A MOBM Review

The Enrichment Conundrum

We’ve always been rather selective about what enrichment programmes our kids participate in.

Why? You might think…

Firstly, LOGISTICS. In caps. That can be a nightmare. Period.

Second, budget (in a large family, that’s pretty obvious too).

Third, time. We usually try to guard our time. We tend to leave spaces during the holidays (which usually manages to rapidly fill itself) for downtime, rest and sheer boredom. Yes, we’re not too afraid to have the kids home with us…doing nothing very exciting and hanging out.

Fourth, we are pretty chill (maybe lazy) parents…so unless a child expresses rabid fascination or an utter desperate need for a particular activity, we fill our time in with our own chill (or lazy) things to do.

Fifth, as educators, we do really look forward to seeing that “something special” in the programme curriculum that our kids might enjoy, before we send them anywhere.

Science Escapade by Cognitive Whizz!The last holidays though, we did send the kids somewhere! TA-DA!

This blogpost today is on one such holiday programme which we encountered, with that X factor.

In fact, we didn’t think very hard about whether to send our 5 and 8 year old to the four day Science Escapade – a holiday Science program for 4-8 year olds, by Cognitive Whizz.

Led by founder Denise and her team and jointly organized by BrainFit, Science Escapade focuses on teaching science creatively through storytelling, songs, play and simple hands-on experiments.

Image courtesy of Cognitive Whizz

That piqued my interest. Science and storytelling make a charming pair.

I had some reservations though, to be honest, Physics and Chemistry unpacked for kids as young as four sounded a tad intimidating.

After all, how would such abstract concepts be pitched and clearly communicated to a bunch of little kids?

Escape to FairyLand!
Step into the “Land of Fairy Tale Emergencies“, the backdrop for their exploration. Science themes are explored within the familiar narrative framework of fairytales. In fact, each day’s theme is helmed by an interesting story/tale. No prizes for guessing which my girls were really excited for.

And hardcore science made digestible through literary tales? Now this interdisciplinary invitation got this literary mum’s heart a thumping!

I trailed my girls into Day 1’s mission with much anticipation to bring you our FIVE Behind-the-Scenes Observations about Science Escapade and what the children were engaged in:

1. Problem Solvers on a Mission!
One of the great things about Science Escapade is how it endeavors to teach so called “abstract science concepts” through practical and simple problem solving.

What do I mean? Well, think this.

Children are exposed to big concepts in the pure sciences like atoms and molecules, protons and electrons and static electricity in ways that are easily relatable.

I don’t think this is meant to be or should be taken in the spirit of hot-housing but on the contrary, the heart of the programme lies in desiring to throw out the big questions to little people!

When children are immersed to learn through new experiences and critical inquiry, Cognitive Whizz believes, they make neural connections of great impact.

Image courtesy of Cognitive Whizz

Learning is made fun, and accelerated while the children are encouraged to share their hypotheses, validating them through hands-on experiments, and evaluating the data to form their own conclusions!

The mission of the day began with an intriguing proposition:

How could we use electricity to help Cinderella turbo charge through her chores in time to rush to the ball?

We saw the kids excitedly buzzing and connected to how they would be learning something that would be part of the solution on several points of the problem solving process!

2. Social-Emotional Awareness

Through the course, there was a constant and regular attempt to get children in touch with their emotions and feelings for the day. I thought this was particularly commendable.

After all, we don’t want to send the message that we are only after information and knowledge as an end but as a means to relate with and help others.

The kids were taught a range of complex feelings; ecstatic, alarmed, downhearted, jealous, and what they meant.

During Storytime, this was brilliantly reinforced:

E.g. Cinderella was ecstatic when she learnt about the ball! She was however downhearted when the unkind stepmother did not allow her to go, despite how hard she worked. Her stepsisters were jealous of her, as she was very attractive. When she finally got to go to the ball, and met the prince, she was ecstatic and got carried away! She was alarmed when the clock struck 12!

3. Role playing is Fun!
Role play was also one of the definitive highlights of the program, complete with singing, dancing and definitive props that would make children beam.

The reenactment of Cinderella was carried out with simple placards and dramatized by teachers and student volunteers. This made the classroom come alive with participation as even the “audience” had roles to play.

That’s E and F with their fairy wands in their bid to help “wish” the tinsel dust away!

However, instead of a “bipparty boppity boo”, the kids had to figure out how to use static electricity on a balloon to pick up “dust”!

Children use science not magic to deliver Cinderella from her household chores and zip to the ball.

Immersive storytelling…enraptured the children and was the real magic of the day!

4. No Limits to Curiosity!
This is actually the best part of the programme:  the experiments. In the 3 hour course on Day 1, the kids did and watched a total of 8 experiments. Yes, you heard right. 8 whooping ones!

The experiments were fun, exciting, relatable and concrete enough to engage young learners.

Check out these highlights:

(A) Science concept: Static Electricity

Cinderella was exhausted after all the laborious hardwork. She found a rainbow duster which cheered her up! She became downhearted when she realized that the duster was unable to trap the tinsel. How could the children help her?

With the aim to solve Cinderella’s headache, the children get off to work. They explore rubbing tinsel with cloth and discovered after the rubbing, the tinsel got attracted to the static duster!

That’s E smiling her way through her brilliant discovery- think her excitement says it all.

Expt (2): Hair-raising experience!

Cleaning the house, Cinderella caught a glimpse of the photo of the Scientist, Albert Einstein. She loved his hairstyle – all the hair was jutting out! She found some balloons. What should she do?

The children had fun rubbing the balloons on their hair to create the new hairstyle for themselves!

After that, they tried using the balloons to pick up the tinsel, it worked too!

Here are more sneak peaks at what went on that day:

Little “electrons” huddling together to visually see how protons and neutrons respond to one another in a little nucleas.

F looking satisfied at how many styrofoam beads her “charged” hands could pick up all over Cinderella’s house!

A visual demonstration of static electricity through a charged balloon to create dancing bubbles!

As we moved the “charged” balloon around above the bubbles, the children were amazed to observe “dancing bubbles!”

Exploring a simple circuit
The kids learnt what was a closed and open circuit and the children connected the wires to form a closed circuit to light up the bulbs!

The younger children were tasked to fix the batteries in torch lights in the correct arrangement (positive connected to negative), to help power up Cinderella’s house.

When every group is done, the lights were switched off. The children saw how they have helped to light up Cinderella’s house with the electric circuits they made!

Fun with an energy stick to examine what conductors would cause it to light up! Children made their predictions based on simple objects!

Here’s my girl’s favourite activity. Creating an electric cleaner for Cinderella!

5. Learning & Creativity Ruled the Day!

The entire programme of Science Escapade blew us away with tons and tons of opportunities to explore and create.

The pacing of the workshop was intense but everything well-connected and meaningfully planned to enrich the children’s exposure to phenomena and offering good experiences towards scientific curiousity.

Certainly, Cognitive Whizz has prepared a worthwhile programme for 4-8 year olds who want a primer into the fascinating world around us! Do check it out during the next school holidays

Promotional Offer for MOBM Readers:

*Discount Code*

Keen to expose your children to intriguing Science concepts through holistic joyful learning, quote MOBM for a $20 discount off the next Science Escapade in June 2018! Never too early to plan!

For enquiries:

Contact Denise@9009 7086 or email info@cognitivewhizz.com/ Cognitive Whizz on Facebook

Disclaimer: We were invited to attend the 4 day programme in exchange for a review. Opinions of programme are my own.