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Years 3 & 4 visit Herstmonceux Science Centre

Posted: 23rd May 2014 | Category: Year 3, Year 4

Last Thursday saw the much-awaited annual trip to the Herstmonceux Science Centre for the boys and girls in Years 3 & 4. Soon after assembly, with Mr Sun shining high in the sky, we set off for the relatively short journey down to the Centre. The kids were in high spirits and excitement was running high. In my van, we were not even out of Five Ashes before the Year 3 girls broke into a rendition of ‘Sunbathing by the side of the sea’ as the verdant Sussex countryside slid by. I took notes....good singers, these girls.

On arrival, we scarpered up the slope to the entrance under the shadow of the five large dome shapes, which in times gone by were The Royal Observatory which was founded in the reign of Charles II but later moved out of town because of the problems of the clarity of the light in London.The sky is brighter in Sussex!

Once in, we were greeted by staff and dropped our stuff/lunches in the Marquee. After a quick briefing on our day, it was straight out to the Discovery area which basically meant crawling over all kinds of apparatus in a playground-type setting with a scientific theme in their design. I particularly liked the balancing/gravity platform where I worked out that I weighed the same as four and a bit of my pupils. Clever machine! One of them happily informed me that it would only be four kids and not ‘the bit’ if I didn’t have so many portions at school lunch. I took notes....smart kids, these. I must go on a diet!

Soon we were ushered into groups to take us into the rest of the morning. Mrs Foden’s group headed out to the bridge-building area whilst my group toured the galleries, equipped with all I can describe as brilliant ‘hands on’, interactive scientific stuff, gallery after gallery; chemistry, astro-physics, forces, Earth and beyond, Light and paint guns on a twirly circle that made fantastic patterns. I reflected...why wasn’t Science this much fun when I was at school? Maybe I might have been better at it!

The kids were whooping in delight, learning oodles with no instruction needed. The pneumatic lifty seat caused a long queue and for some reason, the favourite was the kids curiously electrocuting themselves for fun! I also found myself curiously drawn to this (I wonder why!)....I took notes; maybe smart kids....but daft ones too! I don’t follow!

Meanwhile, Mrs Foden’s group in the bridge-building tent were experimenting in the art of construction with only a few wooden planks and screws to build a structure that would hold their collective weight. Their guide was excellent in explaining how to use the forces of gravity to support their bridges; they made a couple of different designs, their names escape me but one was all I can describe as a fascinating Etruscan arch-shaped , self-supporting bridge which mesmerised the kids.

Soon the collective cry of ‘When’s lunch? I’m hungry!’ went up. A hard morning’s play had certainly worked up an appetite! We lay in the sun and all got stuck in to substantial picnics. I had a lovely tomato pasta and sandwich. Why did the kids keep giving me their Babybels?

Now it was the dreaded gift shop time which ended lunch abruptly. Myself and Mrs Mac duly shuttled excited groups to rid themselves of their pounds and pence on such items as glow-sticks, jelly-blob faces and kit cars. All scientific, I presumed, but I took notes....wish I could start a business like this!

The afternoon was the highlight. Laura, our guide, started off with a history of the Observatory in Greenwich and why Astronomy was important in C17 to mariners. So many ships were lost during this period due to their inability to plot their course. She told us about John Harrison and his mariners’ timepiece, GMT and loads of other stuff. She then took us into the domes to see the vast telescopes, one at least 20 foot long. She talked about Space and Time, and she even managed to get across ‘Big Bang’ to the interested audience. The telescopes were awesome and the kids were spell-bound. The most exciting bit was when she retracted the roof as they would have done to see the firmament above in times gone by. She was an excellent guide and again I took notes...knowledgeable kids, these Skippers’ kids!

The afternoon was now drawing to a close. My abiding memory before we left was of all the kids in the late afternoon sun in the Water Apparatus Area (loads of scientific stuff with water), the fun, the squeals of delight as they duly soaked each other in the name of ‘Science’ in the warm, balmy sunshine! Just why wasn’t learning Science this much fun when I was a kid?

The journey back to school was no less lively than the one out and I really wondered where this lot get their energy from. Fortunately most had dried out by the time we got back, although some of the jelly-blob faces were looking less than new as they had been pulled apart on the journey.

It was truly a fabulous day to remember, with many thanks to Mrs Foden’s planning and organisation for the smooth running of the day. We were grateful for the support and good company of Mr Q, Mrs F, Mrs M and Mrs Mac. We hope that you all had as enjoyable a day as we did. Well done to all....the kids were a credit to us.

Dillon A-B

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