Dr Jo Blogs

Are you loco about locomotives?

A review of a new STEM Railway magazine for young people
World of Rail Magazine Image Copyright J Webb
World of Rail: A mix of rail news and great articles
Science, Engineering, technology and much more for enquiring young minds

Whilst a slightly niche subject area, World of Rail is a new, small-scale special interest publication with the potential to include wider science and engineering appeal. 

“Welcome to the first issue of World of Rail, a magazine that explores the fascinating and exciting world of railways. It looks at the science, technology and engineering feats that have shaped, and continue to shape, the railways from around the world. In this first issue, the topics include how Japanese train technology has given the UK a fleet of fast and stylish trains, including a behind the scenes look at how they are built in a factory near Darlington. We also look at how trains are controlled and the quest for speed. In addition, there are news pages to keep you up to date with railway developments and a puzzle page”.

Jonathan Webb, Editor, World of Rail

What the slightly amateur layout lacks in polish, it makes up for with great photographs and abundant articles with general and specialist appeal, from cutting edge maglev and bullet trains to historical trams and steam engines and even rescuing animals on the line!

World of Rail Image Copyright J Webb

Following a popular format for young people’s magazines of interesting and informative articles, news, readers’ contributions and puzzles, the magazine also seeks to highlight and promote women and girls in STEM in particular, and is a source of informal careers information. World of Rail is aimed at 9-15 year olds, and whilst the writing is accessible – explaining complex concepts in a simple way – it doesn’t dumb down the content. The magazine is also peppered with extra interest fact boxes. Articles are comprehensive and would easily appeal to adults as well. 

This new magazine will definitely appeal to young people interested in trains and railways, but it also includes lots of STEM in a relevant and recognisable context which could be of wider interest. There are a number of STEM Ambassadors in the rail industry who also volunteer their time to share their skills and knowledge and enthuse children and young people about careers in engineering and technology. World of Rail is packed full of information and, whilst the subject matter might not be for everyone, it will entertain enthusiasts for hours!

World of Rail is available as a one off or subscription from Chime Whistle Publishing – who normally publish railway books and calendars. School subscription discounts are also available. www.chimewhistle.co.uk 

Having spotted my Best Magazines for Children blog post, I was sent a digital copy of this first issue of World of Rail magazine and asked to review it, but this post is #NotSponsored.

Whilst I normally only review things I have come across myself which I think may be of use, if anyone would like to send me wine or chocolate to review I would happily oblige! (other science-related paraphernalia also considered!).

The Best Children’s Science Magazines*

*according to Dr Jo

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time but things keep getting in the way! Now the end of term is well and truly here, I’m running out of excuses. If your little scientists are starting to get a little bored, these may make some great summer entertainment. This will be a useful review for teachers, parents and children alike, although they are just my opinions! 

My Top 3

I can’t separate these into gold, silver and bronze podium positions as they tick different boxes, so in no particular order….

Whizz Pop Bang

This colourful, engaging monthly magazine has an endearing cartoon style with facts and activities to do at home, making it accessible to younger readers but also includes relevant content extending up to key stage 3 (so suitable for 5-14 year olds, but probably aimed at the primary market). 

There are themes to each issue, with multiple articles and hands-on investigations to try, recurring cartoon characters and the ubiquitous back page with readers’ contributions in the form of questions, photos and pictures.

These are ever popular with children at home, in book corners and are great to send home with a laboratory notebook (and maybe even a few resources) as an alternative enriching treat to the class bear!

Available as a subscription as well as being able to purchase back editions and optional extras, including a binder to house them all in. Also available direct to schools as multiple class or group copies, including lesson plans and a special teacher area on the website including science club resources.

https://www.whizzpopbang.com

The Week Junior: Science + Nature

This magazine really does have something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in medicine, animals, conservation, space or materials science, each issue is packed with interesting articles and great photos to inspire and educate. 

Accessible without dumbing down, in true The Week Junior style, it informs without condescending and tackles difficult topics with sensitivity. Including information and ideas, experiments, posters, puzzles and readers’ questions are answered by expert scientists.

Available to buy individually and as subscription. Aimed at slightly older children (8-15 year olds).

https://sciencenature.theweekjunior.co.uk

How It Works

This one is definitely aimed at older children and teenagers, and grown-ups could learn a thing or two as well! It’s billed as an action-packed science and technology magazine and it doesn’t disappoint. Tackling topics from building super structures to gene editing and explaining CRISPR and CAS9 (a cutting edge technique only just being introduced as a topic at A level), it doesn’t shy away from the complex, but makes it accessible to interested older children. If they’ve grown out of children’s magazines but aren’t quite reading the journal Science yet, then this is thoroughly recommended for a wide range of interesting topics.

