Getting my girls excited by Science: Events at Foyles

Science and technology has been a pretty gendered subject/job industry, so I try to look out for chances to get them engaged in activities that explicitly incorporate these topics.  If my girls are not going to be disuaded from opportunities in their future becuase of our society’s gender stereotyping, then it’s my job to make sure they don’t limit themselves, and are interested in the world around them from right now.


Mr Shaha’s Recipes for Wonder

So, in April we went for a workshop at Foyles (Charing Cross) with non-fiction writer Alom Shaha, a secondary school science teacher and the author of the book Mr Shaha’s Recipes for Wonder.  It was a great chance to get my girls taking part in some Sciencey activities, that we could also (potentially) do at home too.

Tickets were a pretty cheap £3 per child for this one (no charge for parents), probably to cover the cost of the materials we used in the workshop.

Alom started with a twenty(-ish) minute talk about his passion for science, which included a story about how he got interested in science as a child.  He was engaging and passionate about what got him excited about science, and how we can help nurture an interest in science with our children.  He got us all involved in his talk, and wowed everyone with a couple of experiments.

Then, the kids (and some of the adults) had the chance to have a go too …

Over the next 40 minutes we made oboes from straws, helicopters from paper and balloon-powered cars!  Alom started off with the straws, showing us what to do and then getting us all to have a go.  A room of young people, and adults, blowing on their straw oboes was a fun and loud start to the practical activities, and we had a great time experimenting with the different notes you could get from cutting the straws to smaller and smaller lengths.

The helicopter activity was gentler on the ears, and the last activity, the best of the bunch, was the balloon-powered car!  Each child got a pack with all the materials they would need (think a sheet of card, straws, balloon, milk bottle tops etc) to make it.  There was a whirlwind of sticky tape and scissors, until milk bottle-top-wheeled vehicles were zooming across the floor in all directions!

The funniest moment was child number two slightly sulkily watching her car roll along and wondering why it was going so slow, but then seeing the youngest blowing up the balloon on hers, setting it down, and delightedly watching it fly along past her older sister’s.  Child number two was not impressed…

At the end of the hour we had a book signed by Alom, and a photo with him too.  The girls left the event happy, having made three things each to bring away with us.  We learned about some of the science behind the things we made along the way too, and they were pretty excited to have a go at more of the activities from the book.



Events at Foyles

It’s worth pointing out too, that events at Foyles are always really great.  this is the second one we have been to at this store, having already seen the author Rob Biddulph, and here’s why:

  • The space: nice and bright.  Open but safe.  Easily accessible toilets!
  • The price: free, or pretty cheap.
  • The authors: engaging authors with fun, creative, and enriching activities.
  • The staff: friendly and helpful Foyles staff supporting the event.

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