A review of the Cozyphones kids headphones

A review of the Cozyphones kids headphones

There are a lot of benefits to being the youngest child, you have more people to pander to your wishes, you tend to get away with a lot more than your older siblings did, and you can usually find someone willing to play with you. The downside… hand-me-downs! From clothes, to toys, to tech… you usually get something with a certain level of pre-loved to it. This doesn’t tend to bother my youngest much, but every so often it is lovely for him to get something new all for himself. Last month, to the envy of his older siblings, he got just that: brand new CozyPhones arrived in the post – just for him.

What are CozyPhones

CozyPhones are headband headphones. They come in a variety of different types; the ones we are reviewing here are the children’s ones. The earphones sit outside the ears, fitted inside the soft, fleece headband. These removable earphones can be adjusted within the headband, so that they sit just over the child’s ears.

The earphones should suit any device with a 3.5mm jack.

What he thinks

He loves them! He finds them very comfortable and cozy and finally has found a set of earphones that he can use for longer periods of time. He used to complain that other types just weren’t comfortable.

There is definitely a monster theme going one here

 

He even loved that he was able to pick which ones he wanted first, and there are plenty to choose from. There are frogs and unicorns and pandas and cats, to name but a few. He chose the monster, no surprise there!

What I think

I love that the headband is soft, comfortable and washable (as the earphones can easily be removed). They are also very, very robust (believe me they have been put through their paces). The wire is covered with chord rather than the usual plastic, which is a much more forgiving material when it comes to pulling, knotting and general rough-handling.

They have already prevented some big arguments in our house, when one child wants to listen to music and another wants to play on a device, but both want to be in the same room.

We have not had any long car journeys yet but I think this is where they will really come into their own; these CozyPhones are perfect for travelling, easy to store, don’t get in the way of the car seat and are soft enough that a child can sleep in them without any worries.

What I like MOST about the CozyPhones is the safety aspect. Up until now, my children have been using adult earplugs or headphones when they need to plug in and I worry about noise levels and safety. Firstly the CozyPhones earphones do not actually sit into the child’s ear and, more importantly, they have a volume limit set at 85 decibels. This gives me great peace of mind, I no longer need to keep checking and pestering my children to turn down the volume on their earphones.

The only downside I found was not with the product itself, but how to get it! Neither the home site nor those available on Amazon.co.uk currently ship to Ireland, meaning that alternative arrangements need to be made (such as using one of the many alternative parcel delivery services).

Disclosure: We were sent one CozyPhones headband headphones for review purposes. I have not received any payment for this review; all opinions expressed here are my own (and my son’s). 

 

Netflix stream team – our current family viewing

Netflix stream team – our current family viewing

We have had some dark weather and lots of rain recently so Netflix has been appreciated all the more in this house. Last week we received a lovely gift from Netflix, some cozy slippers, a nice relaxing herbal tea, a lovely lavender and chamomile spray and a mini beanie for the tablet.

The children were quick in coming up with ways to use everything (I got the tea, they made off with everything else). They asked could they all pop into our bed that evening and watch Netflix on my ipad using the new beanie. As it was the start of the long weekend I decided to give it a go (figuring they’d last five minutes before I’d have to break it up). I settled them in and even sprayed the lavender and chamomile on their pillow and headed back up to the fire and my book. To my amazement their idea worked. They snuggled in and watched the whole moving without any arguments and afterwards they all fell off to sleep really quickly.

Thank you Netflix!

What are the children watching?

Penelope

What were they watching that night? They watched Penelope, a real feel good movie and all three kids gave it the thumbs up!

A modern romantic tale about a young aristocratic heiress born under a curse that can only be broken when she finds true love with “one who will love her faithfully.

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Event

The children are also enjoying the Netflix original series of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Event. They are big fans of the original movie which is also available on Netlfix. So far they are really enjoying this eight episode series; they seem to think it is a little darker than the movie with a lot more details and plot lines.

 

Two by Two

The youngest got to choose a movie for another recent movie night and he chose Two-by-two. I watched it with the kids too and it is a really sweet movie, about fitting in, finding friends and realising who you really are (or if you don’t want to psychoanalyse it, it’s just a cute animated movie!).

 

Middle School – the worst years of my life

At Hills Village Middle School, budding cartoonist Rafe and best pal Leo challenge their uptight principal by breaking every rule in his handbook.

My kids loved this movie and it prompted my middle child to start reading the books, which is a win-win, right?

What are the adults watching?

