Science Club – Nervous System

Week Six – Nervous System

Arrival Craft: Paper brain model from Scholastic model book.


Introduction: Our brains are the control systems of our bodies. They collect information from all over our bodies and send messages back.

We use special cells to carry these messages around, does anyone know what these cells are called?

They are neuron cells.

The central part of the neuron – a long thin body – is called the axon, and it is covered with myelin sheath, which is a fatty tissue that works as an electrical insulator.

Neurons have two ends: a receiving end with dendrites and a transmitting end called the axon terminal.

There is a cell body with a nucleus in the middle of the dendrites.

Individual task: Make neurons out of pipecleaners PipecleanerNeurons

Gather Together: Does anyone know how our nerves get information back to our brains for processing?

Nerves send messages using electrical signals, these travel up the spinal cord to the brain stem.

Does anyone know where our spinal cord is?

Show on the anatomy model.

Individual task: Give out polystyrene people, so the children can put brains and spinal cords onto their models. Brains

Break for drink and snack – Try to ice brains and spinal cords onto gingerbread cookies!

Regroup: Does anyone know the names of any of the parts of the brain? Look at the brain model together.  Name the parts as you take them out, then ask the children to try and put them back in place.

I haven’t got human brains for us to dissect, I have sheep brains instead. Can anyone guess which part of the brain is much smaller on a sheep? The Cerebellum which is used for learning and co-ordination. Can anyone guess which part of the brain is larger on a sheep? The olfactory bulb, which is used for processing scents.

Individual task: Dissect brains. Children can look at pictures and try to identify regions of the brain.

Science club – Circulatory System

Week Five – Circulatory System

Arrival Craft: Paper heart from Scholastic model book.

Introduction: Today we’re looking at the circulatory system. Does anyone know what the circulatory system does?

The circulatory system moves blood around our bodies. What organ pumps all the blood around our bodies?

The heart is a big muscle that pumps blood around our bodies.

Does anyone know where their heart is?

If children are unsure, ask a volunteer to find the heart on the anatomy model.

Individual task: Children can make hearts out of plasticine and put them on paper people. body 

Gather Together: We’re going to do something a little bit different today. I have several activities that we can only really do one or two at a time. So, I’m going to put a different activity on each table. When you finish with the activity on your table move around to the next table. Everyone will get a chance to do everything and, when we’ve all visited all the tables, we’ll have snack time.

Set up microscope on one table so children can look at blood cells.

Set up heart models on another table so children can look at the hearts, take them apart and put them back together.

Set up blood pressure monitor and stethoscope on another table so children can have a go at taking their blood pressure and listening to one another’s hearts. bloodpressure

Set up CPR dummy on another table so that children can practice CPR. (These can be pretty pricey, but they make inflatable ones now, which the kids love see details here.)

Break for drink and snack.

Gather Together: What is our blood for?

There are four main components of blood and they each have their own job: red cells transport oxygen, white cells fight viruses, platelets build scabs, plasma transports nutrients and hormones.


Individual task: Make models of blood, using sweets to represent the different types of blood cells. bloodcells

Science club – Respiratory System

Week Four – Respiratory System

As children arrive, ask them to measure their lung capacity and their height, then plot both of these on a graph.

Arrival Craft: Paper respiratory system from Scholastic model book.


Introduction: As you arrived, I hope that you were able to test your ‘peak flow’ and measure your height.

I wanted to test to see if there was a correlation between height and peak flow.

Let’s look at our results (talk about strong and weak correlation).

We’re going to make two model lungs together. We’re going to put one into each of these bowls.

The first one is very easy to make and I’m going to make it all by myself, I’m going to blow up this big balloon.

The second one is a bit fiddly, so, I’m going to need your help. I need you to each inflate a small balloon – try to make it as round as you can, then work out the volume and the surface area of your balloon and write it on the big board. lungs

A=4πrsquared; V=4/3πrcubed; C=2πr

(for surface area, divide by six, square it, times by 12; for volume, divide by six, cube, times by four).

Finally, I’m going to give you a puzzle to think about, how can we blow out hot air when we want to warm our hands and cold air when we want to cool soup?

Individual Task: Blowing hot and cold experiment. blowingexpt

Break for drink and snack

Gather Together: While you were having your snack, I worked out the total volume and surface area of our two lung models.

Which model has the biggest surface area? Which one has the biggest volume?

Which one looks most like the structure of our real lungs?

Let’s have another look at the body apron. Would someone like to come and wear it so we can see where our lungs are?

Once a child is wearing the apron, ask them to identify the lungs and the trachea.

Final Activity: We have looked at blowing hot and cold air, but I would like to finish with one last experiment. If you take a straw and blow through it onto your hand, will it feel hot or cold?

Give out straws. Ask children to hold the straw just a few millimetres from their hand then blow through it.

Does it feel hot or cold?

I found that if I hold the straw very close to my hand and blow hard, it feels hot directly under the straw, but cold all around the edges.

Science club – Digestive system

Week Two – Digestive System

Arrival Craft: Paper digestive system from Scholastic model book

Introduction: What does our digestive system do?

It reduces food to simpler parts, then distributes it around our body as required.

Does anyone know how we get food from our intestines into the parts of our bodies that need it? We use something very clever called osmosis.

Osmosis is basically about fairness. Substances move from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration. Just like, if I gave this table a big bowl of sweets and no sweets to the other tables, this table would share the sweets out until everyone had the same amount.

Our bodies don’t need to work for osmosis to happen, it doesn’t take any energy. Things just move from where there’s lots of them to where there isn’t much.

If I put a drop of very sugary water into this bowl of plain water, what will happen? The sugar will spread out until all the water is equally sugary.