Available as a print or digital subscription. You can also purchase individual copies.

https://www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk/knowledge/how-it-works-magazine-subscription/

And special commendations also go to:

Aquila

Aquila magazine is available as a subscription only, direct from the publishers (although you can also buy back copies). Aquila is not strictly a science magazine, which is why it didn’t make the top 3! It is full of interesting science, history and general knowledge for inquisitive 8-13 years olds. Each issue has a theme and includes informative articles, investigations to carry out and things to do. It is not only well written but also beautifully curated. 

https://www.aquila.co.uk

National Geographic Kids

Nat Geo Kids is full of articles about the natural world, much like it’s grown up counterpart. It appeals to children curious about animals and the world around them. Full of quality photographs and interesting, informative articles. Not quite in the top 3 due to not covering such a broad spread of STEM topics.

There are also loads of facts and resources to access for free on the website.

https://www.natgeokids.com/uk/subscribeuk/

Curiosity box

This is not even a magazine, but I absolutely love what founder, Renée Watson, and her team are doing at Curiosity Box so I had to include them. Available as one-off or subscription Science Boxes for individuals and schools, with fab investigations and hands-on opportunities. During lockdown, the team have even been finding ways to get boxes to disadvantaged children in innovative ways to try to level the playing field and bring some equality to the world.

https://curiosity-box.net

I’d love to hear what you think of these, or if you’ve got a favourite science magazine for children that I haven’t mentioned. 

#NotSponsored #DrJoScience #ScienceEducation #PrimaryScience #STEMed #STEMeducation #TeachersFollowTeachers #HomeEducation #PriSci #ScienceAndLiteracy #ScienceTeaching #KS1 #KS2 #KS3 #ReadingForPleasure #ReadingRocks #PrimarySTEMChat #ASEChat #PrimaryRocks 

Daily Science Activities during partial school closures: The final! – Week 15, 16 and 17

As well as collating a collection of excellent websites, activities and resources for parents and teachers during the corona virus pandemic on the resources page of my website, I have also been posting daily science or STEM activities on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. I have posted ideas seven days a week, through the easter and half term holidays too, because science fun is for every day 😀.

Here are the posts from weeks fifteen, sixteen and seventeen all in one place! This is the final blog post in this series and marks the end of 4 months, 17 weeks, or 121 days, of lockdown science activities!

(You can find week one and two here , week 3 and 4 here , week 5 and 6 here,  week 7, 8 and 9 hereweeks 10 and 11 here and weeks 12, 13 and 14 here).

Here’s to summer!

Although I won’t be posting daily science activities during the summer holidays, there is still plenty of summer science to get involved with, including the Dr Jo Summer STE(A)M Club combining science with some added creativity for the holidays.

Day 99

Here’s another #KitchenScience investigation, this time looking at dancing raisins
Confuse the rules of floating and sinking and watch bubbles at work.
What’s happening? Why? Observe closely and let me know what you find.

Day 100

WOW! 100 days of lockdown science! Let’s celebrate with some chocolate 🍫 and make a model of the rock cycle
Schools may be out in Scotland and NI but we’re still here in England and Wales so the science continues!

Watch the video at https://youtu.be/rVbK9X79yic

Day 101

Invite butterflies into your garden or windowsill and provide a vital food source with this simple butterfly feeder ideas! 

Day 102

Create a playdough maze or marble run in a box or tray.
Have a competition to see how quickly you can get the ball from one end the other.
Could you use other materials? Or Add Letters or numbers to indicate a sequence or points scoring?

Day 103

[Push Pineapple] Shake a tree (gently) and find some bugs!
A great way to find out what’s about 🦋🐛
https://www.rspb.org.uk/…/family-w…/activities/shake-a-tree/

Day 104

Take a closer look at garden soil.
Soil is made from rock and organic material. Can you take a look and see if you’ve got a sandy, chalky, clay or rich soil. 
Observe closely, put a small amount in some water and leave to separate

Day 105

Investigate magnets! Find magnetic and non-magnetic materials.
Got a fridge magnet? See how many different things you can find that it sticks to. What materials are and aren’t magnetic? Make a list.

Day 106

Here’s some more #KitchenScience to make the best bubbles!
Can you make square bubbles? Big bubbles? Small bubbles? Long lasting bubbles? Lots of bubbles?
#BeCurious and have a go!

Day 107

Explore one of the 5 enquiry types with a pattern seeking investigation: Do bigger hands hold more?
Measure hand span and grab a handful of sweets/beads/blocks. Repeat 3 x to get an average result and compare.

Day 108

Create a home for wildlife with this mini wetland activity from @WWTworldwide 
🐸support biodiversity
🌍help slow down climate change
🕊️create networks for migrating species
💦essential for clean water
https://youtu.be/hzuG0MPv9YI 

Day 109

Explore the structure of DNA with this sweet model of the double helix, pairing A & T and G & C bases represented by jelly sweets!
https://www.yourgenome.org/activities/yummy-gummy-dna
Then look up the discoveries of Rosalind Franklin, James Watson and Francis Crick.

Day 110

Weigh some things! Estimate and then measure the mass of a variety of objects from around the house. Can you predict which will be the lightest and heaviest?

Day 111

Investigate static electricity by rubbing a balloon!
What happens if you rub two balloons on a wooly jumper and then bring the balloons close together?? 

