Today we have been working at ThinkTank, the recently awarded Science Museum, with one of our favourite schools ‘Woodlands Ifnants’. The children who have been studying inventions and China had a day visit and I was asked to create a character to test their knowledge / impart new information. Initially we were going to have me in role as an American woman inventor who came up with the idea of the window wipers for cars in the early 20th century. Then on discussion with the teachers it was decided that to have a character from further back in time who didn’t know many basic inventions such as a cave man would give the children to ‘be the experts’.
We then looked at the focus of the term and that many of the inventions they know about had come out of their work about China (e.g. paper, umbrellas, compass). The Jade Emperor who had visited the school seemed a good character to bring back. We then linked the original story of the 4 dragons and set his imperative as being at the Science museum looking for new inventions to help his country and to help them when the rivers (created by the dragons) swelled and went into the low lying houses (the children had also looked at building houses on stilts).
This worked very well and the children were driven and animated and some used the role play to explore their thoughts and feelings about the current disaster in Japan (”A country not far from your own”) and through the device of them coming up with an invention for the future trying to problem solve this event which clearly had upset many of them. (”The wave was as high as the flats where I live” ”The old people couldn’t move quickly enough and died” ”The cars and lorries went under the water”).
The staff at ThinkTank were surprised and amused at groups of children suddenly bowing when they saw the Jade Emperor- as were the bemused other school groups!