Saturday, September 20, 2014

A defining moment in failure.

We all have, at least, one great story!
A defining moment in our lives where our thoughts and actions changed and we became better people because of it. The trick with teaching is that you incorporate your learning moments to impart and spark learning with your students...

Base Camp, Windless Blight, Ross Island, Antarctica

My defining moment began when I looked at my watch and the group of people congregating for a briefing. I had 15 minutes. Surely that was enough time to go to the make-shift bathroom to do my business and pack the required gear needed to go practise self-arresting. A survival skill needed in case one found themselves sliding down an icy peak while in Antarctica.
Antarctic toilet
I nipped to the toilet with my pee bottle and she-wee. The Madrid Protocol requires those in Antarctica to take all waste back to Base to be disposed of correctly while in Antarctica. New Zealand prides itself on following this protocol and setting a standard and upholding the values of the Antarctica Treaty.
So, I found myself fumbling around with this unfamiliar devise and my layers of clothing. I thought I had everything in place to successfully pee, but when I started the act, something felt wrong. After checking once and everything appearing to be in order I continued. Nope! Something definitely felt wrong. I took out the she-wee and found I had missed my underwear layer and wet it. Adrenaline and cortisol flowed through my body and my instant reaction was to run back to my tent and get changed out of my survival clothing. A time consuming act. I could have managed not changing, but instead, I sprinted across the ice, which would have been more of a causal jog with the clothing layers and mukluks I was wearing. As I ran, I watched more and more people gather for the briefing.
Inside a polar tent
Once I got to the tent I found my tent buddy's legs sticking out of the shoot. I told her I needed to get in the tent, which started a small debate and quickly ended when I said I had wet myself.
Climbing back up the 'birth cannel', a joke to describe our tents, with my tent buddy's legs sticking out, I got inside and immediately started stripping. I changed and chucked some things in a bag (not knowing what) and climbed out the shoot and ran to the briefing.
Being extremely late and realising I wasn't wearing any gloves raised the attention of the Antarctic Field Trainer who thought to make an example of me in front of the group. "Go and get your gloves!" I turned around, but my boot-laces were not properly laced up and it meant a lace got tangled in my other boot's hook. I face planted on the ice. I got up to the sound of group sniggers. I agree, it would have looked hilarious from their point of view. I told everyone I was okay and then continued running, fighting back the hot tears and red face.  I heard the same AFT say 'Watch her fall over the guy rope, too." Instead, I cleared it and got the rest of my belongings.
Mt Erebus, Ross Island, Antarctica
I, vividly, remember looking at Mt Erebus while running back to my tent and questioning what this experience was trying to teach me, knowing I had to endure another 10 days of potential embarrassment.
We headed off in the Hugglands to a strip of safe ice to practice self arresting. For most of the time I was lost in my thoughts as I completed the manoeuvres. I had, initially, applied to do a Post Graduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies because I was passionate about Education for Sustainability. I wanted to get a better understanding of our planet and what was happening to it to be more effective in my job. However, this goal changed while on the ice and, like Shackleton but not so extreme, it became about survival and getting back to New Zealand with my hauora in tact. Over the next 10 days of camping on the Ross Ice Shelf I learned vital skills around the importance of trusting team-mates (with my life), time management, leading and following and focusing on the 'here and now'. An extreme version of the Outward Bound experience.
The most important aspect I learned on the ice was 'learning includes failure and to embrace it'. This is what I incorporated into my pedagogy and share with my students regularly.

I recently watched a TEDTalk by Diana Laufenberg who sparked this thinking for me again. Laufenberg talks about the importance of experiential and authentic learning, and how failure should be built into the learning process for students.

I support this thinking by adding when things do not come easily to us and we go through hardship we develop a strong value around what it is that challenged us. When we think of our achievements, it is never the time when everything ran smoothly that we remember fondly, but the time when things didn't go according to plan which we define our success by - case in point. This thinking is even stronger when groups of people come together in support of each other and a sense of camaraderie is built. We remember the camaraderie, not the work. Just imagine if we focused and developed classroom environments like this? Imagine what our students could achieve?