Grace and Frankie

I can’t wait to get stuck into the third season of Frankie and Grace, which will be released in just one more day (the 24th March to be exact). I really enjoyed the first series and was a full blown fan by the end of the second season so I really can’t wait to see what the lovely pair get up to in this next season.

Here is a trailer for the new series:

 

I don’t feel at home in this world anymore

We really enjoyed this new Netflix movie starring Elijah Wood and Australian actress Melanie Lynskey – I don’t feel at home in this world anymore. If you like quirky movies then check this one out.

Grimm

We have started watching Grimm, a series about a cop who suddenly inherits some special powers and realises that not all people are what they appear. It is early days but we are really enjoying the first series so far.

Iron Fist

This is brand new to Netflix this month and we have watched the first two episodes so far. It was a little slow to start but has good promise and we are all Marvel fans in this family (although the movie is rated 18s).

Danny Rand resurfaces 15 years after being presumed dead. Now, with the power of the Iron Fist, he seeks to reclaim his past and fulfil his destiny.

What are you watching on Netflix at the moment? If you have any current favourites let me know in the comments below.

Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix Stream Team I have received a years subscription to Netflix, free of charge, and an Apple TV, for streaming purposes. As part of Netflix Stream Team I will be posting monthly updates on what we are watching and what is on offer.  All opinions expressed will be my own.

16 from ’16 – a retrospective look at blogging through 2016

16 from ’16 – a retrospective look at blogging through 2016

2016 was certainly an interesting year, if I had to sum it up in one word I would say CHANGE! I certainly had lots of changes on both personal and work levels, but as I look back I realise they were all positive changes. Some still in progress. It was only when I reviewed my year in blogging, to join Where Wishes Come From blog linky, that I realised just how much has happened in this year. That is the great thing about a blog… it acts as a type of record or journal, documenting things that could otherwise so easily be forgotten.

So here is what 2016 looked like for Dr. How’s Science Wows…

 

1. MOST POPULAR POST

The most popular post on the blog from 2016 is a personal favourite, How high do birds fly? This infographic brought Dr. Simple to a new level, when his twin sister was introduced. I really like the end result. It always surprises me how many people search this question on a daily bases, I hope the post is of some help to them.

How-high-do-birds-fly2

 

2. FAVOURITE POST

It is really hard to pick a favourite post, it is almost like picking a favourite child. I love writing posts based on a question I have been asked and I particularly enjoyed this one What would happen if the Earth’s gravity suddenly disappeared? It was a question asked by my son and it got the whole family involved in what they thought would happen!

 

3. FAVOURITE EXPERIMENT

I tried a few different ways to share experiments this year, and I’ll cover that a bit later, but one of my favourite experiments on the blog this year was this one… Can water go uphill? It was great fun to set up and the resulting colours were so nice that I have to admit, we kept it on the counter for days as it was too nice to trow out. Definitely a cheery experiment for a dull day!

walking-water-7b

 

4. FAVOURITE SERIES ON THE BLOG

I tried a few new things out this year, some of which used FaceBook Live. I have to admit that some of the science kits out there drive me nuts! I have seen far to many that are little more than a box and a poorly written booklet, nearly all the materials having to be supplied by the poor person who has already spent money on the ‘kit’. I won’t go any further with that rant today, but, on the plus side, this prompted me to share a series of experiments that you can do at home using just a plastic bottle.

I used FB live to share a different bottle experiment each day, for ten days and then put them all together as my TEN SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS YOU CAN DO WITH A PLASTIC BOTTLE series; you can view them here and here. The videos are not very pretty or polished but I am proud of the fact that I did show how you can literally do ten experiments with a plastic bottle and I got some really great feedback from people who tried the experiments.

 

5. FAVOURITE TITLE

My titles are often pretty basic and self explanatory but I like this one, as it is a little different… What do Forrest Gump, horses and music have in common? It would intrigue me enough to want to click through and find out. (Go on, you know you want to!)

Horse at stable door

 

6. FAVOURITE PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENT

I have always wanted to do a children’s science magazine. I spent a lot of time looking into it in 2016. The project has since taken on a somewhat different direction but we’ll see what comes of it all. However, I did put together a simple, free, on-line mini-magazine here on the blog and I absolutely loved the experience! It is so lovely to have this space to create and test and experiment and, looking back over 2016, that seems to be exactly what I was doing.

 

7. FAVOURITE WRITING OUTSIDE THE BLOG

You may have noticed that I have a new column with the Irish Examiner, called the Appliance of Science. Each column answers a question that I have been asked. I am really enjoying the column and exploring all the fantastic questions I have been sent. If I had to pick a favourite it would be my very first… Do Pigs Dream?

