Friday, 13 November 2015

Forces can be Fun with Year Two

Our science focus in Year two this term has been forces.  In particular, we've been looking at friction and gravity.
The boys have completed a number of activities to help them to understand that even though we can't see a force, we can see its effect.  Over the sessions, I've been impressed with the number of boys who have begun to use the correct vocabulary and in the right context.

We made little pecking birds which showed gravity pulling the bird down, and friction between the rubber band and the piece of straw which created the birds pecking effect.  We also made a climbing man where friction helped the man climb up the string with a simple pull from the bottom.  Then gravity took over and let the man fall to the bottom, all ready to start his climb again.  Great to see the boys really engaged in some simple activities that reinforce their new learning.

Year 7 Box Cars

Every two years we have our school gala.
The Year 7 teachers are always keen to get involved and their students enjoy making something to sell.
This year we all collected lots of boxes and in class, the boys began designing and planning a cardboard box car for little kids to stand in and run around in.  Once their designs were complete, classes booked in a couple of days in the science and technology room to build them.

Armed with loads of tape, hot glue guns and cardboard the boys got stuck in and had a blast making their cars.  Once the cars began to take shape, many of them began to talk about wanting to buy their own at the gala.  They did a great job and produced lots of fun and appealing cars for the gala.  And yes, many of the students did buy their car on the day!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Bee Bot Fun

Thanks to the fantastic Hutt Science centre, we were able to have a week trying out some coding and programming with Bee Bots and the junior syndicate.
Bee Bots are appealing, simple little robots that look like bees.  The boys use simple commands to control the robot and get it to move and follow directions.  They were instantly popular with all of our junior boys and even some of the older students were asking when they were going to have a turn.

It was a great opportunity for the boys to see how breaking things down into simple steps in a logical order can result in something working out.  As they worked through the challenges, they became more efficient at problem solving and thinking in a more logical and sequential way.

Using the Bee Bots the boys had lots of fun learning the first steps of programming.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Robotics rules!

We've started up some more robotics sessions with the Year 6 and 7 classes.
The boys have been working with partners and have either been learning how to programme the lego mindstorms robot, or build on from what they already know.  It's been great to see so many of them instantly get stuck into the challenges and start to do their problem solving independently.

We've also had the opportunity to have a play with Sphero - a simple app controlled robot that you can send on missions and just have fun with.  Apologies to parents who have had their son come home asking for a sphero, Ollie or BB8!

Hutt Science Centre Rockets!

What a fun week we have had!
Our school has joined the Hutt Science Centre, a Lower Hutt City Council funded initiative that provides a science teacher to support schools as well as access to many wonderful kits.  Each kit is based around a theme and it comes with a few activities all ready set up including student sheets and teacher notes.
This week we have the Rockets kit and a few classes got to try out different kinds of rockets, as well as the science club who got to have some fun one lunch time.

We first tried out the film cannister rockets.  Students had to work carefully and systematically so that we could find the optimal amount of water and alka seltzer tablet.

Preparing for launch

Waiting for blast off

Then the science club spent a rather cold and windy lunch time investigating air pressure rockets.  We added an extra challenge which kept them going for quite some time - anyone who was able to catch a rocket won a chocolate fish!

EPro8 Technology Challenge

After putting all of the Year 7 and 8 students through a few different technology challenges, we got down to two teams of four to represent Wellesley at a new hands-on, inter-school challenge.

The first heat was held at Wainuiomata Intermediate and the boys got their first exposure to some unique, 3D printed equipment.  Over three hours, the boys had to choose different challenges to complete.  Each challenge had different levels of difficulty, the more difficult the task, the more points.  It was great to see the students working really well together.  It didn't really matter about past knowledge, working as a team was what really mattered.

Some of the tasks included building a moving vehicle, a weighing machine and a swing.  Then each task had different challenges associated with it.

Congratulations to both teams who worked really hard for the two and a half hours.

The team below successfully made it through to the next semi-final.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Yesterday, we were really lucky to have Dr Andrew Tait, Climate Scientist with NIWA, come out and speak to almost our entire school.
Once again, as part of our Time Inquiry, I thought it would be great to have a scientist talk about the importance of time and measuring changes over time.  So Dr Tait came and shared his expertise and passion by giving us a talk titled 'What is Climate Change?'

