The brightest sparks are at the RDS this weekend…..

yscientist164aThe brightest sparks are at the RDS weekend, attending the 2017 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition click here for the map and here for the timetable.

A phone call from a good friend and the offer of tickets made the decision easy. I have never been to it before and I was looking forward to bringing our children along.

It was a flying visit, as the kids were in school in the morning, so, by the time we arrived it was 4pm. We only had an hour and half to look around.

CoderDojo was the first to grab their attention in the industries’ hall. Our children are attending one their clubs and they love it. In the group 7-12 they learn how to code, build a website, create an app or a game and this is all possible due to volunteers in the technology sector giving their time and experience. It is all done in a very informal, creative way.

VR glasses for our ever changing virtual world

VR glasses for our ever changing virtual world

Our son got to try out the VR Glasses and play a game in the virtual world.

One of Ben's creations alias The MAKER Kid...

One of Ben’s creations alias The MAKER Kid…

There was a couple of kids explaining about CoderDojo and one in particular a ten year old boy called Ben, alias The MAKER Kid. He created lots of different gadgets, including a little car that he made. He picked it up at a workshop event during the summer at The festival of Curiosity.

Robotic car at the CodorDojo stand by 10 yr old Ben.

Robotic car at the CodorDojo stand by 10 yr old Ben.

The kids were very excited to see all the different technology, but my son’s eyes bulged and he grabbed my hand and led me to ARCkit. They got a present from Santa two years ago of this and they LOVE it. It’s up their with Lego; and the great thing is it’s Irish.

At the ARCkit stand

At the ARCkit stand


ARCKit stand

ARCKit stand

If like our kids, your’s love making and using their imagination, then ARCkit is for them. Our friend’s child is 8 and he never heard of it. They all got stuck in and started building straight away.



Damien Murtagh, who is an architect, invented ARCkit as a way of showing his clients physical models rather than 3d models on a computer, but he knew that it had the potential to be used by older children. There was quite a collection of kids circling the table totally engrossed in building homes of the future.

He is a very engaging friendly guy, who told me that his ARCkit is sold worldwide including Harrods, The Science Museum and The Design museum London. Stockists here in Ireland include Brown Thomas where ARCkit was in the marvel room at Christmas, The Science Gallery and Damien said more are going to be included this year.


The kids decided to stay as there was no shifting them from ARCkit, so I decided to venture off. I went into the main hall, where, as it was coming to the end of the day, a lot of the stands were empty. I got talking to two girls from Laois who attend Heywood Community College. Their project was in the social and behavioural science category.

Maeve and Ruth's stand from Heywood community college, Co.laois.

Maeve and Ruth’s stand from Heywood community college, Co.laois.

They were researching “What effect did praise and criticism have on Academic achievement”.  One of the questions they asked was “Do you think praise or criticism has an effect on your schoolwork?”: 78 % said yes, 4% said no and 17% said it depended on the subject.

One of the quote’s they had on their stand was by a footballer Timothy F. Cahill. He said “I take constructive criticism. Not everyone loves you. It’s the way you react as a footballer, I use it all to make me play better”….


When I went back to the industries’ hall the kids decided to go over to Analog Devices Limerick . Their stand was causing quite a stir with a lot of kids. They make lots of different components for everything from your camera, to amplifiers to sensors. Our children loved the different areas at their stand such as a large glass with lots of lead lights. When you looked into it, it looked like they had dug a huge tunnel right down to middle earth from where the kids were standing in the RDS. It turned out that it consisted of a mirror and just two strips of LED lights.

"Heres looking at you kid"

“Heres looking at you kid”

My kids trying to see down the tunnel.

My kids trying to see down the tunnel.

The next area had a box of what seemed to be a ariel map of mountain terrain projected down into the box. On closed inspection we realised it was a box filled with rice and the kids dug into the mountainous terrain and had great fun.

The mountains..

The mountains..

One of the very helpful people on the stand showed my children how to light a lightbulb by simply holding it in their hand. It works through the current going through their body from one source into the bulb.

The lightbulb effect...

The lightbulb effect…

As I said, it was our first time going to the BT Young Scientist Exhibition and it really is for primary school kids from 7 upwards to enjoy and learn. It is on tomorrow (Saturday 14 January). Make it a family day out, if you can. Get out there early and ENJOY learning through fun….