I always love receiving your questions so please keep them coming!

 

8. FAVOURITE PHOTO

It was lovely to look back over all the photos I have shared, here, and on social media during 2016. There are so many favourites but this one in particular makes me smile.

boys-and-bubbles

It is exactly why I started Science Wows in the first place and the kind of science I most like to see. This  photo shows an impromptu bubble science session at the kitchen table. My youngest loves to go in to my science supplies and pick something to ‘experiment’ with. This day it was bubbles and they had free reign. I think you can see the interest and exploration written all over their faces. The best way to learn!

 

9. FAVOURITE BLOGGING OPPORTUNITY

I was delighted to attend 2016’s Inspirefest. It certainly lived up to its name, I am still talking about the event and looking forward to attending again this year. If you are thinking about it at all, I would highly recommend it. Here is a little of what 2016’s event offered.

 

10. BEST MOMENT

I was delighted to make it to the finals in the Irish Blog Awards (Science and Education Category) and had a fantastic time at the Circus themed Awards in September. My best blogging moment came however on 28th September when I won the Best Education Blog category in the Web Awards! All parents out there know how life with kids never goes as planned; so instead of hearing the news from the Award ceremony itself, I found out via twitter while putting a sick child to bed! Still, the celebratory ‘happy dance’ that the whole family did in the hall when I let out a shriek of delight makes a particularly wonderful memory for me for 2016.

2016

 

11. FAVOURITE INFOGRAPHIC

I love doing posts with infographics and although I didn’t do as many I would have like in 2016, I still did a good few. Perhaps my favourite is this one… Do bugs fart? I created this infographic while my kids played outside this Summer and I heard their question come through the open door. True story! It is a simple, quick post but there are some cool facts included. And again, it surprises me how this too seems to be a common question for google! I guess we all really need to know!

12. FAVOURITE ANIMAL FEATURED ON THE BLOG

Regular readers will know that I often do a series called ‘Mystery Creature’ where I post a photo of an unusual creature and readers guess what it is. At the end of the week I post the answer and a bit of information about the animal.

I have featured some amazing creatures over the years but perhaps my favourite from 2016 is this one… the Epaulette Shark, a shark that can actually walk on land!

Epaulette_shark_camden

 

We also have a fondness for frogs in this house. These little creatures are absolutely amazing! Although this post deals with a type of animal, rather than just one frog, it is another favourite in the animal section. These fifteen frog facts may just blow your mind!

 

13. FAVOURITE WRITE UP

Looking back over 2016 I am delighted that Dr. How’s Science Wows has featured many times in the media, in print, radio and TV and for that I am very grateful. It was nice to feature on the Nuacht in November as I brought my Science of Sound Workshop around schools in Galway for the Science and Technology Festival.

It also made me smile as I was quoted in an article all about the Science of Love for Valentines day!

Irish Mail on Sunday

But my favourite media mention this year was this one… Meadhbh Mc Grath highlighted another side of blogging in the Irish Independent Magazine in November and I was delighted to be included (with a lovely photo with my youngest as we play with slime!).

independent

 

14.  A HIGHLIGHT OF 2016

You could argue that this one belongs in 2015 as that is when I did the work for it; I am talking about the children’s science programme ‘Is Eolaí Mé’. I was delighted to work on this 22 part series for Irish television, working with the amazing team at Fibín Media. As scriptwriter and consultant I got to be part of many elements of the show which was just a fantastic experiment. And finally, in September 2016 I got to sit down with my family and watch the programme on Cúla 4, TG4 for the very first time. I really loved every part of the experience and I honestly feel this is a great resource for school, educators and families. You can check out the full series herehere.

15. MOST COMMON THEME

I definitely don’t think I had a common theme this year. I did try a lot of new things and there was a lot of change for Dr. How’s Science Wows so I guess I would use two words… EXPERIMENTATION and CHANGE!

 

16. WHAT THE BLOG HAS BROUGHT ME IN 2016

In a year of flux and change the blog has been a constant. It is always a place to come back to when I am unsure of the next step. Over the years it has allowed me to develop my writing and expand my knowledge but, last year in particular, it allowed me expand into new, uncharted waters, while still providing a safe harbour when I needed it. Most of all, as I realised when I first started to write this post, it has provided me with a place to document and busy and adventurous year.

Here is hoping 2017 will allow some of these new adventures to move to the next level!

Happy New Year and thanks for reading, engaging, supporting and following along with the journey!

