Monday, 25 November 2013

Outstanding and Inspiring Teacher and Blog

I came across this teacher last week.  Apologies that he's an Australian, but I just have to share who he is.

Mr Richard Johnson, winner of the 2013 Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools.

Firstly, have a look at who is and what makes him stand out and be an inspiring science teacher.

And now for his website, this is one to bookmark.
Its full of news, fun things he's done in his class, ideas to try at home, interesting links and clips, and just lots of really interesting information.

Surprising What's on Our Doorstep!

The term started with Year Six investigating our local beach, in particular, our own rocky shore around Days Bay.  We spent the first session learning about the tidal zones, what sorts of things we can see in them, and how to respect the habitat of these living creatures.  In the afternoon, all three classes went down to the beach right on low tide.
They were told that if they were quiet and patient, they would be rewarded.  And boy, they sure were!  It was fantastic to see 60, ten and eleven years old, sitting quietly watching the rockpools.  Soon the noise level began to rise as they began to notice a huge variety of living species.  The boys saw a range of crabs, sea anemones, ragworms, snails, fish, mussels, kina, chitons, limpets and the most amazing hermit crab that had crawled out of a huge Cooks Turban snail shell!
 6O exploring the rock pools 

Some of the crabs and snails that were found in the pools

Once the classes had been given lots of time to explore the pools, the boys then had a chance to share what they had found and to sketch one of the creatures they had seen.  

It was a great afternoon and the boys were really surprised at what they found living right on our doorstep.

In class we followed up our visit with finding out more about our local sea life, we found out about food chains and food webs and the sorts of adaptive features these creatures have which enable them to survive in our rocky shore.

If you haven't been already, I have to strongly recommend you visit the Island Bay Marine Centre.  Open only on Sundays, this has to be one of the best little places to visit in Wellington.  There are touching pools which are filled with a huge range of rock pool life that you can pick up and take a close look at.  Around the walls are tanks filled with a huge array of fish and sea-life, all of which have been found around our Wellington waters.  Many have been fished up by the local fishermen and handed into the marine centre.  The place is staffed by marine biologist students and a few very knowledgeable volunteers.  
Another place to spend some time is around the marine reserve, Taputeranga.  Visit at low tide and you will be absolutely amazed at how the sealife is regenerating and just how many things are living there and how big they have become.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Term Three Catch Up post

Suddenly a term has passed and all of the exciting things happening in our science and technology room have not been shared on the blog.
Time to sort that.
As usual, the science room continues to get busier and busier.  Firstly, the juniors had an opportunity to use their imagination and construction skills once again.  This term classes tried out a range of tasks.  Year Two worked really hard to construct their own kaleidoscopes, it was pretty tricky getting the little shiny bits in the right place so that they fell and created the interesting patterns as they turned their tubes.   We had varying success so I decided to try something else with Years Three and One.  Our whole school were working on an inquiry based around Nature - Our Greatest Teacher.  We decided to give nature a little helping hand, and using ice block sticks and a few sticks gathered from the gardens, all the boys made their own bird feeders.  These turned out great!

As part of Year Four's inquiry, I helped them to construct egg shell people which they filled with seed raising mix, added some small greens seeds and then let them grow until they were ready to harvest.

Towards the end of the term, Year Five completed an investigation into milk, its production and products. The website, Rosie's World introduced them to a range of information.  This is a great New Zealand based site that has all sorts of interactive features, movie clips and fun stuff.  Throughout the unit, the boys investigated how to turn milk into butter, cream and cream cheese, how to make casein and then use it to make buttons and glue, and the final session saw the boys making their own ice-cream, easily the most popular science session!

Kitchen Chemistry is always a popular unit of investigation with Year Six and it was the same again this year. Boys learnt about acids and bases by using red cabbage indicator and indicator paper.  They also completed experiments into dissolving, evaporation and condensation.

We also experimented with salt and learnt how to make a saturated solution.  It was great to have the opportunity to use our new microscope and the boys were fascinated to see the shape of the crystals under the microscope.

And as it was called Kitchen Chemistry, the final experiment looked into tasting a range of common things found in the pantry, mixing them together and then tasting the final product, Sherbet Fizz!!  The teachers did enjoy watching the boys tasting the tartaric acid!

In Year's Seven and Eight, all of the classes enjoyed participating in the chemical change experiments.

 Anything that fizzes, explodes, slimes or squelches is instantly appealing to boys!  So, to make our science fun, the boys got to investigate the best combination of baking soda and vinegar to make the largest reaction, how to make their own silly putty, and their final experiment was learning about the chemical and physical changes that materials undergo when they are heated and result in hokey pokey!  We had a range of success with that experiment, from the totally perfect crunch and taste to the oh so terrible, awful burnt brown mess! 

The Year Eights also got to finish their bird feeders which they had started at the end of term two.  They were very successful and I've even had reports that they are hanging in gardens around Wellington and birds are enjoying feeding from them!