9-1-15 Looking forward to the New Year

My goodness, we may only have been in school for four days, but we have certainly hit the floor running. It seems ages since I have written about the project. The first term was so hectic; I still can’t believe we achieved so much. Right up until the last day of term, space continued to be a major part of our daily diet with a rendition of Chris de Burgh’s ‘A Spaceman Came Travelling’ even featuring in our Year 5 Carol Service. Indeed one of our last activities was to respond to the NASA interns’ All About That Space parody – and what fun we had, making our own music video. Being spontaneous can often inspire creativity – check out the results for yourself if you haven’t already done so.

The New Year promises even more challenges for the children, all with Space at their heart. This week the Year 5s were studying measures in Numeracy. Over the Christmas holiday, I was fortunate enough to discover (via Twitter) the excellent book by Nick Tiley-Nunn entitled ‘How To Teach Primary Maths’, so I decided to kick off the year with his activity using popcorn as a unit of measurement. This provided a great deal of excitement and produced much excellent maths and discussion about why popcorn was not the most accuracy method. It also presented the opportunity to tweet Tim Peake to inform him that he was 100.15 units of popcorn high, to which he dutifully responded. After all, we have to link to space somehow! There was so much value in the investigation that we devoted most of the day to it

For the rest of the afternoon we talked about the historical evidence that existed for the Earth being spherical (why is that such a difficult word for children to say?) and this led to our Big Write on Wednesday morning being a letter from Galileo to one of his doubting students, persuading him of that fact. Another example of how the topic of space can pervade all areas of the curriculum.

The best however was saved until last with Sarah Gallagher-Hayes from http://www.twigtwisters.co.uk/v2/ coming in to do two days of Space Art with the children. Our focus was to create a number of large sculptures from mixed media with wicker as an underlying structure. The results were amazing and it was wonderful to see different year groups working closely with each other – particularly the Year 6 children with the Year 2s.

Other year groups, not involved with the large wicker work created their own fabulous art, inspired by our Out of This World project. Year 1 made rockets and 3D models of the planets from wire and Modroc; Year 3 designed lunar bases using art straws; Year 5 took photographic images from the ISS and put their own slant on them. Not to be outdone, Reception made their own aliens and designed underpants for them – some of them were spectacular! Truly a diverse range of creativity.

What has been encouraging is the cross curricula opportunities that have arisen through undertaking this space art, particularly in the areas of maths – measuring, 3D shape identification, proportion to name but a few – right down to Reception and KS1, where the children have had the opportunity to use the language associated with measurement.

Next week is going to be even more exciting for the Juniors. We are launching the Mission X element of our project with an event at MMU in Crewe. Here we will be taking advantage of the expertise of real sports scientists and using their sophisticated equipment to experience what it is really like to train like an astronaut. The data we collect will be taken back to school and used in our maths lessons: real, purposeful learning. What could be better than that?

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