Interview by Rin Hamburgh
SIDE BY SIDE:
JACOB AND SAM
When science teacher Jacob Strickling started filming and sharing experiments on his YouTube channel, Make Science Fun, he discovered that not only was it a way to reach children around the world - but to bond with his youngest son, Sam, now 11.
JACOB: I’ve been a teacher for 24 years but this year I decided to take some unpaid leave and explore new things. We started homeschooling our two youngest children - we have four between the ages of 11 and 21 - and I wanted to see what I could do with the YouTube channel I started about six years ago. I always enjoyed doing science shows in school. I like performing for audiences. About six years ago I was going to leave my job as a teacher to do travelling science shows and then a friend said, ‘Why don’t you try doing it on YouTube?’
Part of starting the channel was to get Sam involved. He was 5 and wasn’t talking very much then, so it was a way of getting him to communicate a bit more. The very first one was a take on ‘Elephant’s toothpaste’, which I called ‘Dinosaur’s toothpaste’. It was a simple chemical reaction and Sam loved it. He likes hands on activities, heating things up and pulling things apart, pops and explosions.
As he’s got older he has got a little more camera shy but in one of the recent videos we turned a bike into a boat and he was really able to join in properly - use the tools, screw things in. That was momentous. Prior to that his attention span wasn’t great so he’d hang around and watch and help a little bit. But this was the first time we started a project together and worked together until the end.
Sam likes watching lots of Youtube himself, so sometimes he’ll see something and say, “Hey can we make that?” We don’t film everything, because he doesn’t always like being filmed these days, but we enjoy doing it together.
Tonight the rubbish goes out in our area so Sam and I will hop in the car and drive around the suburbs and Sam will pick out stuff that we think is interesting. We do that every Thursday night together. I’m always thinking, “How can I give him experiences that will help him enjoy learning?” In the past, as a teacher, I worked hard during the day and would come home quite exhausted and lie on the couch for a few hours and not interact as much with the kids. I was feeling quite guilty for not spending enough time with the kids. So I feel like I’m ticking a few more boxes now which makes me feel a bit better about myself.
I'd say I have a good strong relationship with Sam. He says he loves me, he likes cuddles in the morning and we have good rumbles. We don’t talk about much - neither of us are big on conversation - but we spend a lot of time together.
I’m always thinking, “How can I give him experiences that will help him enjoy learning?”
SAM: Dad and I are pretty close. We like doing things together like going to the beach, fishing, doing science activities and reading. Helping dad with his Youtube channel is pretty fun, but I'm a bit camera shy now that I'm a bit older. A while ago, dad bought the green huffy slider bike off Gumtree and suggested we turn it into a boat. I said, sure! It is fun working with my dad. I got to use screwdrivers, a drill, hammer and chisel - my dad showed me how to use them. He's a great teacher. Working with dad on projects is good for our relationship as we are busy doing stuff and having fun together. I like doing useful activities like learning and having fun.
WATCH THESE TWO IN ACTION ON JACOB'S YOUTUBE CHANNEL
MAKE SCIENCE FUN:
SIDE BY SIDE:
LUKE AND PETER
When 47-year-old Luke Richards, from Melbourne, started wild swimming, he discovered a metaphor for recovery. After years of addiction, pain and attempted suicide, the ocean offered connection, wonder and more life than he imagined possible - including a friend, Peter, 64, who’s own life he would go on to save.
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