Category Archives: Project Posts

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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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.

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

Martian Soil and Challenges with 3D printing

This week we had our first round of parents’ evenings and it was a delight to hear how parents seem to be enjoying our space project as much as the children. Indeed, we have our second blog from a Year 5 parent, Justine Williams, posted today. The general opinion was that their children were becoming very knowledgeable about space and had amazed them by their well-informed conversations on the topic – particularly the recent landing of Philae on 67P.

Almost every week, something exciting seems to be happening in the world of space. Indeed this very evening, Italian astronaut, Samantha Cristoforetti, is leaving Earth from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with NASA astronaut Terry Virts and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov.  They are part of the 42nd expedition to visit the International Space Station.

The Soyuz rocket will deliver the crew to their new home in under six hours. To get there so quickly, the rocket reaches up to 28 800 km/h accelerating 50 km/h on average every second for the first nine minutes after liftoff. It’s a good job it takes such a short time, as you wouldn’t want to be in that spacesuit for any longer than absolutely necessary – Mr Randall can testify to that.

Over the next six months we will be following Samantha and hopefully taking part in some of the experiments she will be performing in the micro-gravity environment.

So that leads on to what we have been doing towards our project this week. Well, Year 5 had a visit from Sue Andrews from ESERO, who led an investigation into different soil examples, sent by the European Space Agency. The children carried out various tasks, as if they were real space scientists. The objective was to determine which of the samples was closest to actual Martian soil. They were given a series of cards which contained facts about what scientists think Martial soil is like, based on data received from the Curiosity Rover, currently located on the planet.

Using a combination of observation and scientific processes such as filtering, evaporation and testing for acidity, the children were able to reach a reasoned conclusion. Both Sue and I were extremely impressed by the way each group worked cohesively as a team. It was wonderful to eavesdrop on the fervent discussions that were taking place – full of scientific language.

And, it’s not only Year 5 that have been focussed on space this week. In our weekly sharing assembly, again half of the work celebrated was connected with our Out of This World project. To celebrate the success of the Rosetta mission, the Year 2s had been busy making comets out of a combination of polystyrene balls, cotton wool, pipe cleaners and glitter – but the most important achievement was that they could actually describe the different elements of the comet to their audience. They knew about the nucleus and the coma and the fact that they were largely made up of ice mixed with smaller amounts of dust and rock – quite impressive for 6&7 year olds. Not to be outdone, Reception proudly displayed the maths that they had been doing – which of course revolved around stars. What a wide reaching topic space is!

To finish, just a note about 3D printing, which has proved to be more challenging than I first anticipated. This is definitely a technology still being developed and not yet fully ‘consumer ready’. But, it is a good thing, as it stretches the team. I have written about the importance of children working at the edge of their understanding, so it is right that we, as teachers, should occasionally move out of our comfort zone. By the end of this year, we will all have developed new skills, which we will be able to confidently share with others.

One of the difficulties we face is trying to integrate the printers into our existing school network. The goal is to be able to print wirelessly, using software on Laptops and iPads and be able to access Makerbot’s online resources and cloud services through the Makerbot Desktop software. This all works perfectly in a home WiFi environment, but there seem to be a number of restrictions preventing this from happening at school: frustrating, but not insurmountable. As one of the first primary schools to attempt to use this technology, we will hopefully end up solving these problems for those that follow.

We plan to share our expertise in March next year with other schools in our cluster, so the resolution of these issues can’t come soon enough.

Year 2 comets

Year 2 with their comets. Can you spot the coma?

Reception numbers

We like counting stars in Reception.

Printing

3D printing can be quite a mystery sometimes.

Rosetta & 67P

So where were you when Philae landed on 67P? Well, many of our Rode Heath pupils were glued to the television, eager to watch history in the making.

And, what a week for science this has been as a result. It doesn’t matter that Philae has now shut down. What matters is that a washing machine-sized probe was even able to land on a comet, hurtling through space at 34,000 miles per hour and 300 million miles away from Earth.