******

This post is part of a wonderful linky set up by Where Wishes come from. Click the badge below to check out her beautiful blog and all the other posts sharing their 16 from ’16.

life-is-likea-cup-of-tea

Our Netflix favourites to see out one year and start the next

Our Netflix favourites to see out one year and start the next

Netflix, you surpassed yourself in 2016! If you haven’t seen these already, we highly recommend them!

For the Adults

Stranger Things

If you haven’t seen it, why not? Our favourite viewing of 2016. It took every restraint not to binge watch but it was a delight to sit down to every night. The eight part series follows the adventures of a group of children, trying to find their missing friend, and the mysterious events and people they encounter along the way. A fantastic supernatural tale not to be missed. If you haven’t seen it then change that quick, before the year is over!

netflix-stranger-things

Sense 8

This was the kind of series we could really get into and it was a really good seasonal treat to find that Netflix released a two hour Sense 8 special that would make great viewing for a cozy New Year night in, if you have watched the series so far then see what your favourite characters get up to as the New Year approached.

“The journey continues as these eight singular hearts and minds weave in and out of each other’s lives finding deeper connections, learning darker, more desperate secrets about one another and struggling to identify with more than just oneself.”

The OA

This just seemed to appear out of nowhere just in time for Christmas. A scifi, supernatural series that begins with the return of the main character, Prairie, who had been missing for seven years. Where was she, what happened to her, and most of all, how can she suddenly see when she was blind when she disappeared. Another Netflix gem, we loved it! Go watch it quickly so you can join in all the chat and buzz around this great series.

Lucy

I think I would watch anything with Morgan Freeman in it, but add in Scarlett Johansson and written and directed by Luc Besson and the movie is bound to entertain. An action, scifi movie that we have watched twice already.

“A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.”

The Siege of Jadotville

Another great movie. I was a bit unsure about this one as I don’t like war movies but the action, drama and story of this made me very glad I watched it. The  movie tells the true story of how 150 Irish men held out against 3000 mercenaries. Another one we highly recommend (once you can tune out some dodgy Irish accents!).

jadotville

For the children:

Troll Hunters

A new series that the children are loving. It can be hard to find something that appeals to all three at once but this animation really seems to fit the bill.

King Julien (Series 4)

Another series of King Julien was released and had all the humour and entertainment of the previous series. I have to admit, I tend to find myself sitting with the kids and watching it too.

Horrible Histories

My children have watched these over and over again. They can quote them at this stage but that seems to add to the charm. A fantastic way to get your children interested in history!

Into the Woods

An imaginative amalgamation of a number of different fairy tales all rolled into one, with plenty of singing added in for good measure. My 12 year old loved it!

into-the-woods

Annie (The 2014 version)

We watched the new version of Annie over the Christmas and loved it. Some of the adults preferred the original but it is still well work watching. The story follows a very story line as the original Annie along with many of the favourite musical pieces.

The Netflix Kids Count Down for New Year

countdowntrollhunter This is one of the great things about Netflix, their New Year count down for the kids, so they can see in the New Year and still make it to bed before midnight. There are a large amount of kids favourites to choose from this year. The choice includes project MC, Beat Bugs, Puffin Rock, Fuller House, Chasing Cameron and Skylanders. All good choices although I think in our house it is a toss up between King Julien and Troll Hunters.

******

Whatever you will be doing, or watching as the 2016 comes to a close, we wish you a very Happy, Healthy and Science filled 2017!

Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix Stream Team I have received a years subscription to Netflix, free of charge, and an Apple TV, for streaming purposes. As part of Netflix Stream Team I will be posting monthly updates on what we are watching and what is on offer.  All opinions expressed will be my own.

Netflix Stream Team – five documentary recommendations

Netflix Stream Team – five documentary recommendations

We all love a series or a good movie and Netlfix delivers both, but sometimes it is nice to get stuck into a good documentary and there are plenty on offer, covering a wide range of topics. Here are some we have really enjoyed and would recommend.

Between the folds

This one a great one to watch this week as it is Maths Week and there are mathematical applications to the art of folding paper. This documentary on Origami is more interesting that you might imagine and really covered every angle, the art, the craft, the mathematics and the engineering. Definitely one to watch.

Valley uprising

A very interesting documentary about rock climbing in Yosemite National Park. This started as a trend in the 60’s and became an almost cult like phenomenon. The documentary takes a look at the challenges that were set, the amazing feats that were achieved, interviews with many of the original climbers and a look at how the sport, and the equipment, changed over the years.

The Barkley Marathon

Another documentary on an extreme outdoor pursuit this follows a yearly marathon challenge – otherwise known as ‘the race that eats its young!’. As the event has grown in popularity people come from all over the world, to see if they can complete the course in the designated 60 hours. There are many years that no-one completes it at all, but take a look and see if any records were broken during the documentary.