He was fantastic and the boys certainly had plenty of questions for him.  Many of the classes left the hall and went back to class to carry on discussions about the topics and questions he raised.
He soon had the boys actively engaged in what he had to say and they were up on their feet representing our atmosphere.  He divided the group up into the various gases and amounts of each.  Nitrogen was 2/3's of our school, oxygen almost the other 1/3 and then the finger nail of one little Year One student represented the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere!  This was a pretty powerful image and one that surprised many of us.

This was such a great opportunity for our students.  It was awesome to see almost our whole school sitting in the hall listening to, talking about and asking questions about science.  

The Water Cycle

As part of our school wide inquiry around time, some of the classes have been discussing the water cycle.
Is water finite?
Is the water on our planet today, the same water that was around when the dinosaurs walked?
These questions sparked great discussion and explanations of thinking.  Once we started to talk about the water cycle, some boys ideas began to change!  We've learnt scientific explanations for evaporation, condensation and precipatation.  We've also talked about transpiration, sublimation and groundwater storage.
To reinforce our learning, the boys got into groups and created their very own water cycle.

New Lunchtime Electronics group

During last year's centenary celebrations, I met up with an old boy, Don, who was keen to come in and share his electronics expertise with some of the older boys.
This term Don is coming in for a few visits to show a few boys about sound waves and currents.  He's kindly donated his time and a number of pieces of equipment to the school.  He's even made us our very own crystal radio set which he set up with the group.  Some of the students have been very keen and so now Don is making a crystal radio set with them and for them.

Thanks very much Don for coming in and sharing your passion and knowledge with us.

Enviro group visit to the penguins

The other day I was invited along with the Enviro group to go and see the nesting boxes that they had built, now being used by the local visiting penguins.
What an amazing experience!
Led by a group of local volunteers, the boys were taught all about the habits of the penguins and how they use the nesting boxes.  They got to walk around the site and open some of the boxes.  It was amazing to see pairs of penguins already building their nests inside the boxes.

Once we had been shown around, Mike who was organising the visit, showed us all a Little Blue Penguin up close.  One of them had a band around its wing but it was the wrong way so he carefully changed the band over so its number can be easily read.  We soon learnt that even though they look cute and lovely, they have a very sharp beak and are very quick to peck at you.  Luckily Mike has a special permit which allows him to touch the penguins.

The most exciting part of the visit was learning that the boys are going to be part of a Massey University study into the penguins.  Wellesley College is going to be involved in its own citizen science project.  The boys are going to be taught about monitoring and recording the penguins.   This makes their learning so much more valuable, this is real science and the boys are excited to be able to contribute to the study.  It's going to be an ongoing project and long term we are hoping that Wellesley will be involved on a regular basis.

Kitchen Chemistry

As part of the Year 5 and 6's investigation into Kitchen Chemistry, the boys have learnt a number of new skills to help them think about the world around them.
One of our investigations looked into testing the amount of vitamin C in three different liquids, Ribena, orange juice and water with vitamin C dissolved in it.  We made predictions about which would contain the most and least amounts.  The boys had very mixed opinions and it was great seeing them explain their thinking.
We then used an iodine/starch solution to test our liquids.  Using our lab equipment, the boys learnt the simple skill of using a pipette and carefully counted the drops of juice into the solution.  The change of colour was fascinating and so we had a bit of a discussion around molecules and bonds.

We also did another experiment looking into what a mixture is and what something pure is.  This time, the boys got to learn and use a meths burner.  Students worked like scientists and carefully completed the experiment, making sound observations along the way.

Our kitchen chemistry unit finished with a fun experiment looking into different tastes and textures.  As the boys added substances to their mixture, they had to taste each one and write down what it was like and how it felt in their mouths.  This was lots of fun, especially for  the teachers as the boys tasted citric acid and tartaric acid.  Needless to say, the end product of sherbet fizz soon made up for the rather sour earlier tastes!  At the end of this, boys were beginning to take their new learning and apply it to new situations.  There were some excellent observations made about why the sherbet fizz reacted in their mouths.  Well done Year 5 and 6!