Posts Tagged ‘Network’

I attended the IoP make and take workshop to build my own fish tank cloud chamber last Thursday and it was a great experience! The workshop was organised and led by Cerian Angharad and held at St Teilo’s CW School. The tank is really easy to build and quite cheap too. All you need is some sticky felt, which you stick at the top (which is actually the bottom of the tank) and soak with alcohol, a plastic fish tank, a metal tray, on which the top of the fish tank needs to be stuck to with duck tape and you’re done. The rest is a normal shallow tray that can be found in most school labs, a sheet of polystyrene to rest on the bottom of the tray and dry ice that goes between the polystyrene and the tray with the fish tank resting on it. See the photo below to have a better idea!

The rod in the middle of the tank is a radioactive welding rod which emits alpha particles. The chamber works really well and you can soon see lovely traces from the  alpha particles emitter by the rod. Some of the tanks that were made also showed very clearly cosmic rays/background radiation coming into the tank from the sides.

This is one of the best workshops I have even been to and the tank is great for radioactivity demonstrations, as the whole class can gather around it and see what’s going on. I will certainly run the workshop in my area in Gloucestershire, so contact me if you are interested in attending. If you are too far from Gloucestershire, find your IoP Network Coordinator here and ask them if and when they will run this workshop in your area!

Watch the video below to get a feeling for what you will see in your tank!

Last night we had our first TeachMeet entirely dedicated to the teaching of Physics in Gloucestershire and despite the inclement weather and illnesses a few teachers from the region managed to come and give some great presentations! A particular thank you goes to Helen Rogerson (@hrogerson) who took the time to record two videos for us to watch. And that’s what we did! In fact, the TeachMeet began with Helen’s 7 minutes video which showed some great stuff she does wit their learners and parents with revision. Of particular interest to the participants was the part on Electromagnetic Induction, which sparked a series of interesting discussions and caused us to go back and watch the lovely demonstrations several times. This was indeed a lovely part of our TeachMeet that I believe stood out from others I have attended and organised in the past. In fact, it is quite easy to rush through all the presentations trying to fit everyone in and forget about allowing the participants time for discussion and to network. But last night ideas on alternative ways to use the equipment and extensions to the demos were freely flowing and created a very relaxed atmosphere from the very beginning.

Next, IoP award winner Kevin Betts showed a great demo of “Dancing Waves” on custard on the cone of a speaker. You can see his Magic in the video below.

Steve Rice was up next showing us how he uses  a sparkler attached to a drill to simulate the gravitational attraction between the earth and the moon. As the sparkler spins around the drill, the sparks fly along the tangent to the circle drawn by the sparkling tip, which helps the learners visualise what would happen if the gravitational pull between the two heavenly bodies suddenly disappeared. I liked this demonstration because it allows the learners to think outside the box and stretch their understanding in the realm of the abstract.

Below is a video of these two lovely demonstrations.

After that it was my turn to talk about how I used one of the best iPhone/iPad apps I have ever come across, the Vernier Video Physics, with my learners. You can find this resources on the TES website here. It was also the first time I publicly announced my new role as Science Lead at TES commencing in January and I explained that, although I occasionally use it already, I will actively interact with the Twitter sphere using @TESScience from then.

We closed the TeachMeet with our sponsors’ raffle, which included a very generous box full of Nelson Thornes books, ranging from GCSE revision guides to a Muncaster tome 4th edition. ThinkBuzan also offered a free copy of their Mind Mapping software iMindMap 5 Ultimate (the last two links are affiliate links, so Google iMindMap 5 instead, if you are bothered by this sort of thing).

Two other teachers emailed me apologising they couldn’t attend due to illness, but they sent links to interesting stuff that they would have shared in person, if they had been there. The first is the YouTube video below about mixing colours with glow sticks shared by Bernadette Willey.

The other tool is Poll Everywhere shared by Lewis Matheson, which seems a really neat tool to use with mobile devices!

I thoroughly enjoyed myself last night and I learnt a lot (as usual) from innovative colleagues in the Gloucestershire Network. I hope to see many more at our next events in the new year.

Topic – Reporting: What do you tell parents and when?

