Thursday, 6 June 2019

Parent Evening - 'Gifted 101'

Image result for gifted children domainsWhat is giftedness? At a recent parent evening I talked about the different domains (areas) of giftedness and how we identify and cater for our gifted students at Whangaparaoa School. We also looked at positive and negative behaviours sometimes present in gifted children (eg they may have advanced vocab, but this may also mean they can use words to manipulate - can be good debaters and future politicians I guess!)
Here is a link to the slides from the evening if you are interested. 'Gifted 101'

Prototypes and test flights

The year 5&6 rocket challenge is developing well. We have looked at Newton's laws, aerodynamics, design ideas etc and teams have created their prototypes. The Tuesday group carried out their test flights this week. Our engineer ambassador, Dr Fei Ying (AUT senior lecturer - civil engineering), helped us think about experimenting with thrust by differing the PSI and the water volume in our rockets. We had lots of people stop to watch - it was a lot of fun!

The Wednesday group have their prototypes ready to test next week if the weather is right. They had great fun a couple of weeks ago with their engineer ambassador, James Tayler (Helicopter trainer and rescue helicopter pilot), testing aerodynamics with paper planes, and also looking at Newton's third law (F = m a). We tested how much force was needed to accelerate different masses, using a giant slingshot that James had made.

Challenges of life in the desert

Related image

Image result for wildboy expedition dustBrando Yelavich, aka 'Wildboy', is currently attempting to cycle across the width of Australia, through the outback. The kids learnt a little about him last term when we were looking at exploration. A few years ago Brando walked around the entire coastline of NZ, and popped in to Whangaparaoa Primary to give a talk along the way. His story of determination, perseverance and problem solving is inspiring.
So now we are following along as he cycles through the desert. We looked at what would be essential to pack, to help someone  survive in a desert. Lots of thinking and debating about what is important. Lots of questions too - how can you carry enough water? How much water do you need each day? How can you charge a phone or camera? How do you carry enough food?
Here is a link to Brando's blog if you would like to follow along. He also has a facebook page, and some of the kids have had me communicate with him (they wanted to know how he takes photos of himself cycling if he's by himself). Brando very kindly answered us - the kids were excited!

Image result for thorny devilWe looked at where deserts of the world are, using google maps and atlas'. We looked at why there are deserts, and conditions in a desert. Some studied animals in the desert (survival techniques they use - check out the 'thorny devil' from Australia which gathers dew drops on its back as it walks past desert grasses). Some designed houses for the desert - how would you get water, power, shade etc?

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Challenges faced by differently abled people

Try this. Clench your hands into fists and pretend you have no hands. Now try doing some everyday tasks without using your fingers at all - put on a shirt, open a jar, write your name, open a wrapped lolly... these are some of the activities the year 2-4 Quest kids tried. We talked about how we felt doing these challenges, and how we could deal with these feelings. We looked at strategies to help with the frustration and we discussed the triumph experienced when we managed to overcome difficulties.
I then showed the kids a video of a truly inspiring young lady - Sara Hinesley - who was born without hands. She has recently won a handwriting award. Her determination and perseverance are inspiring.

You might like to look up Nick Vuicich for another amazing example of persevering against the odds. Nick was born with no arms and no legs - a huge challenge! But he manages to play golf, swim and jump off diving boards, surf, play soccer etc. He is a motivational speaker - powerful!

As it was NZ sign language week close to when we did this topic we also looked at being deaf and what challenges that would have. We learnt a little sign language and tried out lip reading.
Some looked at the challenges of limited or no eyesight. Some looked at learning difficulties such as dyslexia and challenges that come with that.

Hopefully this will develop some empathy, and also some skills for dealing with challenges we face and the associated feelings we have - frustration, anger, defeat, disappointment, determination, etc. We looked at facing these challenges with perseverance, not being afraid to ask for help if needed, using techniques to calm ourselves if feeling frustrated (deep breathing, take a walk, have a break, try something different etc).

Wednesday, 22 May 2019


This term we have the exciting concept of Challenge. We will be challenging ourselves and looking at challenges that others face. Along the way we will be thinking about how we face challenges - how we feel and react - and learning skills to help us face difficulties and challenge.

The year 5&6 groups are taking part in the wonder project rocket challenge, organised by Engineering NZ. We will be looking at rocket design, the engineering process, Newton's Laws, and finishing with a competition to see whose rocket can go the highest. We are very lucky to have an engineer working with each group - generously giving their time to come and inspire our possible future engineers. Thanks to Dr Fei Ying, senior lecturer from AUT, and James Tayler, Helicopter pilot and trainer, for giving up their time.

The year 2-4 students are looking at a  variety of topics to do with challenge - being differently abled, puzzles, living in challenging places, design and creativity, facing fears etc. One group was lucky enough to have a naval design engineer and AUT lecturer come in to work with them as they learnt about boat design and tested buoyancy. Thanks Christian Stimson (Stimson Yacht Design) for a wonderful time learning with you.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Exploration continued

Throughout term 1 2019 we looked at exploration - from topics such as exploring our imaginations (creativity), to learning about explorers and qualities they need / have, to possible future exploration. This is a good website to look at the history of space exploration and possible future missions.  We debated whether or not we should be spending money on exploring space - lots of interesting viewpoints. The point of debates during Quest is not to decide right or wrong, but to open thinking up so that we can see different points of view and consider our own points of view.

As luck would have it, the week we were looking at space and future exploration, there was the announcement about the black hole image, so we looked briefly at Dr Katie Bouman and those who helped explore new possibilities when rendering an image of a black hole. 
There is so much to explore - from the minuscule to the huge, from internal to external. All we need is curiosity, determination, perseverance, certain skills, possibly help (or to know where to get help if needed) and we can all be explorers of something!

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Kupe and te wheke - a legend of early Maori exploration

Who discovered NZ? Some would say Abel Tasman, some say Captain James Cook. Yes they were early European explorers, but the maori were here long before then.

This week we re-enacted the legend of Kupe and te wheke (the octopus). It is the story of how Maori moved across te moana nui a kiwa (the pacific ocean) and came to Aotearoa from Hawaiiki (popularly thought to be Raiatea north of Tahiti).
Here is a link to the legend version we acted out.

Again we looked at traits of explorers - bravery, curiosity, resilience, determination, problem-solving, having particular skills and knowledge. We discussed navigation by the stars and the sun. We looked at the possibility of this legend being based on truth. Is there anything in the legend that happens in real life? Could Kupe have sailed that far? We looked at people from around the Pacific Islands, including NZ, who have recreated this waka journey using traditional methods to keep the traditions and skills alive.

Parent Evening - 'Gifted 101'

What is giftedness? At a recent parent evening I talked about the different domains (areas) of giftedness and how we identify and cater for ...