A Girl Like Her

This wasn’t a real documentary at all, but it was filmed in that documentary style, a movie that masquerades as a documentary. It follows the story of a girl who is being bullied at high school and takes a look at the event from both perspectives – the bullied and the bully. Although not based on true facts, it was thought provoking and does give a little more insight into a real life problem for many teens today.

Trees of life

A lovely take on trees in the African wildlife, their intricate relationship with the animals around them and how both animals and trees influence and rely on each other.

trees-of-life

 

Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix Stream Team I have received a years subscription to Netflix, free of charge, and an Apple TV, for streaming purposes. As part of Netflix Stream Team I will be posting monthly updates on what we are watching and what is on offer.  All opinions expressed will be my own.

New Kids’ Science TV show – Is Eolaí Mé

New Kids’ Science TV show – Is Eolaí Mé

I am delighted to tell you that Is Eolaí Mé is starting next Tuesday 20th September, on Cúla 4, TG4, at 17.25pm. It has been almost a year since filming of the show wrapped, you can take a look at my behind the scenes account here. As consultant and script writer on the show, I am extremely excited to be able to finally watch it on TV.

Here is a little preview…

What to expect

Each show will be jam packed with lots of amazing Science. The presenters, Una and Peadar will explore a different theme each week… and explore is definitely the right word to use; they will be out and about finding fun ways that science is used in real life. From rocket launching to surviving an indoor storm and so much more in between. I

Is Eolaí Mé is presented by Peadar Ó Goill & Úna Ní Fhlatharta and produced by Fíbín.

Each week Una will be joined by a group of children, keen to help her roaming reporting on the science topic of the day.

iemuna2cnamharlach

When Peadar is not out testing his endurance skills in the name of science, he will be in his amazing loft lab, testing theories, trying out the latest experiments and even sharing ones to do at home.

iempeadar1

Peadar will be joined in his loft by some amazing young scientists who are always up for the adrenaline-pumped science challenge of the day.

Then there are the antics of An t-Ollamh Ullamh and his reluctant side-kick, Aodh, that will definitely add an hilarious comic angle to each programme.

And all that is only the tip of the iceburg, you will be amazed at just how much science is packed into the half-hour programme. So set your alarm clocks, tell your parents and teachers and get ready for kick off next Tuesday! The show will air twice a week, for double the fun; Tuesdays and Thursday at 17.25, and, of course, also available on TG4/Cúla 4 player.

I’ll leave you with this little video… showing Peadar running across a bath of white liquid! How does he do it? You’ll have to tune in to find out!

Check it out… Is Eolaí Mé, every Tuesday and Thursday, 17.25 on Culá 4, TG4. Starting 20th September, 2016.

 

 

Netflix Stream Team – a family pick of scifi, history and humour

Netflix Stream Team – a family pick of scifi, history and humour

So far this Irish Summer has been a bit of a washout. As I type, the wind is howling and the rain is sheeting down. We brave it when we can, and, when we can’t, we come up with indoor activities to amuse us. Sometimes though, there is nothing for it but to take out the blankets and turn on Netflix.

Here are some of our viewing recommendations this Summer. I’ve noticed a bit of a trend when comparing the adults choices to the children’s… both seem to include scifi, history and humour – not a bad mix!

THE CHILDREN

Scifi – the  children were delighted to see Guardians of the Galaxy come to Netflix (this movie has a 12s rating) and it has already served them well as a ‘movie night’ option with friends.

Tech – We have introduced a bit more coding in the house this Summer, after a wonderful introduction from Galway’s Coderdojo classes. The children have loved the hour of code and have completed the Minecraft and StarWars challenges. This has sparked their coding imagination, and now they have found Gaming show (in my parents’ garage) they are completely hooked.

Gaming show IMPG

HistoryHorrible Histories is a constant entertainer in this house, even the adults have watched most of the episodes. It is amazing how the children are quoting historic facts, learned from the programme. When they finish the series they just start again from the beginning.

Humour – Apart from the giggles they get from Horrible Histories, the children are also loving the newest series of King Julien. I often pop my head in the room to find three laughing children snuggled on the couch.

THE ADULTS

Scifi – we stumbled across a scifi film called Push and loved it. It certainly deserves more than the three stars it currently has in the rating. The movie is about people with special powers, some can read minds, see the future, implant memories in people’s heads and move objects with their minds. And when the good guys and the bad guys have similar talents the story line keeps moving at quite a pace.