Me, standing over a crack in the ice
The growth which came from my experience in Antarctica and doing PCAS were beyond anything I could imagine. It keeps on giving back in so many facets of my work, that I will be forever grateful to those who provided me with a defining moment of failure, which I have built so much of my teaching around.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Culture Club

I had decided the three day international educators job fair was far too intense and not the place to be making sudden life-altering decisions, like accepting jobs overseas. Even though I had made this decision, I found myself in a hotel room during my second interview with an international school. I listened to my interviewers speak about the school and how I could be of benefit and it filled me with a sense of excitement and purpose. They allowed me time to think over their proposal, but I had already changed my mind. I was moving to China.

In the months to come before the big move, I had many conversations. The key question which kept coming up was ‘what made you choose the school and China?’ I didn’t have an answer back then, all I could say was it was a gut feeling and felt right.

Now I know better.

During the interview and conversation, my interviewers and I made mutual connections and links with our WHY. A combination of values, beliefs and world-views, combining to create a kaupapa (essence/ philosophy), which is hard to articulate because it is associated with part of the brain responsible for all our feelings. Therefore, rationalising our decisions into words can only be described as 'a gut feeling'.

Culture Club
Last week I began my induction into the school and the same feelings were confirmed through listening and discussion with members of the school.
The Business Director spoke to me about the success the school has had with its co-leadership model. The School Directors reaffirmed the holistic mission statements of the school in a variety of ways ensuring we all knew which way the ship was heading. Returning teachers spoke about the school being a family and how they were there to help in any way, embodying the guiding principles. The new teachers (including myself) spoke about how we have felt safe and supported through the transition, and valued by being acknowledged for the attributes we bring.

This was summed up when the Elementary Director invited us to become members of the Culture Club. A club focusing on attitude, treating others the way we would like to feel and ensuring our actions are developing a caring, safe environment.

For a while, I had been feeling a restlessness around the idea of leadership. What I was seeing and experiencing created unease, and like the gut feeling which connected me to people’s WHY. I was, also, feeling a disconnection to other’s WHY. I didn’t understand, and even though it’s completely acceptable to have these feelings, I wasn’t letting go of them. Until I stumbled across a talk by Bob Chapman who spoke about Truly Human Leadership. I understand that this is what I want to model to my students and those around me, and by discovering this, I was able to let go of previous feelings regarding leadership. Fortunately, I have found a place which encompasses the same values and I hope to grow and develop in this Culture Club and that my presence benefits the club, too.

Through this discovery about leadership and culture, I've started making goals for myself. However, it's important to acknowledge what got me to this point. A calculated risk, based on gut feeling, and how the importance of this decision-making resonates with a deeply entrenched personal kaupapa. Something which we should all trust as we never know where it will lead us...
Path to my apartment in China

Monday, June 30, 2014

Play along if you feel like NoS is your truth
As a reliever, I invade another teacher's space, take over their role and mess with the dynamics of the team/class. I need to be mindful that some students are not going to be impressed with the sudden change and I have an array of positive behaviour strategies to use in each situation.
One of my strategies is singing and dancing and I began one day, with a Year 6 class, by singing Pharrell Williams song 'Happy'. I mentioned to the students how this song has become a symbol of finding the happy moments in, possibly, unhappy times. And here, in New Zealand we are fortunate to have the freedom to think, question and learn. Today would be a great opportunity to do that as scientists.
Hoping everyone was in a good mood I began an investigation on air resistance. A lesson I observed from Te Toi Tupu science facilitators and lessons like this can be found on the Virtual Learning Network.
Learning Intentions
Students hypotheses
After the students set up their books with the input/output model and learning intentions (see previous posts), I started the lesson like the beginning of a magic trick. "I have two pieces of A4 paper. Are they exactly the same? Why do you agree/disagree?" The students concluded it was because they were the same length, width, weight, and came from the same ream of paper.
I got one of the pieces of paper and screwed it up (something which goes against my grain as a teacher of EfS) I asked what direction the paper would mostly likely fall from at a certain height and got the students to record their predictions.
Students hypotheses
A volunteer then conducted the experiment from on top of a chair. Some of the students, who were working hard to be disengaged, started taking notice, but still stayed down the back of the classroom. After repeating this part of the experiment a few times, the students at the front of the class established the trend of the screwed up ball of paper to be a drop with a few bounces followed by a roll.
Next, we got the flat (unharmed) piece of paper and repeated the experiment. I introduced the importance of fair testing, but only as a conversation. I didn't want to detract from the experience and lose momentum. The students recorded their predictions/hypotheses after a 'think, pair, share' session and we got the same volunteer to repeat the experiment again.

