Making Your Own Sparklers

From  on About.com:

What you need:

  • iron wires or wooden sticks
  • 300 parts potassium chlorate
  • 60 parts aluminum fines, flitter, or granules
  • 2 parts charcoal
  • 10% dextrin in water solution
  • 500 parts strontium nitrate (optional, for red color)
  • 60 parts barium nitrate (optional, for green color)

How to make aluminum powder: homescience

How to make potassium chlorate: “About.com:Potassium Chlorate Synthesis”

How to make dextrin:

Here’s How:

  1. Mix the dry ingredients with enough dextrin solution to make a moist slurry. Include the strontium nitrate if you want a red sparkler or the barium nitrate if you want a green sparkler.
  2. Dip the wires or sticks in the sparkler mixture. Be sure to leave enough uncoated space at one end to safely grasp the finished sparkler.
  3. Allow the mixture to dry completely before igniting the sparkler.
  4. Store sparklers away from heat or flame, and protected from high humidity.

Genius Hour Project Help

Stirling Engines

1. How they work…

2. How to make your own…

Bottle Rocket

1. 

2. How to Build One

Water Filter

1. Three Different Ways to Build a Water Filter

Fireworks

1. The colours in fireworks…

2. Ways to do your own pyrotechnics…

3. Making sparklers and/or glowworms…

4. How to make a small firework…

Windmills

1. How do wind turbines work?

2. Green Science

 

Journalling My First Few Months

COLEMANGAFor the first couple of months of my teaching contract I have been keeping a journal.  I have always strongly believed that reflecting on mistakes and experiences is the best way to learn.  I feel like I am a reflective person however I have never been one to sit down and write out my thoughts into a journal or diary.  Creating a journal presented a unique opportunity for me to further engage in the reflective process.   Sharing my journal has challenged me to think about challenges and experiences to a depth that I do not think I would have done otherwise.  I believe that keeping this journal for my first year of teaching has enhanced my experience in the following ways:

1. Increased depth of reflection.

Being asked to share my journal and my reflections has challenged me to go deeper and resulted in a higher quality of reflection.  I believe very strongly that sharing my work created a level of accountability that I would have struggled to have otherwise.  Knowing someone is going to read your reflection challenges you to create something that reflects the passion you have for the profession.

2. Enhanced/increased number of learning experiences with other professionals.

A lot of my journal was focused on various initiatives within the division and education in general.  Focusing on the experience of other professionals challenged me to begin conversations that drew out there opinions around a particular idea or practice.  One of my favorite things to do is to share my philosophy and ideas with other educators.  Having this journal helped to focus my conversations into something that I could potentially journal and share later.  I was able to learn more about different initiatives and different teachers’ successes and failures because this journal challenged me to ask questions that probed deeper into these issues.

3. Increased frequency of reflection.

Ideally teachers reflect on the successes and/or failures of every lesson that they teach however there are times when commitments outside of school or a need for balance takes away from this experience.  Keeping a journal challenged me to continually reflect on all aspects of every lesson even though I did not journal or share on every aspect.  I would reflect on each lesson I did trying to draw out particular ideas that I could reflect on further in my journal.

4. Encouraged to try (or transition to) new things quicker.

As I was continually reflecting on my lessons, experiences, interactions, etc. I was more aware of any successes or failures that I had.  This heightened awareness allowed me to quickly identify things that worked well or not so well with certain classes.  I was able to switch quickly to something new if I needed to because I was very conscious of how successful my current method was.

5. Greater confidence in what I was doing and why I was doing it.

Being able to share ideas and receive feedback on them was such a confidence builder as a first year teacher.  Sharing my journal presented a great opportunity to receive affirmation about the practices and lessons I was attempting from people who were knowledgeable and appreciative of these methods. Having a system of support and affirmation is an important thing for new teachers and without my journal it would have been harder to find.

Everyone’s situation is unique and what may have worked for me may not work as well for somebody else.  Differences aside, reflective practice is at the core of what it means to be a teacher.  A teacher committed to the profession is a teacher committed to developing their skills and practices.  Keeping a journal is one of the simplest (yet probably the most effective) way to continually engage in a process of life long professional development.

