Activity Reviewed: This is a review of a previous edition of Cognitive Whizz - "A Science Escapade", click here (4 - 7 years old and 7 - 12 years old) for the latest editions
Reviewer: Lyn Lee @ https://www.lilbluebottle.com/
The best science holiday camp in town by Cognitive Whizz is here again! This time with wide ranging themes, spanning from understanding the forces at play behind bridge structures, to the respiratory system, intricacies of sound waves, as well as surface tension in bubbles.
1. Passionate lead teacher
As always, the sessions are helmed by Teacher Denise, who always amazes with her high energy, extensive knowledge, ability to engage children, and bring complex science concepts to life!
The kids are rapt with attention as she relates the story of the day.
2. Highly educational content
On Day 1, the kids learnt about forces and how they relate to bridge structures. It was like a basic course in physics and civil engineering!
The kids could see from hands-on experiments, how different bridges work, and how different structures (beam bridge, truss bridge) are stronger or weaker because of how force acts upon them.
They were also taught through other everyday objects such as a hard-boiled egg slicer that pressure if much higher when concentrated on a small area. When force is spread out across a larger area, then pressure is much lower. This was also reinforced through a song and auditory game on pressure!
The content from Cognitive Whizz always impresses me, because many times I am learning something new too! For instance, did you know that a suspension bridge works by distributing the force on the bridge via its ropes or metal cables?
On Day 4, the children learnt about surface tension of water and the important concepts of cohesion and adhesion. I didn’t even know that surface tension arises because the water molecules at the top of are especially close to one another. It is also why the molecules at the top get pulled tightly together into a spherical shape, which is the typical shape of dewdrops!
The kids then learnt that soap breaks up the surface tension of water, and causes bubbles to form. They investigated whether it was possible to create a square bubble (yes!) and whether the bubble will retain its square form upon leaving its frame (nope!).
By allowing water to travel slowly along the string, the kids realised that they could transfer all the water from one cup to another! Teacher Denise explained to the intrigued children that the water molecules were not just closely cohering to one another, but they were also closely adhering to molecules of a different kind, which was the string in this case. Each child got to try it for themselves.… and have loads of fun!
3. Content relates to MOE Science Syllabus
On Day 2, the children learnt about various aspects of Respiration and gases. They learnt that yeast was a micro-organism and they saw how yeast interacted with sugar, and then separately how yeast releases oxygen from hydrogen peroxide.
They were fascinated with how the balloon inflated with the released oxygen! And as this is an exothermic (heat-releasing) reaction, the kids also got to feel the heat generated in the bottle.
Cognitive Whizz camps makes what is taught from textbooks in primary school science come alive! In Primary 5, kids are taught about the respiratory system, but mostly from diagrams within a book.
In this camp, the kids got to build their own respiratory system model, and a pulmonary tree!
Assembling the pulmonary tree.
Personally, I thought this was the most interest experiment of the entire camp! The model actually works in two ways. You get to see the ‘lungs’ (labelled C) inflate when you blow down the trachea (wind pipe labelled A), and by pulling down the ‘diaphragm’ (which is so well-simulated using a tiny balloon labelled D) you see the lung cavity expand and the lungs balloon out too!
Through another experiment with a burning candle, the kids also learnt that burning uses up oxygen, as when the flame went out, the water rushed in to take the place of the consumed oxygen. This is also something that is in the MOE primary school science syllabus, and nothing beats seeing it happen right before your eyes.
As if all that weren’t fascinating enough, they also got to experience how the carbon dioxide they exhale, turns clear limewater (calcium hydroxide) into chalky calcium carbonate and water.
4. Great learning aids to bring home
Every day, the kids get to bring home a simple learning aid that relates to the topic of the day.
On Day 3, the kids learnt about Sound, including concepts such as how sound travels in waves and through vibrations. They also learnt about how sound can travel through different forms of matter, like gases, liquids and solids.
One of their activities was to make a stethoscope that they could bring home. When I first saw it, I had my doubts whether it would work well. But when I tried it, wow! The sound transmitted was amplified and really a lot clearer than I thought possible through a simple set-up like this.
You can see from the photos how fascinated the kids were, and how well it worked too. And that was just one of the many learning aids they get to bring home from the entire camp.
5. Concepts are reinforced through small group discussions with good student-teacher ratios
After the large group demonstrations, the kids got a chance to construct their own experiments in smaller groups comprising similar-aged kids. Lead teacher Denise is well-assisted by other young teachers, who relate well to their charges.
Although the main group is large, the smaller breakout groups are well-staffed such that the student-teacher ratio is good, especially for the younger kids who might need more help.
Snacks given out during break time.
6. The kids get to take home an informative workbook
This proprietary workbook by Cognitive Whizz is chock full of facts and information on everything that’s covered in the camp. Not just science concepts, but also vocabulary on emotions.
As the kids write down what they observe, learning is further strengthened! It also serves as a good reference for kids to remember what they learnt, since memories tend to be like sieves these days.
7. Daily post-camp debrief and Whatsapps to parents
After the kids are dismissed for the day, Teacher Denise conducts 10-15 minute debriefs for parents who are available and interested to find out what their kids experienced that day.
I always find it enriching to catch a glimpse of the experiments that the kids got to do that day. Teacher Denise outlines the concepts taught, so that parents can reinforce them with their kids if they wish to.
No worries if you can’t make it for the ‘live’ debriefs! Teacher Denise sends a slew of photos (taken by their professional photographer) with brief descriptions of what the kids experienced that day. I think in total I received more than 600! Really admire her dedication.
8. Learning beyond science
Apart from science, kids learn four descriptive terms that are likely to be new to most of them! The words are based on four varying emotions daily, and apart from giving a good boost to their vocabulary, it gives children additional handles to describe and manage their emotions.
These new words/phrases are introduced every morning through the scaffold of a story – this time, the stories varied daily from The Lion King to Alice in Wonderland!
I found it very thoughtful that Cognitive Whizz incorporates emotional development into their camp. Even for the final day at BOUNCE, which is mostly led by BOUNCE trainers, an element of identifying and processing their emotions is included as the kids would be asked by the Cognitive Whizz teachers to articulate how they felt upon being eliminated during the dodgeball game, or how they felt before leaping into the giant airbag. So, it’s not just a science camp, but also an aid to the child’s overall growth and development!
9. Children are engaged throughout!
Most importantly, one of the best things about this camp is how engaged the children are! And you can tell how much fun they are having whilst learning, through the photos! And that is exactly how learning should be, for every child.
Thanks Cognitive Whizz, the girls really had a wonderful time, each and every day of camp.
This review was adapted and you may read the full review, here: https://www.lilbluebottle.com/ten-reasons-why-we-love-a-science-escapade-holiday-camp-by-cognitive-whizz-with-bounce-giveaway/