Day 112

Head to the kitchen today to investigate the wonder of a little microorganism that makes a huge difference to bread, beer, wine, champagne and (love it or hate it!) @marmite 
Observe the effect of respiration – add yeast, water and flour.

Day 113

The Royal Society #SummerScience Exhibition brings cutting edge research to the public and has gone digital this year. This is me presenting at the VIP evening a couple of years ago!
Check out the programme here
https://royalsociety.org/…/2020/summer-science-o…/programme/

Day 114

The BigBang Fair has gone digital this year.
Check out lots of workshops, live polls and Q&A sessions throughout the day
www.digitalbigbang.co.uk

Day 115

Combine some STEM and Geography skills by observing, measuring, drawing to scale, finding North and creating a map of your local area, garden, park, school, classroom or bedroom!

Day 116

51 years ago today, Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Centre. To celebrate, here’s a stop motion video recreation of the moon landing using Oreos 🌕🚀👨‍🚀
Why not create a stop motion video or comic to describe some science today?

Day 117

Get involved with one of my favourite #CitizenScience projects with the #BigButterflyCount starting today (17th July) until 9th August 
You just need to watch for 15 minutes and record the 🦋 you see
www.bigbutterflycount.butterfly-conservation.org 

Day 118

Day 119

Day 120

Day 121

And for the grand finale……let’s celebrate the end of term, the end of 4 months – or 121 days – of daily lockdown science activities with a bit of exploding fizzy drink! You could try different types, different temperatures and different sugar contents too. Does it make a difference?

And that’s a wrap! I hope you’ve enjoyed these science activities. Keep investigating and stay safe!

#ScienceFromHome #HomeSchooling #HomeSchooling2020 #HomeLearning #RemoteLearning #BeCurious #DrJo #DrJoScience #DistanceLearning #LockdownLearning #SchoolClosuresUK #PrimaryScience #STEM #STEMclub #ScienceClub #STEMed #STEMeducation #ScienceEducation #EduTwitter #ChemistryInYourCupboard #KitchenScience #KitchenChemistry #Moon #Craters #Clangers #GreatSciShare #GlobalScienceShow #STEMfromHome #Nature #BugHunt #LeafID #ScavengerHunt #ScienceFromYourGarden 

Join in with more science fun to come. Follow me on social media or why not sign up to my weekly online science club?

twitter.com/DrJoScience

instagram.com/DrJoscience

facebook.com/DrJoScience

Daily Science Activities during partial school closures – Week 12, 13 and 14

As well as collating a collection of excellent websites, activities and resources for parents and teachers during the corona virus pandemic on the resources page of my website, I’m also posting a daily science or STEM activity on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. I’m posting ideas seven days a week, through the easter holiday too, because science fun is for every day 😀.

Here are the posts from weeks twelve, thirteen and fourteen all in one place! 

(You can find week one and two here , week 3 and 4 here , week 5 and 6 here,  week 7, 8 and 9 here and weeks 10 and 11 here).

Day 78

It’s #WorldOceansDay Find out more and help to #SaveOurSeas#ProtectOurHome at http://ow.ly/3a8A50zR43f and watch an episode of Blue Planet 🌎 for some secondary research
http://ow.ly/Q6P150zR43e

Day 79

Part 3 of the #KitchenScience #ScienceFromHome series of activities. Revisit relative densities in this activity to float different liquids on top of each other. Then, can you find objects which will float on each layer? Can you predict what will happen?

Day 80

Round the (lockdown) world in 80 Days has got to be all about #HotAirBalloons!
Find out about the science science.howstuffworks.com/…/flig…/modern/hot-air-balloon.htm then make one of these flying tea bags like @TheCuriosityBox’s @reneewatson77 
twitter.com/reneewatson77/status/1243586645066166274?s=20

Day 81

There’s still time to get outside and find some bugs🐛for the @schoolscience #GreatBugHunt which closes tomorrow. Find out about the competition and enter: http://ow.ly/9DrA50A02qm 
#ASEChat #PriSci #RemoteLearning #ScienceFromHome#ScienceInYourGarden

Day 82

Can you build a strong bridge from a single piece of paper? Try folding, rolling and twisting to see how shape affects strength and rigidity. Test your design by placing toys, weights or coins on & see how much mass your bridge can hold!

Day 83

Discover the best biscuit for dunking!🍪☕
Carry out your own investigations or join in with funscience.org.uk/bigexperiment to be part of a giant experiment this June including guide, worksheets and a dunk-along video! 

Day 84

Make a grass trumpet – explore sound and nature at the same time! 🌾
Stretch a blade of grass between your thumbs and blow to create vibrations like a reed in a 🎷
nationaltrust.org.uk/features/no-25-join-natures-band

Day 85

Part 4 of my Monday #KitchenScience #ScienceFromHome Series this half term. Find out about the natural pH indicator red cabbage which changes colour using kitchen cupboard ingredients #ChemistryInYourKitchen #ScienceIsMagicThatsReal

Day 86

Today is a mammoth Science Activity-a-thon with Great Science Share for Schools‘ action packed timetable of sharing science!
There’s still time to get involved, #AskAQuestion and share your science too at greatscienceshare.org #GreatSciShare

Day 87

Working scientifically: In a fair test, we only change one variable at a time. Take a look at what happens when you change one thing in this curious play dough investigation from @SciJem twitter.com/scijem/status/1260147762232020993?s=21 
Could you change one thing in a recipe?

