Monthly Archives: December 2014

Robotics in Year 6

In the last week of term, Year 6 was lucky enough to have an amazing afternoon as part of the Out Of This World project.  Doctor Louise Dennis from the department of computer science at the University of Liverpool came in and told us a little bit about Robotics. It was a brilliant experience because we have never controlled miniature robots before.

Robotics, we learnt, is the branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation and application of robots.

Using computers we controlled smaller versions of rovers called Noor, Karen and Claudia by laptops. There were a set of instructions that we had to use so that the rover moved.  The instructions were things like: forward, reverse, right, left etc.

Also there were tasks we had to complete which were: make sure the flap was working, work on the delay and find out how long it took to go forward.

Sophie, Alex, Amelie and Isabelle worked together on Claudia.

Chantelle, Izzy and George worked on Noor.

Jo, Ryan, Kieran and Charlie worked on Karen.

We hope we can have this experience again sometime in life.

By Sophie Richardson & Alexandra Hilditch

Year 6 2 Year 6 3 Year 6 1

Making learning informative and fun!

Well, what a year this is turning out to be and who would have thought my daughter, Jessica Smith, would have found the whole subject of space and astronauts so enthralling. This was a topic that Jessica had never shown any enthusiasm for, but now – WOW! – she is totally fascinated by the facts about the ISS and more so with the wonders of Tim Peake.

Her enthusiasm I am sure is down to a totally inspiring and passionate teacher, who is totally transforming my daughter’s understanding about space and the ISS.

Jessica will now turn the television over to watch any TV show relating to space or the ISS and can talk in detail about Tim Peake. Moreover, she is now drawing and making models of the things that she is learning about.

Working on this topic has also had an impact on Jessica’s general school work. She wants to do well all the time so then maybe, the class will get a reward of more space time.

Jessica talking endlessly about the Sokol spacesuit that the school had on loan and found the antics of the teaching staff trying to get out of the outfit hilarious.  As a result, learning is not just very informative, but it is entertaining and because the school is making it so much fun, the kids are gaining much knowledge, enjoyment and a sense of achievement.

For me as Jessica’s mum, out of all the activities the school has done around this topic so far, I found the Open Morning that the school held to be absolutely wonderful. To be able to work so closely with my child, on a subject that she is totally enthralled by, delighted me. Making the model of the ISS – although very sticky – was great fun, and to be told by my 9 year old daughter, “Er, Mum, do you know nothing about the ISS – that bit doesn’t go there!” was a great moment. She has a world of knowledge now about a subject that in September she knew nothing about.

Well done, Rode Heath, for teaching in such a fun, entertaining and interesting way.

Lorraine Smith


Jess and the Sokol spacesuit


Jess demonstrating how difficult it is to move in micro gravity.

7/12/14 – Space campers to Mars

There I was thinking there wouldn’t be as much to comment on this week about our space project, as I assumed we were starting to wind down (or is it actually wind up?) for Christmas. However, looking at the pictures that teachers are tweeting, this is far from the case.

Not only that, but I am constantly amazed by the grasp that some of our children have of quite complex ideas. Take the Year 4s for example. They have been on a mathematical journey this week, working out how long it would take to travel to Mars in a galactic camper can. There were some very large numbers involved, but by working systematically and with the help of Ms Sinclair, they came to the conclusion that the journey would last for about 80 years.

This knowledge was shared with the Junior classes in our Friday assembly. Moreover, Noah explained about the conjunction and opposition of planets, demonstrating a remarkable level of understanding. Apparently this came up as a result of the book the Year 4s are studying in Literacy – ‘Shrunk’ – which, of course, has a space theme.

And what of other year groups? Well the infants can be excused as they are spending most of their time rehearsing for their Nativity play next week. Yes, some schools do still perform them! But, I see that despite their busy schedule, the Year 1s have found time to squeeze a guided reading session in. And what are they reading – a space book of course!

In the world of space, of course, nothing ever stands still and this week saw the test flight of the Orion spacecraft, which takes us one step closer to human exploration of Mars. It looked like it travelled much faster than Year 4’s camper van, which is a good job! I wonder if any if our Rode Heath children will have the opportunity to travel out of the confines of our Earth. Moreover, in today’s Sunday Times there was an article about the UK Space Agency’s most ambitious programme yet: to send a solar-powered rover to the surface of Mars by 2018 – I just love the way our next Out of This World theme is clearly opening up for us. Next year will obviously be devoted to robotics – using the Raspberry Pi technology we have been putting on hold.

In Year 5 we left it until the end of the week to focus on our space activity. We were looking at the concept of centre of gravity and were lucky enough to have two ex-pupils – Sallie Belcher and Molly Pheasey – in to help us. It was great to see that they hadn’t lost any of their enthusiasm for learning. What they have gained though is confidence and they lost no time in helping out groups as they investigated the impact on centre of gravity of placing a ball of clay at different points on a metre ruler. It wasn’t actually a very satisfying experiment, but what it did allow us to do was examine how we could have made our results better and come up with a different way of using the clay.

