25 May 2014

Science inquiry - Why is Planet Earth the best place for me to live?

This term's school-wide inquiry is a Science them of outer space....

Our key understandings:
* The earth is the ideal place to live because it has water, atmosphere, food, gravity, animal live and the right temperature. 
* The sun is vital to our existence as it gives us light and heat. 
* The moon affects the earth. 
* Space is vast and made up of many galaxies.

The core knowledge:
* The earth is ideally located from the sun to have a temperature range that supports all kinds of life. 
* The sun gives light and heat. 
* Planets and moons rotate and orbit around the sun or their planet. (Rotation produces day and night. Orbit produces years.) 
* There are different types of astronomical bodies e.g. stars, comets, asteroids, planets, protoplanets, moons. 
* Each planet has a unique gravity, atmosphere, surface and composition.

Due to a combination of many factors (a nine-week term, a senior production happening in Week 3, my student teacher being on posting with 8 days of control in Weeks 4-6, and speeches happening before the end of term) I have broken the inquiry into three sections:
  • Weeks 1-3 (mainly 1-2 due to rehearsals for the show) are our exploration weeks, running on a Star Trekking theme - 
  • Week 1: the children contributed their first thoughts about the inquiry question to a padlet.com page and then, during reading time, the pupils used the links on a class blog post to find out about one of the planets:  Week One: classroom/student blog post - Star Trekking mission #1
  • Week 2-3: they can use the links on this blog post - Star Trekking mission #2 - to find out about other celestial bodies in our universe, whichever they were interested in.  We had first completed a group brainstorm of space-related words.  I have also given a list of the main words to our ESOL pupils so they can bring in their home-language words for the word-wall.
My  student teacher began a Social Sciences inquiry based on celebrations last term and will continue this in Weeks 4-6, coinciding her inquiry activities with the Maori New Year celebrations "Matariki" (the late May/early June appearance of the Pleides above the southern horizon) so this fits really well with our science theme.

In Week 7 the children will use the information they have learned to write a speech about any aspect of the topic (if they choose to) and for Weeks8-9 I plan to have a few HOT activities eg questions to debate, such as 'If we had to leave Earth, where would we go and what would we need to have?'  or "Which is more important - sunshine or water?"
Some other bits and pieces I have found along the way...

A great introductory/motivational video:

A cool video with examples of how to show the proportions of the planets and sun etc with everyday objects:

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