Day 88

Make a catapult out of lolly sticks!
Try these easy to follow instructions from the @scouts or have a go at making your own design
https://www.scouts.org.uk/activities/lolly-stick-catapults/
How far will yours go?

Day 89

Today’s a very special The Global Science Show in collaboration with Great Science Share for Schools for an action-packed day of science communication and sharing from all ages. Watch along on twitter.com/GlobalSciShow or get involved too! Keep your eyes peeled for an entry from Dr Jo too.
I’ll be discussing What’s In Your Blood 🩸💉
Follow along with the whole show at @GlobalSciShow every month
https://youtu.be/gUn_Y1l2_rI

Day 90

Make a wormery! These invertebrates are wonders of the garden, transforming detritus (dead leaves etc) into nutrient-rich soil! Observe them doing this and help the garden too 🪱
https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/…/05/how-to-make-a-wormery/

Day 91

Make ice cream in a bag this #FathersDay to treat Dad or a special person in your life (or yourself🍦)!
https://learning.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/…/SMG-Learning-A…
What’s your favourite flavour? 
Tag me @DrJoScience to show me how you get on

Day 92

It’s #STEMClubsWeek 22-26 June and the theme is sustainability
https://www.stem.org.uk/news-and-vie…/…/stem-clubs-week-2020
Join in with @STEMclubs activities all week to inspire and educate on sustainable energy, materials, food, clean air, water and sanitation
@PA_Schools #ScienceFromHome

Day 93

More #ScienceFromHome with Slime! Customise yours with food colouring, paint or glitter! 
Is it a solid, or a liquid? What happens when you let it settle in the bottom of a cup and then tip it out?
Enjoy & Be safe! 
#DrJoScience #ChemistryInMyCupboard

Day 94

It’s #ZoologyLive this week 22-27 June. Join @ZoologyMuseum every day for films and activities.
Today it’s all about Pond watch and making wildlife films!
https://museumofzoologyblog.com/…/…/zoology-live-22-27-june/ 
#ScienceFromHome #MuseumFromHome #RemoteLearning #BeCurious

Day 95

Science is magic that’s real!
The light travels through air, glass, water, glass, air and is bent, or refracted, along the way. The glass of water is also acting like a magnifying glass
#ScienceFromHome #DrJoScience #BeCurious#ScienceIsMagicThatsReal

Day 96

Which insects can you spot this #InsectWeek#niw2020
Take a look on flowers for some #pollinatorpals
and use an ID guide in a book, app or online such as www.buglife.org.ukto help you find out what you can see
#ScienceFromHome #ScienceInYourGarden

Day 97

Make a balloon (air) powered car!
Use the power of escaping air to propel your car. How far can you make it go? How could you improve it? What changes could you make?

Day 98

In addition to the daily science posts, I’ve also been posting lots of nature pictures lately as it’s not only #30DaysWild for June, but also National #InsectWeek this week too.

There’s still time to enjoy #30DaysWild

Hug a tree, smell a flower, film wildlife, sit in nature, make a Hedgehog Highway or watch a wild webcam!

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/webcams

#ScienceFromHome#ScienceInYourGarden #NIW2020 #NIW

#ScienceFromHome #HomeSchooling #HomeSchooling2020 #HomeLearning #RemoteLearning #BeCurious #DrJo #DrJoScience #DistanceLearning #LockdownLearning #SchoolClosuresUK #PrimaryScience #STEM #STEMclub #ScienceClub #STEMed #STEMeducation #ScienceEducation #EduTwitter #ChemistryInYourCupboard #KitchenScience #KitchenChemistry #Moon #Craters #Clangers #GreatSciShare #GlobalScienceShow #STEMfromHome #Nature #BugHunt #LeafID #ScavengerHunt #ScienceFromYourGarden 

Join in with more science fun to come. Follow me on social media or why not sign up to my weekly online science club?

twitter.com/DrJoScience

instagram.com/DrJoscience

facebook.com/DrJoScience

Daily Science Activities during partial school closures – Week 10 and 11

As well as collating a collection of excellent websites, activities and resources for parents and teachers during the corona virus pandemic on the resources page of my website, I’m also posting a daily science or STEM activity on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. I’m posting ideas seven days a week, through the easter holiday too, because science fun is for every day 😀.

Here are the posts from weeks nine and ten all in one place! 

(You can find week one and two here , week 3 and 4 here , week 5 and 6 here and week 7, 8 and 9 here).

Day 64

Here’s the first in a series of #KitchenScience #ScienceFromHome today. Have a go at making sherbert. What happens when you put it on your tongue? What does it feel like? Can you find out what’s happening and why?
(You can buy citric acid from the pharmacy. It’s also useful if you fancy making elderflower cordial!).

