Wednesday 25th February 2015

What an incredible experience! The whole school arrived at Manchester Metropolitan University ready for their Google Hangout with Tim Peake. Hermione, my sister Olivia and I arrived early so that if a reporter came, there would be some children to interview. Mrs Wiskow took the three of us in her car and we joined Mrs Pheasey and a few other girls (who were ex-pupils of Rode Heath) at 8:30am. The Hangout was due to start at 10:00am, so we still had an hour and thirty minutes of waiting time.

The rest of the school arrived soon afterwards and we were finally ready. Tim appeared on the huge screen and we all cheered. I was even able to ask him a question! In fact we all of the 21 pupils chosen had time to pose their questions – even Mrs Pheasey managed a couple at the end!

As a prize for asking a great question each one of those pupils received a specially designed T-shirt with the words ‘I have ‘hung out’ with Tim Peake’ on the back. Tim even had one too. Before the Hangout our school had sent him seven copies of our Space passports (one from each year group), which he had spread out across his desk. He told us that he was very impressed with the work we had been doing. We also sent him a T-shirt, like ours, but there was one difference. His said ‘I have ‘hung out’ with Rode Heath Primary’ on the back. He was even wearing it underneath his astronaut overall! We were all flabbergasted!

After the Hangout everyone went back to school, but it wasn’t over for Hermione, my sister Olivia and me. We were all interviewed by BBC Radio Stoke about our talk with Tim. It was an amazing day, one which I will certainly never forget.

Hannah Taylor

Never ignore a possible

This project is all about possibilities. It’s about aiming high – literally #outofthisworld. Who would have thought that we would actually achieve a live link with Tim Peake! Well, we have and it is now a reality. The publicity is out there, so tune in 25th February at 10am.

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Achieving our goals is down to the hard work of everyone at Rode Heath: the teachers, the children, the parents, MMU and the Out of this World team, who have all believed in the possibilities – ‘Never ignore a possible’ (a great quote from our Year 5 class book The Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell). So a huge thank you everyone – WOW!

All those whose questions we have selected will receive specially printed T-shirts to mark the event. These will also be available for people to purchase as a memento after the Hangout.

This week we have achieved several milestones, despite being largely focussed on assessments, our most notable of which has been the creation of our first 3D objects for the ISS.

IsaacLauren's ISSHeidi's pot

This is no mean feat, as we have been through many teething problem before finding an excellent solution in Tinkercad – again this would not have been achieved without persistence and hard work on the part of Mr Leech. Children are now able to work at home online with their parents and then send the stl file they have produced directly to school for printing. Currently, the Y5s are trialling this, but we expect to roll it out to the rest of school in the very near future.

Indeed, everyone who encounters our Out of This World project seems to be genuinely interested and keen to take part. Our Year 5 gymnastics teacher, Sarah Brewitt, has been adapting her sessions to fit in with our Train Like an Astronaut programme, linking gymnastics with science.  I asked her to write about some of the activities she chose to illustrate centre of gravity.

Using Science in Gymnastics

Partner and counter balancing involves the understanding of being ‘on balance’ which means ensuring the ‘connection point’ or centre of mass is over the point which is connected to the floor. For example, balancing on one foot will require a slight shift in the body to move over the foot you are balancing on which is in connection with the floor.

The class were asked to seek their centre of mass by standing against a wall with their hips and heels touching the wall. Keeping their hips and heels touching, they were asked to lean forwards to touch their toes. They all found they felt like they were either going to fall over or did fall forwards. When asked why they replied they ‘were off balance’ and they had to move their feet forwards allowing the centre of mass to be over point of balance which was their feet.

Balance 2 Balance 1

During a partner counter balance gymnasts were asked to make their feet touch, forming a ‘support base’ and cross their arms over holding wrists. When connected and ready, they were asked to squeeze their bodies tight and lean backwards keeping their bodies in a straight line. They tested what would happen if one gymnast were to lean further than the other and questioned how to balance if the mass of a person was the bigger than the other. The connection of hands became the centre of the two gymnasts and therefore this had to remain over the support base which was their feet.

Sarah Brewitt

Maths Week at Rode Heath

Yet another fun-filled educational week at Rode Heath and this time it was the turn of Maths.  Bright and early Monday morning, the Problem Solving Company arrived complete with all manner of giant puzzles to entertain and challenge the children. It was wonderful to see every pupil engaged, from the youngest Reception child right up to the Year 6s – each key stage involved in a different 40 minute workshop.

The younger children worked with giant electronic mazes to improve their coordinate and positioning skills whereas the older children were confronted with giant tangrams intended to enhance their spacial awareness. The hexagon puzzle proved particularly difficult and I believe was only achieved by a Year 6 team. If you want to have a go at placing the six hexagons around a central hexagon, making sure that all the dots are matching, then print out the document on this webpage. Believe me, it’s not that easy! But patience is one of the most important attributes of a would-be astronaut, so bear that in mind when you are getting frustrated.  Maybe we should send a copy to NASA!

