Thursday, 3 March 2016

A Week at the Royal Society

Last week we had three days all together spending some time unpacking some of the science capabilities and looking at the Nature of Science.
Our Wellesley science programme has been largely content driven and so it's been really great to have a look at the capabilities and focus on what we want our kids to be able to do to think and act like scientists.  What skills do our students need to be able to make critical and informed decisions about their world around them?

The first capability we focused on was Gather and Interpret Data.
What is the difference between observations and inferences?  With a range of practical tasks and lots of discussion we all had fun getting to grips with understanding the capability and how to use it  in our classes.

 A simple little experiment using Skittles - watch what happens to the colours when you put them into water?  What questions can you ask to help your students make observations?  What questions will lead to inferences?

One of my favourite activities; a rubberband catapult that is held back by plastic string.  Light a match, melt the string and the marble is fired forward (use the wooden cotton reels under the board).  What modifications can you make to get your marble to fire even further?  What did you observe happening as you made one change at a time?

The second capability is Use Evidence.
By working through a series of experiments all based around fizzing and foaming, we begun to explore this capability - how do we know that?  What can we see that tells us this?  By having a number of experiments we were able to use a range of information to help us to make inferences and think critically about what we were seeing.

We each had to take some photos of anything to do with science.  Then the next day we were asked to create a list of questions that get you to make observations.Then we made up a second set of questions which would allow students to make inferences.

On our last day we all went to Hampton Hill Primary School in Tawa to see the amazing Carol Brieseman.  She participated in this programme two years ago and has led some amazing changes in her schools science programme.

We also got to join in on a science session.  Carol was based at NIWA so she got to learn all about Argo Floats - things that are dropped into our oceans all around the world and then send back data about currents, temperature etc.  We got to make little cartesian divers with her class as an introductory activity to lead into looking at the ocean.  She had lots of great ideas to share with us so it was wonderful to have the opportunity to talk with someone who has gone through what we will be doing later in the year!

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