Exercise, Geography, Notes on everyday life, Physics, Together with sis, Trips

Some more London

Taking the Thames Clipper
At London’s olympic pool: Simon and Neva took part in the Ultimate Aquasplash, an inflatable obstacle course for competent swimmers that involved sliding down a 3-meter high slide into deep water – another personal victory
At the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Generating power on a bicycle (you could see how many watt you generate)
At a 3D film for the first time
Back to the Science Museum
Exercise, Experiments, Notes on everyday life, Physics, Simon teaching, Together with sis, Trips

A lot of fluid dynamics at Technopolis

Today we celebrated my 40th birthday with a family trip to Technopolis, a mekka for science-minded kids in the Belgian town of Mechelen. (Technically, my real birthday is in two days from now, but I have messed with the arrow of time a little, to speed things up).
The entrance to the museum is adorned with a red lever that anyone can use to lift up a car!
Simon and Neva lifting up the car
The beautiful marble run and math and physics demo in one
Galton’s board and Gaussian distribution
Simon explaining the general relativity demo, which is part of the marble run
This was probably the winner among all the exhibits: a wall to climb with a mission (Simon figured it out rather quickly – one had to turn “mirrors” to change the direction of light (green projection) and have the light rays extinguish the targets.
Simon tried to explain this to other children, but they only seemed to want to climb. It was sad to see how no one cared to listen (well, except for Neva of course).
Simon was already familiar with this optical illusion. Later he saw another version of this on an Antwerp facade.
The logic gates were too easy.
the center of gravity
Huge catenaroids! Something Simon had already demonstrated to us at home, but now in XXL!
And huge vortices! Another passion.
Hydrodynamic levitation! Hydrodynamic levitation!
Look! A standing wave!
And another standing wave!

Here Simon explains one more effect he has played with at home, the Magnus effect.

Exercise, Math Riddles, Murderous Maths, Notes on everyday life, Simon teaching, Simon's sketch book, Together with sis, Trips

Math on the Beach

Sunday at the beach, Simon was reenacting the 5 doors and a cat puzzle (he had learned this puzzle from the Mind Your Decisions channel). The puzzle is about guessing behind which door the cat is hiding in as few guesses as possible, while the cat is allowed to move one door further after every wrong guess.

the little houses served as “doors”, and Simon’s little sister Neva as “the cat”

“Here’s a fun fact!” Simon said all of a sudden. “If you add up all the grains of sand on all the beaches all over the world, you are going to get several quintillion sand grains or several times 10^18!” He then proceeded to try to calculate how many sand grains there might be at the beach around us…

In the evening, while having a meal by the sea, Simon challenged Dad with a Brilliant.org problem he particularly liked:

Simon’s explanation sheet (The general formulas are written by Simon, the numbers underneath the table are his Dad’s, who just couldn’t believe Simon’s counterintuitive solution at first and wanted check the concrete sums. He later accepted his defeat):

Exercise, Experiments, Physics

Horizontal force

Going for a walk quickly turns into yet another Physics experiment. “Here’s a challenge: what if you can force the ball down so much and induce so much horizontal motion (when the ball bounces off of a wooden wedge) into the system that it goes all the way to the other side?” Simon shouts as he runs after a small bouncy ball in a large space that once used to be a tram depot. “With a back spin the ball goes horizontally! “

Exercise, Notes on everyday life, Trips

For the first time

During an extended family visit to the Hoge Veluwe natural reserve (where it rained the whole weekend so we barely ventured outside), Simon tried two things for the first time: bowling (fascinated by the terms spare, gutter, strike) and going down a waterslide. “This was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done in my life!” Simon told me afterwards about the waterslide, “I think it’s remain the only time I tried this though”, he added, as it was “too exciting”. He also told me how going down the slide inspired him to build a machine (using LittleBits) creating bubbles in the water and we fantasised about the design together.