Following the workshops we all focused upon the maths objectives in our Space passports. These were wide ranging from finding fractions of stars in Year 1 to creating an Earth speedometer in Year 6. Year 3 had a very interesting week as they were tasked with weighing food before and after it had been dehydrated. This meant that the children were the first class to use our newly acquired Digital Food Dryer and Dehydrator. By the end of the week there was a very strange smell emanating from the Year 3 classroom – not entirely pleasant I have to say. This is unfortunate, as I was hoping that Mr Randall would be able to make some money selling his dried products, but judging from the expressions on the faces of those children who were indeed brave enough to taste the results, I don’t think it’s going to be a big money-spinner!

In Year 5 we had a lot of fun with rockets – investigating whether the launch angle had an impact on the distance travelled. The results were inconclusive, but we learned a considerable amount about how to conduct an investigation and what we would change to make the data more reliable and useful – facts that we passed onto the Year 4 class, who were busy with their own challenge of working out the distances of each planet from the Sun. It’s a good job that our playground and car park was long enough to accommodate their calculations.

One of the significant events of the week was our first designed and printed 3D object. This was achieved by Hermione Pugh in Year 5, who had used Tinkercad at home to create a 3D house, which she printed at school. Quite understandably, she was delighted by the result. Unfortunately, in printing, the raft that the software created had lifted slightly from the base of the platform which meant that her house wasn’t completely perfect. This mattered little to Hermione, however, who I managed to capture on film, explaining to one of her classmates about the frustrations of 3D design – music to my ears!

Another important event was the choosing of our questions for Tim Peake, which were all sent to ESA on Friday. We are hoping that as part of the interview, he will choose a name for our own Mission into Space on Tuesday 17th March (more details to follow later). I still can’t believe that our Google Hangout is actually going ahead.  Thinking about it though, it had to – after all, it’s one of the first objectives in our Space passports. And, thanks to the technical expertise of MMU and the persistence of Clare Pheasey, we are ready for 25th February – 10am our time. Although it’s a shame that we can’t invite parents to attend, it will be broadcast live on the Internet and then available on YouTube as a download. Make sure you catch it if you can!

Hexagon puzzles

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Programming at Rode Heath by Mrs Ross

Throughout the school we have been programming in various forms.  Reception have been busy bees programming their Bee-Bots both practically and on the iPads, whilst further up the school have been learning Scratch.

Over recent weeks, Year 2 have been progressing with their programming skills. Initially, the children revisited programming Daisy the Dinosaur, moving on from inputting simple commands which made her go forward, grow, shrink or jump to using repeat commands.  This took a little more thought, as the challenge was to repeat the commands using minimal instructions. It was a little tricky but we got there with the help of the Repeat function. Continuing on our journey, last week Year 2 shared an afternoon with Year 1 showing them how to code using Kodable on the iPads. After listening to the story of how the fuzzFamily crash landed their spaceship on the planet Smeeborg we got stuck in to help the fuzzFamily explore the fascinating Technomazes of Smeeborg. In order for a fuzzFamily member to exit the maze the children had to program simple instructions (having learned that an algorithm is an instruction) for each creature. To gain maximum points they needed to collect the gold coins along the way. Kodable provides children with much needed experience of sequencing instructions and it was great to see the all the children enjoying their successes. Year 1 are now ready to help the fuzzFamily on their own! Good luck Year 1.

The majority of our Juniors and teachers have now completed The Hour of Code as part of their Introduction to Programming. In addition to this, some of our more experienced Scratch users have been assisting in class with the first steps of coding.

Our After School Club is going from strength to strength.  By the end of last term the word-on-the-code went viral amongst the lower Juniors and we are now bursting at the seams.   All the children are learning how to program using Scratch and so far they have programmed fireworks exploding, chomping fish and flying spaceships.  It never ceases to amaze me how quickly children find their feet with technology and application and Scratch is no exception.

In addition to learning Scratch and with the prospect of two Raspberry Pi computers being flown to the International Space Station as part of Tim Peake’s mission, Rode Heath Coders are to enter the Astro Pi project.  The project is to devise and describe an original idea for an experiment or application that can be conducted on the Astro Pi by Tim Peake during his mission.  The two best submissions will get the opportunity to work with the Astro Pi team to interpret their ideas and the team at the Raspberry Pi Foundation will then code them ready for flight on the ISS. Get your thinking caps on coders!

Congratulations - Daisy The Dino Kodable 1 Kodable wk1_3

Mission X at Rode Heath by Mr Randall

Mission X Train like an Astronaut has begun at Rode Heath School.

