Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Oceans and Climate

I am a science teacher and I thought that I had already known a lot about the connection between oceans and climate. Until this morning, because we had an expert meeting with my 8th graders. Using Skype in the classroom we had a phantastic meeting with Joanne Kerr, paleo- oceanographer at the University of Cambridge, England.

It was very early in the morning, at 7 am UK time, when we met her with a small group of students who are educated in chemistry about climate change and global warming. Teaching this topic you automatically come across the connection between the oceans and climate and how both affect each other.

The students prepared several questions about what they have discussed before in their lessons. They got answers about the ocean circulation, salt concentration and temperature and how that all depend on each other. And they got important information how global warming will impact the oceans and how oceans themselves will impact life on earth when the earth will go on heating up constantly.
The students added some further questions concerning her personality and the profession to become an oceanographer.

Jo herself had prepared a ppt in advance about her work and about the places where she is usally researching which she presented at the beginning.

The whole meeting took about 1 hour time and we, students and me, learned a lot and new things concerning the connection between oceans and climate.

Hope to see you soon.
Thank you very much, Jo Kerr!!!

This is a short cut of the video. The complete video can be watched here.

Thanks a lot to all supporters including " Skype in Education" and "Digital Explorer".
Related resources, lesson plans and multimedia materials are available for download from:

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Café Dilemma

"CAFÉ DILEMMA": What do students, grade 10, think about  "same sex marriage"?

A small group of students from grade 10 at our school discussed the "for" and "against" of this controverse topic with their moderator, Mr Steve Sherman, from Cape Town, South Africa. Using Skype facilities in my classroom they met him straight in a café in Cape Town, where he offered them "... some food to think about" (Steve Sherman).

(Mr Steve Sherman sitting for lunch in a Café in Cape Town, S.A., moderator of the discussion group)

After exchanging some statements for and against same sex marriage they pointed out how cultural diversities and media influence their argumentation.

At a "CAFÉ DILEMMA" students from different nationalities and cultural backgrounds meet to argue for and against a specific statement usually.

The German students asked for this meeting the first time. They met far from their usuall time table during their lunch break.
Both parties finally concluded to repeat this meeting again in the near future.

Thank you, Mr Sherman, for your support!!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lunchboxes Around The World

As parents we always keep an eye on what our children eat for lunch at school. Either we check their lunchboxes at home before they will leave for school or we hopefully know what they will eat for lunch at the school's cantine. Whatever we - as parents - accept for lunch it depends on what we can offer to them. And we decide what is healthy food and what they should avoid to eat. For children it is useful sometimes to get aware of what other children in other part of the world get for lunch (if they get anything for lunch at all!) to value their own food.

Students at lunch in Staint Lucia, West Indies

Teachers from schools from the West Indies, from Africa, Japan and Australia took pictures of their students' lunchboxes and from their cantines to show these to my students. And Anne Mirtschin from Hawkesdale College, Victoria, Australia, presented her slideshow this morning straight using Skype and Elluminate Blackboard services. My students compared these meals with the food they usually eat and decided what they would like to eat and which food might be a healthy food for them.

A typical lunchbox in Australia

My students were watching the presentations by Anne Mirtschin from Australia,
who was so kind to report on her pictures by herself.
Thank you Celina Fessall from St. Lucia, Simon Lorimer from Yokohama International School, Anne Mirtschin from Australia and  Peter Jackson from Lusaka, Sambia, for their nice pictures. My students learned a lot.

Guest speaker Dayna Hilton and Dalmatian Molly from Arkansas (USA) were talking to my grade 6 and grade 7 students

Meanwhile I have learned by several Skype meetings that animals can positively influence the educational results of children from the distance. But can these animals influence the behaviour of the children in special situations?

Yesterday we had a Skype meeting with Dayna Hilton from Akransas, USA, and her dog Molly, an eight months' old Dalmatian. Dayna is working as a volunteer fire fighter and member of the"Keep- Kids- Fire-Save- Foundation". This foundation is a federally recognized not- profit charitable organisation dedicated to teaching fire safety knowledge and skills to children and their caregivers based in fire safety research.

