Big Dreams for Little Scientists

Big Dreams for Little Scientists

A taster for first time makers and explorers

Scienceworks is holding a day catered for little kids (0-5 years old) themed around space exploration. This has age specific activities and shows about space. Its included with the general entry. So this is a good alternative to the $50 toy that only get played with rarely (and a chance to run them tired before their nap).

I was going to mention that this is a good opportunity to visit their new hands on STEM area “Ground Up: Building Big Ideas”. However, note that it is a relatively small area (it replaced the Alice in Wonderland exhibit, not the mini city upstairs). It may get busy with more visitors in the same age brackets. If you can plan another day for your little one to have a freer run.

Details:

Date: Monday 7 May 2018

Time: 10am- 2pm

Cost: Included with general entry, no bookings necessary

More Information: Scienceworks Website

Disclaimer

This is an unpaid post. We are not affliated with Scienceworks or Museum Victoria. We do have access to a Museum membership.

Science with a Splash of Comedy: FameLab

Science with a Splash of Comedy: FameLab

With the start of the Melbourne Comedy Festival, here is an alternate event for those looking for entertainment with some scientific facts thrown in.

FameLab is an international plain science speaking competition, run by the British Council. When we say plain – we mean for non-scientists. Young researchers get 3 minutes, no PowerPoint allowed (props are ok) to explain what they are researching to an audience just like you and me.

The Victorian Semifinal is going to be on at the Melbourne Museum next Wednesday (28th March). Best of all it is going to be free!

Check out last year’s international winner, explaining how to use wheat to harvest gold – literally. We found it quite entertaining:

More past Fame Lab competition, visit their youtube channel .

Details

Date: Wednesday 28th March 2018, 6.30-8.30pm

Cost: Free, but booking needed

Location: Melbourne Museum, 11 Nicholson St, Carlton

**Reminder**

Some of our free postage group delivery deadlines for our handmade, organic ingredients Hot Cross Buns are closing on Monday.  Get your order in before you miss out!

International Women’s Day: A Shout Out to All the Women that Rocked Science

This is a tribute to all the women out there who have made their contribution to science, some of this in the limelight, some not so much. What binds them all is the difference they have made on people’s lives through the cool field of science.

Mary Winston Johnson

The first black female engineer within NASA. She did work throughout her 30+ years career contributing numerous research to the American space program. Towards the end of her career with NASA, she worked in influencing and assisting the career paths of minority background scientists, engineers and mathematicians.

She was immortalised in the book “Hidden Figures” and corresponding movie. Highlighting her and 2 female colleagues’ contribution to the space race.

Kathy Reich

Trained and certified in forensic anthropology, Kathy has lent her skills in various disaster situations to help identify and get information about victims of tragedies, such as genocides. These are often used in a legal settings that contribute to justice and history.

She went onto write a series of best seller fiction books, which were turned into the TV series “Bones”. This catapulted the field of forensic anthropology into the popular conscience.

Ada Lovelace

Daughter of Lord Byron, the poet, Ada was one of the first to recognise the potential of “calculating” machines that we come to know today as computer. She looked beyond the calculator like function of early computers. She predicted that, rather than just analysing music, the machine will be able to compose music of its own accord. She wrote what is recognised as the first algorithm to be used on one of these machines. Though she never got to see it tested, her notes influenced people to look beyond the dogmatic execution of instructions.

Today her thoughts are still relevant with the onset of artificial intelligence in everyday applications.

These are just tip of the iceberg when it comes to varied ways women have contributed to science, and hence our everyday lives. A lot more make their contribution day to day without any accolades or limelight.

Do you know of any, famous or not? Write below, so we can celebrate them!

Toybricks : Aladdin Cave for All Things Lego

Toybricks : Aladdin Cave for All Things Lego

With the recent emphasis on Lego and its use in STEM education, we will share a little gem we recently found out east of Melbourne in Bayswater.

Nestled in between a party supply shop and tool shop, Toybricks is a quiet treasure trove for all things Lego. Opened since May last year, these are a few things that gets me excited:

  • Price by Weight of Used Lego Parts – Available in both Duplo and Lego. Separated by colours, you can go treasure hunting for a particular parts that you need/want. Different to official Lego stores, it is sold by weight, not volume. This makes the more bulky parts (e.g. the forward nose of a plane that I saw there) a lot more economical.
  • Focus on Parts, as Well as Kits – As anybody who has bought Lego recently knows, the company has shifted their focus onto kits that are built once and has limited reuse value. Toybrick’s strength is the parts that are available. According to the salesperson I spoke to, they also restock parts that are not necessary the latest release. I personally have my eyes set on a box set of generic windows and doors, parts that one can never get enough of when trying to build a 5 bedroom mansion.
  • Non-Lego Licensed Products – As this is not an official Lego store, there is a variety of Lego compatible products. For example, reusable stickers that can turn a block into everyday objects, lighting kits etc
  • Sheer Variety of Products – They stock everything from Duplo, Friends, Junior, normal kits plus more. Title picture is only one side of the shop…enough said.

