Dr. Frankenstein, calling Dr. Frankenstein

Preparing petri dishes is a time consuming job, fortunately with the assistance of the Science Captains, we completed enough petri dishes for all the grade 5/6 students to find and cultivate their own living microorganisms.

We are surrounded by countless unseen creatures, whilst this is cause for alarm from some people the reality is that our body is well equipped to defend itself from infection and infestation of many biological agents.

The grade 5/6 students will have an opportunity to cultivate their own colonies of life, having a real opportunity to see the life that surrounds them every day. While also learning about the importance of adhering to hygiene practices.

It’s all beginning with a new beginning!

I realised that I have been very tardy and haven’t posted anything so far this year. I have had the wonderful opportunity to take on a new teaching role at Hampton Park Primary School as their Science and STEM specialist. I have been busy adapting to the new school and their new purpose built learning centre that houses the Digital Technologies Lab, Science Lab and STEM/ART room.

Having finally settled my feet I thought it was time to resume blogging. With the most recent activities being completed this week, I thought it was time to share some of the awesome highlights of what is happening!

The completion of the Aquaponics tower was done in time for the official opening of the new buildings at Hampton Park Primary. The aquaponics consists of a hydroponics tower with the ability to grow plants and an aquaculture tank (although I don’t think we’ll be eating the goldfish 🙂 )

The Prep students have been studying living things this term and they are all eager to meet our new pets. Over the coming week the Prep classes will name the 3 goldfish we are rearing.

The Grade 3/4 students have started planting their own plants as a part of their botany study this term. Classes voted on their preferred vegetable, herb, fruit or flower to grow. A few test seeds planted last week have already started to shoot up and grow in the aquaponics tower too.

Grade 5/6 students have been learning about microbiology. Today was a great opportunity to learn how and why a microscope works to then explore the surprising details of the world around them in miniature. From spores of a lily to wings of a butterfly, the students were in awe of the little details that they would miss without the resources we have at Hampton Park Primary. In the coming weeks students will be collecting and culturing their own biological samples as they continue to investigate the micro-worlds around us.

Hour of Code

This week we departed from the robots focus we have had this term to take a break and look at the heart of what makes robots do what we want them to do, the code.

The students participated in the international global movement Hour of Code™. The ‘Hour of Code™’ is an initiative by Computer Science Education Week[csedweek.org] and Code.org[code.org] to introduce millions of students to one hour of computer science and computer programming.

Whilst it may sound daunting to be coding, it can also be great fun as the students found out. So take a chance and have a go at an Hour of Code™ at home.  There is a great variety of activities designed for PC/MAC, iPad or Android, better still there are activities designed for Prep to High school. One student even challenged herself to programming in Javascript (she did a pretty good job too.)

 

 

 Some Grade 5/6 students got real hands-on with robots this week and were working together to build an Otto-Bot. It must have been pretty interesting because even Elf and his Northern Hemisphere friend had a go during the night.

 

Command, Code, Control

The Juniors have been working to read algorithms (code/instructions). The students were provided with a series of direction symbols and then the would try to figure out where their robot would end up. The ability to read and follow these simple directions to calculate the outcome is a challenge for some students…. a challenge they’re happy to try over and over again. The quick feedback they have for their accurate and inaccurate estimates helps drive them to get the correct result.

The Senior students are still working on learning the intricacies of Edison and how to control this simple looking robot. Driving forward/backward and turning may seem simple, but this students will tell you that it takes a lot of trial and error to be accurate.

Time To Drive!

The Seniors have been working very hard this week learning how to design, modify and follow simple algorithms. They are continuing to learn the wonders of Edison.

Students started by just getting their robot to drive forward/backwards to stop on a line. While it sounds like an easy task, it takes a bit of practice and repetition to hone their code to achieve their target. The students have been discussing their findings, why one robot takes a shorter/longer time than another, why the same robot can have different results. These discussions are important for the students to understand that robots are influenced by a lot more than just their code. The best part is watching/listening when they realise that the results are not consistent and they begin try to understand why that is.

How do I get there? Robots and Directions

The Junior students this week were introduced to yet another robot. This time they met Blue-Bot. Blue-bot is a great little robot that allows the students to quickly and easily code, test and reset. The Juniors were able to construct their own special target square, then they tried to code Blue-bot to stop on their square. Many of the students found this challenging at first, but by the end of the session some of them had got the hang of it. This will be a focus area for the Junior students over the coming weeks.

Build-a-bot

This week the Senior students had an opportunity to modify the Edison they worked with last week. Some students created some outrageous modifications, while others kept to more modest changes.

 

Some of the 5/6’s had the chance to test out their ability to follow instructions and competed to construct M-Bot. M-Bot has a lot of similar features to Edison, with a crucial difference. M-Bot can have a wide range of attachments connected and even an larger range of commands for coding. M-Bot utilises a modified Arduino for the brains. These robots will be utilised by the Robotics group that will be meeting during lunchtimes.

 

A few lucky 3/4 students had managed to build some last week during their electives.

What Is A Robot? 

This week the students have been learning about robots and what makes them different to computers and machines. Students used a little Australian-designed robot Edison to understand the concepts of code, inputs and outputs. 

By exploring some of the robot’s different preset instructions students tried to decipher the robots actions and explain them. 
This was defintely an important week to pair and share ideas and thoughts with a partner. 

Digital Citizenship

This week students are taking the time to look at what it means to be a Digital Citizen. This is the opportunity for them to show their digital street smarts.

The P-2’s got to learn with the help of a catchy song, whilst the 3-6’s had a chance to choose their own digital adventure complete with great and not so great choices.

The 5/6’s also reported really enjoying the very catchy song for the Juniors too.

 

The 3-6’s enjoyed traversing Digital Compass.