And she - and her dog - told our 6th- and 7th graders and their teachers Mrs Sauer and Mr Marx all about fire fighters and why it is important to know what to do in case of emergency. And about dogs who are operating on behalf of fire fighting to find people who are missing. The dog did a lot of funny things to entertain the Germans and its scout.

Half a hour before the official meeting we had had a line check to avoid technical problems during the official meeting.

To reach my students at noon my time Mrs Hilton had to stand up really early in the morning. And Daylight Savings caused an additional problem she solved expertly and with one or two cups of coffee. It was the first educational meeting this organisation had with a school in Germany.

We fixed two video cameras, one at each location of the meeting. The following video takes you into the 40 minutes' meeting for a moment, switching from one point of view to the other:

Thanks, Dayna, for this wonderful meeting!!!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Learning from the distance: Young UK- Arctic explorer answered questions from German 8th- grade students

These eco- systems are the most sensitive when you search for the first hints of climate change. Scientists from many countries are working in the Arctic and Antarctic reagion to explore animals and their behaviour. In the Arctic they are additionally interested in peoples' lifes and their cultural traditions.  
What is the main difference between the Arctic and Antarctic region? What do scientists do to explore the Arctic region? What material do you carry to the Arctic to do your explorations? Do animals and people live there?

These are only a few questions my 8th graders could ask 19 years old Oliver Milroy from the Plymstock School in Devon who is working at the education department of the ETE. The “Education through Expeditions” (ETE) project belongs to the University of Plymouth.  During the Skype meeting straight after the session with Mrs Pennycook they got a view into the exploring work of this UK scientist team. He is the youngest member of the UK Arctic exploration team.
Thanks to Oli Milroy doing a wonderful job this morning.

Finally the students learned a lot about the Arctic and Antarctic area, differences and similarities, how the climate change impacts these sensitive eco- systems. Next to this they now know what it means to be a natural scientist and how their work looks like.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Learning from the distance: American scientist Jean Pennycook was teaching German students from the other side of the world

Do you think penguins might encourage students, who live more than 15000 km far from them, to think about the animal life and their relation to the impact of global warming? I didn’t. But since these morning hours I am convinced that it is possible.
Students of grade 8 were sitting in my classroom and had a Skype meeting with Jean Pennycook, penguin explorer and researcher of its population and animal behavior. She is living with her fellow scientist, Mr David Ainley, in the Antarctic at Cape Royd in the Ross Sea region for several months each year during the Antarctic spring. They live in a tent far from civilization but next to the Adelie penguins. And they are living next to their notebook which offers the “door” to the world next to a satellite mobile phone. 

The students grade 8 were knocking at this door this morning and got a fantastic view into a researcher’s life in that icy natural environment and how penguins live over there. 13 hours of time difference had been bridged to make this meeting possible. At 10 am German time the European students got a 45 minutes’ view into the Antarctic night where it is not dark at the moment. Jean showed them the exploring tent with all the material they need for their work. She went outside this tent with the camera and presented the sleeping tents, the toilet which looked so completely different to ours at home and the rough and raw environment. The kids got a lot of impressions about how a scientist works and lives in the nature.

 How many species of penguins live in the Antarctic region? How many species live on earth in general? Why do they have pink legs? What do they eat? A lot of questions and answers, information about this cute animal which lives there free from any environmental influence.
Concerning to their chemistry lessons’ topic “climate change” they got information about the impact of global warming to these birds and the area in general.

video: students' meeting with Jean Pennycook, part 1

Video: students' meeting with Jean Pennycook, part 2

Finally they asked about the situation of “Balou”, the young Adelie chick in nest #6. The students had had the possibility to name a chick of an Adelie penguin family some weeks ago. (  Since that time they were constantly interested in the situation of Balou and its parents in the colony. “Everything is well with him”, Jean answered.

Thank you very much, Jean Pennycook, for this wonderful meeting and all the support.

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