Category Archives: California

APB – Cops do math & physics at work!!!



As part of the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering we spent an amazing 2 hours in a free workshop put on by the Escondido Police Department. The audience was a mix of homeschool families and high school students and it was standing room only…

IMG_3685The presentation was broken into two one hour sections – Traffic Accident Investigation and Forensics. Both areas were engaging and clearly demonstrated how math and science are used on an every day basis within the police force.


We learned about all of the tools that the Collision Investigation Unit use – both high tech and low tech to help decode and deconstruct the scene of an accident so they can then replicate it, both to determine cause and to demonstrate the information to others (i.e. in a court room).

We learned how to calculate velocity and what the ideal safe speed is for a car driving at night based upon visibility provided with high beams and human response times (hint… it’s around 28-30 mph).


We learned about how kinetic energy logic is used to measure the velocity of a vehicle in an accident (what goes in to a force comes out of the force with equal energy – like the balls).

And we learned how you can use math and physics to determine angle and velocity of the vehicles in a crash based upon the angles of momentum and the size of crash damage. I was blown away with how effectively the officers conveyed the information and how they managed to connect it so simply and clearly with the kids in the room!


The Robbery/Homicide team came in and ran a mock investigation of an incident with blood spatter to determine who’s story was correct between two complainants. It was a little slower paced because the group was so large and they had kids doing some of the work but there were lots of good nuggets of information.

The BEST part of the whole 2 hours was the recommendation that students get a BACHELOR’S DEGREE if they want to become police officers. It was a slam dunk for Hunter that he now needed to shift his goal from college to university – whew… THANK YOU ESCONDIDO POLICE DEPARTMENT!

Brickmania 2016 – all things military lego


Brickmania is a weekend long event that is held in different locations across the USA a few times a year, and brings together lego military enthusiasts. It is definitely an eclectic group of very passionate people. Hunter was thrilled to discover that one of the sites this year was Anaheim, which is only an hour away from Oceanside, our southern California base.

Tim classified this as a “school field trip” and conveniently opted out so Hunter and I hit the road and spent the day together exploring all things military lego. If we had been really super serious about it we would have purchased a weekend pass which allowed you to participate in various group “builds” and challenges.

There were a number of very impressive models – the center piece being a replica of the USS Missouri that a college professor started with his class to help them learn about the ship building process. The level of intricacy and detail orientation definitely reflects the amount of time invested.


One of the many group events was a chess tournament using lego war characters.

The builders (ranging from age 6 to70) compete for a number of awards that recognize the level of complexity and creativity. Some are replicas of actual battle scenes or buildings while others are builder interpretations of a battle or location. Lots of non-standard pieces and creative interpretations happening!

IMG_3602The other big appeal of attending was the ability to purchase military lego mini figures that are really expensive online due to shipping costs. These are all high quality custom made pieces but have lower volume production runs than official lego pieces so have about a 30-40% price premium.

IMG_3603We rounded out our adventure with a mom/kid lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, complete with fancy drinks and all. It’s always great to spend the day together!

Oceanside Night Market – National Public Safety Week


The City of Oceanside has both a weekly farmers market and a weekly food/fun market – both of which happen on the main drag on Thursdays. Hunter and I love food carts and food stands of any kind so we try to catch the market a few times when we are in town. It was a huge bonus when our first Thursday in town was also Public Safety Night at the night market – obviously we had to go!


As part of National Public Safety Week, communities across the USA were creating events to connect with and educate the public about what they do. Both the Oceanside Police and Oceanside Fire Departments had a large presence, which was great for kids young and old!


The police had a few cars, their boat, their SWAT truck and their mobile command centre out. Hunter was very disappointed to learn that you have to be 16 to participate in their Explorer Program where you get to train as a junior officer. Almost all of the police vehicles were open and could be checked out from all angles and the officers were very open to answer a wide variety of questions from a curious young boy…


Oceanside Fire and EMS were easy to find thanks to their ladder truck having the ladder fully extended – Wow, that is big! Firetrucks are somewhat old hat to us from all our travels. We’ve found that firemen are typically super friendly and welcoming about letting Hunter explore their trucks and learn about their profession.


A big thanks to all of the Oceanside Public Safety Staff – being out and approachable sure helps inspire and motivate kids, both to trust them and to consider the roles as a future career.

San Diego Sheriff’s Museum – what a gem!

IMG_2935Hunter and I had a “downtown day” and hit Old Town San Diego as well as caught a few cultural events. The best unexpected gem was the San Diego Sheriff’s Museum, which is just on the south eastern edge of Old Town.

We started by wandering around the State Historic Park and saw the first Court House and accompanying holding cell, both which were established back in 1850. We learned that Sheriff’s are elected while Police Chief’s are appointed and that back in 1850 you could only run for one term and it lasted one year. Now they are 4 year terms and there is no cap on the number of times you can be re-elected.

IMG_2958We then headed down the road to explore the Sheriff’s Museum, which covers regional law enforcement from 1850 to today. In addition to great exhibits, the museum is staffed by former Sheriff staff and they do a great job of bringing the museum to life for kids of all ages! Note: The newly elected Sheriff used to get to choose the colour of their cars – hence the “dusty rose” from the 1960’s and the green taxi car’s from the 1980’s & 90’s. All cars are now mandated to be black and white to be more easily recognizable.

First stop was the gun room (aka the historic arsenal) where we learned all about a broad variety of weapons (peaceable and otherwise) and all of their various applications.

Next we experienced life from a criminal’s perspective and had to charm our way out of prison – good thing we are cute and polite!

We learned that in San Diego County the Sheriff staff wear their bullet proof vests under their uniforms for an entire shift – that makes for one long, hot sticky day! We also got to check out their various police vehicles, from off road bikes, heavy traffic motorcycles through to their patrol cars.

IMG_2957We also got to work through a crime scene and think about clues.

IMG_2960As Hunter is currently fascinated with Law Enforcement, and the RCMP in particular, this was a great find. We learned about all of the jurisdictional nuances between municipal, highway, county, state and federal law enforcement in the USA and had fun working to compare it all to what we have in Canada.

“Best Day Ever”…


I didn’t think that we could top go-kart racing but…. I was so very very wrong. Hunter has been wanting to play airsoft for the last year, which is really just an extension of his desire to find a community that will have complex nerf wars and  paintball games. I would like to be optimistic and say that this is all about “the art of war” but that just isn’t the case.

He is equally split between the strategy of the battle and the pure joy of running around (or squirming or crawling etc.) while armed and trying to hit someone else. I have NO idea where this joy came from but it’s definitely there. The one upside is that they spend 4-6 hours running around outside, which makes me happy.

San Diego has a very active homeschool group and there is a “Teen Activity Group” within the larger group. We were able to connect in with them and join in with a few boys to play Airsoft at Mr. Paintball in Escondido, CA. One of the main organizing boys was amazingly supportive and took Hunter under his wing, sharing some of his arsenal and generally helping him understand how things worked.

IMG_7083It was such an amazing experience that Hunter went again the following weekend and paid the $25 entry fee from his own savings. He is now busy plotting how to save up enough money to play every weekend when we are back in February and March!