December 2014

This month we are focusing on what the OoTW Team have been doing this term.

Clare Pheasey – As well as running the project’s Twitter account (@OotW_UK), I have been busy organising the school’s forthcoming visit to the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) Cheshire campus in January 2015. As part of the school’s participation with the Train like an Astronaut programme, MMU staff and students will be measuring key inter-galactic components of fitness using the latest equipment and lots of fun (a key component – thanks @astro_TimPeake)! However, as well as putting the Rode Heath pupils through their space-paces, we intend to showcase our facilities with the aim of inspiring future university graduates. So to help me do this, I have secured support from the Manchester-based MMU Schools Outreach team, for an interactive workshop called ‘Fun with Robots’ for all those attending and our Cheshire-based Outdoor Education degree programme who will lead a bespoke ‘space themed’ teambuilding session for Years 5 & 6.

John Randall – With Mission X due to start in the New Year, to enhance my understanding of what is involved I attended a CPD event at Abraham Moss School in Manchester to hear Heather McRae from the UK Space Agency speak about the Train Like An Astronaut programme. This was also an excellent opportunity for Rode Heath to share the Space passports and the space work we have been doing as part of our Out Of This World project. As a result, I was able to produce a detailed plan for the teachers involving five Mission X activities which, I have adapted to suit each year group and the resources we have available in school. For the final week before we break up for Christmas, the Year 3 children have been trying out some of the activities with a view to demonstrating these to other classes in the New Year. I am excited about the opportunity to establish a relationship with MMU. Not only will Mission X demonstrate what training like an astronaut is really like, but it should encourage more children to take part in inter-school competitions and promote the need for fitness, sport and healthy eating.

Caroline Sinclair – It has been wonderful to see the children so engaged in problem solving within our Out of this World Project:  the children in Reception have been ordering rockets to find out which was the tallest; Y6 have been calculating how old they would be on other planets; and Y4 have been calculating how many years it would take to travel to the different planets from Earth travelling at 80km per hour.  During our game of Galactic Pass the Parcel the children had a deeper understanding of what happens to the digits in a number when we multiply it by ten – we calculated that there are approximately 10,000,000 stars in our galaxy.  What a brilliant opportunity not only to solve problems, but to have an understanding of very large numbers.  We are looking forward to ‘Maths Week’ in January which will start with each class taking part in a workshop with the ‘Problem Solving Company’.  The children will be challenged using large equipment that they will be able to manipulate, developing their special awareness and reasoning skills.

Sharron Ross – Through our computing club this term, Years 4, 5 and 6 have been busy building their programming skills ready to assist in class with creating our space games using Scratch.  The computing club has gone from strength to strength. Through attending ICT network meetings, I made contact with a fantastic programmer and STEM volunteer who has come on board allowing Rode Heath Primary to become part of the nationwide programming initiative for 9 – 11year olds, Code Club. On a personal note, during the half term break I was fortunate enough to attend a Space afternoon at Sci-Tech in Daresbury with Mrs Wiskow. During the afternoon we learned more about the Rosetta mission to 67P and watched a comet being made by a scientist. This was so inspiring I challenged myself to bring this into school. It was a fantastic experience for both me and the children. They were indeed thrilled with the sight and sound of a replica ‘hairy star’. Year 2 children are now looking forward to making a bio-sphere next term and learning more about our amazing solar system.

Carl Leech – Over the last few weeks the children, parents and staff have been intrigued to see the new and evermore complex 3D models being printed by our Makerbots. This, alongside the tweets from the ISS showing their first 3D prints in a zero-gravity environment has been hugely motivating for all.  Our prints so far have been pre-set models that have been used to demonstrate the capability of the printer rather than the functionality of the software. The entire school community now looks forward to starting to create in January! There have been a number of major challenges to overcome in terms of using this ‘leading edge’ technology. The infrastructure in schools’ has not been designed with this type of user interface in mind.  Many calls to the manufacturer in the US and liaison between ourselves and the network hosts at the local authority are moving things forward slowly. This has definitely been a learning curve for the team and something we will need to share with other schools.

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