History – I am lucky if I get near the remote control these nights, since the second series of Marco Polo arrived on Netflix my husband has been binge watching. He is curious about the Mongol empire and enjoys the way the drama is portrayed.

Humour – The full second series of Better Call Saul is now available on Netflix. Although the plot thickens and the story gets a little darker, there is still plenty of the humour that so impressed us from the first series.

bettercallsaul

Image credit: Ben Leuner/Netflix

Regardless of what we watch, we usually round off the night’s viewing with a good belly-laughing episode of The Big Bang; It is consistently brilliant!

******

Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix Stream Team I have received a year’s subscription to Netflix, free of charge, and an Apple TV, for streaming purposes. As part of Netflix Stream Team I will be posting regular updates on what we are watching and what is on offer.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Inspirefest 2016 – inspiration from the cradle up!

Inspirefest 2016 – inspiration from the cradle up!

Inspirefest 2016 was a creative, innovative and diverse conference full of wonderful role models to inspire future generations in STEAM

I have just returned from an amazing event. If you have been anywhere near me in the last few days you will know how much this event has inspired me, moved me and changed me, because I have not stopped talking about it! The event was Inspirefest, and it certainly lived up to its name!

Through a series of wonderful and diverse speakers, the audience were entertained and amazed. We laughed, we gasped and we even shed some tears.

The event covered a wide number of topics over two days, from tech to fashion, to diversity, to finance, to communication and so much more in between. There is so much to talk about, to share, but I have decided to focus on one particular element – a subject close to my heart – inspiring STEAM in children of all ages.

 

WEARABLE TECH

We got an introduction to this from the onset, when Noel Murphy from Intel brought his two daughters on the stage to give us a musical demonstration using wearable tech. It is mind blowing to think that computing has shrunk so much that a tiny chip can be placed in clothing and jewellery, allowing us to perform tasks with the simple movement of our bodies. Aishling and Orla gave us all a bit of a laugh as they played music by simply moving their limbs.

Inspirefest - intel - wearable tech

Aishling and Orla helping dad, Noel Murphy, demonstrate some applications of wearable tech.

BEYOND 12

Alex Bernadotte shocked us with the revelation that we can predict, with a fair amount of accuracy, the life trajectory of an 18 month old child, based solely on their ZIP code. That is a very sobering thought. Only 9% of students from the lower income families will achieve a bachelor’s degree by their mid-twenties. We need to redress the balance. We need to make STEAM available to children regardless of sex, ethnicity, religion or social background. We need to provide support, inspiration and the right role models. That is why Alex set up Beyond 12.

Alex shared her own personal story of a life that began in Haiti and attaining her goal of a place in an Ivy league College. The reality, however, was that it got a lot harder from there, with no family experience of such a lifestyle; without personal role models and practical support, she really struggled to stay on track, physically, academically and emotionally. Beyond 12 was set up to bridge the gap between the education systems, to redress the balance of college attendance among lower income students and to provide real-life role models and support systems for those who do achieve these goals.

 

OUTBOX INCUBATOR

Throughout the conference, there were many examples of positive role model, perhaps none more so than Mary Carty, co-founder of Outbox Incubator. Mary really impressed us with her passion and drive. She noticed that, too often, STEAM was considered a ‘boys only’ club. She saw the amazing potential in so many young girls, so many of our daughters, our nieces, our friends. Together with Anne-Marie Imafidon, Mary stopped talking and started doing. She set up Outbox Incubator and last year, 115 girls from six countries came together to learn, share, inspire, create and find like-minded people, just like them. Girls like 13-year-old Niamh Scanlon .

 

EU DIGITAL GIRL OF THE YEAR (2015)

Niamh Scanlon took to the stage herself, and, with calm and confidence, shared what the outbox experience really meant to her. She told us about the apps she has developed…  two so far… one to allow e-car owners locate the nearest  available charge point and one for journalists, to allow them interview and connect with people in different time zones (with a video option included, what an amazing idea?). Listening to Niamh talk, I don’t think there is any doubt that all her innovative concepts will come to fruition through her own creation, determination, and optimism.  It is clear, however, than Outbox Incubator has provided her with all the right tools for these, and future endeavours, as well as a strong and supportive network.

There are many more girls like Niamh – such as Edel Browne, Vanessa Greene and Elle Loughran, all of whom formed a discussion panel on the future generation of innovators. Our future is in good hands!