Day 65

This half term, The Great Science Share for Schools have a special week of Science with Farmer Tom! You can watch videos, find out more and #AskAQuestion all this week on Twitter and at www.greatscienceshare.org 

🚜🌾🐄🐖🐑🌱🥦

Day 66

Keep your eyes peeled to spot as many different kinds of grasses as you can! 🌾
Find out more about them, including a fun strength test in this wild grasses blog post: https://drjosciencesolutions.co.uk/2020/05/26/grasses/

Day 67

Make a mini science comic! Inspired by Lifeology‘s May #SciCommchallenge “smaller than the naked eye”, I’ve created a mini comic on neurones and the brain 🧠. 
Have a go at explaining some science in comic form and tag me @DrJoScience #DrJoScience

Day 68

Explore surface tension and the effect of amphiphilic – partly hydrophilic (polar) and partly hydrophobic (non-polar) – detergent in this scared pepper investigation.
Watch what happens!

Day 69

Create a sound map, use your sense of hearing 👂and enjoy nature with this simple activity to mark the sounds around you https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/…/Activ…/Draw-a-Sound-Map

Day 70

Tomorrow sees the launch of another #30DaysWild extravaganza from @30DaysWild @WildlifeTrusts Check out this blog post looking at using an identification app at https://drjosciencesolutions.co.uk/2020/05/27/im-becoming-a-little-obsessed-with-the-seek-inaturalist-app/

and sign up to join in with 30 random acts of wildness at https://action.wildlifetrusts.org/page/57739/petition/1

Day 71

Here’s the second activity in the #Kitchen Science #ScienceFromHome series Following on from last Monday’s edible effervescence, today you’ll be making vinegar and bicarbonate ‘volcanoes’ to investigate acid-base chemical reactions #ChemistryInYourCupboard

Day 72

The Great Science Share for Schools theme this week is #WorldEnvironmentDay 🌍

Learn about the difference between weather and climate in this fab explanation from WWF ☁️☂️❄️🌪️☀️🛰️🌧️⛅ https://www.wwf.org.uk/sites/default/files/2019-12/WWF_KS2_Lesson1_Presentation.pdf

and discover what you can do to help.

Day 73

Invisible ink! In science club this week, we investigated UV, including revealing secret messages. You could have a go at one of these ways of making invsible ink https://www.wikihow.com/Make-an-Invisible-Ink-Pen

Take care as some of them need a responsible adult to help.

Find out more about:

Dr Jo Online Science Club

Day 74

Grow a bean! If you don’t have any seeds to plant, you could always try planting a slice a tomato in some some soil! Remember plants need light, water and the right temperature to grow.

I love these tube kits from @plantletculture from you can use any seeds you have, including apple pips or tomatoes. Plant directly in some soil or put in a glass or jar with some damp paper towel to watch germination as the roots and shoots sprout, then transfer to some soil to keep growing.

Day 75

It’s #WorldEnvironmentDay today.

Do some secondary research and find out about changing habitats and endangered species. Watch the remote video lesson & download the worksheet from @STEMLearningUK on Classification and Grouping https://www.stem.org.uk/remote-lessons/key-stage-2

Day 76

Have a go at creating and cracking secret codes!

www.kidscodecs.com/how-to-create-crack-secret-codes-ciphers/

3 secret codes to try with your kids.

#ScienceFromHome #cryptology #code #secretcode #STEMactivity

Day 77

It’s #OpenFarmSunday Online!

Visit a Farm virtually while we can’t get there in person 🚜🌾🐄🐖🌻🐑👩‍🌾🌱

LEAF Online Open Farm Sunday https://farmsunday.org/online-farm-sunday

#ScienceFromHome #Agriculture #AgriculturalScience #AnimalScience #CropScience #LOFS20 @OpenFarmSunday

#ScienceFromHome #HomeSchooling #HomeSchooling2020 #HomeLearning #RemoteLearning #BeCurious #DrJo #DrJoScience #DistanceLearning #LockdownLearning #SchoolClosuresUK #PrimaryScience #STEM #STEMclub #ScienceClub #STEMed #STEMeducation #ScienceEducation #EduTwitter #ChemistryInYourCupboard #KitchenScience #KitchenChemistry #Moon #Craters #Clangers #GreatSciShare #GlobalScienceShow #STEMfromHome #Nature #BugHunt #LeafID #ScavengerHunt #ScienceFromYourGarden 

Join in with more science fun to come. Follow me on social media or why not sign up to my weekly online science club?

twitter.com/DrJoScience

instagram.com/DrJoscience

facebook.com/DrJoScience

I’m becoming a little obsessed with the Seek iNaturalist app!

I’m always casually identifying the plants and animals I pass when out and about. I don’t even mean to, it’s just like a mental tick list!

There are inevitably times when there’s something I’m not sure of or haven’t come across before and I need to look it up. I’m a collector of facts and I’m curious (some call it nosey!). I like to find things out and amass new knowledge. 

Whilst an app on my phone will never fully replace a classification key or identification book for me – the skills involved in being able to work out what you’ve found from the clues is a vital one which should be taught and practised! (This is also true of map reading over SatNav use!) – there are times when you just aren’t sure and can’t find what you’re looking for in a field guide.

