On Monday afternoon, Emily and Gramps had another of their weekly sessions; Gramps taught Emily some new card tricks to show off that evening when we had a belated anniversary celebration at home. All of the tricks they do are based on maths, not on sleight of hand, and it seems very educational 🙂
On Monday night, there was “Two Wrongs Make a Right“, which is proof that basic algebra does actually have a place in real life 😉
We also had “Impossible Discovery” to which they added a twist, by having the audience member 😉 select three cards from eight which were laid out in a circle; those cards were added up just before the end of the trick and the sum used in the original trick. Except, of course, you didn’t have a free choice from the circle of eight cards and no matter which one you started with your three cards would add up to 14. This is apparently known as a necklace, bracelet or circle of 8 – from this very serious article, the card bracelet they used was on the first line of the 3rd table.
And finally a very impressive trick but surprisingly simple trick which enables the magician to reveal four unknown cards all at once, the “Quadruple Mystery”. To do this one: deal out 4 cards each to yourself and each of four spectators. Have the spectators each choose a memorable card from among their 4 and then replace their cards face down on the table. Put your own four cards on top of the person’s next to you (person 1), then put those on top of person 2’s stack, that goes on top of person 3’s and finally it all goes on top of person 4’s. Put these all back on the deck, so your four cards will be on top. Now deal out four piles of five cards each. Hold up the first pile and ask if anyone’s card is in there. If it is, take note of which person number it is. Their card will be their number plus one from the left of that fan of cards – i.e. if it’s person 3, their card will be the 4th card from the left (because your own card is always the first one on the left). So you can dramatically pull it out of the fan as being theirs without even looking at it. Repeat with the other four piles/fans of cards 🙂 I don’t suppose I’ve explained that very well, but it looks good in action 🙂
Over the weekend, Emily took some fabulously arty and close up photos while she was experimenting with the camera, including some of jewellery and a portrait of a jellybean. As you do. On Tuesday, afternoon we tried out some of Gramps’ very old Cokin camera filters, from way back before the days of digital photo manipulation. He has quite a range and we haven’t finished playing with them yet, but Emily tried out a starburst one, a rainbow one, a speed one (which we couldn’t get right, so she discarded all those photos) and a mirage mirror one, which was incredibly fiddly to use but lots of fun. We didn’t get that one quite set up perfectly, so you can see in those photos that there’s a mirror being used and/or the two halves don’t line up perfectly, but still a great giggle and some of them were very *nearly* there 🙂 We also tried out a polarising filter in order to see the stress marks in moulded plastic items. Very beautiful to look at. If you put a ruler, protractor, CD case or similar against a white LCD screen like a monitor, which is already polarised, and then use a polarising filter, you can get some astonishing results. The one which looks like a piece of Mondrian art is actually sellotape layers folded over themselves 🙂
The rainbow filter we didn’t like a great deal, as it was too artificial…but then that prompted lots of talk and understanding about how things were different “back then” and how the only way to get these effects was with the filters. How different nowadays!
What else? Let’s see. On Monday morning riding was a big success; Emily did a lot of work on the lunge so that she could concentrate on her balance after last week’s nasty fall. I was very proud of her as she was a little nervous to begin with, but by the end of the lesson was confidently trotting around with her hands on her head 🙂
We did some politics work about Ed Milliband, where he came from, how he won the leadership election (bloody good question) and where he’s likely to take the Labour party. That all came from the rather good Philip Allan Government & Politics Annual Survey 2011 textbook, which I like a great deal.
Violin is going fabulously well – still! – and Emily’s more than half way through the first book now. Yesterday for the first time she was able to play a piece through fairly fluently on very first sight – a simplified version of Ode to Joy – so I was very proud of her. She plays all of the pieces so far very nicely but most of them have taken a while to get to grips with, so yesterday was a little bit of a breakthrough.
As to the rest: well. We had a bit of a debate this afternoon, Emily and I, about what to do over some of the other subjects. We looked through a geography textbook for KS3 and ended up skimming over the entire thing in half an hour amid much frustration over the stupidity of some of the questions and the fact that the whole thing, yet again, was just one big, simple reading comprehension. We do still have, and I still love, The Trail Guide to World Geography, but Emily hates it, so we’ve never got the most from it. I guess I could insist we go back to that, but I’m not in the mood for a battle over what, for us, is a relatively minor subject. This afternoon I found these ready made KS3 geography units which look marginally less brain-deading, so I think we’ll have a go at a few of those and abandon a textbook all together for now.
We also looked again at some of our various science resources and were not impressed. I do, however, have the germ of an idea for solving our can’t-stick-with-science problem, which I’ll elaborate on in a different post once I’ve got it sorted out in my head.
English, I think we’re fine with our current SYRWTL English 3 book; again, it’s not one of Emily’s favourites, but it’s do-able. She excels at English, but hates having to write to order. At least this book has some built in literature study, which has always been a bone of contention around here. She loves to read, but again, not to order.
Maths, we’re “happy” enough with the MEP Year 8 stuff at the moment. Happy being a word that one must use sparingly when it comes to maths. But she can do it (a lot easier than she admits) and the meltdown problems we had a few years ago with maths have largely disappeared, hopefully never to reappear.
History; the Renaissance book is going reasonably well at the moment, so I don’t need to worry about that one for a few more months at least. Politics is very well covered with the book I mentioned above, plus this, this, and this.
Economics. Oh my. We have more economics textbooks than we could ever possibly want. And I just ordered one more 😉 – most of the ones we have are A level books which are a balancing act – Emily understands the concepts at A level, but reasonably enough, for a 12 year old, isn’t producing work of A level standard so some of the tasks are a bit too indepth. The new GCSE one is a bit skimmy, but hopefully we can blend learning from the A level ones and doing the tasks in the GCSE one into some sort of meaningful mash. There’s also this fabulous site, BizEd, which is filled to the brim with fantastic economics (and business) teaching resources, economy simulators and the like.
Law is still an on-going project, as and when Emily and Jon get together and decide to do it. They’re using this book as a spine, but with lots of out-of-Jon’s-legally-trained-head stuff too. Psychology is a work in progress and is being gradually blended with sociology; at the moment we’re using resources from Psychexchange. And then there are arts and crafts which I’m still hoping will get an occasional look in – and the photography, of course, which is mostly taking the form of just experimenting, but for which we’re loosely following this book and for which we’re going to have to do some formal study soon to pin down the whole technicalities “thing”, which despite a ton of practice, keeps escaping both me and Emily at random moments when we really could have done with remembering it.
So I don’t think we’re doing too badly and I do have a vague plan in my head of what we’re covering and where we’re going. If only we could all get up early enough and/or be free enough of earn-money-work to implement it.