PRIMARY SCIENTISTS?

Our new science teaching blog, hopefully this will help give me the motivation to get back into personal blogging as well

Primary Scientists

“Scientist”… a word weighed down by connotations of lab coats, goggles, Albert Einstein and Doc from ‘Back to the Future’. But let’s have a look at what it actually means. Over to you, Google…

sci·en·tist

/ˈsīəntist/

Noun
A person who is studying or has expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences

We always focus on that middle part, the expert knowledge. That’s just one part of being a scientist. Let’s skip that bit, and see how the definition reads now:

sci·en·tist

/ˈsīəntist/

A person who is studying of one or more of the natural or physical sciences.

Think of it that way, and all school children are, if given the opportunity, scientists. By extension, any adult who shares in their learning and questioning of the primary curriculum with them is a scientist as well.  Chances are, if you’re reading this, that’s you.

Investigating magnets, looking…

View original post 409 more words

Advertisements

Key Stage 2 Space topic

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Our science topic for spring term was space so I’ve decided to share the display that came about through the children’s learning. Each term I have a science display in my classroom linking into the science topic which runs separately to the main topic for upper juniors. The above picture shows the display for our … Continue reading

Kids are easily hooked

One issue many teachers talk about is hooking children into their learning yet once they’re engaged in the topic, they will put more effort into their learning and if they enjoy the lesson it will be better remembered without having to spend hours of revision on it later.

In my, so far short, experience of teaching as well as previous work with children, I have found it easy to ‘hook’ children and my professional development has focused on my pace to increase the impact of learning within the lesson. I was always insanely bored at school and not much has changed, I am easily distracted and always found it hard to keep focus at university or during staff meetings and the reason for this is that I have a vivid imagination that takes over my conciousness when the real world bores me. This must surely be the case with many children that struggle to pay attention in class.

As much as I can, I link my lessons to my own hobbies and interests – at first I thought that my class would get bored of lessons linking to wolves, rugby, Dr Who etc but it has been the opposite. Younger children like to see enthusiasm in an adult they look up to and it is extremely hard to fake enthusiasm. My class enjoy our history lessons through Dr Who, Maths through Rugby league scores and writing reports on the Grey Wolf. Once you have merged your class’s learning into your own hobbies, they are also easier to hook into other lessons because lets face it, you can’t have EVERY lesson your own way!

 

Next time you think a child isn’t putting 100% into their learning imagine some of these thoughts that I know I had as a child:

“You want me to measure these triangles? But it’s snowing outside!”

“I KNOW how to multiply… I DON’T know what that pigeon on the windowsill will do next”

“You expect me to focus on my writing when that spider is about to be noticed by those girls, ha!”

“There was an ‘after that’? But I was too busy carrying out the first instruction”

“This question is similar to the last 8 I answered in my maths book… I wonder if my friend wants to play out after school”

Sparta or Athens? Radio broadcast

Today I did a lesson on the differences between Ancient Athens and Sparta as part of our Ancient Greece topic. The children really enjoyed it and were engaged throughout so I thought I’d share it.

I used Dr Who as a hook, something I’ve used previously in History lessons as the children can relate to the series. This time, I played a clip of him talking to the camera but turned it down and played the Dr Who theme tune over it so you could just make out his muffled voice. This added a realistic side as they believed the background story and on the second playing, some children even went up to the speakers to try and decipher what he was saying. I explained that he had left this message for our class (year 5) asking them to help him decide where to land when he goes back to Ancient Greece; Athens or Sparta. After deciding on where he should land and why, they will be sending him their own radio transmission back.

I had spread out envelopes around the classroom containing ‘evidence’ of life in each city state and children had to gather this evidence and make notes, moving around the class to share these pieces of evidence. Each evidence envelope contained an information card on an aspect of either Athens or Sparta. After some time gathering evidence, children used a picture of a thermometer to label what was ‘hot’ and what was ‘not’ about their city state, which was randomly allocated to them.

The class were on task and engaged throughout which showed that my hook work as they are a challenging class to keep on task. After a full lesson on this, we had a debate with half the class allocated Athens and the other half Sparta. On Wednesday we will be using our ICT session to record a radio transmission to send back to Dr Who as part of our podcasting topic. I’ve rushed through this post trying to get as much detail in as possible and after Wednesday I will share more, being Easter and having the time to catch up on life!

Is conservation going backwards?

 

Not been getting much chance to post recently with the workload but after reading about the badger cull pilots getting the go ahead I though it was important to raise this issue.

 

 

In the world of conservation we are always being told to help the Giant Panda or Bengal Tiger yet the animals on the verge of extinction are not the only concern. Sometimes we forget about the animals and environment on our doorstep. With hindsight extinctions both locally and globally could have been prevented but society had different priorities and less scientific insight in the past. Wolves were a common predator so were exterminated from most of Europe and the US. There are 63 mammals classed as ‘conservation dependant‘ and conservation costs money.