In primary school, science is generally about carrying out experiments that we already know the answer to, but this was refreshingly different – no-one could predict what was actually going to happen. It was all about ambition; daring to do the seemingly impossible; stretching all boundaries and this is what we talked to the children about in our Wednesday morning assembly.

It also gave us the opportunity to wow them with a bit of magic, as we demonstrated how to make a comet using dry ice. The children were mesmerised, as Mrs Ross, wearing her white coat, protective gloves and glasses, squeezed the mixture together, causing wafts of sublimating dry ice to spew forth from the reinforced plastic bag. They were equally intrigued by the ingredients, particularly the Tabasco sauce which represented the complex organic molecules found in comets and meteorites.

The resulting ‘dirty snowball’ caused a spontaneous round of applause. This was certainly exciting science and the children were eager to learn.

Back in the classroom, the learning continued with the Year 5s discovering more about where comets came from; what they consist of and why landing on one would be so significant – quite ambitious for 9 and 10 year olds, but very compelling. There are however plenty of excellent ESA resources to help with the understanding, therefore teaching is not really a problem.

As there was some dry ice left over, we went outside and used it to fire small pop bottle rockets into the sky – another opportunity to explore Newton’s third law of motion.

It was really interesting to feel the bottles, even after they had been launched into the air – they still felt really hard because of the pressure still remaining inside them.

On Thursday the children came in very excited, bursting to share the news they had been watching about Philae– the conversations were a delight to listen to, full of scientific vocabulary. We all wondered whether the little probe would survive the night.

The rest of the morning was spent looking at the huge numbers involved in space. The Year 5s found out distances of various celestial bodies from the Sun. This involved reading and then rounding very large numbers to the nearest million. We are going to use this data next week to look at orbits and how long it would take to travel to each of these bodies by various means of transport– obviously, the Kuiper belt and 67P were included in our research.

This coming week the excellent Sue Andrews from ESERO is visiting Rode Heath. The children will be working in groups to investigate Martian soil samples. I can’t wait . . . .

Charlie helping comet Dry ice sublimating Feeling the pressure Where is it Sharron and rocket

 

The Rolls-Royce Awards Dinner

After a three hour coach journey from Derby, we arrived at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in Kensington at just after 4pm. This gave us a couple of hours to relax and prepare ourselves for the big night ahead. My head teacher had travelled down separately, as only the team leads of the new finalists had been invited to the Derby events.

At 6pm sharp, we all gathered in the hotel foyer, keen to make our way to our prestigious dinner venue. There was a great atmosphere. Everyone looked very smart in their suits, lapels adorned with single red poppies, a poignant reminder of all the brave soldiers who lost their lives in the World Wars – still remembered.

And, what an incredible place it was to spend the evening – the obvious choice for a Science Award. The guest list was equally impressive. I felt quite honoured to be included amongst such eminent people and wondered whether I should have produced as list of intelligent questions to ask. It felt quite surreal eating my deconstructed prawn cocktail beneath the giant exhibits in the Making the Modern World Gallery, which showcases 150 of the most significant items from the Science Museum’s collections, including Stephenson’s original Rocket locomotive.

Before dinner we were treated to a series of short videos celebrating this year’s finalist projects. Of course, next year, it will be our team sitting there gauging the reaction of the crowd and wondering whether we have won the top prize. Although, winning didn’t seem to be the most important factor; it was all about celebrating the outstanding practice of teachers and the impact that their work has on children and their understanding of science. There was much appreciation from all quarters. Every speaker thanked the participants for their enthusiasm for and commitment to science. I felt really proud on behalf of our school to be included. And, we should feel proud of ourselves, as over 2,000 schools submit entries for this prize and we are one of only 9 finalists this year. Well done, Rode Heath.

After dinner, the ceremonies began with keynote speaker, Richard Noble, who spoke passionately about his exciting BloodHound SSC venture, now on track for a 2015 record attempt. Imagine a car aiming to travel at 1,000 miles per hour. Of course, we were lucky enough to take some of our junior children last year to Reaseheath college to see the replica Bloodhound car and take part in various STEM activities, so it was particularly interesting to see Richard in person.

