Saturday, 17 May 2014

Connecting science across schools with google hangouts

NASA Astronomer, Dr Stephen Kane’s, “link up” shows the power of partnering with scientists and parent communities.

When two parents approached me at my Yr 2 class’ (St Mary’s Nth Sydney) orientation night, little did I know that what they were about to propose, could lead me to one of the most significant teaching moments I have had so far. Class parents Mary Jane and Leon studied with a NASA Astronomer Dr Stephen Kane in Sydney.  

We were studying living things and merging into water environments in Term 2. Why not throw Space into the mix? Stephen is part of the team who discovered Kepler-186f, an earth sized planet in what they call the habitable zone around its sun. Apart from looking for planets, he looks for signs of water in our solar system and he framed his lecture - “Planets, here there and everywhere”.

At the teaching end, I used the “understanding by design” inquiry framework, which allowed me to let the students take their learning into space as well.

Catching up with a teaching colleague in hangouts,  Michael Cowley (Principal of OLN Lawson) and I decided to link the two Year 2 classes.
Dr Kane was only too happy to get his message across to as many students as he could after he finished work at his office in San Francisco that afternoon.

What resulted was a power packed 40 minute video showing vibrant student enquiry, an outstanding visual presentation and lecture from Dr Kane and a resource for future use. Most pcs and macs have a video screen record software available in them, I had some technical hitches (bought the software but still it defaulted to demo version!) but we got there and the interview was recorded. The latest MAC OS on a macbook has built in screen record. Just type screen record up on the magnifier and check you have it. I didn’t so I bought an online app for the Mac. I suggest using a laptop for any link ups.

Thanks to Stephen, Mary Jane, Leon, Michael, Bev and my colleagues at St Mary’s North Sydney and OLN Lawson who supported this opportunity for our students.

Click the link below to see the full movie!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Mixing science and the arts - a big day out learning

When local events come up on the calendar, why not go on an inexpensive excursion and tie it in to your units of work? My year 2 class was really excited to visit “Sculptures at Sawmiller’s Reserve, McMahon’s Point” - a beautiful display of sculptures overlooking Sydney Harbour.

We were also learning about living things and being an inner city school, we had to look outside our school to dig some dirt and find some creatures.

Armed with containers, gloves, journals, cameras and willing parent helpers we mixed a nice walk through the city, an experiment and a cultural experience in just a few hours. All excursions are great, but this one had an element of adventure and surprise I had not anticipated. 

As with everything, I acknowledge my colleagues who helped organise and attend, and of course the army of parent helpers who came along and supported.




imageOne of the Sculptors talks to the class.