The sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) is a large, deciduous tree with a straight, cylindrical trunk and erect branches, which form a large, domed crown. The dark gsycamore-leavesreen leaves are long and broad, with five pointed lobes and toothed edges. The colouration of the leaves may change to bright yellow in autumn. Sycamore trees can grow to 35m and can live for 400 years.

When a sycamore is young, it has smooth, grey bark, which becomes rougher as it ages, eventually breaking up into scales, exposing the pale brown or pinkish inner bark. The pale green or yellow flowers of this species have very thin petals, a white stamen and bright yellow anthers.  After pollination by wind and insects, female flowers develop into distinctive winged fruits known as samaras.  Each seed has a long wing, which helps to increase the distance it travels from the parent plant. The seeds of the sycamore are arranged in pairs in a ‘V’ shape.

sycamoreHaving been introduced to the UK in the 17th century, sycamore is particularly tolerant of ‘sea spray’ and may be planted near the coast. Sycamore trees are attractive to aphids and therefore a variety of their predators, such as ladybirds, hoverflies and birds. The leaves are eaten by caterpillars of a number of moths, including the sycamore moth, plumed prominent and maple prominent. The flowers provide a good source of pollen and nectar to bees and other insects, and the seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals.sycamore seed

Sycamore timber is hard and strong, pale cream and with a fine grain. It is used for making furniture and kitchenware as the wood does not taint or stain the food. Trees are planted in parks and large gardens for ornamental purposes. Mature trees are extremely tolerant of wind, so are often planted in coastal and exposed areas, as a wind break. They are also tolerant of pollution and are therefore planted in towns and cities.


sycamore 1While discussing and examining Sycamore seeds we came to the conclusion that a few of us were interested in the speed of the fall that the seed makes – does it depend on the size of the seed, so we thought we would investigate.

We thought that the bigger the seed the faster it would fall – as it is heavier.




Here are our results:

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 14.07.26

However it is clear from our results that the size of the seed and the speed that it falls have no correlation at all.



Starting a fire


There are various things you can use to start a fire – the main ways being matches, lighters, fire starters or a fire steel.


Matches-Fingers-Hand-FireMatches – You have to strike them against a special surface in order to get them to ignite. The match heads contain sulfur (sometimes antimony III sulfide) and oxidising agents (usually potassium chlorate), with powdered glass, colorants, fillers, and a binder made of glue and starch. The striking surface consists of powdered glass or silica (sand), red phosphorus, binder, and filler. When you strike a match, the glass-on-glass friction generates heat, converting a small amount of red phosphorus to white phosphorus vapor. White phosphorus spontaneously ignites, decomposing potassium chlorate and liberating oxygen. At this point, the sulfur starts to burn, which ignites the wood of the match.


Lighters – A spark is created by striking metal against a flint, or by pressing a button that compresses a piezoelectric crystal (piezo ignition), generating an electric arc. In naphtha lighters, the liquid is sufficiently volatile, and flammable vapour is present as soon as the top of the lighter is opened. Butane lighters combine the striking action with the opening of the valve to release gas. The spark ignites the flammable gas causing a flame to come out of the lighter which continues until either the top is closed (naphtha type), or the valve is released (butane type). A metal enclosure with air holes generally surrounds the flame, and is designed to allow mixing of fuel and air while making the lighter less sensitive to wind. The high energy jet in butane lighters allows mixing to be accomplished by using Bernoulli’s principle, so that the air hole(s) in this type tend to be much smaller and farther from the flame.

Fire starter – Fire starters are used instead of matches or gas fuelled lighters to light a fire. They are handy as an emergency fire starter in case your matches get wet. The types are flint and steel, and magnesium fire starters.

  1. Flint and steel is the most basic type of fire starter and predates the invention of matches. To use this method, you will need a large piece of flint that can be gripped in the hand. One edge should be sharp. The flint is striked against a fire steelrough steel, like an old file. The friction from striking the two against each other causes tiny flakes of steel to heat up and fly away in the form of sparks.
  2. A commercially made version of the flint and steel is actually made with magnesium. They work the same way, except you use a steel (or knife) to scrape off tiny flakes of magnesium that heat up to create sparks. Magnesium burns hotter and longer than steel, making fire lighting easier.

