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!