Tag Archives: school trips

The Science Museum’s Energy Show Live: An electrifying visit to the theatre, review by Matt Walsh

The Energy Show“Who wants to blow things up?”

That’s the question that powers the fun at the brilliant Energy Show which will be at Northampton’s Royal and Derngate from April 28-30.

Produced by the Science Museum Live, the show follows the adventures of futuristic students Annabella and Phil as they race against time to complete their presentation on the nine types of energy.

And that means blowing things up.

The safety goggles go on and the students conduct dangerously exciting experiments, such as setting fire to methane-filled soap bubbles or exploding hydrogen-filled balloons.

Mixing live action, computer graphics, science and Star Wars jokes, this is an enormously fun show which teaches some of the key principles of physics and chemistry and will be particularly useful for those studying at key stages two and three.

Be warned though, there are some big bangs in this show. The producers suggest it’s suitable for those aged seven and above.

I watched it with a science-mad four-year-old who was a little worried at some points as the audience shouted for ever bigger explosions.

But he left singing a familiar tune played by “lightning” created by a specially tuned Tesla Coil.

This is an inspirational, high-energy science show which delivers education and entertainment for both children and adults.

energy_show_tour_image_627x392pxThe Energy Show will be at Royal and Derngate from the 28th to the 30th of April, with shows as follows: Monday 7pm, Tuesday 11am, Wednesday 1.30pm.Tickets are £16, and available on 01604 624811 or by visiting http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk.

Matt Walsh

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Growing up and going away – just on school trips for now

I’ve been a little jittery this week, working up to a few hectic weeks of school trips which will see our two eldest leave the country and number three son off on his first overnight stay away, all without us.
It’s been hard watching the two teens turn into mini-men of late. I hadn’t realised Eldest had started shaving until he kissed me goodnight on the cheek and I felt bristles (no, not mine). Coarse bristles, on my baby boy. Admittedly now aged 15, taller than me, and with bigger feet.
Now he’s off on a French exchange trip with school for a week. Yes, he’s been away before, but not hundreds of miles away in a different country!
He comes back and the French lad who hosts this week will be coming to our noisy, untidy house. Poor kid.
Then Second Son is off – civil unrest depending – to Tunisia. Bloody Tunisia. In AFRICA! Another continent. My Google maps couldn’t cope when I asked it for directions.
After his return there’s whatever remains of Easter and a Duke of Edinburgh camping weekend, before Son Three is off to Everdon,  host to thousands of Northamptonshire school kids over the years. I might have at least experienced this twice before but its still my baby off without me for the first time. The excitement and anxiety is felt just as keenly.
In the midst of all these travelling boys will be Bonnie, just turned five, demanding to know why she isn’t going with any of them.
If I look more frazzled than usual in this spring, you’ll know why. . .

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Limit school trips to one a year to stave off bankruptcy

BIG lump in my throat last Monday, as our Dougie left for a school trip to an activity centre somewhere near Swindon.

It was a week away where he was doing abseiling, assault courses, aeroball, archery, canoeing, climbing, fencing, orienteering, raft building, zip wires and general 12-year-old boy stuff.

Meanwhile, I was fretting, quietly, to myself. (Because no one else would listen).

After 14 years being a parent, I shouldn’t be fazed by trips. After all, our elder two have both enjoyed the famous ‘first nights away’ trip to Everdon and the PGL centre at Osmington Bay, Dorset, and braved the windy wilds of both Overstone and Hollowell Cub camps.

But as well as the (concealed) separation anxiety, there’s the cost.

We have to have a rule in our house about school trips: they chose no more than one a year and pay half themselves.

It might sound hard, but we have four children and not a huge income. The kids do have to really decide how much they want to go on a particular trip.

It makes them appreciate how far money has to stretch, although it does you feel cruddy when their wealthier friends are going on several trips a year.

This is nothing new. Back in the health & safety-free 1970s and 80s, neither Bloke or I went on many school trips.

There were always those who seemed to go on cruises and ski-trips regardless of their family’s financial background, while my most exotic destinations were to Butlins in Minehead and a one-night stay in London. I try hard not to repeat that parent mantra “you’ll appreciate it more when you’re older” because as a teen who didn’t get to go, it drove me potty.

Our boys’ school has already organised 2011 trips to Tunisia, Sicily, Turkey, Cornwall and the USA.

We parents were informed about Dougie’s PGL trip way more than a year ago in their first term at secondary school. Not only were we given a huge amount of notice, but also a good number of months over which to pay for it.

The total cost for the week was £300, with instalments due in March, May and July, giving us time to save up.

Meanwhile, the same school didn’t give anything like as much time for a planned trip to China. Yes, China.

Poor Jed, aged 14, came home recently raving about the chance to go on an eight-day tour in February.

The cost? £1,225. First payment of £200 immediately, with the rest in sizable chunks each month until Christmas. There’s no way we could find that kind of cash that quickly.

We had heard about the epic Northampton School for Boys China trip, but hadn’t anticipated it becoming an issue until Year 11 or sixth form. Turns out the school takes them from age 14-18.

Jed begged and pleaded, saying his friends were going, but we simply had to say no.

If he, and we, can save, it’s something he can do in a couple of years. A great opportunity, but not just yet.

So as we packed Dougie off on his UK-based adventure, my fretting started. Would he listen to instructions and not fall off the abseil tower? Would he resist peer pressure? Remember not wear the same pants every day?

Don’t tell him, but I was delighted to get him back on Friday. Even though he did bring back a suitcase full of soaked and stinking clothes because he’s fallen in the river while canoeing. . .

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Tripping worries me

DO school trips scare the bejesus out of you? After all these years they still terrify me. Paranoia is set to maximum.

I know it’s irrational. I know accidents are few and far between, and more injuries happen in the home than anywhere else, but I can’t help it. Coaches, travelling, peer pressure and teachers off their own territory. Terrifying.

They might still have a month left until the summer holidays, but my lot seem to be on school trips every week.

Jed’s already been to The Black Country Museum, and went to Thorpe Park last Friday. Thorpe Park, a blinkin’ theme park, with big roller-coasters. And it’s miles and miles away. He had to cycle to school alone at 7am. I couldn’t even be there to check the coach’s tyre pressures and smell the driver’s breath.

He groaned as I made him put on sun-cream before he left and failed to persuade him to wear a hat. He said the words no mother wants to hear: “Stop fussing Mum, you’re turning into Grandma.”

All day I was checking my mobile for messages. I gave in after lunch and sent a text while trying to be nonchalant: “How’s your day going?”

Brill” came the eloquent reply. Eventually. 

Next week Dougie’s off to Warwick Castle (high walls), then there’s Jed’s trip to London’s West End (at night, for goodness sake), Billy goes to Twycross Zoo (wild animals!) and Doug has a French day at Wicksteed Park (don’t even get me started). Jed’s the only one of them allowed a mobile phone. I’m going to be a nervous wreck. Thank goodness the day-trip to France was cancelled. . .

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