Monthly Archives: April 2015

Countryside Launch Pad

We have filed with NAVCAN our launch details and plan to use the back field of Countryside Village Public School as the site for our #spaceinquiry high altitude balloon launch.

Details in summary,

We plan to launch a HAB (high altitude balloon) between the dates of May 12th and May 15th.  The 800gram balloon will be 150 cm at release from Countryside Village Public School at 43.776667N / -79.785W and consist of a payload system length ~20 ft on ascent and a payload weight of ~1.4kg that will rise at a rate of 950fpm (feet per minute).  The expected burst altitude is above 90, 000 ft and the balloon is expected to be near 22 feet in diameter upon burst.  The payload will descend below a neon orange/green 3ft parachute about about 60km Northwest of the Launch site.

Say What?

That’s correct, time is counting down.  You would never know it but there are fewer than 10 weeks remaining in the school year which means that there are far fewer weeks left until “Launch Day” and lots to do.  Now you would think that I was concerned that we will run short on time but that is certainly not the situation.  I am confident that will launch our balloon with in the given timeframe we (that is Julie and I) have discussed.

So to recap what has been accomplished to date,

  • students gathered information in a general sense that would help us understand what we would face if we proceeded with the challenge of sending George to “space”
  • students began learning about various aspects of the project itself including space and related topics (e.g., how a GPS works, how a parachute works, the various layers of the atmosphere, etc.)
  • students assessed the information they gathered and decided if any further information would be required
  • students confirmed many of their findings as they relate to the challenge after having a “Hangout” with Laura Dawkins, a PhD student from the University of Exeter who completed a similar launch at the beginning of March

  •  students have looked back at previous lists of the materials required to complete this challenge and sought out suppliers while keeping a mindful eye on our budget (which isn’t really a budget given that as we need more money we push for further fundraising)
  • with our help the students have narrowed down the suppliers for
  • balloon txballoon lg_parachute
  • we have cameras and there is some special teaching to go with these
  • we have bought an Eagle Flight Computer from Jason in Georgia

Image Courtesy of


What needs to be done,

  • buying everything we have not purchased,
  • more fundraising
  • predicting flight path and landing location
  • contacting the appropriate authorities to notify about our launch

I am sure that there are things that I have missed but there is much to be done over the next several weeks that will have us prepared for “launch day”.  Follow @SGTS_CSVPS and for updates from the students as they tweet and blog about their learning and experience.

Have some advice, we would love to hear from you.

#Peel21st Blog Hop – When Tech and Numeracy Collide

It’s the 3rd #peel21st BlogHop I have had the opportunity to work with many classes this year in a variety of different capacities; support teacher, co-teacher, filling in on that day when there was no supply to cover the class or simply when I had the opportunity to drop in and see what was going on when I heard excitement.

Area/Perimeter and Minecraft with the Grade 3’s (@CSVGrade3) and (@PGsInquires)

The students in these two classes were so enthusiastic about Minecraft and being able to teach their teachers how to build a variety of different structures that in turn their teachers turned that energy into a teaching opportunity.  What I  happened upon was students constructing various structures within their Minecraft world to represent various Areas and Perimeters.  The level of engagement was significant and it was clear that the students had developed a good understanding of the concepts being explored.  The best of all, it was being done using one of the most popular games amongst students.

I did not have the opportunity to take any photos of the students working within Minecraft however, here is some of the non-tech exploration of Math and Minecraft that evolved from the tech.