Panda Gao Gao in San Diego Zoo, USA

In the US, wolves have been reintroduced, at a cost. Now some states are allowing hunters to shoot them, against scientific advice. In Sweden, a wolf cull was blocked legally by conservation groups since it was not a viable cull. In the UK, foxes have been labelled an urban menace by politicians who suggested a cull, against scientific advice. In the UK, a badger cull pilot has just been given the go ahead, against scientific advice. No doubt there are other examples of countries trying to cull/reduce populations of native animals even if the scientific community are against it.

 

 

This post is just a personal rant after seeing the latest badger cull get the go ahead but if we don’t maintain current populations of animals not at risk through scientifically approved methods, we run the risk of adding to the ever-increasing endangered species list and having to spread conservation budgets ever thinner.

 

 

 

Canada; second only to Yorkshire

My visitor count has recently been inundated with Canadian visits so I thought I’d dedicate a post to why Canada is my favourite country.

Having relatives in Ontario, I first visited Canada after my GCSEs in 2004. I spent 6 weeks between; Oakville, south of Toronto; Aurora, north Toronto and Brockville, on the St Lawrence. The one thing I always remember being in awe over was how friendly Canadians are! Although I think my accent had something to do with it in some cases (almost all commented on it!), the Canadians seemed innately friendly and helpful. Unlike the cattle market feel of British shops, checkout assistants seemed genuinely interested in chatting while you made purchases and everybody had a friendly way about them.

This attitude may have something to do with their weather. In my opinion they get the best of both worlds. Their summer, at least in southern Ontario, is much hotter (and less wet!) than ours; I burnt my neck with factor 50 on! Yes I burn easily but never THAT easily in England. Then in winter, they get tonnes and tonnes of snow! Who wouldn’t be cheerful with both sunbathing AND snowmen in the same back garden?

My second trip was for a week last February when I stayed in Peterborough, Ontario. The trip was amazing and again, I met a lot of friendly people, whom I’m still in touch with now and who introduced me to the amazing game of Catan! I will definitely be visiting again and by then I will have a separate blog dedicated to traveling, where I’ll post all the adventures :).

Finally, the icing on the cake is that Canada has a fantastic population of wolves! If I could, I’d be living over there right now 🙂

Urban fox – friend or foe?

Fox

Fox (Photo credit: AndyRobertsPhotos)

Anyone who has seen an urban fox, as I have, will know that although surrounded by an urban jungle they will shy away from you the moment you get near. I have seen two foxes in Sheffield City Centre, both when it was very quiet and both times the fox just strolled past (at a distance) and dived into the first hedge they could find.

Many of you will have read of a baby’s finger being severed by a fox recently in London, and you may remember the baby sisters mauled by a fox in 2010 as they slept. This type of attack, although tragic, is a rare occurrence to say there are 33,ooo urban foxes in the UK and 10,000 in London alone. The above attacks are mentioned here.

Put this figure next to another urban nuisance; the cat. There are around 800,000 feral cats, that roam our urban districts. Cats, which are certainly more willing to approach humans, can bite and scratch as almost anyone who has been on the wrong side of one can vouch for. And when I quoted the figure 800,000, I ignored the 9 million pet cats, many of which also roam freely around our urban and suburban areas. I’m not suggesting we cull cats, just putting the so called ‘nuisance’ into perspective. Lets look at another animal found in ALL urban areas; the dog. Now, I also get annoyed at the negative media portrayal of dogs every time there is an attack. albeit rare, dogs do attack and in some cases kill, more children than foxes.

Foxes hunt rats in the cities, rats spread disease and can enter households much easier than a fox. Foxes rarely rummage through bins, especially now the majority of bins are plastic wheelie bins! Most foxes only eat scrap food when it is fed to them by people who leave it out in their garden because they want foxes to visit. In my opinion, foxes are a true representative of urban ‘nature’ whereas cats and dogs are not, yet they produce many more issues and even cause more of a nuisance to gardeners.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, has urged councils to tackle the increasing ‘menace’ of urban foxes however there is no hard evidence that the number of urban foxes has increased (one study found that they have decreased in some areas due to disease epidemics) and culls are known to be ineffective since new foxes just move into the newly presented territory.

As a final note on the subject, there are approximately 28,000 facial dog bites REPORTED in the UK with numerous deaths. These figures are easy to find through google. Fox attacks are harder to find, after trawling google I found 3 cases; the recent finger severing, the baby sisters in 2010 and a young boy being bitten after disturbing a fox under the garden shed, so lets not get the pitch-forks out just yet Boris. Here is the fox website for more information on urban foxes.

English: Mayor of London, Boris Johnson poses ...