Some of the students who were paying attention at the back of the classroom decided to move to the front, where the action was.
Students work on Twitter
I commented on their work and asked if it was okay to take a photo of their recording to tweet out and inspire other students, teachers and scientists. The students were proud to have their work tweeted about and it became a huge buzz when someone on Twitter responded to it, making the class more focused on the task. Social Media is a powerful tool.
The students stated the trend of the flat piece of paper began with a slow movement down which then went from side to side.
This is when I started questioning students perceptions.
"Why does the ball of paper drop straight down and the piece of flat paper glide?"
I got students to 'think, pair, share' their answers to consolidate their reasoning, before discussing as a class. Some students were stuck on the concept of weight, even though we continued to go back to the original two pieces of paper (this is a common misconception and I recommend having measuring scales to help overcome it), some students discussed gravity and others played with the idea of air resistance. Through my question-probing students were able to figure out the cause of the two trends and I was able to observe processes related to the Science Capabilities and Nature of Science taking place.
Blimp-making instructions
After this part of the lesson I'd, normally, move onto making spinning blimps and play with concepts of air resistance through modifying the blimp design. However, I still had a couple of students at the back of the classroom who were not engaging and I knew they were not going to if I were to remain the authority of the lesson. Instead, I decided to hand ownership of the lesson to the students. I explained to them that they needed to go through a process of design thinking to create an object which used air resistance to move and the accountability lay in recording their process. I showed them how to make blimps as a beginning concept and how to research on the Science Learning Hub. At certain stages I stopped the students to see how they were getting on, record their ideas to share with each other and offer inspiration through YouTube clips.
Students air resistance creations
The students loved it and the whole class were onboard. I observed ideas based on students prior knowledge being swapped freely and research was being conducted in collaboration with one another, just like scientists.
At the end of the day we had a presentation where students shared the process they went through. During this time, some of the students identified their failures and if they had more time how they would improve their designs.
At the time I handed over the lesson to the students I questioned whether the science concepts were going to be taught well, or if I should continue the lesson like I intended, with the potential for conflict.
While reflecting on this, a friend shared a TEDTalk with me on Science is for everyone, kids included and it was great consolidation around my thoughts on the importance of play. Beau Lotto mentioned that for us to learn anything new we have to ask the 'why' and in doing so we step into uncertainty, but the best way to learn about the uncertainty is through play. Lotto explained play as:

  • celebrating uncertainty
  • adapting to change
  • being open to possibility
  • cooperating
  • being intrinsically motivated
Comparing the points of play to those of the Nature of Science and the Science Capabilities, they are consistent with each other and tell us that science and play are intwined and, really, are just a way of being.
Upon this discovery of thought, I've realised I need to action more 'freedom to think, question and learn' with students and offer them more ownership and leadership of the lessons to develop aspects of innovation and creativity, so we can all be happy! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I'm not sciency!

"But I'm not sciency!"

I've heard that statement a lot and it resonates with me because I thought and said similar statements too. Yet, I wasn't half bad at science in school.  My biggest inhibitor was how I perceived myself as a learner.

In the field, Antarctica
Once I'd graduated with a Bachelor of Teaching in 2004, and had been teaching for a couple of years. My confidence grew and ideas about myself started to change. I got involved with Education for Sustainability and this became my passion. However, while developing an EfS programme in the school, I started asking more questions about the world than I was getting answers. This made me question the effectiveness of my teaching and grasping the 'big ideas' from different perspectives. To find those answers lead me back to my childhood obsession with Antarctica. I applied for and was accepted into the Post Graduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies at Gateway Antarctica, University of Canterbury in 2010.
Here, I thought I'd find the answers, but like any science, it lead to more questions. Instead, I went on a journey of discovery which had me identify the biggest barriers to my learning at school.
As teachers, we know what limits a student's learning is their own self-belief, so, for the whole three months of the course I was constantly battling with this and being conscious of what I was feeling in regards to it.  I felt like I was always on the edge of my Zone of Proximal Development. Whether
is was engaging with expert scientists, earning my stripes in the field or presenting my own work to those same experts. At one stage, due to my self-belief, I had what I can only describe as a panic attack. I had to go home and meditate my way out of it.  I had stepped too far out of my zone.
Since then, I have observed many students step outside their zones and their anxiety has manifested in many ways. Most often disruptive, as a way to avoid the task or the risk which comes from being involved in the task. I've noticed when the student has observed the task being carried out from the safety of their 'time out' area, they do reintroduce themselves back into the work.
Students' experimenting
That's why it's so important to provide science experiences from a young age, not only to build a student's scientific literacy, but also to give them the opportunity to take risks in a variety of different situations.
However, that starts with us as teachers. We need to take risks and acknowledge ourselves as learners with the students. We have a responsibility to provide these experiences to our students as there is the chance they will not receive them elsewhere. We need to get away from our own perceptions of knowledge and start exploring the ways of how we might know, and what's great is by relinquishing the control and opening it up to the students, we receive a variety of ideas based on their individual backgrounds to build from.
The Antarctic experience was invaluable. I expected to gain knowledge to enhance my teaching, but gained insight into being a learner and overcoming my anxiety around the learning process.
Now, I say 'I'm sciency' to my students and once discussing and building our ideas of what science and scientists are, hope they do too. Most importantly, we have fun while doing so.

