Sussex Inlet PS Rocket Club Mission One – reflection

Pop Rockets

Well its been a little over three months since I attended the Honeywell Space Academy for Educators program at the US Space and Rocket Centre in Alabama, a detailed review is a few posts below. One of the highlights was exploring how elementary students can be safely introduced to space exploration and the science behind it through a rocketry based curriculum.

On my return I established an after school rocket club targetted at a small group of eight upper primary students who expressed interest in participating. I was looking to pilot a five week program that stepped students through a range of theory and practical lessons using rocketry as the means of creating, stimulating, encourage interest in science and math related curriculum.

I based my program on the NASA Rockets Educators Guide and the Victorian Space Science and Education Centre’s Rocketry for Kids Resource along with numerous videos including Apollo, Ares and the private SpaceX consortium.

The students stepped through the following sequence;

Week 1 – Rocket history, space links, basic physics, balloon rocket construction, test and redesign, mission patch

Week 2 – Ares Rocket development, SpaceX, design and fly pop rockets (bicarb soda and alka seltzer)

Week 3 -Estes models rockets, flight trajectory, apogee, build Estes Alpha kit rocket

Week 4 – Launch day( what it’s all about!), fly A and B engine models.

Week 5 – Review course, fly C engine rocket and complete mission patch

The kids greatly enjoyed the design and make process and and off course firing the models gave everyone a huge buzz. I’ve considered a bottle rocket component and will include this activity when I can build a suitable safe and reliable launcher.

One of the important features of the investigate, design, make process that is often overlooked  in classrooms due to time is the importance of redesign and retest. It is through this process that critical thinking and analysis takes place and leads to improved design outcomes.

The course will run again next term  with a new group and again I’ll take their feedback and refine. So far, so good and I hope we have gained a few more students heading into high school with an enthusiasm and energy for science and math related study and careers.

Building Alpha Rockets On the launchpad! Launching

MacICT (SEE )- Schools Exploring Environments

This year I’ve been working with the team at the Macquarie ICT Innovations Center (MacICT) on the development of a student centered inquiry based online version of the successful Local Environment Project (LEP). The LEP uses a partnership model where secondary students mentor nearby primary school students in the use of mobile learning technologies such as data loggers, laptops, NOVAs and iPhones. Students investigate their local environment and measure biodiversity health before coming up with an action plan for the future. The program, supported by video conferencing has been a great success in the Sydney region.

The online course supports distance schools investigating their local ecosystem to identify and build environmental awareness about the factors affecting the biodiversity in the natural environment. The middle-years project allows schools to work individually on their own project or collaboratively whereby high school students mentor primary school partners in the shared responsibility of caring for their local ecosystem.

Schools anywhere in the world can access a LAMS sequence that allows the teacher to confidently plan collaborative student centred learning experiences utilising research, questions, forums, voting, data collection and group decision making processes. In the field, students engage with locally accessible technologies such as laptops, digital cameras and data loggers.

Vist the homepage and blog to find out more and preview the sequence yourself.