I had the really nice role of moderating the #addcym discussion group on Twitter tonight. If you don’t know what #addcym is, you should try to spare the hour between 8-9 on a Tuesday evening and search for the hash tag #addcym on twitter! To join the discussion keep following the hash tag and, if you want to contribute, simply send a tweet with #addcym somewhere in you 140 letters tweet. In this way, everyone else who is following the discussion can connect with what you are saying! #addcym is the Welsh discussion group for Education and we would love to see more people joining in and sharing their views and experiences with other Educators to form their PLN (Personal Learning Network). Many on #addcym have never met in person, but many others have and connect with each other through a wide range of tools, e.g. Twitter, Emails, TeachMeets, face to face meetings, collaborative projects, etc… So I am not saying that the Twitter hash tag is the only way you can connect with other Educators and create your PLN, but that Twitter is an enabler that could help you getting started and link with a wider community than your department, or school, or LEA, etc… In fact, quite a few people who took part to #addcym tonight have a PLN that stretches beyond Wales and U.K. and are part of a worldwide PLN and for many Twitter was not how these PLNs started.

On #addcym we are trying to discuss about topics that are relevant to Education in Wales, so if you are interested in some of these topics, join in. You can even vote the topic you would like to discuss with the weekly Tweet Poll, that gives you a choice of different topics to choose from.

Sorry for the digression, but I thought you would find it helpful to have a bit of an introduction to the concepts of Twitter, hash tags and #addcym, if you have not use these tools before. But this post is supposed to be about a summary of the #addcym discussion from tonight, so read below to find out what came up!

The main points from the discussion were:

– More personal comments are needed and we should get rid of statements banks, reports software, mail merging, etc… some thought those are useful as long as you spend time personalizing the reports.

– Too often reports are impersonal and full of ticks and comments on academic progress alone, with reference to levels and the curriculum, which for some parents can have little meaning. So, comments on how to help child improve skills and performance would be more helpful for parents, i.e. know how they can support their child.

– Not enough parent involvement in feedback on reports and pupils’ work is not celebrated enough. Some thought we should have more opportunities to send pupils’ work at home so parents can support and encourage their children. Some suggested that blogging and other ways of making pupils’ work available online could be a good way to engage parents. Parents’ who comment on Blog posts from their children’s class Blogs seem to have a positive effect on their child’s motivation! Other forms of sharing pupils’ work online suggested were broadcasting work live, or recorded. Getting pupils to present their work to the parents in a sort of Open Evening was another suggestion!

– Many thought that comments on reports should include social and pastoral aspects of the child’s life in school as well as academic progress and the first should be a responsibility of the classroom teacher and not only the Form Tutor, or the Head of Year (in a Secondary setting).

– A well established and confident School Council can make a real difference and voice their views very well and maturely. That could be used to gain feedback from learners on what they want reports to include. Some would like to see an “Unschoolcouncil”, where learners who are often not given the opportunity to voice their concerns are listened to. Also, feedback from parents should be taken into consideration.

– In Secondary schools often reports are disjointed and teachers from different departments haven’t got much opportunity to discuss the overall progress of a learner (both from a pastoral and academic point).

The above is a fairly poor summary of the many contributions we had tonight and my best attempt at summarizing clusters of tweets in single bullet points. But I think in conclusion we could say that it sounds like more involvement from parents and learners was felt as a need in reporting by many tonight and that less impersonal comments, but real personal knowledge of the child and their achievement would be enough to justify less reports per year, i.e. quality, not quantity is what parents would appreciate more. That applies to written reports, because maintaining a good relationship with parents is also very important! I am sure I have left something out, so if you can think of something else I should have added, please add it as a comment to the Blog post.

I have touched on the idea of using Poetry in Physics on my blog post My top five list of features in Office 2007!, but this looks at the issue in more depth and it was a must to write it just one day before the National Poetry Day.

October the 7th will be the National Poetry Day and people across the UK will celebrate poetry. What better way to celebrate than getting your students to engage in Poetry in ways and areas they might have never thought possible?

Last year I used the Math Add-in for Word 2007 to create graphs of the Photoelectric Effect and then asked, in the same worksheet, my pupils to put in rhymes what the graph meant and how it explained the Photoelectric Effect. Obviously, it would have been unfair to ask them to do Poetry and coward away from it myself, so I created the instructions for their task as a poem too (a pretty bad, but maybe not so bad for an Italian with English as a second language). The results were quite remarkable and I was pleasantly surprised to see such good Physics in their explanations and such nice rhymes too.

