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Here's where you'll find all the latest news about technology for children. We love to follow cool new inventions on Kickstarter and we hunt out all the latest announcements about tech toys and gadgets for the coming Christmas holidays. You'll also get our take on children's technology stories in the media.

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Our kids technology product reviews are intended to help you work out whether a toy, gadget or kit is a good fit for your child or family. There's lots of cool stuff available, but is it the right choice for the child or teenager that you are buying for? We'll help you make the right choices and get the best value for money.

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Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends assemble. We create gift lists to help you make good choices for kids technology which helps them develop the right skills for the future. We research the best in Coding Toys and Games, Making / Craft Tools and Kits, STEM/STEAM related gifts, Programmable Robots, Electronics Kits and Gadgets for Tech Age Kids and Teens.

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Get crafty with technology. Here we'll post all our ideas and projects using technology to get creative and making with kids. You'll find anything from making a lemon battery to a glow-in-the-dark Minecraft sword. Our projects are tried and tested on our own kids or at events we run, so we are sure you can have a go at home with your kids. Some of our projects use specific tech gadgets which we provide links for you to purchase.

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STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. In recent years there is an increased focus in these areas of study. We like to include Art and Design too, so we often talk about STEAM (A stands for Art). At Tech Age Kids we believe Coding is a new literacy and children need to understand how technology works, practice making skills and grow in their curiosity to make a better future for us all.

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Coding is increasingly being recognised as an important skill for children to learn. Some will learn to code at school or at a coding club, but it's brilliant if they get support at home too.

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We think it's really important for kids to get hands-on with electronics and learn how to make circuits and write code to control hardware. Younger kids can start with conductive playdough. For kids who like to combine craft and tech, littleBits are fab. And we love SAM Labs wireless electronics components for making it easy for kids to make Internet of Things inventions. Lots of electronics kits for kids have support for the Arduino microprocessor environment. The DuinoKit Jr is one of our favourites. Arduino is a fab skill for older kids and teens to develop.

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We love robots at Tech Age Kids, especially programmable ones. We've got lots of them and write reviews and projects that use them. Our programmable robots for kids buying guide is a good place to start if you're not sure what's available. Roby the mBot Meccano robot dog is one of our popular projects and has been with us to lots of events. Our Ozobot LEGO trailer is fab for kids who love LEGO and robots.

MAKING AND CRAFT$show=/search/label/making

We're advocates of the creative use of technology, but this needs to be balanced with developing physical skills such as papercraft, woodwork, clay modelling, technical drawing and soldering. If children don't develop these skills as they grow up then physical making projects can become frustrating rather than fun. The Maker Community uses the term 'making' as a broad term to include all sorts of artisan skills or craft activities. Being able to make things can lead to life-long hobbies or even careers. It's a great feeling to be able to take a project from an idea in your head to a real object that does something. We're particularly interested to explore products that combine maker skills with tech skills such as electronics but others focus purely on the physical making skills that are still important to modern making.

Running a Primary School Science Club


I've run a science club with another volunteer parent for the last two years (she's a proper scientist!) I recently met Kate Bellingham (who used to present Tomorrow's World) and she is now involved in the School Gate SET, an initiative to get parents helping out with STEM initiatives in their children's schools. Kate mentioned that it would be useful to write up our experience to help others.


We run our science club at lunch-time for children in Year 3 in the UK (age 7-8.) This means that all children have the opportunity to attend. They are all strongly encourages to attend the first session to find out what it's all about and then it's their choice whether they come back for the remaining 5 sessions. Most of them do!

The club is 30 minutes long and we've experimented with alternating groups and running two groups one after the other. The latter approach works better for busy parent helpers as they only have to commit to 6 weeks.

The experiments are all very hands-on. There's very little watching and lots of doing. We try and do the kinds of experiments that are difficult to do with a large group of children and a low ratio of adults.

We use proper science equipment including plastic test tubes, petri dishes, pipettes and syringes. These are all very inexpensive to purchase and help the children to feel like they are doing proper science. We also provide safety glasses and insist they are worn for most experiments, the materials we use aren't dangerous but it teaches the children good lab practices and it's not nice to get lemon juice in your eye. The children also wear disposable lab aprons to protect their uniforms. (Proper children's lab coats would be nice but they are expensive and would need to be washed taking more time.)