Fire Steel – A fire steel is a piece of high carbon or alloyed steel from which sparks are struck by the sharp edge of chert or similar rock. Modern fire strikers, commonly called “artificial flints”, are made from ferrocerium alloys.


vaseline and cotton wool.jpgAn excellent fire starter that keeps for ages and burns for about 6-7 minutes is vaseline and cotton wool! This works well and the reason is because the petroleum jelly does not ignite as quickly as cotton wool does. The dry cotton ball will ignite easily, smear the outside of it with the petroleum jelly. Leave the inside of it dry cotton. Having the outside smeared will keep the inside protected from moisture. When you are ready to ignite it, tear the cotton ball open, so the dry cotton can catch your sparks. The cotton will ignite, and that flame will then ignite the petroleum jelly. It will work like a candle at that point, with the cotton serving as a wick to the jelly.

The Almost Answered Prayer

Oak Galls


Oak apple or oak gall is the common name for a large, round, vaguely apple-like gall commonly found on many species of oak. Oak apples range in size from 2–5 cm in diameter and are caused by chemicals injected by the larva of certain kinds of gall wasp in the family Cynipidae.

Different species of gall wasp develop inside distinctive galls affecting various structures on the tree. Oak gall wasps have complex life cycles, with alternating generations that are either sexual with males and females, or asexual with females only. The two generations often produce different types of gall on different parts of the tree, and in some species the two generations alternate between native and non-native species of oak.

The appearance of galls on an oak tree can cause alarm and some, such as the spangle and silk button galls might be mistaken for pests such as scale insects. Gall wasps however, cause no long term ill effects to oak trees. Gall wasps that attack the acorns can substantially reduce the acorn crop in some years, which may have consequences for pigeons, jays, squirrels and other rodents that eat acorns during the winter. The future of oak trees is not threatened by galls wasps as there are years when acorn gall wasps are scarce and plenty of acorns are produced.

Some commonly encountered oak gall wasps include –

oak galls

  • Oak apple gall wasp
  • Oak marble gall wasp
  • Oak artichoke gall wasp
  • Common spangle gall wasp
  • Smooth spangle galls
  • Silk button gall wasp
  • Oak cherry gall wasp
  • Acorn or Knopper gall wasp


There are about 50 species on common oak and about 25 species on other plants. In recent years several additional oak-associated species have become established in Britain from elsewhere in Europe.



Stinging Nettles


The scientific name of stinging nettle is Urtica dioica, and the plant is one of six subspecies within the Urtica genus. The native range of stinging nettle, also known as common nettle in some places, is extensive, including stinging-nettleAfrica, Europe, Asia, and North America. The plant itself is relatively small, rarely growing past five feet in height. The leaves and stems in some of the subspecies have long stinging hairs that inject an array of chemicals when touched, including histamine, formic acid, serotonin, and acetylcholine. This produces an irritating, uncomfortable sensation in the skin, which is why some of the other common names for stinging nettle are burn weed and burn nettle.


Stinging Hairs on a Stinging Nettle

Stinging nettles have developed stinging cells as an adaptation to stop herbivores from eating them. The plants contain long, thin, hollow hairs that cover the majority of the stem and the underside of the leaves.  Nettle stings contain acid but they also contain histamine and other chemicals, it is the histamine that causes the initial reaction when you are stung. When these compounds come into contact with skin, they cause a painful stinging and burning sensation along with a white rash accented by red, inflamed skin.


This herbaceous flowering plant may be considered as an annoyance to many when they brush against its sharp, stinging leaves, but for thousands of years, people around the world have used stinging nettle to treat a wide variety of health conditions, some of the most important health benefits of stinging nettle include its ability to;

  • Detoxify the body
  • Improve metabolic efficiency
  • Boost immune healthWhat-to-do-with-Stinging-Nettles-from-And-Here-We-Are...
  • Increase circulation
  • Improve energy levels
  • Manage menstruation
  • Minimise menopausal symptoms
  • Heal skin conditions
  • Protect kidney and gallbladder health
  • Lower inflammation
  • Increase muscle mass
  • Regulate hormonal activity
  • Prevent diabetes
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Soothe haemorrhoids
  • Improve respiratory conditions.


As well as being an annoyance or a health benefit, nettles can be made into a soup. Nettle soup is a traditional soup prepared from stinging nettles. Nettle soup is eaten mainly during spring and early summer, when young nettle buds are collected. Today, nettle soup is mostly eaten in Scandinavia, Iran, Ireland and Eastern Europe, but historically consumption of nettles was more widespread. Nettle stew was eaten by inhabitants of Britain in the Bronze Age, 3000 years ago.

HOW TO MAKE IT?nettle soup

1. Wash your nettles well and cut off the tough stalks.

2. Sauté an onion gently in olive oil for five to 10 minutes but don’t allow to brown, add a clove of crushed garlic and sweat half a carrier bag full of nettle leaves until they become soft.

