Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Science festival II

We had more Science Festival things on during the first week of the holidays.  Renee and Hannah went to a 4-morning workshop on animal ethics with 5 other kids, which they found interesting.
We went to Orokonui activities on bees, birds and frogs.

Daniel and Andrew had a "Dental Detectives" workshop which was very worthwhile, and we also went to the open day at the Botanic Gardens Propagation house, which I enjoyed.

The highlight was a trip to Olveston (for the first time) where the kids got to dress up, tour the house, then make butter.  That was the only trip we had to pay for and it was definitely worth it.

The Festival finished on Saturday the 16th with a day at the Otago Museum.  We went for the morning, not realising that most of the talks and activities started at 12:30.  So we missed them but on the other hand, just as we were leaving it started to get really crowded with hordes of people arriving. so at least we missed the crowds.

Infrared camera

Fluorescent paint

Science festival

Last week, apart for birthdays and rabbits, was the Science Festival.  It is on every 2 years in Dunedin, and there are loads of activities, mostly free.  We went to as many as I thought I could cope with, which meant a busy week.
Saturday the 9th was the opening day at the University so we went along early to get a decent park and because Hannah and Daniel were booked into an Orokonui workshop, "Forest Forensics".  That was the best Orokonui one we went to, as they had to compare hair samples and footprints and DNA to work out that it was a Jack Russell terrier which killed the kiwi.  While they were doing that the rest of us looked at the various displays, which were mostly very interesting/fun.

Food Science Dept: How much fat in various takeaways
Inflatable walkthrough brain
Tank of sea life - Marine Research - they gave us 2 excellent identification brochures
on the Rocky Shore and the Sandy/Muddy Shore
Anatomy Dept

Electronic Neuron
Make a drone fly using your brainwaves

Struck-by-lightning simulation
Some of us had a go at the Psychology Dept.'s Stroop test, which was tricky.  The Stroop test shows you words in different colours and you have the type in which colour the word is (red, blue or green).  This sounds straightforward until you find out that some of the words are "red", "blue" and "green", but in the wrong colours.  So when "red" comes up on the screen, it's really hard to press "B" for blue when your brain perceives "red".
There was also a machine which could tell you your weight, fat% and muscle% and a few virtual reality games, DNA testing machines, anatomical models, craft for the younger kids (decorating a blown-up latex glove, and colouring-in), reflex testing and many other amazing things.  We'll be back next time!

Birthdays, hens and rabbits

It was Renee's birthday last week, with chocolate cake and pav.  We had a small birthday tea, with us and Grandma Anderson.  

 It was also David's birthday a few days later, so another chocolate cake and tea with Grandma Anderson.

Yesterday our hens arrived.  We've been planning to get hens ever since we arrived here, that was one of the reasons we looked for a larger section.  I found these 2 on Freecycle, very tame girls called Henny Penny and Half Penny (although we're not sure which is which), and they even came with a wee henhouse and a big bag of pellets.

This is not a hen.  This is a big Flemish Giant rabbit who has decided she likes our rabbits.  She showed up last month in our back yard, so we caught her and put her in our spare cage.  I managed to find her owner via facebook, and 3-4 weeks later she came and picked her up.  Three days later the rabbit reappeared in our back yard.  That was a couple of weeks ago and she still hasn't been picked up...  I decided not to catch her this time as she demolished the lawn, which we need for our own rabbits, so she's living on weeds and things and bits of apple/carrot the kids give her.  She's fairly tame and good-natured; Daniel got her to sit on his knee yesterday, and if you pat her she goes all floppy.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Beach run

This morning we headed down to St Clair/ St Kilda beach for a run.

Usually when we decide to go to the beach I check the tides and find it is high tide so we postpone until the next week, then forget to go.  But today I checked the tides and found that low tide was only 5 minutes away so we jumped into the van and headed down.  It is a lovely day today, calm and mild, and not many people on the beach.  We hauled a whole lot of kelp up the hill for the vege garden (that was a bit of an effort).  Washed up on the beach were quite a few small plastic-looking barrel-shaped things, some of which had a creepy-crawly inside that looked like it could be a baby crayfish or something.

When we got home we looked it up and found it was a creature called Phronima.  It is a parasitoid which finds a salp (something else we'd never heard of, apparently a "barrel-shaped, planktonic tunicate") and eats its insides out then lives in the clear plastic-like shell, where it also lays its eggs.

The kids also found a spiny centipede-ish sort of thing which we haven't been able to identify at all.