September 05, 2007

Gunda the Dragon

These days I am busy preparing a chemistry program for young kids (age 4-9). It is inspired by a program developed and used by Navet in Borås, Sweden. They have for several years now had a program called "Do chemistry with Berta the Dragon". They start with story telling about Berta and her doing an experiment. Then they do the experiment with the kids. Afterwards they go to the laboratory and do some more experiments, after dressing up with real lab coats. They presented Berta at the Ecsite conference in Lisbon in June, and their presentation can be found here. Berta has been a huge success for Navet and they are now publishing books about her (in several languages).

I am developing a similar program to use locally, using a dragon (for now, it might be changed to a different creature), but creating my own setting and select my own experiments. I didn't want to photocopy the Navet version, rather bring to it some of my own personality and interests.

My dragon is called Gunda and she has a baby brother called Georg. Gunda loves the action of chemistry, while Georg is a bit nervous and prefers to deal with numbers. Georg is part of a math project, which is being developed by my colleague Anne. Using puppets and drama is one of the elements we wish to bring into many of our programs, because research from Britain shows that kids up to 12 gets a better learning experience when puppets are added as a learning tool.

Gunda and Georg are Tellatale puppets from The Wooden Gnome Store. I have made some modifications to Gunda to make her blow flames. If you wish to know how-to, drop me a note. On the photo to the right I am doing one of my first pyrotechnique tests. Anne is the blixtlight speed photographer here. The action takes just parts of a second, and is difficult to catch on film. The flame was four times longer at its maximum. This ought to impress the youngsters, and motivate them to learn some chemistry.

I will let you in on the details when I am finished with the whole thing. It will be launched at a school visit in Lavangen the second week of October, and at a seminar in Bodø just days later.
Update: If you wish to buy puppets, Living Puppets and Alveslottet (norwegian) are excellent sites too. Living Puppets also offer custom made puppets, if you want your own unique puppet.


marteks said...

Bra flamme!! Lykke til i Lavangen! Haaper ikke Gunda (eller du) faar scene nerver :)

Mona Holmø said...

Jeg demonstrerte dukka for femten barneskolelærere i dag. Jeg var noe nervøs og skjelven på hånda, men det gikk bra! Og lærerne ble imponerte... Du får komme innom og prøve selv, det er gøy ;D

Rob Burke said...

I'd love a how-to on the flames, it's a fantastic effect!

Lisa said...

Nicely done! You probably have a lot of fun at work :)

ssswin88 said...

WOW, Good idea.

ssswin88 said...