3. Add a diced potato and cover with stock. Simmer for 20 min.

4. Add soya milk, dairy milk, crème fraiche, fresh single or double cream to thin it to the consistency you require.

5. This velvet-green soup has a mineral taste, like strong spinach, and you’ll be pleased to know that all the stinging hairs mysteriously vanish during the cooking process.

Electric Circuits


An electric current is the path in which electrons from a voltage or current source flow to form an electric charge. Some insulating materials become electrically charged when they are rubbed together.BasicCircuitDiagram

A circuit always needs a power source, such as a battery, with wires connected to both the positive (+) and negative (-) ends. A battery is also known as a cell. A circuit can also contain other electrical components, such as switches, bulbs, buzzers or motors, which allow electricity to pass through. Electricity will only travel around a circuit that is complete, that means it has no gaps.

chargesThere are two types of electric charges: positive and negative. Charges that are the same (e.g. positive and positive) repel, while unlike charges (e.g. positive and negative) attract. An object is negatively charged if it has an excess of electrons, and is otherwise positively charged or uncharged.



  • Electron – is a very small piece of matter and energy.
  • Voltage – is a force that makes electricity move through a wire.
  • Resistor – is a restriction of current. It limits the electrical current that flows through a circuit (resistors can be linked in various combinations to help make a circuit – series or parallel).
  • Electronic component – is a device used to affect electrons.
  • Electric charge – is the physical property of matter that causes it to experience a force when placed in an electromagnetic field.



When making an electrical circuit the components can be connected in series or in parallel. The characteristics of the current and potential difference (voltage) are different in series and parallel circuits.

SeriesSeries connections are components that are connected one after another on the same loop of the circuit. The current that flows across each component connected in series is the same.

The circuit diagram shows a circuit with two lamps connected in series. If one lamp breaks, the other lamp will not light.

Parallelparallel connections are components that are connected on separate loops. The current is shared between each component connected in parallel. The total amount of current flowing into the junction, or split, is equal to the total current flowing out.

The circuit diagram shows a circuit with two lamps connected in parallel. If one lamp breaks, the other lamp will still light.



When you jump start a car you are basically putting a working battery in parallel with the drained one, giving the circuit some energy by circumventing the dead battery.

You don’t connect the two negative terminals as this would mean the circuit would have virtually no load and be somewhat dangerous. You actually do connect the negative terminals, but you do it through the body of the car to give the circuit some resistance, stopping everything from burning out from the high current.


Park your car (that is dead) facing or next to the car giving you the jump and open both the bonnets. Both cars should be off.

  1. Clamp one end of the red cable (+) to the positive (+) terminal on the battery of the dead car.
  2. Clamp the other end of the red cable (+) to the positive (+) terminal but this time on the battery of the car you are trying to jump start from.
  3. Clamp one end of the black cable (-) to the negative (-) terminal on the battery of the car you are trying to jump start from.
  4. Clamp the other end of the black cable (-) to the some unpainted metal screw or knob near the battery of the dead car. This is to ground the connection. Do not connect it to the negative (-) of the car’s battery or have it touch the engine from the car you are trying to jump start from.

Now you can start the engine of the car you are trying to jump start from. Let it run for a few minutes so the power starts flowing. Next, start the dead car and let that run for a few minutes as well.



There are six types of corn: sweetcorn, popcorn, flour corn, dent corn, flint corn and pod corn. The four most common types of corn are sweet, dent, flint, and popcorn.

popcornPopcorn is grown in a field and looks very similar to a sweetcorn corn-on-the-cob. Popcorn is a whole grain. It is made up of three components: the germ, endosperm and pericarp (or known as the hull).

Popcorn differs from other types of corn in that its hull has just the right thickness to allow it to (eventually) burst open. Each kernel of popcorn contains a small drop of water stored inside a circle of soft starch. Popcorn needs between 13.5-14% moisture to pop. The soft starch is surrounded by the kernel’s hard outer surface.



Popcorn will pop when the kernel is heated and the water begins to expand. At around 212 degrees the water will begin to turn into steam and encourage the starch inside each kernel to change into a superheated gelatinous substance. The kernel will continue to heat to around 347 degrees, the pressure inside the kernel will reach about 135 per square inch before finally bursting open.

what makes popcorn pop

As it explodes the steam inside the kernel is released, the soft starch inside the popcorn becomes inflated and spills out, cooling immediately and forming into the odd shape we know and love. A single kernel can swell to around 40-50 times its original size!  The first part of starch that emerges forms a “leg” of sorts, which catapults the kernel like as the remaining starch spills out.  This is why popcorn jumps as it cooks.


