Science mad 8 year old. Need ideas to help stimulate....desperate!

(56 Posts)
DoItTooJulia Thu 20-Jun-13 11:17:48

Hoping you guys can help me out!

I have science mad 8 yo ds. He is particularly interested in chemistry, but any science, engineering, medical type stuff will do. I was vaguely scientific at school and my current career involves some food microbiology, so I can help him but only up to a point.

We have done every science kit available, he has dozens of science books, including ones on evolution and the latest Brian Cox offering. But he really wants to see a proper lab and do some more practical stuff.

What can I do?? I have seen techcamps but they are very expensive residentials for 9 years plus, so no good. He is now being alienated at school for being a geek and I really want him to be surrounded by like minded people or kids who will embrace this aspect of him! I really want to inspire him and support him, but I have drawn a blank. I am on maternity leave at the minute, so I have a whole six week holiday with him and I want to include some science activities. He has other interests, but science always wins out. I have booked us onto a university open day to see if there is a tour of the labs available and I have checked the holiday programme at our local science museum....

Any ideas or anyone else with experience of this??

DoItTooJulia Thu 20-Jun-13 13:36:49


Tricycletops Thu 20-Jun-13 13:40:24

As a child I went to a Saturday morning science club at our local university - we did things like being given tours of the backrooms of the museum and seeing labs and experiments. I can't remember age, unfortunately - I could have been 9/10ish or I might have been a young teen - but it might be worth checking if any universities near you do anything similar?

BellaVida Thu 20-Jun-13 13:48:55

You could see if there are any Mad Science camps in your area. I found out about it as they were at my children's school recently.

DoItTooJulia Thu 20-Jun-13 14:11:22

Thanks both. The Saturday morning science club at a university is exactly what I am after for him....
I will look at those science camps too, again, right up his street!

Bless him, he is just so into it and it breaks my heart to see him not loving school because he is considered too geeky.

bolshieoldcow Thu 20-Jun-13 14:24:44

Poor kid...hopefully he'll find some likeminded souls - or suddenly be considered cool when the others see the amazing stuff he can do!

There are some pretty nice ideas to do with him at home - have a look at for starters? Kits are a good starting point but there is actually loads you can do with stuff around the house.

stopfightingandtidyupthismess Thu 20-Jun-13 14:27:54

If you are near Winchester (or even not that near, its worth the trip), there is the most fantastic science centre called Intech - the experiments are all for kids to try out and play with, and there is over 100 of them. Its got a planetarium too!

TotemPole Thu 20-Jun-13 14:29:28

What part of the country are you in?

Jenny70 Thu 20-Jun-13 14:32:38

The Royal Institution (London) has a young science club - but not sure of any details, google them & there are contact details.

I can understand him not wanting to be teased & having friends with common interests, but from the science side it isn't really a team activity - many great scientists were loners with long periods of being derided for their beliefs.

But hopefully we've moved on from that attitude & he can find a common outlet with other geeks (like us!).

DoItTooJulia Thu 20-Jun-13 14:37:20

Ah, thanks bolshie.

DoItTooJulia Thu 20-Jun-13 14:43:12

X posts with lots of you, sorry!
We are in Birmingham, so you'd think there would be loads on offer!

Jenny, you are right. We are a relatively eccentric family, so in some ways, I think he needs to find a way to deal with people who don't get him/us, but it's just such a shame that he is saying he needs to tone it down to fit in. Hmpf.

Winchester may be a great day trip for us, so thanks for that. And I have seen the royal society science festival is on at the start of July. Well actually, ds told me about it, so I think we may be going to London for it. Just not so easy these days, with a 7 mo EBF baby in tow too!

Thanks all!

TotemPole Thu 20-Jun-13 14:45:22

I was going to suggest the Royal Institution, if London is easy for you to get to.

They have family fun days on Saturdays. Various lectures and programmes for under 18s.

Annual membership will get them free magazines, free entry to some things and discounts on others.

scaevola Thu 20-Jun-13 14:49:45

I was going to suggest Royal Institution too!

