So… what’s been decided for next term?

We’ve just had a quick discussion about what we’re going to do next term under our umbrella topic for this year “Out of this World.”

The ideas the kids were coming up with were worthy enough to blog about (so much so that I got this one cranking while they were stacking chairs and doing other end-of-term bits).

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As I was writing some of these ideas up on the whiteboard the kids started asking questions. So many questions. I started answering some. Of course, when I start answering questions I go off on various tangents. The idea of dark matter and the big bang came up. I put them on the board. This, of course, led to more questions, and rather than trying to answer them in the fifteen minutes we had left, I changed tack and got out the post-its.

“Write down your questions,” I announced. Based on the brief discussion, here are some of the questions they wrote:

How far is it between the moon and Pluto?

What does a black hole do?

What would happen if the sun blew up?

How long does it take a rocket to get to Mars?

I wonder how long it would take to drive a car to Venus?

Is the galaxy infinite?

Can you leave the galaxy?

What would happen if the ozone disappeared?

Can you go 100,000,000s of miles from the galaxy?

Then my personal favourites:

I wonder what would happen if the dark matter wasn’t there?

What would happen if the dark matter fell apart or exploded?

Next term will be very interesting indeed.

Mr B.

Post Script: following some discussion after I suggested our class band could be called Event Horizon (that was part of our black hole discussion), we settled on Galaxy. I’ve said it has to be a prog rock band. Then someone asked what prog rock was. My answer: “Write your question on a post-it and put it on the board.”

Ground Control to Commander Hadfield

I haven’t blogged here for a while. There are a couple of drafts kicking about in my “yet to be published” list and another couple festering inside my brain portal. Best I do something about these drafts…

This year our over-arching topic is Out of this World and with this we’ve been investigating a bit of stuff about space. I gave the students the challenge of choosing one current mission that was being undertaken by NASA or the European Space Agency and to complete an inquiry into it.

Here is a PDF of our shared Google Doc outlining the project.

Anyway, one thing led to another and I decided we needed to tweet the International Space Station.

We checked for a couple of days to see if we would get a reply. The kids were asking, “Hey Mr. B! Has the space station tweeted us back yet?” They hadn’t and I had a brainwave last night. More on that shortly. We’ve been learning Space Oddity recently (yes… I’m that kind of teacher) and to kick things off with an Out of this World bent, I showed the kids this classic video from ISS astronaut Chris Hadfield.

It’s a great video with over 25 million views, which brings me back to my brainwave. Last night I thought I might be able to tweet Chris our question requesting a picture of New Zealand from space. I checked it out with a couple of the kids who came in off the early bus and they quite liked the idea.

I was thinking the same thing would happen. We might not hear back, but with Twitter you never know…. An hour after our original tweet came this reply:

And that, my friends, shows the wonder and beauty of the Twitter. You can put something out there and things like this happen. The kids were totally amped. We also had a supplementary question.

I asked them at the end of the day, “How many people came to school today thinking, ‘you know, I reckon I’ll speak to an astronaut today.’?” I know I didn’t.

A massive thank you to Chris for engaging with our students in this way.