Summer 2011

Several classes were run this summer. Once again we found it very difficult to get the students to go home at the end of the two and a half hour course periods. It seems they just can’t get enough of this! Here is a summary of their activities:

Most of the projects, such as the crane required some woodwork so a lot of sawdust was flying around in the beginning.

The 4 wheel drive car continues to be a popular project and several were made this summer.

Jack thought a design more like a tank would be pretty cool, so he made his with 8 wheels….

Ding giving his a final test


Several people also made the wooden crane. Julie discovered hers could easily lift a hammer and a big pair of scissors.

The wooden parts of the morse key had to be carefully glued into position, so students helped each other.

Those who made the morse key were surprised that computer software could turn the “beep beep beeps” back into English letters.

The magnetometer project was a new one this summer. Several rock samples and other materials were tested with them to see which had magnetic properties. Nobody imagined that it could respond to passing traffic too. Solar activity is something that needs long term observation to see by eye, but the later version that connects to the computer for 24 hour recording shows it plainly.

Students observing how sensitive their magnetometers are

Another group made a cute set of clay story books, during our morning classes.


As they became more familiar with clay, they became more imaginative…

Thomas  made the longest book at 41 pages, about the capture of dinosaurs as the king’s pets, and their adventures after being set free.

Doing the layout and text in the computer was valuable training, . . .

Cathy typesetting her book "Super Zoo" in which some bored children playing with clay make some animals that magically come to life!


It was especially good training with all of the stories being done in English.

All that remained was printing and hand-binding the books…

Evan’s book “The Soldier” was a powerful statement against cruelty to animals.

Monica put a lot of careful work into her book, “What happens when you eat the soap?” – the story of the baby turtle who found out the hard way what not to eat, and the fast actions of a caring mother and hospital staff.

The results were superb and there were many happy students and parents!


A special small class was also run to make the seismometer (earthquake sensor) described in this post, where you can see a report on how it turned out and the earthquake traces recorded by the students’ machines.

Timson assembling the frame


Peter cutting wood for the seismometer


Jim patiently winding 1,000 turns of delicate wire.


During some of our classes, Simon, one of our blog contributors, made the magnetometer described in the same post, the  “Seismology Research Station“. This was an important development because we could finally compare the results from two devices situated far apart. Our continuous recordings over the last few weeks demonstrate several things – primarily that both devices are recording actual solar storms (as confirmed by other magnetometer traces available on the web.) Also that we both need to find better locations for the devices so as to avoid interference from passing traffic, elevators, metal furniture being moved around etc.. Here is a recording for August 28.

(click for larger view)


Finally, another short field trip was made to Taitung in the south, where another family doing natural farming (see our previous post) were interested in the handcraft projects. This went fabulously, beginning with the whole family having fun playing with clay. The children were all very creative. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that Roger and his wife are home schooling them. Something that is gaining popularity in Taiwan.

Then three of the children made the 4WD car.

When they finished them, they found all kinds of places to try them out.

And by the way, what they produce on the farm by natural farming methods is incredibly good. Roger and his wife cooked dinner for us that night and everything was fantastic. Anyone looking for chemical-free, tasty fruit and vegies can check out their blog at:

And finally, we stayed in a wonderful holiday house in Lu-yeh. They are also doing natural farming and we had the most delicious guavas I’ve ever tasted.

Washing the guavas we picked.


We spent the morning riding around Lu-yeh on their bicycles before going to pick some guavas from their farm down the road. We came home with as many as we could carry on the train.

Check out their website at


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