Here is the task I set for my students:

Equation and graph created with Math Add-in

The red line was added by one of the students in response to the second part of my rhymed instructions, see below.

If this is the Photoelectric equation,

Name its parts with some persuasion!

Kinetic energy, Planck’s constant and even work function

Which symbols and Greek letters go in conjunction?

At this point they had to list the symbols associated to the Photoelectric Effect equation. Then the task carried on:

Ok, you know your symbols and letters in Greek,

Another challenge lies ahead for you Geek!

The metal is swapped with one of work function much higher,

In red the new graph draw, if this knowledge you want to acquire!

Now, about this can you rhyme?

Don’t rush it and take your time

To have some fun and give it a go

And make your explanation flow.

And it doesn’t end there, because one of the best poems came from a student who was supposed to be Dyslexic! His poem is below.

The photoelectric effect is easy

UV light hits the metal causing it to become a little queasy

The metal releases a photoelectron without a fight

More electrons are released when the intensity is increased of the light

As long as the threshold frequency is met

The electrons would be emitted I bet

The threshold frequency for a given object

Is the minimum frequency needed for photoelectric emissions to collect

To escape the potential well

The electron must do a certain amount of work to excel

The work function can be defined

As the minimum work needed to remove an electron blind

That is all you need to know

about the photoelectric effect and potential well

When u hear of this effect

Just think how it could be in your subject

The students went on to merge the best parts of each poem created to form a rap that they then sang and recorded using SongSmith, which can be downloaded free of charge from all teachers on the Partners In Learning Network.

If you want to know more about the Math Add-in and how you could use it with your classes have a look at the Innovid I made below!

Today was the first day of NGfL Cymru‘s presence at the Skills Cymru (Cardiff Millenium Stadium) and we were showing ourFree Vocational resources and our links with National Learning Network (NLN) to teachers and students. We were also engaging the children who stopped at our stand with some fun activities, like building walls with Lego bricks, folding napkins (we have learnt many fancy folds today) and building loudspeakers out of plastic and paper cups which were kindly donated to us by Starbucks and Burger King. Unfortunately, McDonalds decided not to be quite so generous and gave us no cups (I was very surprised about that, but maybe they too feel the effects of the Recession). Check out the instructional video on how to make the speakers below.

I have adapted this activity from one of the workshop the Institute of Physics does, i.e. Son of New Ideas. The link takes you to the group about this workshop on TalkPhysics. The IoP version of this loudspeaker is made with cup cake paper stuck at the back of children exercise books and it is a really nice activity, but because there is a lot of noise at the Skills Cymru event we went for a more powerful version and a bit quicker to build!

This activity is really good to get students engaged with Electromagnetic Induction, because they all have speakers and getting to know how they work and make one in few very simple steps brings the Physics to life immediately. They actually were amazed to find out that there really isn’t much more in a commercial speaker than the version they made (well there is a bit more, but the basic principle is the same). They are also finding very interesting to discover that their friends’ speaker is louder than theirs, for example, and they ask a lot of questions about why this might be! This is a good opportunity to use this activity in the classroom, as you could investigate whether the volume of the cup makes a difference in the intensity of the sound emitted, or the number of coils, the material of the cup, etc. And it is a nice opportunity to dig out your data loggers to measure the sound intensity and develop some interesting aspects of How Science Works. I hope you will have as much fun as we at NGfL Cymru are having with this nice idea.

Thanks to IoP for their ever amazing bank of resources and winning ideas!