As you read this journal I hope that it offers a unique perspective from a first year teacher.  I would recommend a process similar to this for any first year teacher.  Keeping a journal and constantly reflecting on experience can be annoying and time consuming however in the field it can be one of the only forms of accountability you have.  Engaging in authentic reflective practice will help you learn faster, be more effective, and experience more success more often in your first year on the job.

Here is my journal (it has gotten quite long):

Journal of a First Year Teacher

Using Augmented Reality in the Classroom

One of my focuses this semester has been using technology to engage my students into the assessment process.  I want my students to experience learning in a way that may be new or different than their previous experiences.  In my Health 9 class we have just finished creating some drug awareness posters using augmented reality. This is what our class projects looked like:


We created these posters using Pixir and a free app called Aurasma.  We found Aurasma to be very intuitive and easy to use.

When I visited the Calgary Science School @DMcWilliam told me they were using some augmented reality for their student projects. I recently had some time to look a little more at CSS’s Connect Blog and figured that augmented reality would work very well with the posters we were going to make in Health.

Augmented reality allowed my students to tell a story with their posters.  They were able to create a two part story reflective of the choice presented by drugs.  Students were intrigued and proud of the final result to the point that other students were coming into my class throughout the day to see what their peers had created.  Other teachers saw this project as well and there have been so many other ideas centered around augmented reality in a very short time.

Dealing With Student Frustration

“Frustration, although quite painful at times, is a very positive and essential part of success.”

- Bo Bennett

Okay so one thing I am really trying to focus on is student frustration.  Taking an inquiry type approach produces some feelings and reactions that my students do not usually relate to learning.  The frustration of having to try something only to have it not work is something my students are not used to.  My students are accustomed to instant solutions and are really challenged when the problem tests both their understanding and patience.  Experiencing frustration and successfully working through it is a valuable lesson and I think it can really help my students fall in love with learning.

I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can in order to help my students deal with their frustration. I think the  thing that has worked the best is providing my students a forum to share what they are experiencing.  At the start of the year, sitting down and spending five minutes talking about the challenges certain problems presented allowed my students to see that other students had the same frustrations.  As the semester has progressed we have become better at dealing with our frustration individually.  My students have been honest with me about their frustration, something that has helped them get accustomed to the process of working through it.  Creating a community has allowed my students to not only be vocal with their frustrations but it has also allowed me to gain their trust.

Having to deal with frustration and experience how frustration is an important part of learning has helped my students and I really look at learning from a different perspective.  I am loving the challenges that inquiry presents not only for my students, but myself as well. 

Engaging My Students With 3-Act Math Problems

I really want my students to become engaged in the process of Math and I have been looking on blogs, asking other teachers, looking around Twitter, doing anything I can think of to find out what other teachers are doing.  I ran across Dan Meyer’s blog last week sometime and over the weekend decided to develop what Meyer calls ‘Three Act Math Problems’.  Basically these problems use technology to video tape, photograph, and annotate something from everyday life.  Students are shown this video and then ask questions.  Once we decide on a question we are going to answer students break off and work out the math.  At the end we get back together, discuss what we did and imagine how we could take this further.

This whole past week I have been doing Three Act Math problems for the first 10 – 15 minutes and have seen engagement increase consistently.  I think the students really appreciate the idea that:

1.) We are answering their questions.

2.) The things we have looked at are things that are relevant to them.

An Example: Yesterday we looked at a National Post article that stated we are going to melt down 85 million kg of pennies in the next year.  One student knew copper was worth a bit and so wanted to know how much money we’d make off the copper.  The students then determined they needed to know how much one penny weighed (although at the end we realized this was irrelevant), the percentage of copper in one penny and the price of copper.  Once we found these numbers (there was a helpful info graphic with the article) the students were able to work out mathematically how much money we would make off the copper in 85 million kg of pennies.

We have only been doing Three Act Math problems for almost a week however the class is already beginning to ask great questions as well as come up to me with their own ‘Acts’ to base questions around.  Students are becoming less afraid to ask questions and more focused when we cover particular aspects of the curriculum.  My hope is to continue this at the beginning of every class as a way of engaging my students and helping them understand how Math can help answer their questions about the world around them.