It was great to have Sugata visit as part of our International Symposium.
We had chance to catch up and hear in more detail the progress of all 7 of the ” School in the Cloud” labs. We did some skyping and planning with lovely Amy from the other UK lab at George Stephenson plus the SSAT for the National Conference in December. The EngineHeads called in desperate to chat with Sugata and let him know how they were getting on, as well as lots of SOLEs and learning goodness.
Sugata was keen to do a bit of experimentation on this visit. We worked with three groups during the day. Two maths classes, one year 9 group and one year 7. This was followed by a year 7 science class.
Sugata explored what happens through SOLE principles when you give the students a challenging GCSE question that is seemingly beyond their current capability…?
The first task involved asking “Can you use a computer to find out how far the moon is from earth in moon diameters? And how many sun diameters are we away from the sun?”
A few groups thought they had it pretty much sorted straight away and explained that the the Moon is 235000 miles and the Sun is 875000 miles.
But what is the diameter?
How will you work this out?
The groups seemed to find this quite challenging and puzzled over the idea of moon and sun’s diameter. This appeared to lead to frustration at several points.
“Get Google maps up that might help?”
“This doesn’t even come up on google”
“You’ve all found the distance but not the diameter”
“We’ve got the same answer, it must be right?”
“Can we have your answer?”
“Look, we’ve got the earth’s diameter! Yeah but we need the sun and the moon.”
“This is stupid. Google isn’t giving us the right answers. I don’t get this.”
The group came up with some conclusions which helped lead them to some answers but they appeared to find the process a frustrating challenge.
For the second session Sugata asked the same question but staged it with 1 or 2 additional questions to see how it affected the process. This group got to the answer quicker and with what appeared to be less frustration.
They concluded that the answer was 108 for both and they were puzzled by this answer as the sun and moon are not the same size but the result is the same. An interesting mini experiment and has raised a number of questions to explore further.
The year 7 science session, which was about the topic the body and life, explored the question, “When is a living thing dead?”
The group decided to elect a student manager “SuperEmma”
They explored a number of ideas which included:
“It is dead when it doesn’t move or breathe.”
“It’s an awful idea death.”
“Death is really bad we don’t like the idea and don’t like to talk about it”
“It’s dead when it’s old or poorly. You can tell if it’s dead when it’s not moving or breathing. Life is connected with moving, breathing and growing.”
“Do we have to breathe to be alive?”
“When death happens all sort of things stops.”
An interesting session and lots the teacher was keen to explore further with the group in the next session.
Another day of lots of learning but even more questions…!