Sir Tim Smith KBE, founding director of the Eden project, who has been involved with the RR Science Prize since its inception 10 years ago, made a brief, but very amusing speech, before awarding the Eden Award to St Mun’s Primary School for their ‘If You Go Down in the Woods Today’ project. Then it was up to the Chief Executive, John Rishton, to announce the runner up and prize winner.

The runner up was Chesterton Community College for their ‘Introducing Engineering via Animatronics’ project, but the overall prize went to Kate Greenway Nursery School & Children’s Centre for their ‘Playful Science for Everyone’. This was an interesting project as it involved children as young as 6 months old. Its aim was to provide very early science experiences to children and their families through a range of exploratory activities. I strongly believe that in order to generate future engineers, we need to capture and nurture children’s interest in all things scientific at a very early age. I think we are going to achieve this with our Out of This World project.

Certainly we are beginning to develop an interest in science across a wide audience, which includes both children and their parents. Our relationship with MMU will encourage our children even further by providing them with real experiences of what it is like to study science at university.

I can’t wait for our visit to MMU in January next year. In the meantime, we have a number of exciting events planned to inspire the children: Intergalactic pass the parcel; a Mars soil investigation and programming rovers using Raspberry Pi technology. We owe a massive thank you to all our external supporters who are helping us to achieve our goals.

And, of course, tomorrow we have one of the most exciting events in space history . . . the landing of the probe Philae on 67P. How can anyone fail to be awe-inspired by space?

Menus

Visit to Rolls-Royce Derby

What an amazing two days I have just had. Being involved in the Rolls-Royce Science Prize has certainly been a most rewarding experience so far. I recommend that all schools at least investigate applying – if nothing else, it encourages you look at the impact that science is currently having in your school and you may even be awarded some money to help with your plans.

Anyway, back to the weekend which saw me catching a train to Derby on Sunday afternoon – eager to reach the hotel and meet my fellow competitors. Conveniently, the Pentahotel was within easy walking distance of the station, and after asking directions, I soon arrived. First impressions were favourable; although, I have to say the ambience was very reminiscent of a night-club – lots of subdued purple lighting. At 7pm everyone met in the foyer and I recognised Henry, our mentor, and several people from the project videos I had watched. Having made a few introductions, we then made our way to the designated restaurant to be greeted by Rani.

The ensuing meal was absolutely excellent, with wine and conversation flowing freely. I must admit that, having checked the wine bar out on the Internet, I was initially not sure about the predominance of black and red as a colour scheme. I now however realise the logic behind the choice – it is almost impossible to detect spillages on black table cloths. And, I have to say that during the course of the night, on our table alone, there were numerous incidents, including a bottle of red wine at one point. I think one of the main problems was the table mats, carefully concealed underneath the cloth, which made it very difficult to judge where to put your glass down safely, particularly as the evening progressed.

At one point, we were entertained by a magician, who performed a number of very clever tricks. Despite watching intently for any sleight of hand, I am still mystified as to how he manipulated the cards and managed to change a £10 note into a dollar. He was rather more successful than the poor singer, who seemed to get louder and louder in a vain attempt to be heard over the ever increasing background chatter. Despite the noise level (which was actually quite deafening at times) this was a great opportunity to get to know people and find out about their projects, all of which seemed very credible. As well as finalists, there were a number of Rolls-Royce employees on our table, many of whom were mentors. It was very interesting to listen to them talk about their role within the company – you got the distinct impression that they really enjoyed their jobs and that Rolls-Royce was a good place to work and valued its employees. Indeed, a very nice touch at the end of the evening was when each school was presented with a framed certificate celebrating the excellence of its science teaching.

Next morning, we were driven to the Learning & Development centre where, following a brief talk, we embarked upon a tour of the Heritage Trust Centre to learn about the history of Rolls & Royce and the development of the various engines. It was an extremely interesting experience made all the more enjoyable by the enthusiasm of our guides. I never appreciated that Charles Rolls had been killed so early on in the partnership. I wonder how things would have played out had he survived.