Over the last couple of weeks the Year Three class have been mentoring the other classes in the school. It was decided that rather than just showing staff in a staff meeting how Mission X worked and doing a one off demonstration lesson after school with a group of children, it would be more beneficial and engaging to show the teachers and their own class a demonstration lesson during school hours.

Each class was shown some of the Mission X videos relevant to their year group and a quick guide on the Mission X website. The Astro Agility, Martian Mountain and the Mission Control activities being common to most classes but adapted to suit the ability. For instance the climbing frames were used for Martian Mountains for all classes apart from Y5 and Y6 who used the ropes. Build an Astronaut Core and Do a Space Walk were demonstrated for Years 5 and 6 as well.

60 children in the school hall took some managing especially with a reduced area due to building work and a particularly busy timetable. After watching a couple of the Mission X videos, a dance warm up for all prepared everyone for the activities. First, each activity was demonstrated and then in groups, a rotation of five activities was then set up. Using partners, the children timed themselves on the Mission X activities. Next the class watching had the opportunity to join in, guided by the Year 3 children and the teachers. It was really good to see Year 3 children mentoring reception children as it gave them a sense of greater responsibility and the conversations going on were very informative. It all seemed to work well for the demonstrations.

What now? Well each class now has a guide sheet on how to teach the Mission X and manage their own P.E. session with the resources available. The hall timetable will need some adjustments to fit everyone in during each week. Monitoring of results (times, heart rates, comments) is something each class can adapt although there is a guide sheet they can use to start with. Around the school there is definitely a sense of energy and enthusiasm for Mission X. Over the last few weeks there have also been sporting competitions which have emphasised to the rest of the school how important it is to train and keep fit.

Year 3 Mission X

Digital Camera Digital Camera

Year 6 Views on MMU Visit

MMU Visit

The Rode Heath children were very fortunate to experience a day at the Crewe campus of Manchester University on Wednesday.  “How To Train Like An Astronaut.”

In the morning they met Mrs. Pheasey in the library and then had a tour of the campus which included a visit to the Halls of Residence.  Here they had an insight into the working day of a student and their way of life.  Chatting to the students, our children enjoyed the chance to ask them questions.

The older children stayed for a meal at the university where they ate food that astronauts could only dream of, i.e chips and sausage etc.

The Astronaut Training included how strong they were with their hands and arms, how much air was in their lungs and timed running between gates with a camera finish.  Team building exercises included walking together on a pair of large skis and a “Crystal Maze” type game.

The children also watched a presentation about robots.

Mr Leech (who in his youth had attended Crewe Campus) proudly returned there as the Headteacher of our lovely children.

We can be sure that the children gained a wealth of different memories. Thank-you to all involved for a great day!

Susan Brookes Smith

(Year 6 parent)

Sam

Out of this world

Wednesday 14 January 2015 was by far the most memorable day of this academic year. We went to MMU (Manchester Metropolitan University). We went there to train like an astronaut as our topic is (try to) train like an astronaut. Our favourite part was team building because it was very challenging for the whole class. The coolest part was standing in -200C (the same temperature as a freezer.) Sadly, the worst part of the day was while we were coming back from the university.

By Mollie and Hasan

Year 6

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Train like an astronaut

Yesterday we went to the MMU to train like an astronaut. They took us round the campus and we learnt about the life of a university pupil. We had to run through cameras to test how fast we could run. We had to blow in to a piece apparatus to measure our oxygen level.

We had to test how long we could hold a plank for. We got put in an environmental chamber which was -20 degrees that is the same temperature as your freezer at home. Another experiment that we did was to test our muscle strength.

There was a jump mat and it was testing how long we were in the air. We tested our team work and concentration we tried get a cross some blocks and only three pieces of wood between 13 of us it was difficult but we did it without any one falling off.

By Maisy and Kieran

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Rode Heath at MMU

On the 14th January 2015 KS2 went to the MMU in Crewe. It was by far one of the best days of our lives.

There were a series of tasks that we had to do such as, an asthma test, a strength test and such more. We visited there because would like to Train like an Astronaut! We also went in to a freezer (Environment Chamber) it got up to -200C degrees.

One of the best things we did was the sprinting. We all enjoyed running as fast as we could from gate to gate. Another thing we did for mission x was the inhaler test where we had to take a deep breath and blow as much oxygen into a thermometer and see how much oxygen we had inside us (we had to blow into the thermometer quite quickly).

One of the other tests was a strength test where you have to squeeze an instrument that tested your strength in your arm.

We also did a jumping test. We had to stand on a rubber platform connected to a computer and jump as high as we could. This tested how high we can jump.

In twelve weeks’ time we will do activities similar to these and see if we have improved on any of them.

We definitely recommend this marvellous university for a school trip.