chemistry, Exercise, Experiments, Good Reads, Milestones, motor skills, Murderous Maths, Notes on everyday life, Physics, Simon makes gamez, Simon's sketch book, Together with sis, Trips

Looking back at the vacation

Although vacation is a vague notion in our family, where days are devoted to doing favourite things 365 days a year. For Simon, that means that his days are filled to the brim with science experiments, practicing math and devouring books and videos on quantum mechanics, also when he is on vacation (away from home). The past three weeks in Southern France and Spanish Sitges also involved a lot of swimming and enjoying the outdoors of course, but science remains Simon’s top priority. He also felt like he had grown unaccustomed to the beach overkill (while at home, we only went to the beach something like once a week max) and couldn’t bear the sand sticking to his wet feet for a while. By the time we settled at our Spanish Airbnb he gradually got acclimatised to this continuous sensory ordeal though and I was happy to see him relax at the seashore, especially on the last day of our stay. He had spent about two hours in the water (experimenting with vortices, swimming after a ball and just playing silly), and  didn’t even want to get the sand off his feet anymore. We just sat there on the beautiful retro beach in Sitges, hugging and watching the sea, in absolute tranquility. Simon had even forgotten that Daniel Shiffman’s live stream was due that evening!

dsc_06646749091631384876171.jpgMade a lot of “binary calculators” (above)

dsc_08098571406704053720752.jpgHelped little sis learn fractions

dsc_07972979319674618445058.jpgIntroduced little sis to infinite fractions

dsc_06271192208290101593530.jpgChecked out his new lathe tools and tried sawing

dsc_06877459075749954970581.jpgExperimented a whole lot (with surface tension, forces, water and gases)


dsc_07585635002843708540665.jpgYet another experiment

dsc_08371515643779040846973.jpgFollowed tutorials by Physics Girl, Up and Atop, PBS Space Time, Veritasium, Reactions, PBS Infinite Series




Loved his new Larry Gonnick Calculus book and did quite a lot of… Calculus. It was quite funny when a restaurant owner noticed Simon differentiate at dinnertime and was very impressed. He trend out to be a former high school science teacher. Interesting how Simon’s giftedness is usually only openly appreciated by those who have some understanding of the subjects he elaborates upon. People with less understanding show less tolerance, like a guard at the French swimming pool who told us off and snatched Simon’s (clean) plastic plate away, not allowing Simon to carry out his beloved vortices experiment in the public pool (resulting in a huge meltdown and Simon being afraid the pool would close or change rules every day).











dsc_09612735924853232773240.jpgLaunching propeller rockets on the beach

dsc_09071976964664774880504.jpgSimon’s first chemical equations. He first thought they worked like linear equations 🙂

dsc_08943237920924875579728.jpgMore Physics Girl inspired experiments

dsc_09108778766156185324596.jpgFavourite one: burning matches in a glass results in all the water in a shallow plate getting sucked into the glass (water level rising). Has a physical and a chemical explanation!

dsc_08732805749892983265193.jpgFavourite evening activity

dsc_09114093660143972351481.jpgLoving the waves

Exercise, Geometry Joys, Notes on everyday life, Simon teaching


Wait a minute, is that Simon actually playing football? We never thought we would see that happen. All the credits go to Matt Parker. He is the one who got Simon interested in football, or rather – in the football as a geometrical object. Simon also gave us a lecture on the history of the football, its changing shape and aerodynamics.


Coding, Exercise, Geometry Joys, Java, motor skills, Physics, Simon makes gamez, Together with sis

The Snowball Throwing Game in Processing

Simon invented this fun game in Processing after he and his little sister had some proper winter fun outdoors in the fresh December snow (quite rare for the local climate and thus immensely cherished by the little people). The game is about throwing  snowballs in such a trajectory that they stick to one another, forming a super-snowball. After I finished filming this, the two snowball throwers had such a great time with the game that I dare say the giggling effect from of this 2D simulation overshadowed the real snowball fight that had originally inspired it. They did love playing in the real snow on the next day though, until it melted away.


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