The 7th Microsoft Innovative Education Forum is a one-day conference, free of charge to all teachers and educators who wish to attend and will look to address the theme of ‘Connecting Learners, Connecting Teachers.’
This forum aims to connect Teachers with Teachers, Educators with Educators. Allowing you to share expertise and learn from each other. Giving insights into how you can connect your students with technology and connect them with their learning. The forum is sponsored by the Partners In Learning Network where many teaching resources for a wide variety of subjects can be found. Have a look at the links to some Science resources (below) and keep reading if you want to attend the conference.
This year the Forum is being held at the Hilton Deansgate Hotel in Manchester on the 30th Nov.
We have a packed agenda with Keynote speakers at the event will be the world renowned Prof. Sugata Mitra famous for his ‘Hole in the wall’ project and Michael Furdyk CEO of the young person’s online community , Taking IT Global.
In addition, Delegates will be able to choose from a range of practical workshops covering areas such as using free software and Web 2.0 technology, games based learning and managing innovation in schools.
Workshop 1- TakingITGlobal – Mandeep Atwal, TIGed UK
Workshop 2- Outdoor learning & technology – David Rogers, The Geography Collective
Workshop 3- From the cloud to the classroom, making innovation stick! – Guy Shearer, Head Teacher, Lodge Park Technology College
Workshop 4- Creative use of technology in the classroom – Dan Roberts, saltash.net community school
Workshop 5- Office 2010 in the Classroom – Stuart Ball – Microsoft Partners in LearningWorkshop 6- Kodu Games based learning – Nicki Maddam, Hartsdown Technology College, Margate
Find out more details about each workshop here>>
What’s on your mind?
For the first time we are holding an Innovative Teacher Meet, 29 Nov. at 7:30pm
Join us for drinks, canapés and a series of TeachMeet style pitches from leading teachers at Hilton’s vibrant Cloud 23 bar, providing 360-degree views of Manchester.
Share with like-minded teachers in a series of 3-minute open pitches.
Also, find out who are Microsoft’s 2010 Award-Winning Innovative Educators. The awards will be presented at this event, to Teachers who have submitted projects that illustrate the innovative use of technology to enhance teaching and learning. Not only will they receive award recognition, but have the chance to be invited to The European Education Forum being held in Moscow next year. These project will be on display at the event.
Don’t miss out, register today http://uk.partnersinlearningnetwork.com
Stuart Ball | Innovative Teachers Programme Manager | Public Sector | Microsoft Ltd
Mobile +44 (0) 7970 778 360 | Email    v-sball@microsoft.com

Register today for our free conference – http://uk.partnersinlearningnetwork.com

You must have guessed I have a soft spot for comics and Superheroes by now. So, when @russeltarr (look at his excellent website here) twitted a link to a video made by his 14-years old Historians (as he calls them) I got immediately interested in this new video creator with animated characters; xtranormal.com. Believe me, it is really good fun and very easy and quick to use. The below video took me about 15 min to make and it was a simple attempt to create an example for my Yr 10 pupils, so that they could also use this tool to create fun videos about an area of Physics we have studied (if you can’t see the video from this blog click here). Because we have been amused by the Physics of Superheroes in a number of lessons, I though they would like the video I created to understand and remember the difference between Speed and Velocity!

The intent, however, was never to use this video creator as a teaching tool, but rather as a lovely way to get my pupils engaged with Physics and to get them talking about processes by explaining them through unusual situations (a bit like the Marvel Comic on Momentum).

Unfortunately there were two problems I had not anticipated:

1. To publish your videos you must buy credits

2. Our network let us down for the 1000th time and even this really useful tool was blocked

I might be able to get the IT Technician to unblock it, so the kids can at least use the story board and the effects. But I think I will use this great website to create one of those stories where each group writes a line and the next group continues it, so by the end of the lesson we will have a story about Physics that is created by the whole class. It would be even nicer if this  became a quick revision movie about all the topics covered made with the contribution of the whole class! I will let you know how it goes, but if you have some good stories with Xtranormal, please let us know by adding a comment to this blog post.

Here is a lovely classroom demonstration that I saw at the ASE Conference 2010 in Nottingham. The demo was part of the Physics Education Lecture, which displayed the best of the PhysEd magazine. I really learned a lot and was well impressed by the quality and creativity of the demonstrations, activities and workshops proposed by the Institute of Physics. As one of the IoP Network Coordinators I was very proud to be part of the Institute and see how many outstanding workshops and lectures they put together for the event. Apparently, the IoP did the majority of workshops and they were all free of charge, although the conference was organised by the ASE.

Anyway, coming back to our demonstration. At the lecture it was shown using two small glasses, so when I went back to my lab I thought; “What would happen, if I use two very tall columns of water? And this was the result!

Why don't the two liquids mix?

So, why won’t the two liquids mix?

I put cold water in the bottom column with some blue food colouring and boiling hot water in the top column with some red food colouring. The tricky bit is how to turn the top column upside down, as it is really hot and heavy, but it was well worth it! So, I put a sheet of paper on the top and then carefully turned it upside down (you might need a helper to do this). Then, I placed the top column on bottom one and as you can see, and unlike what the kids would expect, the red and blue water don’t mix. They actually stay unmixed for a very long time (over an hour at least).