Inspirefest - Next generation - outbox - panel

"The Next Generation" Panel (L to R): Edel Browne, Elle Loughran, Vanessa Greene, Mary Carty, Naimh Scanlon and Anne O' Dea

 

SOFT ROBOTICS

This one really made me sit upright in my chair. Dónal Holland of Soft Robotics Toolkit explained the latest developments in soft robotics and their medical applications. I liked it from the onset because Dónal showed us some soft robotics bases on balloons and simple plastic meshing (my kind of science!). What I really like about Soft Robotics is their outreach initiative… they have developed the Soft Robotics Toolkit, a free on-line resource allowing anyone develop their own soft robotic device.

But they didn’t stop there; they looked for feedback and when they realised that children were using this technology – they went back to the drawing board, adapting and innovating so that their information could be used with simple, available materials. They changed the tools in their toolbox. Now children all over the world are making robots with cardboard and glue; at this stage, I was practically bouncing on my seat.

This is amazing, this is inspiring… and this is what we will be doing this Summer!

 

“Innovation is a blend of creativity that exists in those that can see beyond what is currently available” Zoe Philpott, Inspirefest 2016.

 

POSITIVE ROLE MODELS

Brenda Romero from Romero Games gave a very entertaining talk. For the most part, Brenda drew laughter, but at one point she brought tears to our eyes. She told us how her daughter, as a seven-year-old, was told by a group of boys that she couldn’t play games… she was a girl! She had the perfect quip – not only could she play games very well, but her mother designed them! (What a perfect example of a positive role model for young girls.)

But this wasn’t what brought the tear to our eyes… Brenda showed us a card her daughter had made for her around that time, saying how she wanted to make a game with her mum one day. Then Brenda announced that her daughter, now 12, is going to be making that game this Summer with her mum, as a little project together. (I’ll pause while you go get a tissue!)

Brenda’s story made me think a lot about how my own children perceive the world; I’m a mother of two boys and one girl. I want STEAM to be available to all my children, and all children out there, regardless of age, sex, race, culture, demographic or religion. Do my kids think they can or can’t do things, just because of their sex?

I asked them!

Firstly, I shared the story of what the boys said to Brenda’s daughter when she was seven. Their jaws dropped (and I felt very proud of the fact that this shocked them all!).

Secondly, I asked them what they wanted to be when they grow up….

My daughter: an author and illustrator

My older son: a graphic designer and engineer who designs superhero characters

My younger son: same as his big brother… and a scientist

They certainly didn’t seem to see any barriers in the way of their aspirations and dreams. The only thing I realised after asking the question, was that my question was wrong; I was asking them what they want TO BE… but each of my children told me what they were ALREADY. My daughter has enough books written and illustrated to fill a library; my engineering son has folders full of superhero designs and my little scientist? Well, anyone who follows me on Facebook will know that he is always doing experiments, raiding my supplies and overshadowing me in our videos.

I will leave you with one last example of a positive role model, one that encourage kids to embrace individuality, enjoy their childhood and embark on meaningful adventures. It comes in the form of a doll. This doll is 18 cm high, she looks like a child… because she is for children! She can stand on her own two feet, because we all want our children to be able to do that. She can be anything she wants to be… an archaeologist, a ballerina, a kite-flyer, a superhero.

Her name is Lottie… and, inspired by a six year old girl called Abigail, she is the first doll in space. I’ll leave you with this video by Elena Rossini, telling Lottie’s story (you way want to reach for those tissues again).

For me, this sums up so much of what Inspirefest was all about – inspiration from the cradle up!

Disclosure: I received tickets to attend Inspirefest 2016; all opinions expressed are my own.

 

Netflix Stream Team – Some current family favourites

Netflix Stream Team – Some current family favourites

We had no Wifi…. I’ll pause there for dramatic effect!

……….

Can you imagine? A lightning strike knocked us out, so we had no internet, no on-line work access and…. NO NETFLIX!  There were tears!

Luckily it all got sorted and we are back on-line and almost feel we are entitled to some binge viewing, just to catch up. So what have we been watching?

THE ADULTS

We were delighted to see the new episodes of Better Call Saul arriving and jumped straight in. It is looking good but the next episode can’t come fast enough. I believe there should be one new one every week (on a Tuesday). We loved the first series and can’t wait to see what poor old Jimmy gets up to next.

We are big fans of Eastern films and loved Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, so when Sword of Destiny arrived on Netlfix we had to check it out. It was a good movie, not as good as Crouching Tiger, but I’d still recommend it.

Another great arrival to Netflix is the Downton Abbey series. We got completely hooked on the box set, but had only seen four series. Now we have found series five on Netflix we have our viewing sorted for the foreseeable future. So far it is still as wonderful as we remembered it.