While you are there, check out the Lego Boost set, which are similar to Mindstorm robotic sets but for 7-12 year olds. This is a good way to introduce how building blocks can be interfaced with the programming side of things.

More information and location can be found via their website (www.toybricks.com.au)

Disclaimer

This is an unpaid post. We have no affliation with Toybricks.

Sanity Savers: Science School Holiday Activities

Sanity Savers: Science School Holiday Activities

With the festivities over, the summer now stretches to long days of play, treats….and driving parents crazy.

If you are looking for some activities to occupy the little ones, there are some last minute options:

  • Apple Kids and Parents Programs – Held at various flagship stores, these are mainly one hour programs that uses apple products.  We were there for a session that teaches kids how to use Sphero the robotic ball using an iPad.  Its was a free session but we were decently surprised by the quality of the instructor. (Click on Kids & Parents to filter out the other programs below the calendar.)
  • The Brickman Experience (aka Lego Exhibition by a Licensed Lego Professional) – Held in an unobtrusive corner of Docklands, its a nice place to get out of the heat.  While not as sophisticated as Lego Discovery Center, it provides plenty of space, less queues and some long table for kids to go mad with lego parts and put them on display. (Note: Cash free venue, remember to bring your card.) See the photo for what we created.
  • Scienceworks – 2 Levels of exhibits in all aspects of science with plenty of interactive displays.  The second level has been recently revamped with a preschool display with hands on creative and problem solving activities. Free for kids up to 16 years old.  Adults can either purchase a museum membership for free entry or pay a single entry fee.
  • The Paper Market – Origami being the earliest form of engineering.  The kids can gets some hands on with this ancient science.  Its running until 19th January.  Free at the State Library of Victoria everyday.
  • Lego Free Play – Available at various libraries, check your local public library school holiday program.  Average an hour play sessions of Lego.  The best part? You won’t have stray pieces to step on the floor afterwards.

Hope this saves your sanity as the countdown to the first day of school begins in the summer heat!

Disclaimer

This is an unpaid blog post for your enjoyment.  We are in no way associated with Apple Inc, Brickman or public libraries.  We do have access to a Victoria Museum membership.

Holiday Watching: Genius, How Innovation is More Than Technology

Holiday Watching: Genius, How Innovation is More Than Technology

There is a perception that the latest technology leader has to be a technology genius that knows their field inside out. But in reality, many innovators are people who developed a curiosity and passion in the field of their choice. Combine that with ability to see how to put solutions together and tenacity.

A series currently available on SBS on Demand very cleverly illustrates that. Genius is an 8 part series that traces rivalry between competing innovators in the same field from Colt (of gun fame) to Steve Jobs. While it focuses on the rivalry, really its a portrait of a very human drama that end up defining history.

If nothing else, its very entertaining to watch.

Honorable Mention: If you are more into science and food, there is a series called Food Lab By Ben Milbourne. It is an attempt to bring together a cooking show and science theory behind it.

While the central idea is great, I struggled to watch more than one episode at a time. Involvement with University of Queensland scientists are a good touch. But I can’t help but mentally compare it to Alton Brown whose entertainment level compel one to bring out a notebook and pen to take notes in the middle of a recipe.

But if it means this is the start of many more science focused shows, bring it on!

Disclaimer

This is an unpaid post and we have no affliation with SBS or Alton Brown.

*** Reminder: Our sale day is on tomorrow.  Hope to see you all there! ***

A Not So Dumb Way to Get Your Message Across: A Look at Metro’s “Dumb Way to Die”

One thing I love about the technology and science field is that how great ideas come from the strangest and most unexpected left fields.  Very often these people, unconstrained by conventions or prior experience use technology in a way that really cut through the noise in very effective ways. Dumb Ways to Die team has definitely hit the ball out of the park when they decided to go one step further than most marketing team would have envisioned.  Turning a technology that is associated with entertainment, mobile game, into an educational tool.

Dumb Ways to Die, for those that don’t take public transport in Melbourne, was Metro Trains’ public safety announcement campaign pushed out in 2012.  It went viral overnight with its catchy tune and video.  Today it has spawned a series of sequel app games, junior games, soon to be upcoming VR game (more on this in a minute) and merchandise lines.

Looking for an innovative way to catch the attention of teenager and young adult bracket (“who thinks they are invincible”), Metro’s marketing team decided to approach it from a fun perspective.  The brilliant step was that, rather than stopping at the usual passive channels (e.g. poster, ad, song) of an advertising campaign, they went further in releasing a mobile app game where you actively prevent your “bean” from dying in a really “dumb” ways.

By making their audience participate, it reinforces the message but it also helps the message stay relevant.  There have been game updates for every major event to the game and their social media.  And as anybody who plays mini-games know, limted time updates are the key to keep people coming back for more.

