Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Year Four Magnets

Over the first half of term two, Year Four have been learning about magnets.  Each class came along for three sessions in the science room.  The first session was lots of fun as I put out all of our magnet kits and let the boys have a big play.  Afterwards it was great to hear what they had learnt through their play.

The classes then went on to learn about how magnets attract and repel, the names of the ends of the magnets, what types of objects are magnetic and the magnetic field around a magnet.

Now that they've covered these ideas about magnets they are going on to use their new knowledge in their classrooms to construct their own magnetic games.  Well done Year Four!

Science in a Van

Yesterday we were fortunate to have Science in a Van visit our school.  Emily and Alan are two passionate people who enjoy sharing science ideas in a fun and interactive way.

In the morning they arrived and set up in the hall for their show titled Move It!  A number of the senior syndicate classes watched them perform tricks and experiments based around Newtons Laws of Motion.

The boys participated in a number of the experiments and had lots of fun helping Steve the chicken fly across the length of the hall.  

In the afternoon, the juniors attended the storytelling session of The Three Billy Goats Gruff.  All of the boys were fantastic, enjoying the audience participation of calling out and making actions.   Throughout the story they learnt that all forces are either a push and a pull and they learnt what friction is.

Thanks Science in a Van, we had lots of fun learning about forces!

Monday, 27 May 2013

Last Couple of Experiments from Science Week

After last weeks science show, its been surprising the number of boys who have popped into the science room during break times to ask questions and share their science ideas - fantastic!
Once again, I first saw the next idea on the Steve Spangler show and then saw another version at the Primary Science Teachers Conference in Auckland last holidays.  I had many willing volunteers wanting to stand at the front of the class with a polystyrene cup on their heads.  Little did they know that I was going to produce our new Airzooka and proceeded to shoot them with air from a distance.  It was great to hear boys ideas about what was happening and making observations of what they saw.

I had a blast!

I then did a simple chemistry experiment and explained to the boys how to do it at home.  Making a pH indicator from red cabbage, I then added the dark blue/purple liquid to a clear liquid and it changed to an aqua colour.  I then added the red cabbage liquid to a beaker of clear liquid and this time it went pink.  After a brief explanation about acids and bases I told them that the first jar was water and baking soda, and the liquid that turned pink was white vinegar.

And then I finished each session with a little talk about science and how much fun science is.  I also talked about how having a play in the stream, in the kitchen at home, pulling things apart, being curious, asking questions etc all leads onto enjoying science and possibly even becoming a scientist later.

At the teachers conference I got to hear an inspiring and really interesting scientist talk.  Siouxsie Wiles works at Auckland University and she heads the Bioluminescent Superbugs Group.  She is into bioluminescence (think glow worms and fireflies) and infectious diseases.  She was a really interesting and vibrant speaker and she had the whole auditorium listening to every word she spoke.  Siouxsie spoke about a few different topics including her daughters Harry Potter birthday party which was full of fun science experiments including screaming poohs aka dry ice sitting on metal spoons. She also shared a small clip she has made which explains what she does.  I shared this clip with the teachers at school, some of which showed it to their classes.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Wellington Open Day Sunday 26th May

This weekend, various sites around Wellington are holding Open Days.  Anyone can visit and just pay $2 per person.  It's a fantastic opportunity to visit somewhere you wouldn't normally go to.

The Weta Cave, Miramar

Thinking about science opportunities I'm off to visit Zealandia, The Karori Wildlife Sanctuary.  We'll be packing morning tea and heading off early as last year the place was very popular and very crowded!  Usually for a family its quite an expensive day out but tomorrow will be a great opportuntiy to revisit the place.  I think the last time I was there was with a class from school about seven years ago!  I still remember seeing real baby tuatara basking in the sun on a grassy bank!

Among some of the places you can visit are:

* Museum of City and Sea  - Recently ranked as one of the 50 Best Museums of the World by The Times Of London!
The Wahine Disaster

And I haven't forgotten I still need to write my last post about our science week show!  Coming soon!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Plasma Ball and Elephant's toothpaste

The next part of the show saw the boys really interested in our new plasma ball.  They had great fun investigating what happened when they touched it with a finger tip, a whole hand, both hands ...

Many of them were then surprised to see that when I held a small fluorescent tube near the ball, the tube lit up as far as my hand ..

 So of course, I couldn't resist ..

But I think the highlight of the whole experience was when I made Elephant's Toothpaste.  There are lots of examples of this on the internet.  I first saw Steve Spangler do this and thought, "Wow, that looks cool!"  Finding a safer version that wouldn't get me into trouble, we managed to make our own toothpaste at school!  Once again, thanks to Science in a Van for their explanation and instructions.