There are many forums online, of course, where you can ask questions and even submit photos for identification, but I’m finding the free Seek iNaturalist app more and more useful. It works from an image captured in the app on your smart phone and is capable of narrowing down from order to family to genus and even species of a whole host of plant and animal life in nature. And it’s pretty instant! Ta-da! This is what you’re looking at.

Here’s the difference between that Norway Maple and Field Maple.

This is definitely a 7 spot ladybird.

These are all members of the Bromes grass family.

It will just give you this information (including Latin and common names, range, distribution, season and other details) if that’s all you want, but if you enable location settings in the app then it can record your sightings and save them for you, and let you know what else has been spotted nearby.

There are also a number of ‘challenges’ you can take part in, including the forests challenge, climate challenge, citizen science challenge or the current backyard challenge where you need to snap 5 plants, 2 insects, 1 arachnid and 2 birds in your garden or local area to earn a challenge badge.

Seek is created by the iNaturalist team – a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society. Seek gets its data from iNaturalist – the largest community of naturalists in the world, working together to identify photos of living things uploaded around the world. These observations then help to train the model, so the more people who use it, the better it will get. 

There’s so much new wildlife about at this time of the year and this app speeds up spotting. I still love a reference book to thumb through, but the instantaneous response of Seek iNaturalist is very helpful. It will be a great tool for #30DaysWild this June and beyond. 

#NotSponsored #Wildlife #30DaysWild #365DaysWild #identification #plants #animals #minibeasts #invertebrates #Birds #BirdSpotting #SeekApp #iNaturalist #WildlifeTrusts #nature #WildlifePhotography #WildlifePhoto #NatureLover #Explore #BeCurious #DrJoScience 

Grasses

There’s more to grass than just the green stuff beneath your feet!

There are so many different types of grasses and they’ve been popping up on roadsides and verges, pathways and edges of fields over the past couple of months, and taking a closer look on my daily walks has revealed some interesting variations:

Just as these different grasses started to emerge, my latest edition of Whizz Pop Bang magazine also popped through my letterbox! It’s packed full of fascinating facts and fun investigations all about grasses around the world.

Taking a closer look reveals how beautiful these grasses are and also shows just how similar these wild grasses are to our cultivated cereal crops.

Can you spot the ones that look like wheat, oats and barley?

I even had a closer look under a microscope to expose the intricate detail:

Whilst it appears delicate, grass is also tough stuff! What not spot some different types of grass and test the strength. How much weight will a blade of grass hold? Are some grasses tougher than others? Share your findings and tag me @DrJoScience, I’d love to see what you discover!

#ScienceInYourGarden #ScienceFromHome #Grasses #Plants #PlantScience #NotSponsored #NotGifted #365DaysWild #30DaysWild #BeCurious #DrJo #DrJoScience

Daily Science Activities during partial school closures – Week 7, 8 and 9

As well as collating a collection of excellent websites, activities and resources for parents and teachers during the corona virus pandemic on the resources page of my website, I’m also posting a daily science or STEM activity on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. I’m posting ideas seven days a week, through the half term holiday too, because science fun is for every day 😀.

Here are the posts from weeks seven, eight and nine all in one place! 

(You can find week one and two here , week 3 and 4 here and week 5 and 6 here).

Day 43

We’re going on a snail hunt!

When the weather’s been wet, there are often more snails about. Can you find any common garden snails? Or banded snails? What do you notice about their patterns? 

Day 44

Meet The Scientist! Every Tuesday the Primary Science Teaching Trust are releasing activities and videos relating to past and current scientists at work, and you can ask them questions! 

pstt.org.uk/resources/curriculum-materials/Science-at-Work

Day 45

One of my favourite types of kitchen chemistry! Bake a cake, biscuits or cookies! Weighing, measuring and mixing are important scientific skills (not to mention taste testing!), as well as investigating the irreversible changes that happen during cooking.

Day 46

Can you find any red dots are on sycamore leaves? Ever wondered what they are? These galls are caused by tiny mites. As they pierce individual cells to feed, the surrounding cells divide, enlarging and forming the gall. By mid-May the mites start to lay eggs within the galls.

Day 47

It’s #VEday too so let’s celebrate aviation with this #PaperPlane challenge activity from the MoD. Can you make a paper plane that flies the furthest? ✈️ What materials will you use? Paper, card, tin foil?!?
des.mod.uk/paper-plane-stem-challenge/

Then, once you’ve had a go at the #PaperPlane challenge, check out the Chemistry of the Battle Of Britain with this poster from @theSkyLabSTEM and @RoySocChem and @IWMDuxford 
twitter.com/theSkyLabSTEM/status/1258385002221514759?s=20

Day 48

Can you explore your fingerprints? Everyone’s fingerprints are unique – Can you take a fingerprint and spot the arch, loop and whorl patterns in your fingerprints? 🔍
Just one activity from Dr Jo Science Club last week!

You can sign up to a 12 week rolling programme of Dr Jo Science Club at any time: Weekly interactive video and a bumper activity pack of further investigations to carry out for just £5 per week for as many children as you have at home!

