Squishy Circuits

Another great idea I was introduced to at Connects 2018 is Squishy Circuits.  This is an easy way to get kids to build electrical circuits and would work with girls as young as Sparks.  Basically you make two types of play dough, one with lots of salt that will conduct electricity and one with lots of sugar that acts as an insulator.  If you connect them to a power source you can then make LEDs light up, motors spin etc.

The idea was developed by Dr. AnnMarie Thomas.  Here is a short TEDtalk by her, explaining how the circuits work.

The Squishy Circuit website contains recipes for each kind of dough and lots of suggestions for projects.  The Guider presenting this at Connect commented that the dough stores well in sealed containers.

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Origami as Algorithms

Understanding algorithms is an important programming skill.  But it doesn’t have to be taught though programming.  Many of the base concepts for programming algorithms can be found in skills like baking, knitting or origami.  Knitting patterns are especially great because they include if statements (if making size small then cast on 30 stitches etc.), for loops (repeat for next 30 rows) and while loops (repeat until 20 cms long).

Origami doesn’t often have while loops but the concept of step by step directionless still stands.  If you have girls who get frustrated with the instructions, ask them how they would improve them.  Do they need better definitions of what the words mean?  Do more steps need to be added?  Did they accidentally skip a step? Or add one that isn’t there?

You might want to have one basic design for everyone to make and a more complex one for those girls who are really experienced or pick up the design quickly.

Alexa, How Might We..?

This is another activity idea from, Canada Learning Code for Code Week.  Like BasketBots this one can be done entirely off line while still learning skills related to programming.  In Alexa, How Might We..? the girls are asked to propose a new app for a voice assistant (like Alexa, Siri or OK Google) to solve specific problems.  The girls then need to define the 4Cs of the problem: Components, Characters, Challenges and Characteristics (of the desired outcome).

Watching InSight

Tomorrow, around noon Pacific Time, NASA will be attempting to land a new probe on Mars.  InSight is short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.  It is designed to help us learn more about the interior of Mars (and compare it to what we know about our own planet).

You can watch the landing online.

Dragon Camp

Theme: This camp was run for Rangers but I’m including some ideas that would work for for younger girls as well.

Program Connections:

  • Spirit of Guiding 
  • Art Studio 
  • World Stage 

Activities

  • Dragon’s Den – We had the girls pitch an idea for an activity they thought the unit should do
  • Dragon themed movie under the stars
  • Build a catapult to slay a dragon (for large dragons or small)
  • Practice your fire lighting skills

Crafts

  1. Dragon Eyes
  2. Dragon Eggs
  3. Dragon Themed adult colouring sheets

Games

  • Tsuro – is a simple board game for up to 8 players
  • Dungeons and Dragons
  • Dragon Tail
  • dragon egg hunt  (look for glow in the dark eggs to make this a more challenging night game)

Readings

Confidence is like a dragon were, for every head cut off, two more heads grow back.
― Criss Jami

No, I would not want to live in a world without dragons, as I would not want to live in a world without magic, for that is a world without mystery, and that is a world without faith.
― R.A. Salvatore

Food

International Dishes from countries where dragons are important. For example:

  • Asian Dragons
    • China
    • India
    • Japan
    • Indonesia/Malaysia
  • European Dragons
    • France
    • Scandinavia
    • England
    • Wales
    • Hungary

Serve dragon fruit as a snack

Try decorating cupcakes as dragons

Try some very spicy food (have milk and bread available)

Campfire

Instead of singing, we challenged our Rangers to each bring a folk story about dragons (ideally from their own cultural background) to tell around the fire.  With younger girls a Guider could read stories between songs.

Basket Bots

The first week in December Canada Learning Code sponsors a Code Week the first week in December.  I know a lot of units meet in places were accessing computers would be difficult.  My unit meets in a church basement and even cell signal is really iffy. So I liked that Canada Learning Code has included a number of unplugged activity that still teach the basics of coding.  BasketBots involves pairing the girls off.  Once girl will be the robot and do just what the partner (the programmer) tells her to do.  The aim is to have the bot throw a ball though a basket ball hoop.  If you don’t meet in a room suitable for ball throwing, you could instead Do the Robot  which is basically the same activity but with random activities like opening a book, or opening a door.