Saturday, 31 March 2012

Lesson in Colour - 29 Mar 2012

Yesterday Ming was not well so he stayed home. I was inspired by some people (and blogs) recently and decided to have some fun with Ming to explore colours.

We got ready some food colouring, white crayon, flour, art papers etc. I explained to Ming some possibilities that he could explore with colours. I spent a long time in the morning observing him. He loves drawing from young, and he has tonnes of imagination and creative ideas. However, I have never encouraged colouring for whatever reasons. He was uncomfortable with the exploration. He didn't like the feeling of wet, dirt and colours on his body.

We started with very basic things like mixing different colours to see the effects. Then he was left to explore on his own.

Techniques: Finger paint on a dry art paper. Creating a butterfly from the finger paint.

Techniques: Draw with a white crayon on an art paper. Then wet the paper. Next, Ming used different ways to apply colours on the wet paper and watch how the colours spread. Lastly, he sprinkled some flour on the painting.

Techniques: Draw with a white crayon on an art paper. Mix food colouring with flour to make them like paste. Paint onto the dry art paper. Colours appeared sharper and not so diluted.

The following was the best part that both of us enjoyed very much. I could see him lightening up and engaging fully to explore on his own.

I got this idea from a blog and tried to fit it into this exploration. It's called "Ice Cube Painting" (..... got to work on them fast in our hot climate else they melt away).

Techniques: Paint different colours onto ice cubes and put on a dry art paper. As they melt, it's a great opportunity to draw and paint and have fun!!!

Final result!!!!! We could not keep the painting because it was drowned by the water.

Later in the day, I tried to repeat the same exploration with my two older boys.

It was a more difficult process and did not turn out as harmonious as I hoped. They were impatient, trying to complete as many as they could, and trying to "draw" rather than "explore" as the latter was a new concept to them. Another observation was their attitude to expect things to come to them, to be provided, to be determined by other people.

This exploration turned to be more than art and colour. It is a good exercise for character building too.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

An Eggy Tale - Origami

Posting by Xian Wei:

I want to share with you my origami crafts in a story below. I use my brother's paper mache as the background props. I like doing origami during my free time. Hope you enjoy my story..............

This is the Face family, their names are Rocky, Moustache, Happy, Angry and Tiny (photo from right to left).

They are sitting on a raft heading to the Perilous Peak in the island of Forsaken Rapids.

The Face family is hunting for a golden egg.

On the way, they see a giant worm, a sly fox, a silver hare and a bird-bat hybrid creature.

They hide in a cave until it is dark then they continue to hunt for the golden egg.

They find the golden pheasant that lays golden egg but an one-eyed giant is guarding it.

The one-eyed giant is holding a club and sitting on a huge frog. 

They surround the giant and hit him so hard until he falls to the ground and becomes unconscious.

Finally the Face family gets the golden egg.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Raptors in the Sky - 15 March 2012

Raptor Watch is an annual event organised and promoted by the Malaysian Nature Society. This marks the return of the raptors or birds of prey on their journey back to their breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere. The spring migration begins in mid February until mid April and this is the best time to watch these raptors crossing Tanjung Tuan in Port Dickson.

Raptor Watch is celebrated in Tanjung Tuan every year, which is one of the remaining coastal forests on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Tanjung Tuan or Cape Rachado as named by the Portuguese is a cape with a lighthouse facing the Straits of Malacca. It is a very important stop over site for migratory raptors after crossing the Straits of Malacca.

The trek uphill was really pleasant. It was cool to walk under the shady trees and the paved trail made it easy for young and old. Along the way, we looked out for plants, insects and animals and we could hear different sounds from the forest birds.

At the end of the trail, after about half an hour, we came to the oldest lighthouse in Malaysia, the Cape Rachado Lighhouse, originally built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Today, it is a site for conservation of migratory birds.

There's a narrow path in front of the lighthouse for visitors to stand and the view is so serene. Turquoise sea water. Beautiful scenery. 

A few of the regular birdwatching volunteers. They were so passionate in what they do. Rain or shine from 9am to 5pm, they would be there to do the raptor count. They were so knowledgeable, and able to identify the birds and their habitats and origins. They have a certain technique to count the birds, and developed their communication lingo (eg. '5XL' means 5 birds at extreme left).

No, this was not a shot in Europe.........

We came prepared too......

Raptors in the sky! The best time to watch raptors would be between 11am to 3pm. However, we felt that the best time is between 10am to before noon especially if it is a sunny morning. After noon, it becomes very hot and uncomfortable to stand under the hot sun without shade. If the weather is cloudy or rainy in the morning, then very likely there won't be much to see. Raptors need thermal, ie hot air produced from the land due to the heat of the sun. Thermal will assist the raptors to glide in the sky without the need to use too much energy to flap their wings.

