Highlights from the first Luminarium Festival - Brisbane and Caboolture!
September 30, 2016
After several months of hunting, experimenting and co-ordinating, the first ever Luminarium Festival turned on its lights at the Queensland Academies Creative Industries Campus on the 22nd September, 2016, to a sweeping vista of black robes and wizarding finery, as excitable Muggles, witches and wizards swooped through the halls ready to explore. With nine workshops on offer over the two day event, as well as extra activities in the hub there was certainly a lot to uncover.
In the festival hub, alongside curious parents, children plundered the depths of their creativity to design wands of well-considered magical properties in Mr Ollivander's Wandmaking Station, design innovative products to solve real world problems just like mini entrepreneurs in the Maker's Corner, or stir up the most fierce monster possibly imaginable at the Make A Monster drawing table.
Other Potter-inspired activities included helping Bertie Botts to invent new Every-Flavour Beans, discovering your very own Patronus (magical guardians), and decorating socks to help free House Elves.
There were also arts and crafts for tactile engagement, books and board games in the nook, dress-ups, a reading tent and short films to inspire and delight.
Parents could snap pics of their child's fabulous creations to enter into our #lumicomp for prizes.
POTIONS IN THE WIZARDING WORLD: Grades 1-3 (and repeat class on Day Two)
Decked out like mini Potters, Grangers and Weasleys, students got stuck into the precise and fascinating world of science experiments. After an hilarious safety demonstration from the Wizarding World, students were tasked with following instructions to concoct potions - Wolfsbane potion, Whomping Willow treatment (in two parts) and Confusing Concoction.
Students then had to test their knowledge of reactive and inactive ingredients by reverse-engineering what each experiment was made of in muggle terms.
The experiments began with the Wolfsbane Potion, which helps werewolves to hold on to their mental faculties post transformation. The potion is considered to be advanced because the ingredients are very expensive. The most important ingredient is aconite (also known as wolfsbane or monkshood), which is a poisonous substance and as students learnt, is quick to stain the skin! Our brand of Wolfsbane potion was designed to begin the teamwork process and the Muggle Science guesswork, as well as to showcase the beauty of chemical reactions.
For the second experiment, students were tasked with assisting Professor Sprout to create gel bandages to help heal the broken and burnt limbs of the Whomping Willow (after Weasley and Potter caused considerable damage with their flying car!). Students were amazed to see the liquid turn into gel that they could test and squish with their fingers. They discovered the real-world magic and healing properties of...seaweed extract! In Part Two, students tested the acidity of a few of the most wicked Wizarding ingredients (Troll boogers, crushed Dragon bones, Basilisk venom) using the liquid form of seaweed and red cabbage extract.
The Confusing Concoction was the final potion and certainly caused the most magical mess and mischievous delight! This potion certainly lived up to it's name with a very long list of instructions, and as students added their last ingredient and muttered the incantation, "Mischief Managed", they were rewarded with a mini explosion! Which they then repeated several times to squeals of excitement!
Finally, using the inspiration provided by the Wizarding World of J.K. Rowling and their own imaginations, students started to write their own potions. They created new lists of ingredients, some of which could be found in the Forbidden Forest or in other fantastical terrains. Then mixing scientific terms with their magical ingredients, they created instructions for daring witches and wizards to follow. The effects of these potions included powerful remedies that could heal individual maladies or indeed, the world. There were also extremely dangerous potions that had the potential to cause chaos and worldwide destruction if they fell into the wrong hands.
As the young witches, wizards and Muggles left the room with colourful hands, the House Elves had an awfully large pile of washing to contend with! If your young witch or wizard has continued creating their own potions with quill and parchment or from using the Muggle ingredients in your kitchen cupboards, please feel free to send photos of experiments or new potions through, as we would love to see them. Our science-based, Potter-inspired workshop was so popular we opened up a repeat class of it on the second day!
DIRECTOR'S CUT: Grades 4 & 5
The next gen of Scorceses, Camerons, Campions and Youtube sensations gathered together with iPads at the ready, keen to learn about the art of filmmaking. They explored real-world storyboards and script examples, and learned the lingo of shot names and how they can be used to tell a story in a visual medium - a favourite being the super-hero arc shot! Students then went deeper with their understanding, analysing how colour, music and SFX combine with shots to create atmosphere by breaking down an animation featuring a rainbow-spewing unicorn and a tone-deaf princess!
Students then teamed up with new friends to take on the challenge of storyboarding and shooting their very own film inspired by the title, The Daydream.
The filmmakers amazed with their inventiveness, resourcefulness and excellent teamwork as they took over the hall and classroom, sharing cast and crew roles, to find the perfect shots to tell their stories. Some creative students opened the blinds in order to get a panorama of the apartment buildings, others made use of special effect apps, and sound effect libraries. By the end of the workshop, several groups had edited together their films and were able to share them with excited classmates huddling over each other iPads, and others had a library of footage they were able to take home with them to continue their editing adventures.