Math meets Google Earth and The Pyramids

The Grade 8’s @CountrysidePDSB are your typical group of Grade 8 students whatever, that may actually be.  About two weeks prior to a visit in the computer lab they approach their teacher and asked is they could learn about the major empires of the world.  This idea evolved and resulted in the learning about the Egyptians.  Now they’ve likely done this before back in Grade 5 but she went with the idea and great things happened.  Eventually, Tech met Math when she presented them with the following challenge, “Pick 3 of the Ancient Egyptian Pyramids. Research their measurements and calculate the volume and the surface area for each.”  I happened to venture into the lab on this day when the group was feverishly researching the dimensions of the ancient structures.  I at first questioned the likelihood of being able to find the data readily available somewhere on the internet or for that matter readily available in some sort of book on our library shelves.  Moments later, the idea came to me, why not explore the pyramids using Google Earth, it would show each in 3-dimensions.  The students continue to plod along with their plan of finding the measurements and using known formulas to solve the challenge at hand.   I pushed my crazy idea of using tech and Google Earth and the result was…

A 3D view of the Great Pyramid of Giza

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Some approximate measurements using the ruler tool and the 2D image.

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The length of one side

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The height of that side

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Look we figured out how to use the ruler tool itself to do the area calculation and the others below.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 9.01.26 PM

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Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 9.00.05 PM

Using information that was readily available online at their fingertips along with a basic tool “The ruler” a few members of the group gathered the necessary information and applied previous knowledge of perimeter, area and volume to solve the challenge.  Of course as some of the images show, they figured out how to have the tech-tool solve the challenge for themselves.  All in all a great meeting of tech and math.

The Math of SGTS

SGTS, what’s that?  Sorry, top secret unless it has leaked or you caught one of my prior blog entries.  But in working with our Grade 6 class @CountrysidePDSB and their space inquiry we will be working with various mathematical concepts that will help the group predict where our package may end up, how fast it will get there, how long it will take to recover and.  Of course being able to work this out will be a key component to further mathematical exploration that will focus on data gathered during the testing.  More to come regarding this meet up.  Follow the Twitter feed @SGTS_CSVPS

The Village Video Newsletter

Earlier this year, myself and a colleague (@wedermireroberts) put together an application for a “SpeakUp” grant through the Ministry of Education.  The primary aim of these projects is to, “help students engage both academically and socially by leading projects that they design and implement with the support of their learning community.”  Our project idea was to evolve the traditional paper newsletter and create a newscast, written, edited and produced by the students at Countryside Village Public School.

Initially, there was great interest in all aspects of the project, the class brainstormed the various roles that would be required to produce their very own newscast.  The list of jobs was extensive and of course both their homeroom teacher and myself would have to take on a role just as each of them would need to.  Of course, discussion were had about having the opportunity to play to their strengths where by some who felt they were strong writers would work to write the stories that would be reported on while others who felt the had the necessary editing skills would work as a team to edit each newscast that would be produced.  We, their teachers would help guide the production of each newscast to ensure that deadlines were met and students were fulfilling curricular expectation that would be covered by working on this project.

We also needed some equipment and training to help us in the production of our newscast.  We are currently working out of  holding school (James Grieve Public School) and using resources previously purchased by another school who actually opened the building.  As a part of receiving the grant we would be able to purchase some equipment (see Reviews to Come (Studio Equipment) and receive some training

There was excitement in the air, and with that we would have to come up with a name for the newscast.  Some of the suggestions were: CSV News, CSV24, The Villager, CSVPS News, Everything News News and a few more… To be honest I think this may have been one of the more challenging task for the class, to choose a name that, represented what was being done and the school it was about.

Beyond some decision making, students were also asked to recall events, stories, learning and more that was occurring in the building during the previous four or so weeks.  This would make up the content of our first newscast.  The list was extensive, Black History Month, Intramurals, Mr. Raney’s Lambs were just a few of the stories that would be covered.  The first edition of our newscast was being produced in a somewhat different manner than what I had envisioned for the project in a sense that the students were reflecting on news events of the past and then reporting on them rather than hearing about an upcoming event/story to cover and then going out and covering it as it happened.  I’ve asked myself several times since this project has started why this is, and the answers I have come up with, “there is curriculum to cover, there is a schedule to follow and that working in this way is different than what the kids have grown to know”.

We are still in the production stages of our first newscast and the student have been working diligently with our encouragement to meet the deadlines which have been pushed slightly.  We are hoping that the 1st edition of the Countryside News will our  school Youtube channel by weeks end.

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