Some species of raptors that we saw - one white bellied sea eagle, one changeable hawk-eagle, two juvenile brahminy kite and more than 40 oriental honey buzzard. We also saw a few other birds like the forktailed swift birds and blue throated birds. Without the help of the birdwatching volunteers, we don't think we would be able to identify them. (Photos extracted from Google Images)

Relaxing on the beach....

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Hot Air Balloon Fiesta - 15 Mar 2012

The annual Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is back!

There were 28 balloons participating in the Hare & Hound Competition this year. To catch the balloons flying up, we were there at 7.30am and were able to see the colourful preparation bustling with people from the media and team members from participating countries.

Hare was the first balloon that took off to be followed by the hounds, ie the other balloons..

Hare & Hounds

Ground work to get the balloons ready.....

 Hot air balloons are based on a very basic scientific principle
- warmer air rises in cooler air.

 The biggest birthday cake balloon took the longest time to get ready.......

Here they go!!!!!!!!!
Balloons are all one-way flight and they only travel as fast as the wind blows.

Balloons dotting the sky on a hazy morning........

Miniature balloons for sale.....

Friday, 16 March 2012

The Da Vinci Genius - 12 Mar 2012

The Leonardo Da Vinci Machines Exhibition: 3 Feb 2012 to 15 April 2012 at Mines Exhibition Centre, Kuala Lumpur.
We must give credits to the organiser for bringing more than 70 of Leonardo exhibits to Malaysia. We always know Leonardo as the painter of Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, but little was heard of his "technical" drawings. The interactive and working machines of Leonardo were created by the Artisans of Florence from these technical drawings.  However, we have heard that the response of the exhibition was not encouraging, and when we were there, the place was quite deserted. There was not enough publicity to more appropriate target groups like college and university students especially those pursuing technical fields. Those who have understanding of the technologies or history will better appreciate the exhibits, and the younger ones will not appreciate the genius behind the ideas. We could leisurely cover the exhibits in an hour, making it quite expensive for a family visit (Adult: RM28 and Child: RM18).
Leonardo was dedicated with passion not just in painting, but in scientific studies in anatomy, biology, mathematics and physics.
"Vitruvian Man"
From his exhibits, he was devoted to the study of nature and produced ideas and inventions to solve practical problems of his time and future possibilities such as flying machines and automation.
Theme 1: War Machines
The Tank

Trench Excavating Machine

We saw many exhibits related to machines for warfare. In the 15th century, the Italian Peninsula was caught up in a continual struggle for power, glory and wealth. The city-states were competing with one another in warfare, and Italy city-states were also battlegrounds in the French and Spain conflicts. This could explain why Leonardo has so many ideas and inventions for war machines.
Theme 2: Flying Machines
Leonardo devoted his attention to the study of nature, like the study of flight of birds and bats, he would buy caged birds just to release them and watch the way they moved. He also studied the flow of tides, the nature of waves, movement of rivers, fall of rain etc to find his ideas for his inventions.

Theme 3: Nautical & Hydraulic
Assembling the Arched Bridge

A method to build a lightweight, portable bridge without ropes or iron.

Theme 4: Principles of Mechanics

Crossbow car, a self-moving vehicle, with 3 wheels, a handbrake and a tiller.

Room of Mirrors
If you are standing in the centre, you can see every part of yourself...

The exhibits also included Leonardo's reproduced masterpieces, which made Leonardo so famous even though there's a growing awareness and admiration of him as a scientist and inventor. 

Friday, 2 March 2012

Sunrise at Broga Hill - 25 Feb 2012

Posting by Xian Jin

Last Saturday, my father and I went trekking at Broga Hill, Semenyih. Even though I have been to a rabbit farm nearby, this was my first time trekking at Bukit Broga. We brought along mosquito repellant, sun block, a walking stick and extra clothing. We reached there at 7.10 a.m.

It was still dark when we started.

The trail was exceptionally steep and uneven.
The magnificent view that I saw when walking up.

The trail was almost like upright, but we were determined to continue. Even though it was early, we saw hundreds of people.

Watching the sunrise was a reward for all our hard work.

At this point, I felt that I was the tallest person in the world.
We saw another hill that looked much bigger than Broga Hill but we did not go there. We also saw many people sitting on rocks, talking with each other and even camping!

 Going down the hill was more dangerous than going up but no one got hurt.

The trek took us about one and a half hours. Most people felt thirsty after the long trek so they went straight to enjoy the coconuts. I think trekking is a good way for me to relax and to forget all my worries. It was an enjoyable morning.
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