Students who filmed their group with their iPad are encouraged to send their completed films through to us so we can disperse to the other members of the group.
For those who are still working on their films via iMovie, you might want to check out any number of tutorials on Youtube that show how to edit and add music - it can be very addictive!
MONSTER MAKERS: Grades 1-3
With a number of mysteriously cloaked and covered items set up around the room (that would later form inspiration), budding scribes and monster lovers, with pencils and imaginations ready, entered for an afternoon of creative writing with a scientific twist!
After students were introduced to all sorts of fictional, mythical and folkloric monsters from existing stories and films, they began to explore real-world monsters: creatures that amaze, terrify, and delight with their peculiarity. Gelatinous Blobfish, super-strong shrimp, crabs that look like they're wearing lipstick - they're all real, and they have all adapted to suit their environments. Just like giraffes, camels and penguins, students discussed how animals adapt to suit their environmental conditions, and how this might be the same for our fictional creations.
Students were then taken on a journey through digital storytelling telling of Clara, a monster hunter, who goes missing searching for an elusive creature and her missing twin sister. Featuring prose, diary entries and images, students were inspired to consider these elements in their own storytelling.
At the conclusion of the story, the students uncovered the hidden objects that once belonged to the monster hunter - strange finds including fossils, bones, preserved specimens and botanical extracts, as well as old cameras, diaries and more. These objects formed the basis of the students own creative work, as they were guided through activities to help incorporate scientific language and observation into their illustrations, and imagery and depth into their writing. Students came up with some truly bizarre and fascinating creatures, and it was particularly pleasing to see some students finding inspiration writing their stories as episodic diary entries.
It was lovely to hear on Day Two how a return student had spent the night writing away when they previously were not that interested. If there are any stories young writers would like to share with us, please send them through!
MASTER POTIONS FOR WITCHES AND WIZARDS: Grades 4 & 5
Eager young witches, wizards and Muggles, stirred, brewed and infused three magical potions inspired by J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World while being carefully watched over by former Headmasters of Hogwarts (from their paintings). Class began with a safety demonstration before students launched into creating the Wolfsbane Potion, Polyjuice Potion and the Draught of Near Death with age-old Muggle science ingredients disguised as well-known Wizarding elements.
Students started with the ever-popular bubbling concoction that relieves the worst werewolf symptoms. This concoction was akin to a lava lamp and helped students begin to translate the Wizarding ingredients into their Muggle Science counterparts.
The Polyjuice Potion (a well-known potion to Potterheads) is a time-consuming concoction that allows the drinker to temporarily assume the form of another person (but definitely not animals!) The brewing time on this potion is officially one month, so students completed a small and rather slimy segment of the potion in order to test it's potency. To succeed in the creation of this potion required constant vigilance (if a House Elf was not readily available), and students were rewarded when their potion jumped off the plate to meet the neodymium magnet.
At the end of their advanced Potions lesson, students were trusted to handle poisonous substances (undiluted bubotuber pus) to brew the Draught of Near Death. This wicked-looking potion held explosive potential, radiated heat and had a distinct smell (that some students likened to sewerage) but that didn't stop them from repeating the experiment to decipher what ingredients were responsible for the chemical reaction.
Finally, students could unleash their creative powers by mixing scientific terminology with fantastical elements to write their very own potions on parchment. If your Master witches, wizards or Muggles would like to share their creations, we would love to read them so please feel free to email them through!
MONUMENTAL MISTAKES: Grades 6-8
A small but dedicated group intrigued by the world of engineering joined us in the afternoon for this workshop making maths exciting and practical.
Students were introduced to some of the biggest, most amusing blunders of engineering ever recorded and examined how it went so wrong, including the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the Citicorp Building in NYC.
Students then became engineers themselves, hopefully destined to not repeat history's mistakes when designing their own bridges out of paper which were then nerve-wrackingly tested with weights (with hilarious results!). Next, they turned their attention to detail to construct towers! There was an added layer of complexity to this challenge - students had to compete by solving riddles and problems for first dibs on their desired building materials. This made for a very fun and good-natured contest as materials began to disappear and students had to get creative with their remaining resources.
Pressure was high as each structure had to be built to deadline, and was then tested - would it hold or would it collapse to the floor in a disastrous mess? Even the most experienced engineers get nervous when their structures are tested for the first time.
Through this, students learned the value of proper preparation and the maths of shapes involved in engineering. Hopefully, with this knowledge, students can build their futures on solid foundations!