That happens in our bodies, and it’s a very important part of how we get food from our mouths to the rest of our cells.

We’re going to do an experiment to show how osmosis happens in our digestive system.

I’ve got three liquids here. I have plain water, sugary water and starchy water.

They all look pretty much the same.

Does anyone know how we can tell if water has glucose in it?

Does anyone know how we can tell if water has starch in it? (We covered this a while ago in our food week, so some of the children remembered.)

I also have some sausage skins. They’re made of something very like your small intestines.

You can see that water cannot get through the sausage skins. It doesn’t drip out.

But, there are tiny holes in the skins and some molecules – which are smaller than water molecules – can get out.

You’re going to do an experiment to discover whether glucose or starch can get through the sausage skins.

Individual Task – Set up sausage skins filled with glucose and starch mixture. Immerse them in water. Test to see if starch and/or glucose can get through the sausage skin. sausageskinexpt


Second Half: Show anatomy model.

Our digestive system is divided into several parts. It moves from our mouths all the way down to our bottoms. Get a child to wear the digestive system apron (I found this online, it’s brilliant fun) and see if the other children can name all the organs of the digestive system.

Individual task: Give out plastic aprons and sticky-backed organ pictures so that the children can make their own digestive system aprons. digestivestickers

Science club – Skeletal system

I got a book for my birthday this is it, which provided photocopiable resources to make a paper anatomy model, so I thought it would be fun to spend some time working through that with our science group.

The first week was all about bones.

Week One – Skeletal System

Arrival Craft: Paper skeleton from Scholastic model book


Introduction: We’re going to be looking at human bodies for the next six weeks. We’re starting this week with the skeletal system. Does anyone know why our skeletons are important?

They give structure to our bodies.

Hopefully, you’ve all made a good start on making your paper skeletons. But, in real life our skeletons aren’t made of paper.

A joint is the point where two or more bones meet. There are three main types of joints; Fibrous (immoveable), Cartilaginous (partially moveable) and the Synovial (freely moveable) joint.

If our bones were all joined with sellotape, we would have flappy joints. Actually, our bodies have several types of joints. We’re going to make some models of them now.


Individual task:Make ball and socket, pivot and hinge joints, using materials from the Scholastic book.

Experiment to find where these different types of joints are on our bodies.



Break for drink and snack


Re-gather: Lay out the big skeleton picture.

Ask the children if they know the names of any of the bones. Lay the bone labels on the skeleton together.

Our bones can’t move by themselves. Does anyone know what we use to move our bones?

Skeletal Muscles move bones (smooth muscles are found in involuntary movements such as your stomach and your bladder; cardiac muscles are in your heart).

These fibrous tissue masses contract to pull bones in one direction, so they are found in pairs – so that you can move back again!


Individual task: Experiment to measure arm width when muscle is relaxed and contracted. MuscleExperiment


On messing up

I’m not a super-parent.

This is not me, since I am not a super hero.

In fairness, this is probably not much of a surprise to anyone but me.

I have made my fair share of mistakes in all other areas of my life, so there’s no reason why I wouldn’t make them in parenting too.

But, when I went into adoption, it was with the desire to help children. I saw myself as someone who would make things better, someone who could fix problems. I did training courses, read books, sought out experience with children with a variety of special needs, and tried to equip myself with extra skills. I wanted to be not just a parent, but a super-therapeutic-parent.

Shortly after my boys came home, I was talking to my dad on the phone, worrying about how I was doing. 

He said: don’t worry so much, everyone makes mistakes. 

And I replied: but, do many mistakes have already been made in these children’s lives. There isn’t room for me to make more. I have to get this right!

Of course, I didn’t stop making mistakes. What I did do was to feel horrendous about every little slip. Every time I didn’t want to play a game, or lost my cool, or ran out of apples; I felt awful. These children had been through so much already, they deserved better from me now!

I haven’t changed my mind about that.

My children are spectacular and they do deserve spectacular parents and a wonderful childhood.

But, I have realised that it’s a little bit more complicated than that.

Spectacular as they are, my children make some pretty big mistakes. They have made some poor choices in the time that they have lived with us. Some of which have backfired and hurt them.

It is not fun watching your children mess up and hurt themselves or others.

But, it’s part of the parenting gig. Sometimes my boys do the wrong thing. And, it’s my job to stand next to them and try to support them in cleaning up as much mess as they can.

I am beginning to see that my children don’t want me to be perfect. They want to see me make mistakes.

My children need to see me make mistakes, own up, and clean up the mess as best I can.

They need me to show the how it’s done. They need to see that mistakes are survivable.

How to survive mistakes and how to apologise with dignity: these are skills that my children definitely need.

So, for everyone’s sake, I try not to panic when I am in the wrong. I try to own up as quickly as I can. And, I hope that I can demonstrate how to cope with being imperfect.

It turns out that my dad was exactly right. All I really need to do is worry a bit less and accept that nobody’s perfect.

He was right and I was wrong. But, that’s ok.

Birds (again)


We’ve already had one session on birds here. But Middly has been doing the RSPB Wildlife Action Awards and, as part of this, he wanted to put on a play about birds at Science Club. So I set up another session on birds.
This time our opening craft came in two parts. Some children made masks for the bird play (see above) and others used card and split pins to make models showing the insides of developing eggs.


Middly and some of his friends performed Middly’s play about birds. BirdsPlay

We brought along some bird books so the children could try and decorate the outside of their eggs to resemble real bird eggs.
We finished off with dissecting owl pellets. I downloaded a sheet (from the RSPB) to help us identify the bones, which we found a bit tricky! But, it was lots of fun, even if some of the children found it ‘icky’. We soaked the pellets for forty minutes in cool water, then  I gave the children wooden skewers to tease apart the pellets, which worked really well.