But I think the most important point of this story is that by using technology in a way that works with human behaviour (rather than getting human to adapt to technology…looking at you iPhone X…), Metro has found a way to get their message out and stuck in the minds of people (over 10 million downloads of the original game at last count).

How effective was their campaign? As one of the panelist mentioned during the Dumb Ways to Die discussion at PAX Australia, “To have a mother once wrote to us saying you have saved my daughter’s life today. That is what matters.”

As mobile device (and hopefully one day our Internet infrastructure) technology becomes more sophisticated, it is shown time and again that technology originally made for entertainment would be used in everyday functional ways.  I am sure the game developers on the Dumb Ways to Die never imagined that their game writing skills would indirectly save someone’s life.  This is true in a lot of technology careers, just because a piece of technology doesn’t seem useful right now, doesn’t mean it never will be….

Good on Dumb Ways to Die team for showing us that!

(If you want to have a catchy tune stuck in your head for the next few days, have a look at their YouTube video above.)

For the original mobile app games and Junior games (latter more appropriate for the 3+ age group): Android Play Store or iTunes

The VR Game

As a sneak preview, they showed at PAX Australia their in development game in VR. While it is still in a mini-game format, the VR has allowed them to put in a dimension of multi-tasking that is required.  The aim is that character “Botch” is in a camping ground and you must keep him warm, fed and safe all at the same time…. which I am sure a lot of parents will find familiar.

It is not available yet, but I hope it is released soon.  We had a tonne of fun playing it.

Disclaimer

This is an unpaid post and we have no affliation with Metro Trains, Dumb Ways to Die or PAX.

Kickstarter Questions Reminder

There is only 2 weeks left to get in on our Kickstarter campaign.  Here is the link.  Remember any questions can be submitted through Kickstarter Q&A facility.  Alternatively give us a call!

Kickstarter is Live: Food X Science Fun

We are very excited to announce that our Kickstarter is alive and released into the wild.

Science need not be boring, scary or irrelevant…it is already all around us today. It is what drives our economy, and will be the bedrock of what our kids need to learn to function in their future careers.

Rather than writing another boring textbook, we are using something that will actually get the kids attention: Cookies.  Together with a little bit of the “Hidden Vegie Science” principle, we hope to inspire the next Elon Musk, Bill Gates…

Funding closes (Sunday) 19th Novemeber 2017. Limited quantity of early bird rewards available.

Come join us, click through to Kickstarter below

 

Data – the (very long winded) second language we all speak

I was fortunate enough to attend SINET 61, a major cybersecurity event supported by ACSGN. It was a very interesting event (hot button jobs alert: security, blockchain and IoT) with lots of expertise in one room. Fundamental to a lot of discussions was data. What is data?

Data traditionally means pieces of information stored/transmitted by a computer. Its the universal language most modern electronic speaks to each other. Google it and you will see 1s and 0s, and lots of green screens.

Let’s ignore all that, and go back to where it all started…{queue dream sequence music :)}

Once Upon a Time, when computers first evolved into the shape we know today, a lot of electronics sensors can only read 2 voltages correctly, On and Off. Through convention they were labelled as 1s and 0s.

Now let’s relabel them as As and Bs and the computer just become another person like us. But they are like a tourist that doesn’t speak English. Just like foreign languages, when you put letters in different orders you will form words that mean different things.

The down side of making words out of two letters is that you are limited with how many meanings you can make in a given word length. A 2 letter word (AA, AB, BA, BB) only allows you to represent 4 different ideas. In contrast, because there are 26 letters in English, 2 letter words gives you possible (26×26=) 676 unique words.

In order to emulate the English alphabet (so that humans can interact with machine without having to talk gibberish), a group of people called American National Standards Institute agreed to a set of zero and ones strings that will represent the alphabet and commonly used symbols. This standard is now known as ASCII character set. The added bonus is that machines from different manufacturers can now also understand each other when they operate on ASCII.

But what about the others...

At this point, I am expecting a lot of passionate people writing in to say, what about the other standards? Yes, there are other standards out there, but fundamentally they are an agreement to use different strings of 1s and 0s out there.

Like in the human world when different people speaks different languages. This cause a lot of issues when people try to use one set of data in one machine in one standard to another one that use a different standard, but that’s the subject of another post. 🙂

Every time you press a key on your keyboard, you are actually speaking in strings of 0s an 1s to your computer. You didn’t know you are talking a second language every time you use a keyboard did you?

Upcoming Kickstarter Campaign: Food X Science

We are very excited to announce our up and coming Kickstarter.  We’ve been hard at work…

In this Kickstarter campaign, we will be combining cookie and science together to help kids, and adults, to learn about the Science Magic that is around us in everyday life.  Rather than trying to learn abstract concepts from books, there is no better way to learn than be “hands on” with the object (and eating it!).

If you are interested in being one of the first to know when the campaign is launched (and potentially snag some early bird rewards), put your email into box below.  We will shoot you a headsup when that happens.

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