The next stop on our tour was to view the manufacturing of critical rotatives. Once inside the building, we had to put on rubber overshoes and wear safety glasses before being allowed onto the vast shop floor. Although the visit was brief, it became very clear that the overriding focus is on the production of the highest quality products, which are tested and retested at every stage to ensure absolute consistency and reliability. Although we were not allowed to take any photographs, an interesting fact that I learned was that the Trent 900 engines, which power the Airbus A380, draw in enough air to inflate 72,000 party balloons in one second . . . that’s a lot of balloons.

Engine to power a Harrier Jump Jet

Engine to power a Harrier Jump Jet

Charles Rolls, Claude Johnson & Henry Royce

Charles Rolls, Claude Johnson & Henry Royce

Rocket engine

A rocket engine.

Explaining how an internal combustion engine works - suck, squeeze, bang and blow.

Explaining how an internal combustion engine works – suck, squeeze, bang and blow.

Half Term

Quite a short blog this week, as it’s been half-term, although school work has inevitably gone on. The main thrust was to put the 5 minute video together for the Rolls-Royce competition. Fortunately, I had plenty of footage to work with – it was deciding what to include that was the problem. Having reviewed the clips, I think that next time, if we are going to read from pieces of paper, we need to focus more on where we hold our scripts. I definitely don’t look as if I am looking at the camera – in fact, it’s quite disturbing to watch. Good job I’m not on camera for long.

To be fair though, I have started to look more closely at videos on YouTube and quite a few of the ‘actors’ seem to have wandering eyes. Perhaps we should invest in an autocue for next time!

To produce the final edit I used iMovie on my Apple MacBook Pro computer and I am pleased with the results. I think it tells a good story and puts across our message quite succinctly. Let’s hope Rolls-Royce think so. I have included all the raw footage on a DVD, as well as my film, for their media department to be creative with.

The other important event of the week was a visit to Daresbury Laboratory. I had been invited earlier in the term by Wendy Cotterill to an access afternoon and I took my colleague, Sharron Ross, with me. I thought it would provide a good opportunity to make some contacts and try and establish a relationship with their education team.

The afternoon was primarily for employees and their children and it started with an excellent hour long talk by Dr Phil Manning entitled ‘working with Dinosaurs’. He was extremely entertaining and both Sharron and I learned a great deal. I particularly liked his urging of children to always work at the ‘edge of their understanding’ – my philosophy entirely.

Following this, we were able to observe children taking part in a number of space-related activities, including creating a 3D Philae lander; building a comet and producing some effective deep space galaxy art – all of which Sharron is going to try out with KS1. Of particular interest was a demonstration of how to make a comet out of sand, soil, tabasco and dry ice! I think we are going to attempt this in an assembly to mark the launching of the Philae probe on 12th November – providing we can obtain the ingredients, of course!

Over the course of the afternoon, we met some very interesting and potentially useful contacts, one of whom was Louise Dennis, a STEM ambassador from Liverpool University. She was demonstrating how to program robots using a Raspberry Pi – perfect for our Year 6 class.

Wendy introduced us to her new boss, Phill Day, who seemed very interested in what we were doing. I am hoping that we will be able to develop a long term relationship with STFC and become one of their key primary partners – altogether a very successful day.

Not long now until the Rolls-Royce event at the Science Museum. I am really looking forward to meeting the other candidates . . .

Making 3D lander

Making 3D lander

DIY comet

DIY comet

Galaxy pictures

Galaxy pictures

 

Focus on Filming

Well, just over a week later and we already have a new website and 77 followers on our @OotW_UK Twitter site. Well done Mrs Pheasey for generating so much interest on Twitter – some of our followers seem quite distinguished too! We even had a tweet from Star Wars UK! Still no response from Brian Cox though – obviously a different strategy is required. Thanks must also go to our Rolls-Royce mentor, Henry, who has helped me with setting up the website.

Talking of Rolls-Royce, this week at school we have been working hard at collecting footage for our five minute video, which I am due to take to Derby on 9th November. Friday was an INSET day and the turn of the team members to say their piece in front of the camera. Quite a daunting task, despite the fact that we perform in front of an audience every day.

