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Another School Year

In the days leading up to the new school year there was excitement and nerves in the air.   As the year began this past Tuesday at Countryside Village we were preparing for uncertainty but also for a period of constant change as the neighbourhood we are the hub for continues to be settled into.

My nerves were getting the better of me because I was starting the year with a class unlike last year and I was excited because the staff and I were starting the year with the group of kids that would eventually follow us to the “Countryside” that would be built in their neighbourhood.  These would be the kids that would get the full experience of learning in an inquiry based school from K through 8.

Many have heard of but may not entirely have an understanding of the inquiry based learning model.  It is certainly not a new way of teaching however, at Countryside our vision is to see all students become involved in a process where they formulate questions, investigate to find answers, build new understandings, meanings and knowledge, and then communicate their learnings to others.


From Kindergarten to Grade 8, our students will explore various topics of interest to themselves and their classmates which are connected to curricular expectations.  I myself, was excited to led my group of 7s down the pathway of many inquiries this year as individuals, in small groups and collaboratively amongst other groups within and outside our school.

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.

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