World Space Week, 3d printing and more

I can tell that the teachers have been bitten by the ‘space bug’ as all of our Open Mornings this week have been dominated by space activities. It was delightful to see the range of tasks that were going on in each class and the enthusiastic comments from the parents. Not only that, but the week seems to have coincided with World Space Week, which has been an added bonus.

I must mention our TAs too who have worked tirelessly this week (even more than usual) to make sure the mornings were a success. Not only have they prepared material, but actually taken the responsibility of teaching their own groups – three sessions in 90 minutes – quite a feat for all.

In Year 5, Mrs Malam recreated the International Space Station using an assortment of tin cans, Pringles tubes and tin foil. The result (although not absolutely accurate according to one helpful Tweeter!) was nothing short of magnificent and is now suspended from the ceiling outside our walk-in space station. And, I have to say, as the 90 minutes passed on Tuesday morning, the results from her efficient production line just kept getting better and better.

At the other end of the classroom, in the shared space, Mrs Hesketh was expertly instructing the children and their parents as to the complexities of constellations whilst using measuring skills to construct a 3D model of the Plough – all excellent learning through space.

Throughout the week it was evident that the topic of Space can be taught through all areas of the curriculum. There was an abundance of inspired poetry; art from Reception; rocket tangrams from Year 3; DT from Year 4 and numerous science experiments. I was particularly impressed by Mr Randall’s attempt to build a shock-absorbing system to protect two astronauts when they landed on the moon. The “astronauts” were marshmallows and the springs to absorb the shock were pieces of folded card. I can’t wait to learn how the ‘astronauts’ got on when they were dropped from a height of 2 metres – let’s hope not too many of them bounced out. I think the inimitable Miss Moss took a video on her iPad, so maybe we will be able to watch it in Monday’s sharing assembly.

And, if you think that was impressive, this week also heralded the start of our 3D printing adventure. Fortunately, I have a very technical husband, who as well as being interested and conversant in 3D printing, was able to help us. This turned out to be very timely, as setting the printers up proved to be more difficult than we expected – mainly because of problems caused by our proxy server, which prevented us connecting to the Internet from the MakerBot software.

The printers themselves, MakerBot Minis, are excellent and much easier to assemble than previous versions. The model we chose has been simplified and requires no bed levelling, which means that printing is more instant. Eventually, we managed to solve our issues and set our first item printing, leaving it to complete by itself.

Actually, a clever feature of these printers is an inbuilt camera which allows you to monitor your printing remotely. It’s not perfect, but you can seem whether it’s working or not.

The arrival of this technology was almost perfectly timed, as we have been able to take advantage of our Open Mornings to give parents a real insight into what we are hoping to achieve as a school. Everyday our outputs have been more and more adventurous. But, now we need to start creating some designs of our own. Next week I am going to download PrintShop onto the school iPads.

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