TEDTalk explaining ideas of science

Monday, April 14, 2014

What is a scientist?

"What does a scientist look like to you?"

Analysing Castle Rock, Antarctica
Instinctively, I picture a geeky, white lab coat guy, before I draw on my own experience of being a scientist in Antarctica. It's then, that I start to overcome the stereotype and think about adventurers braving the elements to make observations and gather data or specimens. 
The Te Toi Tupu science facilitators asked my PLD group the same question.  Majority, if not all of the teachers described Albert Einstein and, sadly, the same picture is imprinted in google images too. It's, almost, expected that when students are asked the same question, they will described a male with white hair, glasses, lab coat and potions, and they do.  It's hardly surprising when we think of historical scientists as Bell, Newton and Franklin and we watch movies with characters like Q from James Bond, Doc from Back to the Future and Victor Frankenstein. All this information goes towards supporting our impression of a scientist.
So, what does a scientist look like? Well, like you and me! It's vital students recognise this in themselves too, so they are able to grow into scientifically literate citizens.
"In science, students explore how both the natural physical world and science itself work, so that they can participate as critical, informed and responsible citizens in a society in which science plays a significant role." (NZC, 2007, p.17)

Internationally, science educators have identified 3 domains that are necessary for developing scientific literacy (Bell, 2007):

  • A body of knowledge
  • A set of processes
  • A way of knowing
Student's perception of the world changing
'A way of knowing" is less familiar than the first two, but addresses the Nature of Science and is the area I'm most passionate about. It's here that we recognise science ideas as constantly evolving when new evidence comes to light and it's these ideas that bring change. "Science is a way of investigating, understanding, and explaining our natural, physical world and the wider universe, It involves generating and testing ideas, gathering evidence - including making observations, carrying out investigations and modeling, and communicating with others - in order to develop scientific knowledge, understanding and explanations. Scientific progress comes from logical, systematic work and from creative insight, built on a foundation of respect for evidence. Different cultures and periods of history have contributed to the development of science." (NZC, 2007, p28)
By providing students with experiences and then opportunity to reflect and discuss those experiences, we, potentially, influence their values and change their belief systems about the world. With the way information is communicated nowadays, it's important students have the Nature of Science skills and understandings to be able to critique and form their own opinions and make informed decisions, at the very least. However, through the Nature of Science, students can go further and explore, design and create, leading to new innovations and collaborating to solve some of the world's complex problems. A fantastic TEDTalk 'Paper beats Plastic? How to rethink environmental folklore' provides a context for this thinking.
Field Trip to Gisborne Observatory
When we are teaching the Nature of Science, it's important to recognise and acknowledge the backgrounds of individual students and what they bring to the discussion and how this can influence values and belief systems, even your own, if you are open-minded and actively involved in the process of ako.
A year ago I had a student in my class who has Aspergers. While watching the devastation of 2013 Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, I was drawing on students' empathy so they could relate to what the people of the Philippines must have been experiencing. The student with Aspergers had limited ability to empathise and rather than being tied up with emotion, started looking at solutions.  He saw the amount of rubble and timber and began
Performing Tāne me te Whānau Mārama
suggesting ways it could be reused.  I accepted his contribution, but was taken back as I was still sympathising for the people and thought it too soon to be thinking that way.  It was only when I reflected on the discussion that I could see the insight and intelligence this student had around science and sustainability.  I wondered how may times I had ignored what a student was saying because I didn't understand or it wasn't aligned with my way of thinking due to my own background.
Planting trees during Matariki
The same year I was fortunate to go to a Te Toi Tupu Primary Science Hui.  I heard Dr Daniel Hikuroa speak about science and indigenous knowledge. He spoke about teaching using an inquiry driven approach, which offered support systems, provided a relevant context, explored beliefs, methods, criteria for validity and systems for rationality. He suggested an approach investigate Mātauranga Māori and include Māori language. One topic I explore regularly with students is Matariki and during this time of celebration, we look at biodynamics, astronomy, and ocean cycles in relation to science and Māori perspectives. In a multicultural classroom I extend this to all cultures and allow students to be the teacher (kaiako). I've had students from Japan share their knowledge of the constellation Subaru, which is the same constellation as Matariki
Students identify ways Maui was a scientist
Hikuroa posed the question 'Was Maui a scientist?' Through exploration of the legends the audience acknowledged Maui to be curious, creative, challenging and mischievous.  All the elements of a great scientist. Hikuroa stated that it was important that when students think scientist, they think Maui, broadening their understanding of a the term 'scientist'. With this new insight Maui became one of my class' science role models.
When looking at the future of science I hope we can overcome the geeky, white lab coat, guy stereotype and start seeing ourselves as scientists and, as teachers, we open our students' eyes to the Nature of Science, and support them to come forward with their ideas. I look forward to seeing a generation of people who think critically and work together to tackle our world's complex problems and produce better systems. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Let the raisins dance!

