Learning is....
Planting a seed in our brain... learning to water, nurture and grow it.... so we can live on the fruit of our learning and plant more seeds.

Friday, 7 October 2016

ULearn16: Breakout Five - Hands on science workshop with NanoGirl and OMGTech!

When I went through the breakouts menu and this option came up I was pretty excited.  NanoGirl, aka Michelle Dickinson, is the science poster girl for New Zealand.  She has given science a prominence few others have in the media and she is raising the profile and coolness of science among the student population.

I personally have a mixed relationship to science.  At primary school it wasn't something I actually thought about specifically.  At my primary school I remember us doing bush studies, stream studies, rocky shore studies and going over to the principal's house to look at flowers.  At high school it was a mixed bag.  I really liked chemistry (I love reactions), but biology was a bit so-so (especially trying to understand eye colour and familiar relations!) and physics may as well have been Greek to me.

As a teacher I have tended to favour topics such as kitchen science (chemistry), space, animals, water, testing material, eggs.... the most memorable foray into physics was a push and pull topic.

So I choose this breakout partly to fangirl a bit, but also to see what Michelle had to offer us teachers in inspiration for teaching science.  This is the blurb that was put up on the ULearn breakout page:

This workshop is designed to give hands on experience with different science experiments for primary school level education. Science is traditionally perceived as a difficult subject requiring expensive equipment and specialist knowledge.
In this fast paced 60 minute workshop, different experiments will be carried out while following a teacher’s guide pack to show how simple science experiments can be and how curiosity led learning can tie in to curriculum based topics. With over a decade of academic teaching experience and a passion for getting students more interested in science and technology, Dr Michelle Dickinson will be able to answer any of your science questions while you try each of the experiments yourself.

Below is my Storify of my tweets and pictures.

Sadly, Storify has deleted itself from the Social Media scene, so all my Storify stories have gone.  😭😭😭😭😭

When I walked into the room I grabbed one of these brochures off the table.  OMGTech has been set up to give every primary & intermediate school in NZ the opportunity to take part in its award winning workshops over the next three years.  It appears they use volunteers to provide these experiences.  They are also providing teachers with inspiration and ready to go plans to take back to the classroom.

When I sad down at the table, these items were on the table... and every other table.  This was my first clue that we would be having an interactive session.

 At the beginning of the session, we got some sad news... no NanoGirl today.  Sadly she had a clashing engagement.  However, they had sorted out an able replacement, Paula Hay (aka @heymrshay) from Network for Learning and a science teacher, to step in.  Paula did a fabulous job.

We were asked to get a balloon and a skewer first.  The challenge was to make a balloon kebab, with the skewer going from one end to the other.  This was scary for me as I really hate it when balloons pop in my hands or near me.

Balloons started pop, pop, popping all over the room.

I figured that going in the blowing up end of the balloon was probably the best thing to do.  And apparently it is the way to go because the polymers at that part of the balloon are not so stretched and degraded.  So I got the skewer in, paused for the photo and then proceeded to piece the other side.  As you can see, I was successful and did not pop my balloon.

However, you can see that over the rest of the session it continued to deflate slowly.

Our next activity was an old favourite, vinegar and baking soda.  So I poured the vinegar into our small as lemonade bottle, while the teachers on the other side of the table tipped baking soda into the balloon.  Tip: use the funnel to help you get the baking soda into the balloon before using it to get the vinegar into the funnel.

Then she twisted the balloon so that the baking soda was contained and secured the end of the balloon over the bottle opening.  She then untwisted the balloon and let the reaction begin.

 The reaction happened and this is how much our balloon inflated.  So we decided to do it again.

So we used more vinegar, more baking soda, and being responsible teachers, we used the bucket in case of disaster.

 I'd say we got a bigger inflation this time.

We did find that some of the liquid ended up inside the balloon and then the balloon flopped down.  So you could get kids to experiment with what the optimum amounts of vinegar and baking soda may be for optimum inflation and erection.

 Next we were asked to grab a bowl and tip enough milk into it to cover the bottom.  There were four food dye colours available for us to use.

We also put some dishwashing liquid into another bowl and we needed to have a cotton bud each.

We put food colouring around the edge of the milk, then dipped our cotton bud into the dishwashing liquid.

Then you dip your cotton bud into the milk and watch the magic happen.

 I decided to try this again from scratch.

Cool as aye!

Now I asked on Twitter what I would be doing with this lot in the photo.  One cheeky tweeter tweeted back that I was making fondue.  Sadly, no.

I was actually making a catapult.  Here is my step by steps:

And here are my videos of failure... well my first attempt at using my catapult was the best... if only I had longer to problem solve it out more....

This was one of the best breakouts I have ever attended.  It was reminiscent of what the old Advisory Service used to be like, practical and hands on, before former Education Minister Anne Tolley killed them off in 2009.

If you get the opportunity to work with OMGTech at any point, do so.  I am now wondering what their coding and robotics breakouts are like.....

By the way, OMGTech is in The Pond.

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