Day 49

Today’s Science activity is all about looking for evidence of animals that they might have left behind. I saw these prehistoric looking prints in a puddle! (Spoiler: it was a bird!)
Can you spot any animal footprints while you’re out and about? Have a go at identifying the footprints in this quiz from @ASUatSWCHS too. 

Day 50

Explore the stars by carefully punching holes in the bottom of a paper cup or through a piece of paper with a pin and shine a torch or light through it to project the constellations onto a wall!
✨from stormthecastle.com

Keep looking up to the sky and thinking about the universe with this week’s #GreatSciShare theme to inspire you to explore and ask questions.
From 11-17 May it’s a focus on space with @RoyalAstroSoc #RAS200 🔭🌒🪐🛰️🚀☄️👩‍🚀🌠‍
Share your questions at greatscienceshare.org

Day 51

Discover the weird world of lichen! Strange composite organisms found on rocks, stones, walls and trees. Watch this video to find out more, then look up the lichens you can find using this ID guide.
📹 youtu.be/NH0Cq9pBiJw 
🔎www.countryfile.com/w…/british-lichen-guide-how-to-identify/

Day 52

Make a fizzing bath bomb and find out all about the science of this chemical reaction in this video from @RoySocChem 
📹 https://youtu.be/wieE0wSVXOQ

Day 53

Go cloud spotting! ☁️

Find out more about the different types of cloud from the Met Office.

Day 54

Find out about myriad STEM careers in this fun and fabulous free downloadable board game for all ages created by the team at Diamond Light Source synchrotron near Oxford. https://www.diamond.ac.uk/Public/DiamondTheGame

Day 55

A fun and only slightly messy activity (which you can bake into a tasty treat afterwards!) to investigate the formation of moon craters with the Clangers!

Day 56

Can you make a filter to clean dirty water? Mix soil, water, leaves and small stones. Experiment with different materials such as paper towel, sand and gravel to create a filter (NB It’s still not safe to drink!). Explore further with Practical Action Schools resources.

Day 57

It’s #NationalScavengerHuntDay 18-24 May (anyone else notice that’s a week?). 
Check out the resources at www.greatscienceshare.org to get involved and ask and answer questions about habitats and living things

Day 58

Explore optical illusions and how you can trick your brain! 
Make a thaumotrope – a spinning disc with different images on each side. Stick to a pencil and spin the disc to make it look like it’s a single image

Day 59

It’s #WorldBeeDay so a great excuse to find out about these amazing and important animals. Spot some bees, find out more info and use this comprehensive Bee ID guide.

Day 60

Do some leaf rubbing! Spot or collect some fallen leaves, identify the trees, observe the structure of a leaf and find out about its functions and create some art! 🌿🍁

Day 61

Today’s activity is part of an international science show! #GlobalScienceShow and I’m discussing your sense of smell in this video.
Watch the entire The Global Science Show all day and even consider joining in with the next one on 19th June as they’ve linked up with Great Science Share for Schools to link your curious science questions with science communication!

Day 62

The National Physical Laboratory (they don’t just do physics!) are running weekly #MeasurementAtHome challenges, including the latest: if you could invent a new unit of measurement, what would it be?
…sec, mol, metre, lumen… the Dr Jo unit of how excited you are about science?!?! Wow! That’s 1,000,000 Dr Jo units?

Day 63

This week’s theme for the Great Science Share for Schools is #WasteWarriorWeek
Find out about different types of plastic and how to reduce waste. What questions will you ask?
Can you sort through your recycling and find plastics which can be easily recycled (look for the symbols 1, 2, 4 and 5). 

#ScienceFromHome #HomeSchooling #HomeSchooling2020 #HomeLearning #RemoteLearning #BeCurious #DrJo #DrJoScience #DistanceLearning #LockdownLearning #SchoolClosuresUK #PrimaryScience #STEM #STEMclub #ScienceClub #STEMed #STEMeducation #ScienceEducation #EduTwitter #ChemistryInYourCupboard #KitchenScience #KitchenChemistry #Moon #Craters #Clangers #GreatSciShare #GlobalScienceShow #STEMfromHome #Nature #BugHunt #LeafID #ScavengerHunt #ScienceFromYourGarden #GardenSafari

Join in with more science fun to come. Follow me on social media or why not sign up to my weekly online science club?

twitter.com/DrJoScience

instagram.com/DrJoscience

facebook.com/DrJoScience

Bank holiday weekend at the end of a fun and inspiring week

Happy Weekend Everyone! What a fun week it’s been: I’ve been busy developing, planning and recording video lessons for STEM Learning UK, hosting live Q&A chat sessions linked to the lessons, creating science activities to go in a literacy resource pack for a national organisation (more info coming soon!), posting daily science activities on social media, taking part in the Global Science Show, running a virtual science club on Zoom, creating content for my digital downloadable online science club, packaging up little home investigation science kits for children from one of my local schools, been interviewed for a #GirlsInSTEM magazine and written a guest blog piece on how I’ve been changing the way I’m working during lockdown for Science On A Postcard.

