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 – http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Science/article1492571.ece?shareToken=9fd4c0b6b5d2a44ee9e21171408c5582. 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.

1 thought on “7/12/14 – Space campers to Mars

  1. Skill Supply (@skillsupplyuk)

    trays of sand instead of clay work well with that expt, we measured the size of the crater created and draw a graph compared with height (with year 7!) we also look at the craters on the earth e.g. Vredefort Dome in South Africa. Hope that helps, Dr. S 🙂



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