You can get the Christmas Lectures on DVD - try "The Science of Survival" as that might be a good match to his interests. Marcus de Sautnoy did ones on numbers/primes/code-breaking which were really good too.

incredible edibles is pretty cool for something different

it's cookery, but with a science twist - science in absolutely everything!

ooh, if you're in Birmingham, then you're not too far away from the National Space Centre in Leicester.
it's amazing
and there are plenty of activities for the children to do as well

PeterParkerSays Thu 20-Jun-13 14:55:21

Have you looked at the events run at the Think Tank? They're divided up by KS group.

I'm amazed to see they also do sessions just got home educated children. Not sure I've ever seen another museum offer that!

DoItTooJulia Thu 20-Jun-13 14:56:49

Oh, hold on. Ds has told me about the Royal Society, not the Royal Institute.

Will check it out! Also, we subscribe to How It Works for him, but was wondering if there is anything else like that that people recommend? Worried that the proper scientific journals will be too much for him yet. Also feel like I need to keep something up my sleeve for when he is a bit older.

DoItTooJulia Thu 20-Jun-13 14:57:53

Peter, TANK tank was his first word. It took ages to figure out what he meant. He obviously meant think tank! His favourite place in the world!

Littleturkish Thu 20-Jun-13 15:00:52

How about young radio amateurs? A little bit science-y and our local one is run in the university chemistry labs!! He would love that!

Xiaoxiong Thu 20-Jun-13 16:05:01

All these ideas are great. Has he checked out It's free and aimed at kids from 7+ and has lots of science and tech skills challenges (see for instance the chemist skill challenges here:

That way he would get to connect with like-minded kids from all over the world who are doing the same challenges (and there's a dashboard so you can monitor everything he's doing).

Xiaoxiong Thu 20-Jun-13 16:05:31

Ahh bolshie got there before me grin

DoItTooJulia Thu 20-Jun-13 16:08:06

Just picked him up from school, so will have a good look at the suggestions with a nice cuppa.

His latest science phase is apothecary stuff....eek!

ControlGeek Thu 20-Jun-13 16:17:30

Are you able to get to the Exploratory science museum in Bristol? I went when I was doing supply teaching with my class and it was utterly amazing. It would be a bit of a trek from Brum, but it sounds like you might have quite a few days to kill. I know it doesn't tick your box for regular contact with other kids into the same stuff though.

ControlGeek Thu 20-Jun-13 16:18:46

OMG ignore my last post - I've just found their official web page. It closed. In 1999 blush

DoItTooJulia Thu 20-Jun-13 16:46:44

Thanks ControlGeek. I guess I have two requirements...supporting, stimulating and encouraging his scientific education and then the other one, trying to find a place for him to just be him which in an ideal world would be a science club of some kind.

Unfortunately the science he gets at school is babyish (his words) so anything to scratch his itch needs to be done out of school.

We do travel to science museums, Manchester being the favourite for a while! I think there is something in Wales that your suggestion has reminded me of. I can't think what it is now, will have a google.

FairPhyllis Thu 20-Jun-13 16:48:35

The Natural History Museum in Oxford is closed this year for renovation BUT they are doing some behind the scenes tours. There's one on dung beetles next week. Oxford is definitely a place you could keep an eye on - maybe even Manchester?

And if you could get to Oxford on Saturday, there's a Science Live event that children can go to on medical research: here. You'd probably have to book.

Also continuing the Oxford theme ... Oxford University used to make science kits for children - I know you said he's got loads, but have you seen those? I saw them in Blackwells in Oxford a few years ago and wanted to play with them myself but have never seen them anywhere else.

Maybe something like New Scientist? Give him a book on coding and let him loose? Building radios? Is he into natural history type stuff at all?

bolshieoldcow Thu 20-Jun-13 17:00:24

Here's a few more sites you could look at for ideas and info on events: are associated with Birmingham Uni, I think, and might be able to give you some advice.
There's the 2013 Big Bang science fair, at the Ricoh Area, Coventry on Tuesday, 25th June 2013
And has loads of info on activities to do at home as well as things to do in the community - again, if you were to contact them directly, they may well be able to point you in the right direction.

Good luck!

