A kid has to know European Space Research and Technology Centre

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European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, Netherlands, or as the ESA people like to call it simply, ESTEC, is a very special place. I’ve been there a few times for professional reasons, and I’ve enjoyed an Open Door Day event a few years ago, but the this year’s event on 6th of October, 2019, was special for me as a father. Not only because it was the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing (the theme of 2019 Open Day was “ESA to the Moon”), but also because it was the first time I took my 8-year-old son to ESTEC to show him around, and introduce him to ex-colleagues. We had been to the nearby Space Expo before, but of course without special permission or a public day, it wasn’t possible to visit the main ESTEC site.

We went there one day before the event, because I wanted my son to enjoy the beautiful and serene Noordwijk beach and coastline, one of my favorite places in the Netherlands. Because ESTEC is only a few kilometers away from the coast, we stayed there and before setting on our way we explored the area a little. Fortunately, the weather wasn’t rainy, and we even enjoyed a little Sun:

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A kid has to follow the footprints of Einstein

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This summer we had a short holiday in one of the loveliest coastal regions of Belgium: De Haan. One of the interesting facts of that place is its connection with Einstein. Back in 1933, the famous scientist came to De Haan and live in villa “Savoyarde” for six months, after leaving Nazi Germany. We took the kids there to visit the places where Einstein lived, and visited the sculpture in the nearby park to commemorate this part of history.

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This also brought back a lot of memories, because during this summer holiday of 2019, I read an interesting book about Soviet Russia, translated into Turkish by a dear friend of mine. That same friend of mine gave me a book back in 2006, and it was about Einstein. Coincidentally, the sculpture of Einstein in De Haan was placed in the park in 2006! Of course, 13 years ago I didn’t know anything about De Haan, and neither could I imagine being a father of two sons and taking them there, telling my 8-year-old some stories about Einstein.

As our time perception continues to be shaped by the experiences we live, people we come across, books we read, places we visit and art we experience, I wonder what kind of stories I’ll be sharing with my kids 13 years from now. But one thing for sure, I want to continue to follow the footprints of Einstein, and explore the history of science together with my children, enriching our collective memories.

The Young Horse Whisperer: Like Mother, Like Son

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Our 7.5-year-old son was super curious about horses and he wanted to take riding lessons. We decided the beginning of the 2-week Easter holiday would be a good opportunity to explore the nearby centers and then made an appointment for a trial lesson in one of them. My wife, who used to ride horses as a young girl, was as excited as her son.

It turned out to be a mixed experience for us. It was very exciting for all the family members, but I and my wife were a bit anxious. After all, even if the horse our son started with was relatively smaller compared to others, it was still a huge animal that he had to control. I’ll never forget him tell the horse to “stop! please stop! come on horsie, stop!”. The instructors were very experienced and after a short while, in addition to an adult instructor, a very young girl started to walk next to the horse, talking to our son. I think he was impressed by the girl, very close to his age, guiding him and the horse, in full control, relaxed, and treating the whole activity as business as usual. More

Explain it like I’m 7.5: Does the space have an “outside”? Does it even have a “surface”?

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A while ago, my 7.5 year old son asked a seemingly simple question that had no easy answers at all. Instead of struggling with the question alone, I decided to tap into the collective intelligence of the whole world. Internet, after all, is supposed to be used for more than sharing cat videos, right? Right?

So, I asked:

One of the Internet denizens suggested that I ask the same question on Reddit’s ELI5 channel, that is, “Explain it Like I’m 5” channel. Being a casual Redditor for the last 14 years, I said “why not?” More

A kid has to start programming

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Our older son is now 7.5 years old, and he expressed his interest in learning how to program. We had a Dutch translation of Scratch programming book for children, but before starting with the book, I made him program me. That is, I told him that “now I’m the robot, and I can only follow the instructions that you’ll issue, and I can do them exactly as you say, in the order you say, and nothing else. Now make this robot pick that toy from your brothers bed’s corner.” For both of us, it turned out to be a funny, as well as challenging exercise. In only a few minutes, he quickly realized how many things he takes for granted, and how even a seemingly super simple and straightforward task is composed of many intricate details. He also saw how things can go wrong, because he had to “debug” his robot-dad. He became also a little frustrated when I insisted doing exactly as he said without any interpretation. “Welcome to my world son!” was a natural reaction from me.

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Baby Steps

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My younger son is a little bit older than 1 year now, and he started to take his firs few baby steps in the last few months. We took him to our favorite park nearby, and he couldn’t wait to get on his feet as soon as we got off the car. I guess there will be a lot of running around at home very soon!

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A kid has to know his Euro Space Center

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For a long time, I wanted to take my older son to the Euro Space Center in Transinne, Belgium. Finally, last Sunday we had a small window of opportunity for a few hours and we went there. Both of us enjoyed the event, even though we didn’t have time left for some of the attractions such as Moon and Marswalking experience. I can recommend Euro Space Center to all space and science enthusiasts, especially to the kids. But be aware that you’ll be bombarded with information, exhilarating demonstrations, and a lot of surprises in an intensive atmosphere. I’m already getting impatient for my younger toddler to grow up a little more, so that I’ll have another excuse to revisit the center. 😉

 

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