November 2014

We are now well into the third month of our project and the initial level of excitement is still being maintained, leaving me more convinced than ever that Space is a fantastic topic with which to inspire children – not least because it offers so many opportunities to investigate the unknown. Take the recent landing of the washing machine-sized probe, Philae, on 67P. No-one could really predict the outcome with any degree of certainty, unlike the vast majority of investigations we carry out in primary science. And this is what makes it so exciting. What an amazing example to the children of what can be achieved by daring mighty things.

Our goal is to develop ‘restless curiosity’ and we are certainly pushing the children to the very edge of their understanding. Not only that, but this project is allowing us to explore many of the ‘Big Ideas’, in science – and certainly the important role that science plays in society. By following Tim Peake and the other astronauts in their journeys to the ISS we are setting our learning into a real context. And we are not just following them, but having real conversations.

This has been achieved through social media. One of our aims since October has been to raise the profile of our project, which is why we set up a dedicated Twitter account. To date this it has attracted more than 100 followers, many of whom are from space related industries – and of course this list now includes Tim Peake. We have also created an Out of This World website on which information about the project is regularly posted, including a weekly blog, videos and examples of children’s work. The blog has now been expanded to reflect the views of both pupils and parents as we progress through our space passports.

As well as raising the profile of science in school, our focus on space has allowed us to use maths in a cross curricula context across the key stages – children are enjoying the vastness of the numbers involved and are intrigued to find out how long it would take to travel to different planets by various means. We are now planning to hold a maths weeks dedicated to our space theme.

So what has been happening since our last diary entry? We have continued to develop and maintain valuable relationships with external organisations such as Liverpool University, STFC, ESERO and the UK Space Agency. Children are naturally more motivated by ‘real scientists’ and we have been lucky enough to have been visited by a number of ambassadors already. Only this week, under the guidance of Sue Andrews from ESERO, we have investigated soil samples, using authentic scientific processes to determine which was closest to that found on Mars. We have an Intergalactic pass the parcel session next week for the Year 4 & 5 classes and in December, the Year 6s are involved in programming Raspberry Pi robots to negotiate a lunar landscape.

Every week, something innovative is happening in the world of space. Our own teachers are growing more confident and ambitious in their science teaching, inspired by events in the media. Only last week, one of our team members, Mrs Ross, led a whole day celebrating the landing of Philae on 67P, starting with a dramatic creation of a comet in assembly, using dry ice and tabasco – a bit of magic for our pupils.

Attending the recent Rolls-Royce Awards dinner in the Science Museum has only added to our determination to promote STEM subjects through our project and inspire as many of our pupils as possible to become the engineers and scientists of the future. We believe we are well on the way to doing that.

 

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