However, I am thinking that next year we'll have to go for Steve's version and have an outdoor show!

In the next blog, you'll get to find out about our colour changing liquids, what it feels like to be blasted by an Airzooka and some amazing information about a very cool scientist who is making a difference to our world.

Mrs Hawthorne's Science Week Show

I decided to have a go at gathering together a few fun science experiments and having a science session purely for fun (with a bit of learning thrown in of course!).  My aim?  To make the boys go "Wow," "Cool" and "What if?"  And what do boys like to do?  When I asked all eleven classes who came along on Tuesday, the answer was unanimous!  "EXPLOSIONS!!"

So to start the session off with a bang, and with willing volunteers, we made Fizzing Rockets.  I saw this demonstrated at the National Primary Science Teachers Conference in Auckland in the last holidays.  Science in a Van looks like lots of fun and yahoo!  they are coming to Wellington next week and I managed to book their last day so that they can come and visit us.
After my science show I had lots of boys asking me about where to get things and how to do the experiments so over the next couple of blog posts I will try and share all of the experiments.  For Fizzing rockets you need an old film cannister (Alan from Science in a Van said the white ones work the best!) and you can buy Alka Seltzar at your local chemist.  One quarter of one tablet saw the film cannister rocket reach (and touch!) the ceiling of our science room and I'm certain those dents were already there before yesterday!

We all discussed and shared examples of solids, liquids and gases. Boys knew about the properties of solids and so a few boys, after agreeing my white substance was a solid, got to construct a snowman, little did they know that it would slowly 'melt' over the course of the session - and I thought they knew what a solid was!

 I then showed the classes an absorbent ball.  After soaking it in water overnight, the ball had grown to over five times its original size.  It was fascinating to see that when it sat in a beaker of water the ball became invisible!

It was really great to see the boys interested and curious about what was happening.

New Zealand National Science Week

The image is rather blurred but Whoop!  Whoop!  It's Science Week and what better way to celebrate than having a science session where the achievement objective is to have fun, ask questions, be in awe and wonder, "What if?"

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Year 7 Boat Building

As part of their sailing sessions, Year 7N and 7M complete a boat building unit within their own classroom.  They then booked in for a whole day session to construct their own designs that they had worked on in class.  Each boy had to bring along their own materials and their own plan.

We had two, very busy and very productive days with the Year 7's.  Over the day, boys got to use lots of equipment including the scroll saws, drill press, electric drills, saws and hammers.  The problem solving and critical thinking was obvious as boys came across problems with their designs and how to actually construct their own design.

There was a wide range of design ideas.  Boys had spent much time thinking about what makes something float, balance, weight, materials, sail shapes and construction techniques.

This was a highly enjoyable day where all boys were very busy for the whole day.  Lots of boys were keen to work through their morning tea and lunch break, such was the enthusiasm!

Year Six Light and Colour

All of the Year Six classes came for three sessions covering light and colour.

All of the sessions were very hands on, the boys got to explore the way light travels, looking at light from the sun, from a torch and from a laser.  Using mirrors, boys had to direct a laser light through three mirrors and then get it to hit their target - quite a challenge and much harder than we thought it would be!

The classes also had an opportunity to explore reflection and refraction.  Through having an opportunity just to play and explore with mirrors, torches, lenses and prisms, it was surprising to see how much learning the boys were able to do on their own.

They particularly found playing with the convex and concave lenses interesting, especially when they found out about what happens when you concentrate the bright sunlight through a convex lens.  And they were all warned not to try it at home...

The last session was spent learning about the colour spectrum, rainbows and how we see colour.  The boys each made a simple spinner that when they spun it, they were able to see the colours of the spectrum.  It was interesting to hear their ideas about what they thought was happening and why we could see colour when it was spinning.

More Balloon Powered Cars!

Over the term, the junior syndicate all worked on making their own balloon powered car.
Each class got to play with balloons and share their ideas about why an inflated balloon shoots through the air when you let it go.  We then looked at a simple car and discussed making modifications and ways we could improve the simple car.
Then each boy had the challenge of making their own wheels, designing their car and then constructing their own vehicle.  It was great to see lots of problem solving, working together and helping each other out.

Lots of the boys had the opportunity to make modifications to their wheels!  They came up with different ideas for helping to keep their wheels straight and it was interesting to see the range of creative ideas.
All of the boys had a great time and it was great to see them so proud of their final car!  Hopefully the cars made it home in one piece to show their families.

Some of the boys were keen to make a car at home.  There are lots of great ideas on the internet and plenty of room for modifications and incorporating your own creativity.  One of the websites I used for ideas was Steve Spangler, his website is full of lots of great ideas and simple explanations.