Monthly Archives: March 2015

Hangout with CSVPS 6s and Laura Dawkins

This past week we returned back to school after a much needed break and we prepared for an important meeting with PhD Student Laura Dawkins from the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the University of Exeter.

Today was the day, after a few test “hangouts” we were ready  to chat live with Laura.  The class was excited, the laptop was setup and linked through our Apple TV to the projector.  I put the call through to Laura across the pond in the UK where she took time out of her evening to chat with us about launching a balloon into near-space.

Despite all efforts to ensure an issue free chat, we had choppy video and audio.  Of course, had I not run a few test there would not have been issues.  We kept the connection live and began troubleshooting.  First, was to play with audio and video quality, it was possible that we were maxing out our bandwidth though I couldn’t believe so.  Without repair, I went on to the WiFi connection to the Apple TV and dropped our link to the big visual.  With that our connection instantly improved.  Next time, hard wire the laptop and leave the wireless connection for the Apple TV.

As Julie put it in her blog entry (

“During the chat our students had the opportunity to ask all of their questions, and more.  They spoke professionally and thoughtfully about their topics.  Laura was a great resource and we were so grateful for the time she took to speak with us.”

The group was engaged and attentive, ready for more.  The conversation went on and on.  The kids asked their questions, Laura responded sharing her experience and insight for our students and their project.  I must say that I was afraid that the conversation would end up feeling very scripted because we had prepared ourselves with questions.  But that was not the case and the conversation felt quite fluid with the students interjecting with questions not prepped because the discussion opened itself to their curiosities about the launching of weather balloons and space.

Here is our chat…

After a nearly 40 minute conversation, we had many of the answers we sought to the questions we were asking.  The chat also confirmed much of the initial research we had been conducting about the materials we would need and the knowledge that it would take to accomplish the task of launching a balloon into near-space.

Thank you, Miss Harper and Grade Sixes for let me be a part of your class and leading you down this path of exploration.

Thank you, Laura for taking time out of your personal time to chat with a group of students from Canada

And we are back…

More from our inquiry about space…

Students arrived back today after a week off on March Break.  Over the break, aside from recouping from a long winter stretch through January and February, the Grade 6 students from Ms. Harper’s class were tasked with two responsibilities;

1. to blog about what they have learned and focus their inquiry time on, and,

2. to come up with a few questions they would want to ask our guest #DIYspace “expert” about launching a weather balloon.

We are back and the blog entries have been made by “The Crew” which for many was their first.  For the audience out there that might read some of the entries, please share your advice about writing blogs to the students as they will have several more entries about their work leading up to the launch.

On Wednesday the 25th our “Crew” will chat with PhD student Laura Dawkins of the University of Exeter who earlier this month launched a weather balloon into the atmosphere.  ( The students arrived back each with a few questions they wil ask of Laura and hope will allow them to gather information that will support the design and build phase of our project

Stayed tuned for more following our Hangout with Laura.

Reviews to come (Studio Equipment)

Several months back we applied for a “Speak Up, Student Voice” grant from the Ministry of Education (  Our application was focused around building student voice through the production of a student newscast.  We received our funding and we sources out some of the tools that would allow us to create our news “studio”.  The following are what has been purchased to date.

The iOgrapher media case

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 9.26.06 PM

Polaroid Telephoto and Wide Angle Lenses for iOgrapher case

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 9.27.58 PM

Rode VideoMic


Polaroid Professional LED light

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 9.29.07 PM

Impact Green Screen and Background Support Kit

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 9.27.23 PM

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 9.27.46 PM

The APPS.  We will be using a variety of APPs that have come recommended by others as we have read about while learning about school produced newscasts.


RecoLive Multi-cam

FiLMiC Pro


As we have time to work with the equipment and APPS, I will provide a more complete review of our experiences.  Have your own experiences with similar equipment and APPS, I would be interested in hearing what you have to share.

The Knowledge Piece..


The last time I shared, I mentioned that we “The Crew”, let our enthusiasm get the better of us and we lost sight of the steps that would help us achieve our end goal.  We jumped light years ahead and found ourselves gathering information and details about the materials/resources that would be need to send the beloved “George” to space and we forgot all about the “knowledge that would be needed to help us understand what we were preparing to do.  Of course, with much open discussion we realized this fairly early on in the project and it has allowed us to backtrack and begin gather some of the “knowledge” of “space”, “DIY exploration” and”near-space ballooning”.  As a group we looked IMG_5790specifically to some of the initial brainstorming to guide us in our search for the knowledge that would be needed to help us understand more about this project.


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Our enthusiasm got the better of us…


The first couple of weeks saw the students scavenging for much information and determining what needed to be accomplished in order to get George on his way to space.  The kids brainstormed many key items that would need to be considered if we were to be successful, top on that list was to be able to get the materials for construction of the “space shuttle”.  Of course, our enthusiasm got the better of us all including us the teachers.  We began more focused on the “materials” than the knowledge we would need to be able to send our package to “space”

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Initial Explorations


Initial exploration had the students in the class identifying;

1.  Things they already knew or thought they already knew,


2.  Things they might need to learn about,


3.  Steps they might need to take in order to achieve the end goal “Launching of George to Space”,


4.  Materials that they thought would be needed to launch and,


5.  Resources or People that might be able to help with the above.


Much of what you see here came from a reading of “Lego Man in Space” early in the year when there were just 4 students in the class, prior independent reading of space and space exploration, hands-on investigation of some materials we had and of course, some generalized reading from our #1 source of information, the WWW.

The thinking here would guide us as we would proceed with the project.

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