When we just want something light to watch before bed we have hit on the perfect solution; we have started watching The Big Bang Theory … right from the beginning. It is 20 minutes of guaranteed laughs and the scientist in me gets an extra kick out of their self-depreciating, nerdy humour.

I love a good ‘detective’ type series, especially if there is some science involved. I’ve dipped in and out of the Silent Witness series on Netflix, which isn’t bad, but, even better is Lie to Me series. We have just started into it but already love it. A fictitious series based on the real-life science of interpreting facial expressions that tell what we say is what we really mean.

I have mentioned how much I loved the Grace and Frankie series in a previous post so I was delighted to see that Neflix will be releasing the second series on 6th of May… That’s only three more sleeps!!

 

THE CHILDREN

The children have now watched every Fuller House episode and have decided to return to the original Full House series too.

They have really enjoyed rewatching some old favourites like Hotel Transylvania, A series of unfortunate events and The Spiderwick Chronicles.

They are currently watching The Little Vampire, in small daily installments and have plans to watch Astro boy for a movie night during their mid term break.

 

FAMILY VIEWING

We were hit by a nasty tummy bug recently. When myself and my daughter found ourselves convalescing on the couch instead of heading off to a family get together, we compensated with an afternoon of Netflix. First up we watched Brave, a wonderful movie no matter how many times you watch it, and appropriate enough for some Mum and daughter time.

Then we watched Ella Enchanted; I have to say, I really enjoyed it. An interesting variation of the classic Cinderella story with plenty of humour and lots of girl-power to boot.

Ella Enchanted

 

And that about sums up what everyone in the Science Wows house has been watching of late. Netflix have a lot more great series and movies coming on-line soon so stay tuned for more of our recommendations.

******

Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix Stream Team I have received a years subscription to Netflix, free of charge, and an Apple TV, for streaming purposes. As part of Netflix Stream Team I will be posting regular updates on what we are watching and what is on offer.  All opinions expressed are my own.

 

 

 

 

Netflix Stream Team – our top Science and Nature viewing

Netflix Stream Team – our top Science and Nature viewing

Sometimes it is hard to agree on what to watch when we finally sit down and someone gets hold of the controls. I love that Netflix gives everyone their own profile, a glimpse into what we are each watching, and a look at how different each family member is! So, there is often a bit of conflict about who gets to pick their favourite.

When we reach an impasse we always have a solution, everyone loves a good science or nature programme, and there are always plenty to choose from. Here are five that we recommend:

1. Cooked:

This one is top of my ‘must watch’ list, and brand new to Netflix UK; it combines cooking and science, two of my favourite things;

Each of the series’ four episodes examines one of the physical elements used throughout the ages to transform raw ingredients into delicious dishes: fire, water, air, and earth. Cooked takes viewers on a visually stunning journey to meet, among others: an Aboriginal tribe in Western Australia that fire-roasts Australian monitor lizards, a Connecticut Benedictine nun and microbiologist who makes traditional French cheese, Peruvian brewers who use human saliva to ferment a traditional beverage, and an ancient Moroccan granary powered by rivers. Each episode also returns to Pollan cooking in his Berkeley, California, kitchen, appetizingly delivering his core message that, surrounded as we are by fast food culture and processed foods, cooking our own meals is the single best thing we can do to take charge of our health and well-being.

 

2. TED Talks: Let your mind wonder

I love TED talks and there are plenty to watch on Netflix but this one, in particular, has caught my eye, it seems to have STEM covered with this lovely visual and animated series. Each episode is short and consise and covers diverse topics from “is there really aliens?” to “should we eat bugs?”. It is great for dipping into for five minutes, or sharing with the children, often answering a question they may have already asked!

TEDEd-let your mind wonder

 

3.Maiden Trip

To sail around the world is quite a feat, to do it solo is even more impressive, but to be just 14 years old is an amazing achievement. Maiden Trip is an inspiring documentary charting the two-year voyage of Laura Dekker as she followed her dream and became the youngest person to sail around the world.

 

4. Blackfish

If you haven’t seen this one yet it is definitely worth watching. This documentary follows the real life drama of an orca in captivity in Sea life and the devestating effect captivity has on his life and the lives of others.

 

5. AntarticEdge – 70 degrees South

A sobering but interesting documentary charting the research carried out at the Antartic by a varied group of scientists, shedding a realistic light on the real levels od global warming!

******

Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix Stream Team I have received a years subscription to Netflix, free of charge, and an Apple TV, for streaming purposes. As part of Netflix Stream Team I will be posting monthly updates on what we are watching and what is on offer.  All opinions expressed will be my own.