After all, our children are the “bright sparks” of the future ….



All aboard the spooky express

“All aboard the Spooky Express” was heard from the  solemn looking victorian gentleman, who stood on the platform. A fog was creeping onto the platform, as my daughter grabbed hold of me as tight as she could. “Mum please stop taking photos, put down the camera, I am TERRIFIED”…

This is coming from the same child, full of beans at 6.45 the same morning announcing to me and the whole world ” it’s HALLOWEEN…”

We decided to get tickets to go down to The Spooky Express” in Waterford & Suir Valley Railway earlier in the month. We have over the years been on the santa train, but decided this was the year to bring them on The Spooky Express without them jumping out of their skins. How wrong was I….


Father and son


We arrived in plenty of time and our daughter ran off down towards the train. She came running back “I want to go home”. “No-one else is dressed up”, we managed to coax her to come back down with us.


Scary zombie at the spooky express

She ate her words on the way down or should I say a zombie ate her words, she was terrified of him. She threatened to hit him with the umbrella she had. Then we met his victorian friends….


The resident zombie and his victorian friends.


Proud as punch with their costumes.

Our son was the calm resilient type, who took the mime art business very seriously, as you can see in the photos…


Our son’s drawing of a mime artist

After all he had the idea for the look we should all have for the face paint. This is his drawing he handed to me mid week.Our daughter decided on taking over being the stylist.

We stood waiting on the platform waiting nervously to hear the noise of the train.quinnwaitingforthewaterfordghosttrain16insta


The train came and we all boarded, only some survived the zombie attack…


listening to a tale of a haunted train journey before we go on our journey.


We heard a very scary story before boarding the spooky express.

My daughter was stuck to me like glue. I couldn’t do anything, but calm her before the train set off. To make matters worst my daughter and myself locked eye contact, when we heard  a woman’s voice from the other open carriage say “I felt something on my leg”. I am terrified of my own shadow. so when I heard this, I was imagining they had someone underneath the seats. So that thought of “jumping out of our skins” wasn’t wrong to say!…

After hearing this the train set off into the darkness, my son and husband facing us. They seemed fine, maybe just on the surface. I think everyone on board was a bit tense. I know I was sitting in from the edge and we all seemed to huddle together towards the middle. cormacandquinnaboardwaterfordholloweentrainblogwm16

As the train slowed down, there was a few screams as we crawled towards our fate. Scary clowns are in the news and a few are on the run down in waterford.


We managed to escape the scary clowns only to hear the distant noises of a chainsaw. We came upon a funeral procession, which had someone running around yielding a chainsaw. My daughter had a grip so tight to me there was no chance of escaping her, to take any photos.

They was lots more scary things that go bump in the darkness of the woodlands. But as we passed the river on the far side of us, it really did look very tranquil, that is until the train slowed down again.


This is when things got  really bad for one child on the train….


My son who was calm up until now, turned to me and said “Mum what are they going to do with him?”.  As we witnesses the child being pulled off the train by a deranged looking individual.  The boy was tied up and brought over to the fire.


Looking back at the fire and the child, I didn’t answer his question…


As we pulled into the station again, everyone blew out a sign of relief. My daughter let go of her tight grip and the next morning  I was left with a reminder on my upper right arm of Holloween. Two small bruises about the size of my daughters hand….






Weaving on a hula hoop frame with recycled T-shirts part 2

This is part 2 of weaving on a hula hoop frame with T-shirts. We introduced a new colour after a couple of rows. After the colour white the kids decided to choose the rainbow colour. We were lucky enough to have a rainbow tie dyed T-shirt. I showed them another weaving technique called Soumak. weavingdreamcatchertechniquewm



After this we used some left over fleece from the softies I make. We choose orange. We cut strips 1 inch by 5inches long. My daughter said she wanted to make it like the sun. Her playdates agreed.



After a lot of debating over whether to do the tufting all the way around, it was decided to do it just half the way around in orange.




It’s great for the children to see this starting to come together as a piece bit by bit, it starts to grow over time.

We did a bit of thinking outside the box and one of the days, we were using air drying clay. We discussed maybe putting some on the dream catcher.