#StaySafe #StayWell #SocialDistance #StayAlert #StayHome where you can.

#stemlearning #stemeducation #science #STEM #scienceeducation #womeninstem #womeninscience #remotelearning #lockdownlearning #ScienceFromHome #GlobalScienceShow #GirlsInSTEM

Daily Science Activities during partial school closures – Week 5 and 6

As well as collating a collection of excellent websites, activities and resources for parents and teachers during the corona virus pandemic on the resources page of my website, I’m also posting a daily science or STEM activity on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. I’m posting ideas seven days a week, through the easter holiday too, because science fun is for every day 😀.

Here are the posts from weeks five and six all in one place! 

(You can find week one and two here and week 3 and 4 here)


Day 29

Have a go at this opening paper flowers activity 🌼🌸🌼🌸🌼🏵️

Use different size and different types of paper to see which one absorbs the water the quickest and opens up! Cut out flower shapes and then fold in the petals. Place in a bucket, bowl, sink or bath and watch them unfurl as the spaces between the paper fibres fill with water. Try tissue paper, printer paper and thin card. Which ones open up the quickest? Why do you think this is? What about if you try different sizes? Are small ones quicker than big ones? Why? 

Day 30

Can you see sound? Sound is caused by vibrations. Can you see the effects of a drum vibrating by putting some rice on a plastic film covered bowl? Find more sound activities in this sneak peek mini sample online science club at https://drjosciencesolutions.co.uk/online-science-club/

Day 31

Today is #EarthDay
Find out about the water cycle with this simple activity exploring evaporation and condensation. Place a small amount of water into a resealable bag and tape it to the window. You could add some blue food colouring if you like to make it easier to see. Leave in a sunny spot and observe what happens over time as the water warms up and evaporates, then cools and condenses, falling back down just like rain in the water cycle.

Day 32

Lots of new leaves are unfurling on trees. Can you identify what they are? 
www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2020/03/tree-id-kids/

Day 33

There are lots of dandelions about at the moment, but before you pull them up, they are a great source of food for bees! 
Can you take a picture every day to see how the dandelions change over time?

You could even try to set up a time-lapse film to watch the dandelion flowers close up at night time and open up in the day!
🌼🌼🌼
https://wildlifetrusts.org/gardening

Day 34

Today I should have been at the Department of Zoology, Cambridge with my hero, David Attenborough, who once wrote to me! Do some secondary research and watch a natural history programme in his honour 🦧🦥

Today was also the second #GlobalScienceShow on twitter. Follow @GlobalSciShow to see a virtual science show from around the world. Here’s my small part all about woodlice: 📹 youtu.be/hA2rGJLeVmk

Day 35

This weekend is the City Nature Challenge big weekend
📷 Take pictures of what you find this weekend
🔎 then identify them next week
https://citynaturechallenge.org.uk

Day 36

Investigate the cohesive forces of surface tension by seeing how many drops of water you can fit on a penny – use a pipette, syringe or straw. Does it change with temperature? Why or Why not?

Day 37

Natural pH indicators – you’re probably familiar with red cabbage as an indicator (which I LOVE!) but I’ve been inspired by @CrocodileChemi1 and @UncleBo80053383 to have a go with tulip and bluebell anthocyanins and try some microscale diffusion too – bubbles of CO2 form where the acid and base react. The colours in the indicators intensified overnight too! Why not have a go, or just make some ‘potions’ with flower petals?

Day 38

Why not investigate the amount of sugar hidden in food! You might expect to find lots of sugar in sweets and cakes, but do you know how much is also hidden in things like tomato sauce and breakfast cereal? Use the information on the labels to do some secondary research and work it out!

Day 39

Inspired by the popularity of my post about surface tension of water drops on a penny earlier in the week (and the currently weather!), I though we could try it on some rain drop shapes – maybe you’ll have more luck if your table isn’t on a slope!

Could you try it on different surfaces too?

Day 40

Why not have a go at splitting the colour from felt tip pens using a technique called chromatography – you could use filter paper, blotting paper or kitchen roll. Just add a few dots of colour, dip the very end into water and watch it go!

Day 41

Let’s explore floating and sinking today. Find some items from around the house; use a bowl, bucket, sink or bath of water – can you predict which float and which sink? Why?

Day 42

Following on from yesterday’s floating and sinking investigation, could you find out if all fruit float? Why, or why not? Can you change it? 
twitter.com/explorifyschool/status/1254681692037619713?s=21 

What’s happening in this picture? Do you know why?

#ScienceFromHome #HomeSchooling #HomeSchooling2020 #HomeLearning #RemoteLearning #BeCurious #DrJo #DrJoScience #DistanceLearning #LockdownLearning #SchoolClosuresUK #PrimaryScience #STEM #STEMclub #ScienceClub #STEMed #STEMeducation #ScienceEducation #EduTwitter

Join in with more science fun to come. Follow me on social media or why not sign up to my weekly online science club?

twitter.com/DrJoScience

instagram.com/DrJoscience

facebook.com/DrJoScience