But how do we explain such an effective phenomenon? Well, the hot water is less dense than the cold water at the bottom, as its particles have more kinetic energy, hence moving further apart from each other. The result is that we have two liquids of different density, with the less dense one at the top, which therefore will float on top of the denser cold water. It is a bit like having oil and water, you can tell your students!

This is a really nice demonstration that will really help your pupils to understand that hot liquid rises and cold liquid falls. It’s not only very memorable, but it also shows quite clearly that in heat convection currents it’s not the “heat” that rises, but the hot liquid, or gas.

A few weeks ago I introduced the E.M. Spectrum to my yr 10 classes (14-15 years old) by asking them to produce activities that we would broadcast on our very own online “TV” channel http://www.livestream.com/croesyphysics

Needless to say they were very excited by the idea, especially because they were given complete choice on the type of activities they could create, the groups they were working with and even the software they could use. So, we got activities ranging from News Reports and Revision Songs to Documentaries and Comics. The whole process was highly enjoyable for them, to the point that some pupils who normally would not be that interested in the subject and that would find it difficult to focus on the work given became those who were always working very hard at their project and even came back at lunch time several times to make sure they could complete the activity in time to be broadcast.

Our pupils used a range of sources of information to produce their activities. Many used the internet, but most also checked their facts on Science Textbooks and made sure that their content was both relevant to the AQA Specifications (our examination board) and scientifically sound!

As I mentioned above, all groups had complete choice on the software and format they were using. So, some groups used Photo Story 3 to record short documentary-like videos.Photo Story 3 is very easy to use and very intuitive. It basically lets you choose a sequence of photos and record an oral narration on each frame. Other groups used Songsmith to create lovely revision songs. If you are a teacher, you can download Songsmith free by joining the Partners in Learning NetworkSongsmith gives you a choice of musical bases and by singing to the software your voice is recorded and the base is turned into the melody you’ve created. You can then export your song in Movie Maker and add background images, text and effects, like our yr 10 pupils did.

One of the highlights of our show was the News Report created by our pupils using only PowerPoint 2007 and Movie Maker. Michael asked permission to ITV News to use their music and he then produced the most amazing PowerPoint presentation I have ever seen. In this presentation he included the videos created by the other Reporters in Movie Maker and it looked really professional, as well as containing really good Physics. I think the most powerful message we could get from work like this is that we don’t really need to spend thousands of pounds in highly expensive equipment, nor have a state on the art recording studio in our school, because what really makes the difference is the creativity and engagement of our pupils.

Some other groups used Community Clips to record their presentations directly from their computer screen. Community Clips is a very useful free tool from Microsoft Research that lets you record a video of whatever happens on your screen. You can also narrate what’s going on and your voice will be captured by Community Clips. A Good example of use of this software were the instructions made by our pupils on some useful websites for revision, towards the end of our show!

So, how did we broadcast? Well, we used a free software called Procaster that lets you broadcast live directly on your Livestream channel. But the great thing about Procaster, and what makes it stand out from any other free broadcasting tool, is that you can choose to show just your webcam view, your screen, or a lovely 2-D or even 3-D mix of the two. The result looks very professional and the quality and speed of streaming is also pretty impressive for a completely free service. Your Livestream channel is also free and there is the option to let your audience interact with the show and with each other via the chat built in the channel. You can also link the channel to your Facebook and Twitter to maximise advertising possibilities. Our E.M. Spectrum show went live on Thursday 17th December 2009 at 20.30 (U.K. time) but it’s now available on demand in our Croesy Physics Livestream channel. Please, watch it and have fun!

Croesy Physics Livestream Channel

Have you ever used live streaming software, or websites? What was your experience?

We had a very Special Viewer during our live broadcast, Les Foltos, the Director of edLAB
Puget Sound Center for Teaching
who commented: “Dude.  Really great.  Or as you said it, Bringing Physics to Life is Amazing.” Les also asked our pupils: “What is the benefit of sharing your work in this online show?” and this are some of their comments.

Michael: the benefits are that we are in control of our learning and the research that we did to produce the “TV show” allowed us to take everything in and understand all about what we were learning.

Niall: some of the benefits would be the new and great technologies and software and being able to watch the show on the internet.

Jess: the benefits are that your parents can see it and get involved with what you’re doing in school. Also, it was more fun knowing that lots of people can see it!

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.