Here is a video of us making popcorn in the woods ourselves.

Video –

Did you know there were 6 different types of corn?



Sugar is a sweet natural ingredient obtained from various plants, especially sugar cane and sugar beet, it is used as a sweetener in food and drink.

The most common kinds of sugar

  • Sucrose is often called table sugar – made up from glucose and fructose, extracted from sugar cane or sugar beet and also naturally in most fruits and vegetables.
  • Fructose and glucose – found in fruits, vegetables and honey.
  • Lactose is commonly called milk sugar – found in milk and dairy products.
  • Maltose is also known as malt sugar – found in malted drinks and beer.

Making Sense of Sugar (2016)


Chest of Books (2016) states when sugar is heated without the addition of water a point is reached at which they change from a crystalline to a liquid state. This is called the melting point.The melting point of sucrose is 160° to 161°C.

Impure solutions of sucrose will give variable melting points. After sugar is melted and cooled slowly it forms hard shapeless sugar sometimes called “barley sugar.” If sucrose is heated above the melting point brownish-colored substances called caramel are formed.

When there is moisture, caramelisation may begin at temperatures below 100°C. Maltose melts at about 100°C. Having a lower melting point than sucrose it decomposes more easily by heat. The melting point of Fructose is 95°C.

WHAT IS THE MELTING POINT OF MARSHMALLOWS?Marshmallows have a very low melting point. The melting point of marshmallows is 45°c. However, due to marshmallows being mostly sugars, they are likely to burn rather quickly.

 When marshmallows are toasted, a chemical change occurs. The sugar molecules in the marshmallow are being changed into carbon. Sugar can be changed into water molecules. When you toast marshmallows, the heat causes a chemical reaction producing water molecules which then evaporate, leaving the carbon behind.

A marshmallow undergoes a six-step transformation before it becomes a toasted marshmallow: marshmellow
  1. The swelling – as you heat the marshmallow, the moisture inside expands, which causes the marshmallow to swell.
  2. The escape – as the moisture expands, it creates tiny holes in the marshmallow, which allow the moisture to escape as steam.
  3. The sugar rush – as the marshmallow does not now have moisture, it is a sucrose char. Oxygen in the air rushes to the surface of the marshmallow.
  4. The flame on stage – oxygen diffuses to the surface of the marshmallow from the surrounding air. At the surface of the marshmallow, carbon reacts with oxygen, which produces a blue flame.
  5. The oxidation stage – carbon atoms combine with oxygen atoms to produce carbon monoxide, and then carbon dioxide.
  6. The oxyinterruptus stage – as you remove the marshmallow from the fire and blow the marshmallow out, the oxidation process is interrupted, creating soot which is evidence of incomplete combustion: hydrocarbon + oxygen  →  carbon monoxide + carbon + water.




What is sugar


Forest School

Forest Schools Education (N.D) states the philosophy of Forest Schools is to encourage and inspire individuals through an educational approach to outdoor play and learning in a woodland environment.

Forest School Association (2016) notes that a Forest School offers all learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment, it is a specialised learning approach that sits within the wider context of outdoor education.

Providing this prospect to children can help develop their skills in becoming:

  • equal, unique and valuable
  • competent to explore & discover
  • experience appropriate risk and challenge
  • choose, initiate and drive their own learning
  • develop strong positive relationships with others and nature

Forest School Association (2016)

It has been suggested by Forest Research (N.D) that if children are able to learn and develop through Forest  School it will help their:

  • confidence
  • social skills
  • communication
  • motivation and concentration
  • physical skills
  • knowledge and understanding


The forest school helps children achieve these 5 key steps and skills quicker and deeper than in a classroom

  1. Self awareness
  2. Self regulation
  3. Self motivation
  4. Empathy
  5. Social skills


Constable, K. (2012) suggests the theory behind using the outdoors as a learning experience started and were embedded a long time ago. The importance of children having opportunities to explore and discover freely helps develop independence and creativity. The key theorists that strongly believe the importance and benefits of outdoor learning for children are:

  • Friedrich Froebel (1782 – 1852)
  • Maria Montessori (1870 – 1952)
  • Rudolph Steiner (1861 – 1925)


Constable, K. (2012) The Outdoor Classroom Ages 3 – 7. Oxon: Routledge.$FILE/SERG_Forest_School_research_summary.pdf

What is Forest School?