I received a text from the students of Room 7 this morning, thanking me for teaching them while their teacher, Mrs Mador, was away. The text put a smile on my face and I responded by thanking them for the shared science experience and what they taught me.
It reminded me of the Māori concept 'ako' and how important it is to thank students for the personal growth they give teachers through the knowledge, experience and understanding they bring into the classroom everyday and share.

This week I was asked to relieve in New Entrant and Year 1 classes. I haven't had much experience teaching this age group and was interested to see what science concepts the students had. 
I decided to teach the lesson Dancing Raisins, which shows air bubbles can cause objects to float.
I began by simplifying my learning intentions and explained to the students we were "learning to be a scientist by using our five senses." 
I had to clarify what a scientist was, as the students were learning about how to manage themselves in a school environment and were focused on giving me answers about friendship, which is an extremely important skill to have even as a scientist. I ended up explaining a scientist was a person who makes discoveries and today we were going to find out how raisins danced. Naturally, this got the students excited and I could see they were picturing the ways a raisin could dance in their minds.
Introducing the lesson took some talking on my part, and to keep the students' attention I used energiser science songs like Hi-5's Five Senses
I got the students to head up their pages with the titles Input and Output. In hindsight I would do this myself and write the learning intentions and necessary information on the input page (see first post for info about input and output pages). The students were developing their ability to form letters and this slowed them down and wasn't a focus for the science lesson.

I gave each student a small science cup, a large science cup and a plate.  I asked them to draw their science equipment to develop their observation skills. 
All material can be found in the party section of any supermarket.
In each small science cup I placed a few raisins for the students to investigate using their five senses.

Lots of talking took place and fantastic scientific language was used. I recorded their language on the interactive board. Once we were happy with our information I moved onto the lemonade. I got the students to be quiet while I opened the lemonade bottles, making sure they heard the sound of the carbon dioxide escaping when the cap's seal was broken. This sound brought great delight and I posed the question 'why do you think lemonade makes that sound when I open the bottle?' Nobody could answer, so I suggested we keep the question in mind while we continued to be scientists.
After pouring the lemonade into the small science cups, students got to investigate the lemonade using their five sense and drew what they saw. Again, students came up with great scientific language to explain what they were experiencing.

I began to set up the experiment and during this time students spontaneously began to share their predictions about what they thought would happen when the raisins were dropped in the lemonade. I quickly recorded their thoughts on the interactive board.
"It's going to explode."

"They will go to sleep."

