmas decoration which hung proudly on the tree over the festive period. I say ‘we’ as I certainly appreciated the ninety minutes of basic training in the art of coding. I’m a total philistine when it comes to computer technology but well aware that, since my husband is stealthily converting our home in to one almost entirely controlled by the internet, it’s important to try and keep up tech-wise.  This coding workshop not only helped my child to get to grips with a concept implicit to all modern computing; it also enabled her mother to grasp some of the fundamentals too.

Lexi Eades, Age 9

In turn, I can now:

  • talk the talk when it comes to showing off the best Christmas decoration EVER and
  • talk the talk when it comes to SIMPLE computer coding and
  • have a more EDUCATED appreciation of home automation.

So if you’re thinking about something to do with your family at the weekend or during half term, maybe now’s the time to book tickets to one of our family events? If you have children who enjoy science at school, why not fuel their interest by giving one of the Saturday science clubs a go? And if you’re starting to feel lost in a world run by cyber-savvy 19 year-old billionaires, where your phone talks to your heating system and your other half has programmed the fridge to tell you when the milk’s out of date, some of our workshops might just be valuable to you too.

Information and booking for family events

We have a busy school holiday programme of workshops and shows for budding scientists across the county. Over February 2017 half-term we’ll be messing about in boats at The Story Museum, taking a look at the night sky in our inflatable planetarium, going intergalactic at the River & Rowing Museum in Henley and creating Revolting Recipes at the Roald Dahl Museum.

Jude Eades, Director of Communications and Development, The Oxford Trust

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