12 Oct 2007

Who, what, where, when, why and WOW!

We all headed off to one of our favourite places yesterday, W5, named for the 1st 5 'W' words in the post title. As Thomas announced, 'all the things here were invented by scientists.' We met with a few other HE families and had a fantastic day out. There's so much to investigate and the children all love it.

They have an area where you can record a weather report in front of a blue screen. You choose your background; either a TV studio or on-location footage of a hurricane or a volcano. There's a TV camera at the front and an auto-cue of the script. Lady enjoyed hamming it up, reading the script and pretending to be blown all over the place during a hurricane. Duncan joined her, watching himself on the monitor and jumping around the place for the camera. They then watched the recording on the big screen.

Duncan enjoyed a few repeat performances then went on to something else. But later in the afternoon, while the other children were watching one of the demonstrations, Duncan took me back the the camera, and spent 45 minutes filming himself and watching the footage. He pulled a stool over to stand on, then he'd wait until after the count down to announce recording, then he'd say, 'Look at this!' then '3, 2, 1, WOW!' as he jumped off the stool into the air. He also did a fair bit of dancing, chattered about stuff I couldn't make out, apart from 'Tots TV' and sang a bit of the 'Duncan song'. At one stage, he stood on the stool and pulled his trousers down a wee bit at the front, getting ready to wave his little bits about (to avoid using language that attracts creepy Google hits). This area of his anatomy has always held great fascination, but he's lately begun to talk about it so much more! Needless to say, I didn't want that on camera! I told him, in a matter of fact way, to keep his trousers up. Though the child is so skinny, that even with a belt on, his trousers are often lying a bit low!

Duncan and I also spent ages on the huge model of a cargo ship and crane. The crane was fitted with an electro-magnet and could be moved in 3 dimensions, to lift metal 'crates' onto the ship. He quickly figured out how to control it.

Another favourite were the story cubes. These have a selection of pictures of a cartoon man or woman doing things like laughing, looking grumpy, talking on the phone, opening a door or blowing kisses. There are a few cubes showing various objects too. Duncan arranged the cubes, choosing which face to display and in which order, in a slot. Then he pressed the start button and the cubes were 'read' to produce a little animation on the screen. He made loads of little films. He particularly liked making the characters talk on the phone and then slip on a banana skin, before looking grumpy, then he'd have the man give the woman a present. That too took a lot of concentration.

While I was minding Duncan, Thomas and Lady hung out with my friend D. and her boys. They watched the displays and Lady helped out with 2 demonstrations. She told me she 'was Jupiter', and later, she had to wear safety goggles ('like Gabriella in High School Musical') for an experiment involving vinegar and sodium bicarbonate.

The day ended with everyone in the Start area, which is aimed at younger children. Duncan played with the wooden trains, and I had a (plastic) meal prepared for me by my friend's 2 year old.

We have been going to W5 for a few years now. I remember the first time we went. I took the 3 children and met up with the other home-educating families, whom I didn't know so well then obviously. I don't know exactly what happened, except that I was very stressed and harried, Duncan was running all over and having a very hard time, and I dragged all the children back to the car after after a short time, where I sat in tears of frustration for a while. How different yesterday was! I still need to stay right by Duncan, and I'm lucky that Lady and Thomas are so well behaved that they will stay with D. and not cause her much extra effort. But I have never seen Duncan slow down and concentrate for such long periods on all the exhibits. It was wonderful, even if I was knackered by the time we got home.

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