After we had blown up our script to a sufficient font size (it’s amazing how bad some of our eyesight seems to be!), we then had to decide where best to hold the paper so that it was as close to the camera as possible, but not obscuring the lens. The idea was so that we could look at the camera lens without moving our eyes about too much. Not as easy as you might think. Anyway, Mr Randall elected to go first and did his piece in his classroom, which was handy as we were able to make use of the whiteboard to display his words. No excuses for him then.

Several takes later, we were onto Mr Leech, who had two sections to film: one in his office, to introduce the school, and another sat at the 3d printer, talking about his role in the project. I am not sure whether having the 3d printer running at this point was a good idea, as it made a good deal of noise – let’s just hope it doesn’t obscure his words, as I’m sure he won’t want to do it again.

The next section of filming was done with different aspects of our ISS in the background: Ms Sinclair, our maths lead was first – after changing into her NASA T-shirt) and then Mrs Ross, who is responsible for the IT element. A number of takes later (mainly because Mrs Ross couldn’t contain her laughter!) it was my turn. Fortunately, I managed it in one take, although I haven’t looked at the footage yet.

Altogether, it was a very enjoyable experience. We pulled together as a team and were greatly amused by each other’s quirky behaviour when in front of a lens – maybe I’ll put some outtakes together. A lot of thought had gone into what we were going to say and we all seemed to be relaying the same message: space is an excellent vehicle with which to inspire children, as they are quickly captivated and motivated to take responsibility for their own learning.

Space Assembly and first meeting with our Rolls-Royce mentor

Following World Space Week, I thought it would be a good idea for all the classes to share the activities they have been carrying out towards our own space project.

I tasked the Year 5s with producing a PowerPoint to introduce the assembly, suggesting that they explain the rationale behind WSW and then talked about what they had been doing to celebrate the largest space event on Earth. Helena took up the mantle and did a fantastic job. I had coached very briefly in the art of presenting and she had listened well: no reading off slides and just using the short bullet points she had made to remind her of what she wanted to say.

Year 5 showed a selection of the mini International Space Stations they had made last week with Mrs Malam and shared some facts that they had learned. Frankie read her excellent poem describing what it is like to take off in the Soyuz rocket and Izzy explained how she had made her 3d constellation of the Plough with Mrs Hesketh.

Year 6 followed with some inspired poetry and an informative biography of Tim Peake, whilst Oliver baffled everyone with his PowerPoint on solar energy. You will be able to read the poetry on the Out of This World website shortly. Year 4 demonstrated how maths is related to our space project by demonstrating, using a pie-chart, how an astronaut’s day on the ISS is divided up.

The Year 3 children were very entertaining. They had been investigating spacecraft and had built their own shock absorbing system to protect two marshmallow astronauts when they landed. The assembly was a chance for them to test their designs in front of a large audience. For the design to be successful, it had to prevent the astronauts from bouncing out of the cup and not tip over. After a countdown from Mr Randall all the landers were dropped from about two feet. Whilst a couple tipped over and the astronauts fell out, the majority allowed their astronauts to land gently. Well done Year 3.

Key Stage 1 were not to be outdone and again their work had a predominantly maths theme with Years 2 and 1 using tangrams to produce a picture of a rocket. Year 2 also produced some excellent shape poetry and acrostics. Finally, Reception showed us how they had used rockets to write numbers and count stars. It was an excellent set of work by all and demonstrated how space could be used successfully throughout the curriculum. Judging by the quality of the work, the children were also really engaging with what they were doing.

On Tuesday we met our Rolls-Royce mentor, Henry Simkin, for the first time. I spent 45 minutes giving him an overview of our project and showing how we have already spent our money in purchasing the 3d technology. He seemed to be suitably impressed by what we had achieved in a relatively short time and how organised we were. During a meeting with the team, he made some very useful suggestions, which has resulted in us setting up a new Twitter account @OofW_UK – thanks to Mrs Pheasey – to promote ourselves more widely and transferring our blog to WordPress. We now have the beginnings of a website devoted to our project: https://outofthisworldproject.com/

Later on in the week, having retweeted some 300 tweets, we received a #ff tweet from Libby Jackson, which I believe means that we are worth following. I wonder how many followers we will have by the end of next week . . .

Libby Jackson tweet

Reception