This week coming up is computing week, so we should all be trying to fit in our hour of code. An important step if we are going to move on to creating our own space programmes in Scratch.

2/12/14 Martian Soil and Galactic pass the parcel

Martian Soil & Galactic Pass the Parcel

Sue Andrews from ESERO came into school to do a morning on Martian soil. She gave us all a challenge. We had to try and decide which one of the samples was closest to the real Martial soil. We had to do several tests to find out.

We worked in a team and we each had a job which was exciting because we each had our own responsibility. For example, someone was in charge of health and safety so they had to make sure that everyone wore glasses – I felt like a real scientist when I put mine on!

It was challenging, but fun at the same time. My favourite part was when we were able to watch the water evaporate whilst it was over a candle.

We learnt how scientists test soil samples and our whole class liked it, so it would be really good if we could do something like that again. It tested our teamwork and increased our knowledge about space.

Hermione Pugh

Martian soil IMG_2058 IMG_2056 IMG_2055

On Monday Year 4 took part in a galactic game of pass the parcel.  Every time someone unwrapped a layer there was something new to learn.  One of my favourite facts was that if something gets sucked into a black hole it gets stretched a lot while also getting thinner.  We were wondering how liquid or gas could be stretched.  Another fact we learnt is that there are 10, 000, 000 stars in the sky.  We figured this out by volunteers coming up and making the number ten times bigger by adding zeros until we had the right number of stars.  We found it amazing!  I unwrapped a layer; it was exciting waiting to find out what I would discover … it was ‘matter’.  We learnt that everything is made from matter.

Aiden Austin and Amelie Pepper

IMG_2052 Galactic Pass the Parcel 3

2/12/14 – Galactic Pass the Parcel and Train Like an Astronaut

Well, more than a week has passed since my last blog. Everything is becoming very Christmassy at Rode Heath, with Year 5 rehearsing for their annual Nativity performance and the Infants putting the final touches to their Christmas play. Despite this though, there are still plenty of space activities going on.

Early last week we were fortunate to have two visitors from the department of Mathematical Sciences at Liverpool University – Paul Sapple and his colleague, Brian. I had been very intrigued to take part in their activity, which was entitled ‘Galactic Pass the Parcel’

Years 4 & 5 were the lucky classes this time and they excitedly trooped into the hall where they were asked form a large circle. Paul explained the basic rules and the music started. The parcel sent round the circle was certainly an impressive size and the children waited in eager anticipation for the music to stop.

The first layer revealed a map of the solar system, which was carried around the circle for everyone to see. This led to quite a sophisticated discussion about galaxies and black holes. At one point, I was quite concerned about the complexity of scientific language being used – but the children seemed to be understanding well and indeed, Paul commented that he had never been in a primary school where the level of knowledge about space had been so high. Just what you want to hear!

We moved onto the number of stars in our galaxy – quite a large number, but an excellent way of demonstrating multiples of 10.

The next layer revealed the planets themselves and we were quickly able to demonstrate that we knew the order they should go in. Jack had the hardest task, keeping the Sun in the air – I think that it was quite awkward to hold.

Gradually we drilled down until we looked at our own Earth and its orbit around the Sun. We then added in our Moon, which was quite tricky for the Year 4 children to act out, as well as remembering that the Earth spins on its axis every 24 hour to create both day and night. To be honest, I was amazed by the amount of learning that was packed into a single hour. Paul even talked about why we experience seasons. Finally, it all came down to matter – atoms and particles.

The activity is billed as a trip through time and space, disguised as a children’s party game and it is certainly that. It is an excellent way to explore the vastness of space as you zoom in to Earth.

You can read about Year 4’s views of the event in the latest pupils’ blog.

The event to mention is yesterday’s Mission X launch event at Abraham Moss High School in Manchester. I had been asked by Heather MacRae to speak about our experiences last year with Train Like an Astronaut and to share our Out of This World project with a collection of teachers and Space and STEM ambassadors. Two of our Rolls-Royce team members accompanied me: Clare Pheasey and John Randall, who is going to run the event in school from January.

It was an excellent afternoon and very encouraging as the audience was very enthusiastic about our project and the quality of the work we are producing. It was also a great opportunity to meet some influential new contacts, including Lynne Bianchi, Head of Science Education Research and Innovation Hub at Manchester University. I have been following Lynne on Twitter for the past few months with great interest. I am hoping that this will be the start of an exciting relationship – I look forward to taking advantage of the many opportunities for primary science teaching that are clearly on offer.

I was also introduced to Chris Beard, National Space Academy Regional Hub Co-coordinator, who has offered some help with our 3D printing in the form of training on Autodesk123d – that will certainly be really handy!

Galactic Pass the Parcel 4 Galactic Pass the Parcel 3 Galactic Pass the Parcel 2 Galactic Pass the Parcel 1