"It will sink."
"They will dance and pop out."
Students dropped the raisins into the cups and watched what happened. It was lovely to share in
their wide-eyed wonder and enthusiasm for what they were seeing.
After ten minutes of observing and group discussion I brought the students down to the mat to have a class discussion about what they experienced. I repeated the bottle opening with the New Entrants and talked about how the sound is air trying to escape from the lemonade, and asked questions relating this to the dancing raisins experiment. A few of the students could see the relationship with the air bubbles and lead the discussion.
I took this discussion further with the Year 1 class and, together, we researched other 'scientists' work on the interactive board. We looked on Youtube and found a Dancing Raisins experiment. After watching the clip the Year 1s were able to explain how the raisins danced in more detail.
It was a great opportunity to relieve at this level and observe the developmental thinking taking place. The students may be limited by their various communication skills, but they show an ability to grasp scientific concepts and, definitely, renewed my vigor for teaching through their joy and happiness for learning.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Popping poppers make for a party of science

Last year, I had the opportunity to gain professional development in primary science through Te Toi Tupu science facilitators. The focus was developing teacher's understanding around the Nature of Science and the facilitators showed us a variety of science lessons to develop teacher confidence and enthusiasm. Since then, I have started my own teacher inquiry to better understand what it means to develop citizens (students) who are scientifically literate for the 21st Century. 
One lesson the science facilitators showed us was with party poppers. The focus was to investigate how a party popper worked.
Party Poppers

I have taught this lesson to a number of classes and each time get something different from the lesson based on individual student's curiosity.

I begin the lesson by sharing the learning intentions. The class and I have a discussion around what it means to be a scientist. It's interesting to find out students perceptions of a scientist and it is a great feeling to see students' eyes light up when you give them ownership by explaining they are scientists too.
This is the time when we set up our books with Input and Output pages. "When the teacher puts information into your brain, it goes on the Input page. The information coming out of your brain goes on the Output page." (Helpful hints from Te Toi Tupu facilitators)  We have a class discussion around the importance of recording our thoughts as scientists to refer back to later.

Learning Intentions
Now the fun really begins. Students are given a party popper each and asked to follow the success criteria and observe/record what they notice. There is a lot of conversation and this is when I identify and link students vocabulary back to other learning areas of the curriculum. "Wow! I noticed you have used words like shape and design to describe... Can you see how you are incorporating your understanding of mathematics into your inquiry?"
After about 10-15 minutes (depending on the age of the students), I have a class discussion around our 'noticings' and if an interactive board is available, I'll use this to record. Otherwise, pen and paper is great as there is a chance you may go back and look at the recorded information at a later date with the class. A class science book is a great idea.

Input and output pages
When the students and I are recording the ideas being shared, I stress the importance of being a 'safe and sensible' scientist. We have conversations around the caution and instructions label and I pose the question; What is the definition of an adult and young child? Students apply their understanding, experience and knowledge to answer the question and, together, we come up with a collective definition. We, also, look at language like 'a foot'  and 'hold by neck', to clarify any confusion.

Students dissect party poppers
Second class discussion after dissection
From here we go onto dissect the party popper using scissors. Again, I stress the importance of being a 'safe' scientist. I have had party poppers accidentally (and not accidentally) pop. The shock has lead to tears in some cases and we talk about mistakes leading to opportunities. It's here that I get students to compare popped and un-popped party poppers with their 'fellow scientists'.
Students record their discoveries and we discuss concepts around hypotheses and if anyone has an idea about how a party popper works.
It's important to note the NZC Science Capabilities and by asking students to 'compare and contrast' or use 'trial and error' etc, students are exploring ways science knowledge is created and being used in the world.

Popping party poppers outside

Final class discussion
 Finally, students are able to experience popping a party popper. Popping them inside the classroom creates a great atmosphere and students are able to use their five senses better, but if the noise is going to frighten the 'less willing', I'll take the experience outside. I'd rather promote risk-taking and participation by all.  It's during this recording and discussion that great language is used, including words like pressure, force, triggers and friction etc. If the words haven't been used already in the lesson. It is a surprise to the students that they have a lot of scientific vocabulary and knowledge when they are made aware of it.

Student researching
After more discussion around what we have observed we make our final hypothesis and if there is time we will further our investigation by researching information about party poppers on the internet.  Once we are confident we have an answer, we use one last party popper to check (I provide the ratio of 3 party poppers to 1 child for each lesson). Often, students have their own questions which they want to investigate, or using the party popper remains draw and develop their own party popper prototypes. If there is time, I dedicate the rest of the day to this exploration. I even had one student question what research the company had done to design and create the party popper (see photos).

Student's thoughts
Seeing students engaged and pushing the boundaries of their thinking is exciting and it is on days like these that you think 'this is what teaching is about'. The photo is of a thought from a Year 5 student's Output page and says "My original theory was about gun powder mixing with air.  Now I know that is not the case because when it was exposed to air nothing happened."