Phew! As if that wasn't enough activity, Day Two geared up with four more workshops. After the repeated Potions in the Wizarding World workshop, the afternoon workshops included:
ILLUMINARTY: Grades 1-3
This hands-on and popular workshop fused electricity with visual art for some 21st Century exploration. Students were introduced to electrical energy and basic circuits with examples before getting their hands on a real circuit to put theory into practice, testing all sorts of random items to see if they would conduct or insulate the flow of electricity.
Students were then let loose on special play-dough created with two different recipes - one which conducts electricity with salt included, and one which doesn't as the salt is replaced by sugar (this made for a much stickier and ickier dough). With this dough, battery packs, wires and LEDS in a range of colours, students were able to test out their knowledge of circuits while sculpting shapes and figures. Some students were able to fit multiple complex LEDs into their designs, while others troubleshooted to find out why theirs wouldn't work - did it require more battery power? Were the LED wires connected to the positive or negative end of the battery? Had a short circuit been created by having the conductive dough touch? It was great to see students asking questions and helping out their friends as they increased their understanding.
With hands scrubbed up, it was time to work on a 2D art piece that incorporated a circuit to light up an LED. Starting with an illustration of a robot, students were encouraged to personalise their work using colouring and collage - some robots ended up with feathery arms and adorned in earrings! The circuit containing a battery, LED and conductive metal tape proved a fiddly exercise for some, requiring careful consideration of the instructions - the most common problem students encountered was putting a single piece of metal tape over one side of the battery, as opposed to having one piece of tape under the battery (negative) and one piece over the top (positive). With the addition of a switch made from a folded piece of cardboard, students were able to turn on their circuits. It was very rewarding to see the youngest member of the class turn on her robots red LED heart!
Students that needed more time to perfect their circuits were sent home with the materials needed to light up their artwork, and hopefully the curiosity to consider how they might light up their worlds with circuits and technology.
TOWERS AND CASTLES OF THE DARK REALM: Grades 4 & 5
Attack! Maths lovers spent the afternoon in the medieval world preparing how best to plan an assault on an enemy castle, before launching into an all out battle at the end of the session!
They explored the mathematics and architectural design of castles and towers, including geometry and measures, lines of symmetry, perimeter and area. Next, they learned about catapults, particularly considering the weights, masses and forces required to inflict real damage. Their practical challenge saw each student design their very own catapult out of craft materials. Students set to work, feverishly, either copying the given designs, or taking a risk to engineer a new prototype.
And then it was time for battle! Pasta shells became weapons of mass destruction as they were loaded into the catapults and launched at the cardboard stronghold! Students had so much fun tweaking and redesigning their catapults for better results, testing their accuracy, and looking for weak spots in the castle. There were times when a ceasefire needed to be called in order to clear the battlefield!
This was a great way for students to experience mathematics in tangible and creative terms, and experience the excitement of being a knight in battle (without the consequences)!
THE TRIWIZARD TOURNAMENT: Grades 4-8
The Triwizard Tournament was a late addition to the Brisbane Luminarium Festival due to the overwhelming demand for a Potter-inspired workshop for a wider range of ages. In this fast-paced competitive workshop, teams worked through a series of stations based on the Hogwarts subjects (Arithmancy, Care of Magical Creatures, Transfiguration, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Divination, Potions) that tested their magical abilities, intelligence and courage.
Check out our upcoming blog post for full details of the Tournament and the announcement of the Triwizard champions!
Hot on heels of The Luminarium Festival: Brisbane, the team headed north to Caboolture on the 26th September to present a boutique workshop for our enthusiastic supporters.
THE WIZARDING WORLD'S CHAMBER OF SECRETS: Grades 1-5
This boutique workshop for our Caboolture students was a combination of experiments from Potions in the Wizarding World and Master Potions for Witches & Wizards. With a wide range of ages, it was heartening to see students work together so well to brew their bubbly, slimy and explosive concoctions.
At the end of the session, the students impressed when they took out their quills and parchment to craft their very own potions using creative writing, drawing on their vast knowledge of other fantasy novels and films, and their vast imaginations. The hilarious effects of these potions included causing a runny nose, raising the dead, and making everything as sweet as sugar.
If your young witch, wizard or Muggle wants to share their completed potion or pictures of any other scientific experiments, we would love to see them, so please send them through!
It has taken a lot of volunteer hours to prepare and deliver the very first Luminarium Festival, and we would like to thank all of our staff and volunteers for the love and care they have given to help create this opportunity for learning and fun for children. Thanks also to our host venues who shared our excitement and their spaces with us all: Queensland Academies Creative Industries Campus and the Caboolture Hub, and to Brisbane Kids for their promotion, faith and encouragement.
Finally we would like to thank all of you who shared in the adventure and brought the spaces to life. We have loved seeing the wonderful creations that continue to be produced by the students, and receiving your positive feedback.
Just a reminder that our online survey remains open until the 16th October, and so far has proved very useful in helping us evaluate the festival and build our next one.