DoItTooJulia Thu 20-Jun-13 17:06:35

I really appreciate the replies. I don't know any other parents with this issue, so I haven't got anyone to bounce ideas off. Gotta love MN! I have more ideas in one afternoon than I would have come up with in a year!

I wondered about new scientist. Maybe I will get a subscription and see how he goes.

Thanks again!

Fluffybumblebee Thu 20-Jun-13 17:12:00

Not exactly Chemsistry, but would he like something like this:
or this
or maybe this

DoItTooJulia Thu 20-Jun-13 17:22:40

Raspberry pi is really interesting, but I have no aptitude in computing/programming, so I am not sure how far I would be able to help him with that. I suppose I shouldn't let that limit him though!

FionaJT Thu 20-Jun-13 17:22:42

This is a bit far from you, but I've been taking my 8yr old to these workshops in Bath this spring, which have been great
I found out about them a bit by chance so it's worth doing some digging around the websites of any relevant organisations nearer you in case they are doing something similar.

DoItTooJulia Thu 20-Jun-13 19:25:21

Ok, I have had a great afternoon! The Royal Institution looks awesome. I am going to make ds a Faraday Junior member and investigate their programme if events, so that's great.

The DIY chemist, brilliant!

The Bath suggestion, thanks, I have emailed them to find out more and to see if they have any info or links to Midlands based stuff.

Incredible edibles looks great too, just the sort of thing we could do together over the hols.

Brilliant, thank you all!

Has he been to Magna in Rotherham? It looks great and I think it is interactive.

EndoplasmicReticulum Thu 20-Jun-13 19:44:55

I used to work at the Exploratory, it was indeed great. They replaced it with At Bristol which is also good but not quite the same amount of hands-on-ness.

Another website for you:

also the Science museum have resources like this one:

More kitchen science from OU

I have a science-mad 8 year old too, he has been bewildering his teachers since he was in reception and he steals my textbooks to read. (I'm a science teacher). He also gets called names at school.

I know it's years to wait, but science gets a lot more fun at secondary, I find that primary teachers even if they are brilliant are somewhat limited by lack of facilities.

Also - have you considered buying him a microscope? Don't get a "kids" one as they are not generally worth peering down, but a proper one. Or a Digital Blue, we borrowed one from school and had lots of fun.

The centre for alternative technology is wales is good -Eco science.

DoItTooJulia Thu 20-Jun-13 20:13:30

Never heard of Magna, will look into it!

Oh, Endo it's horrible to think our kids face that at school. Ds loves school (learning) but hates play time. I have spoken to his teacher about it and he is helping, but it still upsets him (and me).

Bewildering is a good word to describe how his teachers have felt about my ds too. If I am honest, it's a bit scary, because he is just so quick and like a sponge. It's a limbo age too for science, as secondary school science will be much better for him, but it does seems like a long way off. I also worry about structure for his learning. A the moments it's a random affair, with him expressing an interest in something, me buying him books, googling it, YouTube searches, etc until we exhaust it and move on. Also I can't answer all of his questions anymore. I could dazzle him at 5 with my (limited) knowledge of the periodic table. Alas no longer.

Will check out those links, thanks!

scaevola Thu 20-Jun-13 20:19:28

OP: please, pretty please would you consider asking MNHQ if they would move this thread to The Science and Nature Club forum?

I'd be disappointed if a thread with so many recommendations went pfft (as I want to nick all the best ideas).

MummyMastodon Thu 20-Jun-13 20:21:28

You are probably about an hour from Jodrell Bank, they do kids sciency stuff in July and August

FariesDoExist Thu 20-Jun-13 20:29:26

Tecniquest in Cardiff Bay (and one on Wrexham)

EndoplasmicReticulum Thu 20-Jun-13 20:45:17

There's a Science and Nature Club?


(heads off to have a look).

Julia my boy is obsessed with Minecraft. Might be worth a look? You can do all sorts of sciencey things with it.

We've had a discussion about how being a geek is not a bad thing. He's happy enough. Tricky at a small primary school where everyone else is more into football.

DoItTooJulia Thu 20-Jun-13 20:47:09

Techniquest...that was it! Thank you! Will be going this summer for sure!

