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Pneumatics and Hydraulics Holiday Workshop

Workshop objectives:

· To understand what the word Pneumatics and Hydraulics mean

· To demonstrate both pneumatic and hydraulic movement using syringes and tubes

· To think of an idea to create one or two movements within a toy

· To make a Pneumatic or Hydraulic toy kit

This was a great day and a record number of children attended requiring some extra help from some very hard-working and dedicated adults.

We started with the usual registration and word search but as there were so many children, a reading of the rules and the procedures was added. With so much water and ability to use syringes as water pistols this was surely needed.

Next up was the presentation. In researching about pneumatics I found out that Paris had a highly sophisticated messaging service using tubes that were pressurised using pumps. These tubes sent messages all around Paris to help speed up the delivery and declutter the roads. It worked for over 100 years from 1866 to 1984.

Within the presentation, using syringes and tubing, I demonstrated how air can be squashed and how water does not like to be squashed two fundamental properties when thinking about uses for air and water. This was passed around the participants. This is a very useful tool as they quickly understand the properties of air and water relating to pneumatics and hydraulics

Next, and slightly later than anticipated, we broke into two age related groups. Group 1 7-9 year olds were given a creative task. Using a booklet with pneumatic and hydraulic ideas, the younger children were to make mouse hole with mice coming out, crocodile mouths that opened with pneumatic or hydraulic movements to enact the movements.

The older group 2 (9-13) were to make the hydraulic arm kits which were a little tricky for the younger children to complete.

By the end of the morning session, there were a mixture of completed and semi-completed models.

We had lunch, and this time, I decided to have some running around games before we proceeded to attempt the next activities. This was as a result of prior experience whereby children were often itching to do something more physical. A bit like lunch-break in the playground. I left the centre of the room open and we played a series of competitive races around the chair and back

Ideally, I would like to be able to take the children outside and do these fun activities. The afternoon session became rather stuffy so we did eventually, open the doors at the back of the hall. Many decided they needed air.

The afternoon session was a mixture of finishing off their models and starting new ones.

The older children, having seen an industrial press, in the presentation thought of making their own using the syringes and lollypop sticks. I particularly liked this idea as it demonstrated a higher level of learning. To create a press from lollypop sticks and syringes, having no prior experience requires a high level of imagination. A really big, WELL DONE! to them.

I would like to make a special mention to the adult volunteers. They were really helpful, enthusiastic and pedagogic with the children. Some even stayed beyond the end of the workshop to help clear up and put things back into my van. I would like to thank them most sincerely for their efforts.

What has been learnt from the workshop?

  • The air powered engine car was very fiddly for the children and required a lot of adult intervention. Whereas, I like adults to demonstrate/model making, there comes a point where you think 'This requires too much help!' and therefore should not be given to the lower end of the age groups. This did say 'For 10+' but had a picture of what looked like a 7 year old making it. I would say that 11+ was more suitable.

  • The session in the afternoon seems to drag for the children and adults alike. There was lot less focus and productivity. Finishing at 2.00pm might be a better solution.

  • Also, it might be better to have two one-day workshops. One for younger children 7-10 year olds and another day could be for 11-13 year olds. The younger children could do a shorter workshop 9-1.00pm. The older children could be 9-2.30

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