To celebrate National Science Week we ran some robotics activities in the library each lunchtime. In our MakerSpace we have a number of different robots which we set up and used. Students manoeuvered the Lego EV3 robot and attempted to get it to shoot its missiles at a target. The Sphero and Sprk robots both had to be manipulated through a maze using an iPad or iPhone. We had long lines of students waiting to use the robots and even some of the staff came down to give it a try. We also set up a display on robots, highlighting some of our fiction and non-fiction titles.
The theme for this year’s Book Week is Australia: Story Country. My talented aide, Peta, spent the holidays setting up various displays in the library around the theme. The main display is a campfire setting in the middle of the library to bring in the idea of storytelling around the fire. We brought in logs and stones and branches from home and dressed mannequins in borrowed clothes. A rainbow serpent made from electrical tape and cellophane adorns the doors in to the library before a display of Dreamtime stories. On the back wall we have copies of book covers and arrows pointing to a map of Australia, showing where each book is set.
Today, as if you didn’t know, is Towel Day! http://towelday.org/ and our library staff celebrated by wearing a towel around the school all day. As every intergalactic hitchhiker knows, a towel is your most important piece of equipment. So if you’re a hoopy frood, who doesn’t panic, loves Vogon poetry, and who knows the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42, then proudly wear your towel today. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go out and read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
It’s great for teaching them the rules of the library and they always jump when I do the lion’s roar. After reading the book we use the electronic whiteboard to match images from the book to the emotion the characters are feeling.
Then we finish by making our own lion mask. My assistant made a template which we photocopy onto yellow paper and pre-cut for them. They then decorate it. We tried tying it around their heads with elastic but the paper kept tearing. We decided to get the kids to tape a paddle pop stick to the back to create a hand-held mask instead.
Our first MakerSpace activity for the new school year involved students making these cards, ostensibly for Valentine’s Day, but they would be appropriate for any occasion. It was a very cheap activity – I only needed to purchase a $4 packet of rhinestones from Spotlight – everything else we already had.
To save time, my aide pre-cut the white paper to card size and pre-printed pages of heart outlines on coloured paper. Students then just had to cut the hearts out and fold and glue them following these Valentine’s day card instructions which I typed up using the following video as a guide.
We welcomed our new library monitors with a pizza lunch last week and conducted some training. This week they were awarded their badges on assembly today and commenced their duties. Our monitors come from Years 6 and 7 and have to apply for the job. It is treated as a leadership position and attracts certain privileges such as helping out at library functions, getting a free book from our Book Fair, getting a reference at the end of their tenure etc. We always have more applicants than positions available. Students work one 20-minute time slot each week and have a list of duties including:
- Return any items in the returns box.
- Change the “Just Returned” display.
- Shelve any picture books and chapter books.
- Choose books to fill empty spaces on the bay end panels.
- Take lost property to the office.
- Do any deliveries.
- Issue books as needed.
- General tidy up of the library – push in chairs, pick up books left lying around etc.
- Any other duties as needed.
One of our office staff who is very into crafting, passed on this Christmas craft idea from Clever Patch. For only $1.98, I could buy a kit with all the instructions and craft materials to make a Christmas elf ornament. I bought twenty kits. I could have used more as I normally have more students than that turn up, but I was mindful of my budget. The activity was challenging enough that it engaged students and allowed for a degree of creativity in the design and placement of the beads, but it was simple enough that students could follow the instructions with minimal guidance. For some reason they love to use the hot glue gun and, even though it wasn’t necessary, they enjoyed gluing the hats to their elf’s head. They now have a hand-made ornament to hang from their Christmas tree.
Our kids love an engineering challenge. We decided to run a sail car competition, prompted by this instructable. I showed kids some images and a trial one I’d made as inspiration and then gave them a pile of paddle pop sticks, straws, sheets of paper to act as sails, rubber bands and sticky tape to experiment with and make their own design. The designing, trialing and re-designing is where all the learning takes place – as well as the fun. For wheels, we used plastic cotton reels that our Kindy had as part of a threading kit.
When each group had created their sail car we tested them to see which one could travel the length of a desk the fastest, using only the power of their breath to propel it.
We wanted to add a bit of science to our MakerSpace activity this week, so we got kids to grow their own crystals. I got the idea and used the recipe from this web site. Using pipe cleaners, students created their name or a simple image – stars, flowers, hearts and butterflies were popular. We then created a solution of water and borax – cheap and readily available from hardware stores and some supermarkets. I didn’t bother dying the solution as the recipe suggests – a) I didn’t have enough containers and b) the colour of the pipe cleaners came through the clear crystals. The students then tied some fishing line to their pipe cleaner and attached the other end to a skewer. There was a bit of trial and error getting the line the right length so that the whole design was in the solution but wasn’t touching the bottom of the container.
Then came the hard part – waiting for the crystals to form overnight. In the morning we lifted the skewers out of the solution and allowed the now crystal-covered pipe cleaners to dry. They were difficult to photograph well but look quite effective, particularly when held up to the light.
Last week in MakerSpace our kids sewed pouches for orphaned native animals to donate to the RSPCA. Today, Vicky Toomey, a wildlife carer for the RSPCA visited the school to accept the pouches. All the kids who were involved stood up at assembly and received a round of applause, then two of our students got up and thanked the RSPCA for their hard work and handed over the pouches. This was great publicity for our MakerSpace and great acknowledgement for the students who got to see their creations being put to good use.