Archive for November, 2009

Yes! The Institute of Physics has reached the Forest of Dean and Gloucestershire. In fact, they have appointed me as Network Coordinator for that area!

Network Co-ordinators are practising physics teachers paid a small honorarium by the Institute to provide support for other physics teachers in their area.  They may organise workshops and short INSET sessions, events for pupils & teachers and help create links & share information between schools etc – whatever is most appropriate really. (See the Teacher Support page on the IOP website: www.iop.org/network for more info).

The modulated laser pen workshop at the Brecon Conference

I am teacher at Croesyceiliog School in Cwmbran and very keen to forge new links around the area of Gloucestershire and the Forest of Dean.  I have a number of tried & tested workshops for teachers (such as ‘Build a modulated laser pen’ and ‘Build a Giant Air Bazooka’ which I blogged about in this blog) and will be developing more according to demand and needs.

So, if you are a Science Teacher involved in the teaching of Physics in the area of the Forest of Dean and Gloucestershire, please help me know a bit more about you by filling in the form in the link below!

Click here to complete my form!

Thanks,

I’m really looking forward to working with you,

Alessio.

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On the 18th November 2009 a group of Physics teachers from South Wales met in Caerleon School to build giant air cannons out of a 200 litres water butt. I organised the event with Cerian Angharad’s help (South Wales Network Coordinator) and the lovely cakes that Ann Dunster (Head of Physics at the school) provided! All the equipment could be found in Wickes (though the first time I went to buy some of these huge water butts in the Cardiff branch, they told me they either got lost, or stolen… Mmm I still have to figure that one out).

Cutting holes through the butt

These chaps were not very happy when I produced my electric saw after they struggled for 15 minutes to cut their butt with a wood knife, but certainly that’s part of the fun, isn’t it?

This workshop is very useful if you are organising some spectacular activities for your Open Evening. I trialled it in my school (Croesyceiliog School, Cwmbran) and both parents and children loved it. In fact, we filled the giant air cannon with fog from a smoke machine and started shooting at people, who would see these massive smoke circles getting towards them and eventually blasting in their faces! But the fun was not over because we used McFlurry cups and tops to get the children to make their own mini-airzookas. And again the kids loved it, because they could take a little present home that costed nothing to my department, but was good fun for them.

Blasting the cameraman!

The below video shows how you can make you mini-aizooka. All you need to do is going to McDonald and order a McFlurry icecream. The rest you probably have in your house!

But what is the educational value, you might think! Well, there are a number of projects and experiments you pupils could carry out with their mini-airzookas:

1. They could make some observations about what affects the shape, speed and distance travelled by the smoke ring. E.g. by tapping the rubber in different ways, by pulling it and releasing it, etc…

2. They could try to measure the speed of the smoke rings and/or the distance travelled when they tap using more and more force. This activity could generate some very good discussions about reliability of results and method.

3. They could also measure the diameter of the rings at a certain distance from the cannon.

4. A follow on from experiment 2 could be a project were they need to design and build the most reliable tapping mechanism they can. You could even embed this as part of a long term project on electromagnetism, as the children could try to make an eletromagnetic tapper, and so on.

Please, add some more suggestions as comments!

Coming back to our

I have always been excited by the amazing potential of Deep Zoom in Education ever since I was given a demonstration by Stuart Ball (Microsoft Innovative Teachers Network, @innovativeteach on Twitter), when he showed me what the Hard Rock Cafe’ did for it’s Memorabilia. I tried to use the Deep Zoom Composer across the network in my School, but it did not work (apparently it conflicts with our RM network, any suggestions?). So, I was apparently stuck, but I wasn’t ready to give up yet and coming to a unit on Reproduction with my Yr 7 class I came up with a simple solution, which proved the inability to use the composer on individual PCs to be a blessing rather than a curse.

The objectives of the project:

–  To develop interdependence through a collaborative project in which all learners had to take into account the needs and objectives of other groups

–  To encourage collaboration between different groups by getting my pupils to develop and peer teach different aspects of Reproduction

–  To enhance Communication Skills through the creative and collaborative use of Deep Zoom, Community Clips and Movie Maker

–  To develop Thinking Skills by developing the project using the TASC Framework

The management of the project:

In the first lesson the groups were introduced to the project and were given an area of Reproduction to develop. All the work undertaken by the groups was their independent work and research and was carried out using the TASC Framework (see the TASC section below). In the second lesson one member of each group could use a PC to research appropriate images and diagrams to use in the whole class Deep Zoom composition, while the other members of the group continued the preparation of their displays and presentations. In the third lesson each group took it in turn to add their pictures to the Deep Zoom composition while the other groups worked on the scripts for their presentations. This was a very important part of the project, because, in composing a whole class Deep Zoom, each group had to take into account the contributions of other groups and make sure that their interventions would not affect negatively the work of others. This approach developed interdependence, creativity, flexibility and adaptability skills, and of course ICT skills, as every learner could use Deep Zoom Composer. In the last lesson each group used the Deep Zoom Composition made by the efforts of the entire class and zoomed in and out the relevant parts while they were explaining their topic to the class. They also recorded their presentations using Community Clips, but at this stage we became aware of a challenge. When they zoomed in or out Community Clips would skip a short bit of the narration, so when we played back the first clip, we realized we needed to pause between each zooming action. That has slowed down the narration a bit and it doesn’t sound as fluent as it could have been, but the results were still very good. The groups’ presentations could then be edited in Movie Maker to minimize the pauses introduced because of the above problem.

The impact on my students:

During the project I could witness a maturity I had not noticed before in my pupils. The class I run the project with behaved in a more responsible way than they had previously done in other projects not involving Reproduction and they were genuinely interested in discovering how their body works. I also noticed much improved behavior compared to the classes I taught Reproduction to in the past and I believe this is due to the collaborative nature of the project and the ownership the learners had not only on the format (as they could choose and collate their own photos in Deep Zoom), but also on the content, as they conducted all the research and produced all the resources they needed themselves (all I gave each group was a topic to develop). This proved to be successful, because many groups found interesting information that the usual text books did not have and that was a curiosity or a concern for some members of the group. In that my pupils were not only consuming knowledge, but became creators of a knowledge that better suited their needs and those of their peers. In addition, retention of these concepts was much higher than in the past and pupils from different groups could recall many aspects of the topics not developed by themselves, or their group.

I got this fantastic online resource from Dan Roberts (@chickensaltash on twitter) who blogged about some fantastic work his pupils did with it! Dan’s blog

So, here is how I used it so far! I got my pupils in yr 10 to split into nine groups and develop a 5W activity on energy resources. Each group was assigned one type of energy resource and the power stations assiciated with it. In the 5W activity they had a pentagon shape with an image in the middle and they had to find information to include in each box to answer the 5 questions starting with W, Who, Where, What, When, Why.

5Ws

 

When they were presenting their work back to the class, I asked each pupil to look at the presentations and post a sticky note on our Wallwisher whenever they spotted an advantage/disadvantage of renewable/non-renewable energy resources, so they were taking shared notes about topics created by other members of the class. I have uploaded the link to the wallwisher I created on our VLE, so they can now use those shared notes for revision!

Here is the link to our Wallwisher on energy resources

Please, comment on this blog and share with us how you use Wallwisher!!!