Jul. 24th, 2010

purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Having, in a fit or organisational enthusiasm, purchased 40 rolls of sheep's wool insulation I spent most of last weekend installing it in the cellar.

I should perhaps explain that we have a cellar under about half the house that raises that section about three feet off the ground. The cellar was clearly intended to be ventilated by several large grills. Some previous occupant of the house placed windows in front of these, thus causing a damp problem and the presence of a rather large I-beam holding up some of our joists. Almost the first thing we did on entering the house was to open said windows and observed the humidity in the cellar drop dramatically with, it must be said, a certain smug satisfaction.

Almost the second thing we did was rip up the remaining carpet on the ground floor. Sometime later we got the floor sanded. We have lovely floorboards but when a light is on in the cellar you can clearly see it shining up in the gaps between them. This winter we observed a startling temperature gradient from floor to about knee height as the chill wind blew through the cellar and up between the floor boards.

Hence the sheep's wool insulation plan.

We used some sheep's wool insulation in part of the roof. One of its advantages is that it is much nicer to handle than regular insulation - although I still used gloves in the cellar (in the loft I was also removing the remains of traditional insuluation so I was in gloves and breathing mask and the works). One of the disadvantages of sheep's wool insulation is that it smells of, well, sheep. The stuff in roof didn't really smell that much, thus lulling us into a false sense of security. For the past week our ground floor has been filled with the delicate* aroma of damp sheep. We are hoping that this will reduce over time. Otherwise I suspect our choices are between acquiring a sudden and intense interest in scented candles and their brethren or sacrificing 600 pounds worth of insulation and the prospect of warm feet this winter.

* read strong and pungent
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Having, in a fit or organisational enthusiasm, purchased 40 rolls of sheep's wool insulation I spent most of last weekend installing it in the cellar.

I should perhaps explain that we have a cellar under about half the house that raises that section about three feet off the ground. The cellar was clearly intended to be ventilated by several large grills. Some previous occupant of the house placed windows in front of these, thus causing a damp problem and the presence of a rather large I-beam holding up some of our joists. Almost the first thing we did on entering the house was to open said windows and observed the humidity in the cellar drop dramatically with, it must be said, a certain smug satisfaction.

Almost the second thing we did was rip up the remaining carpet on the ground floor. Sometime later we got the floor sanded. We have lovely floorboards but when a light is on in the cellar you can clearly see it shining up in the gaps between them. This winter we observed a startling temperature gradient from floor to about knee height as the chill wind blew through the cellar and up between the floor boards.

Hence the sheep's wool insulation plan.

We used some sheep's wool insulation in part of the roof. One of its advantages is that it is much nicer to handle than regular insulation - although I still used gloves in the cellar (in the loft I was also removing the remains of traditional insuluation so I was in gloves and breathing mask and the works). One of the disadvantages of sheep's wool insulation is that it smells of, well, sheep. The stuff in roof didn't really smell that much, thus lulling us into a false sense of security. For the past week our ground floor has been filled with the delicate* aroma of damp sheep. We are hoping that this will reduce over time. Otherwise I suspect our choices are between acquiring a sudden and intense interest in scented candles and their brethren or sacrificing 600 pounds worth of insulation and the prospect of warm feet this winter.

* read strong and pungent

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/12687.html.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
On Thursday I was "trained" to be a STEM Ambassador. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and STEMNET is a national public engagement network, primarily aimed at working with children. As a result we all had to be CRB-checked during the session. Or at least our CRB check had to be put in motion, which seemed to involve a lot of confusion about identity documents and proof of address.

The session was actually a lot more useful than many training sessions I've been on. There was a fair bit of useful advice on handling groups of children, with a rider that you should never be left alone with them and so should always be able to hand over to a teacher if necessary.

Mostly STEMNET acts as a brokering service, linking the volunteers with schools, charities and other organisations who are looking for someone to help with a lesson, careers day or other event but they also provide resources containing ideas for demonstrations and so forth. In the induction session we were all encouraged to try out a "science busk" which consisted essentially of a quick science-based trick or demonstration. I think I'd want a rather better grasp of the science behind each one than was provided before I did it in public, but none of them depended on particularly esoteric science so that wouldn't be that hard, I think. I certainly thought I might volunteer to science busk at the upcoming Manchester Science Festival.

I was interested to note that of 13 people attending the session, 10 were female, including [livejournal.com profile] the_ladylark to our mutual surprise. That ratio was striking considering that STEM is generally a male dominated area and I wonder if there is some cultural effect in play that makes public understanding work of this kind something of more interest to women than men.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
On Thursday I was "trained" to be a STEM Ambassador. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and STEMNET is a national public engagement network, primarily aimed at working with children. As a result we all had to be CRB-checked during the session. Or at least our CRB check had to be put in motion, which seemed to involve a lot of confusion about identity documents and proof of address.

The session was actually a lot more useful than many training sessions I've been on. There was a fair bit of useful advice on handling groups of children, with a rider that you should never be left alone with them and so should always be able to hand over to a teacher if necessary.

Mostly STEMNET acts as a brokering service, linking the volunteers with schools, charities and other organisations who are looking for someone to help with a lesson, careers day or other event but they also provide resources containing ideas for demonstrations and so forth. In the induction session we were all encouraged to try out a "science busk" which consisted essentially of a quick science-based trick or demonstration. I think I'd want a rather better grasp of the science behind each one than was provided before I did it in public, but none of them depended on particularly esoteric science so that wouldn't be that hard, I think. I certainly thought I might volunteer to science busk at the upcoming Manchester Science Festival.

I was interested to note that of 13 people attending the session, 10 were female, including [livejournal.com profile] the_ladylark to our mutual surprise. That ratio was striking considering that STEM is generally a male dominated area and I wonder if there is some cultural effect in play that makes public understanding work of this kind something of more interest to women than men.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/12941.html.

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