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By Evan and Sophie.

On Wednesday 14th we went on a trip to Manchester Metropolitan University. One of our favourite bits was the team building activity where you had to get a bottle of acid (pretend, not real) from one side of the hall to the other. You had to do this by making bridges with only three planks without touching the floor or you had to start all over again.  This would be helpful for astronauts as they need balance in space and helping each other. They need to work as a team to overcome difficulties and so did we with this activity.

We had a tour around the campus and learnt how students live. Then we found out about some of the students who live there and gossiped with them.

Next we went to the student zone and had lunch which was delicious. We had lots of fun learning about robots and saw some amazing ones who can: dance, play the violin, solve a rubix cube and look like humans. We learnt how robots can help us in the future.

Finally we did lots of sporting activities for our train like an astronaut. We had a lovely day and hope we come back soon.

Eva-Mae & Amelia

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14-1-15 MMU Mission X Launch Day

What an amazing day we had at MMU on Wednesday, courtesy of Clare Pheasey and her team. What an incredible opportunity for our KS2 children to experience at first-hand, life on a university campus.

The main purpose of the day was to launch the Train like an Astronaut element of our Out of This World project and we were lucky enough to be joined by Heather MacRae, who runs the event on behalf of the UK Space Agency. However, the day was much more than that – it was to demonstrate to our Rode Heath children what they could aspire to, through hard work and commitment to their learning.

The events started, for the Year 6 and 5 pupils, with a series of tours around the campus where they had the opportunity to interact with real students and ask them questions about university life. Most intriguing for some of the Y5s seemed to be the fact that you had to pay to do your own laundry.

Following that we were invited to a lecture room where we listened to Dr Stephen Lynch talk about robots. He entertained us with a series of video clips showing various examples of robotic technology, including a robotic fish that is used to measure pollution and the Lego CubeStormer which can solve a Rubik’s cube in 5 seconds.

The children listened, spellbound, as they learned about Robonaut, the first dexterous humanoid robot in space and the first US-built robot on the ISS. Ultimately, robots like these could help build space stations on the moon for humans to inhabit, the obvious advantage being that they do not suffer from human limitations – such as oxygen deprivation – and would be much cheaper to send into space.

Perhaps one of our Rode Heath pupils might even be involved in their development in the future. Who knows?

Finally, the children had the opportunity to handle a real robot. Even though the Sony robotic dog, Aibo, is relatively old technology, it is still incredibly addictive and captivated the children as it responded to their stroking by wagging its tail, moving its body and making dog-like noises.

To earn the chance to engage with Aibo, pupils had to ask a question about robotics and I was very pleased with the scientific nature of their responses. They had obviously been very motivated by the subject matter.

Lunch was taken in the student refectory – much to the bewilderment of some of the staff and students, who seemed completely unaware of our visit. To suddenly have your space invaded by 50 primary aged children is probably quite alarming. It certainly freed up a few tables. Having feasted upon chicken dippers and chips and having wiped up the deluge of squash that was spilt by children missing the last step on their way to grab a seat next to their friends, we set forth enthusiastically to the Sports Hall for the main activities of the afternoon.

These consisted of two workshops. One was a team-building session run by the Outdoor Education students. This involved the children working together to cross the sports hall on a pair of very large horizontal stilts. Hermione in Y5 was magnificent as a leader – she would make a perfect cox! They also had to transverse a “deadly acid swamp”, which required a great deal of co-ordination and balance.

The second set of workshops involved the children performing a series of fitness challenges using specialist MMU equipment such as jump mats and starting gates. They were able to collect data which measured key components of their fitness including stamina, lung capacity, power and upper body strength.

All this activity was filmed by a quadcopter circling above the children – a great set of clips for our final Rolls Royce video. You should be able see the results shortly on http://trainlikeanastronaut.org/.

For many children, the highlight of the day however was the opportunity to spend a few minutes in the University’s environmental chamber. This gave them a real feel for what it might be like to work in extremes of temperature – just like astronauts. At -200C, it certainly was cold! After about a minute my camera hand started to shake, resulting no doubt in quite wobbly footage.

All too soon the day was over and it was time to leave. We’d had a marvellous day and learned a great deal.

Back in school, there was yet another surprise for the children. Garry Pheasey and his team had designed and produced a Rode Heath/MMU/Out of This World ruler for each of the Year 5 and Year 6 children who had attended the event. Having watched a short video explaining how the rulers had been made, I gave the rulers out to the excited Year 5s.

And what’s the first thing that they did with them? As if orchestrated, they all instinctively balanced the rulers on one finger to find the centre of gravity! Charlie even commented on the fact that the Sun was in the middle of the ruler, which was fitting as this was its position in the Universe (something we had been discussing in Monday’s science lesson!)

This tells me that our project is working . . . .