Jodrell Bank looks great...had never heard of that. We have relatives oop north, so will put that in our list for when we are visiting them.

And scaevola will do! You learn something new every day, didn't know that part of MN existed!

DoItTooJulia Thu 20-Jun-13 20:50:25

Endo, his eight birthday party was minecraft themed. I had to make creeper party bags and a minecraft cake. We have even watched YouTube tutorials on minecraft, bought minecraft lego and fridge magnets. It sounds like your ds and my ds would be good friends!

EndoplasmicReticulum Thu 20-Jun-13 20:58:31

Where did you get the Minecraft Lego? It seems very hard to find and rather expensive!

We got boy a foam Minecraft pickaxe for his birthday.

Oh and just remembered this, some more experiments here:

DoItTooJulia Thu 20-Jun-13 21:10:36

Actually from Lego. I saw it on amazon (too expensive) and one of the reviews posted a link to Lego at half the price! Bonus! It's a mini set too, so comes in a small box, which can be a shock!

Tubemole1 Thu 20-Jun-13 21:25:26

If you want a day out or night over in London take your boy to the Science Museum. My daughter loves the demos and the space exhibits. The Flight gallery is pretty awesome too, as they have a doodlebug! They also sell a huge library of books and stuff to do at home, experiments and things to build etc.

ALSO in London is the Wellcome Institute not far from Euston Station (virgin trains). Some parts may not be appropriate for an 8 year old, you can ask the staff where its safe to go. It explores the human body, medicine, the mind, and holds historical items showing the advancement of medical technology. Some of the Wellcome stuff is also held at the Science museum.

For a freaky stop off, check out the Operating Theatre at Guy's hospital, or the Florence Nightingale museum at St Thomas' hospital. The operating theatre needs prior booking, I think.

If you are staying over, Euston hosts plenty of budget rooms Premier Inn, Travelodge, holiday inn etc.

Tubemole1 Thu 20-Jun-13 21:38:47

Wellcome Collection, not institute.

scaevola Thu 20-Jun-13 21:39:10

Here's a link to some on-line Christmas Lectures. I think the 2007 ones are brilliant.

DoItTooJulia Thu 20-Jun-13 21:54:08

We like the Science Museum and love London too. The operating theatre sounds cool.

Thanks for the Christmas Lectures links, I think I may have some recorded from this Christmas, languishing. I will check!

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 20-Jun-13 22:43:02


We've moved this to Science and Nature Club now at the OP's request.

FairPhyllis Fri 21-Jun-13 00:03:52

When he's 13 he can visit CERN - tell him to look forward to that!

mamababa Fri 21-Jun-13 08:25:28

Magna is really good (can do it on Tesco vouchers too and get 2 for 1's online) its a science museum in the old steelworks building and divided into 4 areas - earth, air, water and fire. Eureka! In Halifax is also good.

What about doing some science experiments at home like lighting a bulb with a lemon, getting lemon juice/vinegar and some bicarbonate of soda (nice and foamy) candles under a glass jar in a bowl of water?

Let's play spot the tragic MNer with a chemistry degree grin. I went to Aston Uni they do loads of science courses might show you the labs or you could ring some local companies?

DoItTooJulia Fri 21-Jun-13 08:27:23

Hey mama, I have emailed Aston, to see if they will give us a tour! Fingers crossed!

TheDoctrineOfAllan Tue 02-Jul-13 20:21:31

If you're down Cambridge way ever, there's a small science centre on Jesus Lane full of experimental stations for kids.

DoItTooJulia Wed 03-Jul-13 10:30:18

This to everyone for their help! I have an update...I have found that tomorrow's Achievers run master classes in Birmingham! I missed the last one, but they will be running them again next term. The one we missed was.....chemistry! Would you believe it??

The classes a ideal, run in national curriculum age grows, so he would be with other like minded and similar aged kids, so a total winner!

Should probably link to it:

DoItTooJulia Wed 03-Jul-13 10:52:18

Thanks not this!

DoItTooJulia Wed 03-Jul-13 10:53:24

Oh, full of typos! iPads gone mad!

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