We're lucky enough to have a parent with a science doctorate to run the sessions, I have a computer science doctorate, so not proper science! We've also had a teacher on a career break helping out. The main qualifications though are to be willing to do a bit a reading about the experiments and to be aware of potential safety issues.

Many of the experiments we use come from a science birthday party that I hosted for my younger son when he turned six. The children did lots of experiments in quick succession with a focus on fun rather than scientific detail. This gave us enough experiments for several weeks of science club, and the confidence that they worked and would be fun for the age group.



Some weeks there are multiple short experiments. There's no write up of the experiments - the children are giving up their lunchtime and we want to make it as fun as possible. But we do explain the science and ask lots of questions about what they children think will happen and what they remember.

The experiments include:

  • Balloon over a test tube with bicarb and lemon juice
  • Skittles in a petri dish of water
  • Pepper and liquid soap in a petri dish (surface tension)
  • Air pressure with syringes 
  • Chromatography with colour changing pens and kitchen towel circles
  • Jelly bath polymer and salt - liquid to solid to liquid
  • Red cabbage indicator testing of liquids and drawing with water on filter paper soaked in indicator
  • Static electricity with balloons plus a plasma ball (that we found in the science cupboard)
  • Fizzy drinks and mentos (which works best) outdoors!
  • Outdoor bug hunt with magnifying glasses


A few of the activities have a take home item such as kitchen towel chromatography, balloons are always popular! We also send a short slip of paper home with the children that explains the experiment so that they can discuss it with their parents.


Tips:

  • You'll need to work with the school to do a risk assessment for the experiments you want to do. Don't be put off by this, it's common sense stuff. 
  • Regular volunteers will need a DBS check (either via the school or STEM Ambassadors.)
  • It's fine not to know everything! It's handy to have access to a computer to look things up, or you can come back with an answer next week. Most scientists and engineers are specialists, it's understandable if you've forgotten stuff!
  • Children aged 7-9 are a great target as they're are old enough to have the manual dexterity required for the experiments and young enough to be wowed. At our school science club is for year 3 and years 4, 5 and 6 have the option to attend an after school Code Club. 
  • Practice everything first and make a note of the amounts needed. Only one volunteer needs to do this for each experiment and if you keep notes you'll only need to do it the first year. 
  • Working in pairs is fine for some experiments, one child can hold the test tube while the other uses the pipette for example. 
  • It's fine just to run a science club for a half-term if that's all the volunteers can commit too. 
  • It's often best for a parent volunteer to come around with 'chemicals' rather than allowing a free for all!
  • Talk to the school science coordinator so you can avoid activities that they will be doing in lessons or fit in with them. 
  • Check out the school science cupboard and see what you can use, we found magnifying glasses and a plasma ball. 
  • Come up with a set of experiments that uses the same small set of equipment, this reduces cost and gives the children chance to become proficient (it turns out that it's not obvious how to use a pipette or a syringe for the first time.)
  • If you don't have a budget for equipment then you'll find lots of things you can use in a pound shop - plastic cups, shot glasses, spoons. They won't be as reusable but they will get you started. You can fund raise for better equipment later. We had a small budget from the school but didn't use it as we were happy to cover the costs and I already had much of the equipment from my son's birthday party. 
  • Yes, they will try and squirt water with syringes. Unless it's a very hot day and you're outside then you'll need to lay some ground rules. 


We get lots of reports of children wanting to do more science at home. Science club is a lot of fun and very rewarding.

The School Gate SET is focussing on encouraging parents (and others!) taking a break from an engineering or technology career to get involved in helping out with STEM subjects at their children's school. This sounds like a great idea. There's a huge amount of underused talent in that community.

If you're an engineering or technology parent on a career­ break, in Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire or Hertfordshire, then the School Gate SET has an initiative running to get you started.

Otherwise, why not find another parent with a tech or education background, or just lots of enthusiasm for science and see what you can get started.



Name

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Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children: Running a Primary School Science Club
Running a Primary School Science Club
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Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children
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