All posts by jennhogan1986

Reverse Engineering in the Early Years

One of the most often asked questions from children and adults alike is “how does it work?” and reverse engineering is the 1st step in the journey of finding out. In Little World, we recognize that fundamental engineering skills are learnt when taking apart, looking inside and putting back together objects from the home. It is truly the best way for young children (especially those kinesthetic learners) to understand what makes things do what they do.

revReverse engineering is taking apart an object to see how it works in order to duplicate or enhance the object. The practice, taken from older industries, is now frequently used in computer hardware and software design.

In our Tinker Space, we have placed several old laptops, keyboards, computer mouses (mice?), monitors and calculators. A few appliances that would be good for beginners include, clocks, radios, telephones, and electronic toys. Along with these we have placed a range of different types of tools, real tools, which children have the freedom to choose and use responsibly and safely. Through trial and error, children discover the correct size pliers or wrench to choose, the correct shape screwdriver to use, the correct force to exert on a wrench. As they disassemble, the children collect, organize and sort the screws, nails and various other pieces that hold the machine together.

The discussions and dialogue that arise from this activity is so important and actually quite amazing. Learning the names of the pieces,  linking functions, research more about circuitry, even as simple as classifying materials used. Measuring wires and cables, identifying the colours found inside the computer, observing patterns in the use of different shaped screws. Magnetic tools, using flashlights to help see, identifying differences and similarities between parts. The options for extended learning are exhaustive and children feel a real sense of purpose when deconstructing items that are normally off limits!

First cloned camel gives birth to first offspring in Dubai

The first calf to come from a cloned camel has been born in Dubai. At the Reproductive Biotechnology Centre, her six-year-old mother proved that a cloned camel can be fertile and reproduce normally.

Dr Ali Ridha Al Hashimi, the administrative director at the centre, and his scientific team made the announcement that Injaz, the world’s first cloned camel, gave birth to a healthy female calf weighing about 38 kilos on November 2. Injaz, whose name means “achievement” in Arabic, was cloned in 2009 from the ovarian cells of a dead camel. Injaz conceived naturally and delivered after a normal gestation. “This will prove cloned camels are fertile and can reproduce the same as naturally produced camels,” said Dr Nisar Wani, scientific director of the centre in Nad Al Sheba, last April when Injaz’s pregnancy was announced.

Dr Wani said that many cloned camels have been created using cells from the skin of elite animals. The use of skin cells has made cloning easier. Bin-Soughan was the world’s first camel cloned from skin cells of an elite bull, in 2010. “We have a few more cloned camels pregnant and are expecting them to deliver early next year,” added Dr Wani. When Injaz was cloned, the news was applauded throughout the global scientific community, with the camel’s picture making the covers of several scientific journals.

 

Shape Shifting Sun-Screen Panels – Abu Dhabi Architecture

Abu Dhabi is home to some world class Architecture – there are buildings all over the emirate that make you just stop and stare at their beauty and originality. However, we seldom stop to think how ancient Arabic innovations may have influenced these modern works of art.

These beautiful twin office towers in Abu Dhabi borrow from ancient Arabic architectural elements to create an innovative way to shield themselves from sunlight. The two towers are overlaid by a mechanized geometric “skin” with triangular panels that follow the sun to block it out.

geometric-sun-shades-al-bahar-towers-abu-dhabi-6

The sunscreen design by Aedas Architects was inspired by the masharabiya, a beautiful form of ornate sunscreen that shields windows in the Arab world from glaring sunlight and prying eyes. The screens, controlled by computers. open, close and even travel horizontally to block the sun. The 145m-tall towers underneath, which were completed in 2012, are covered in glass, so the sunscreens reduce sunlight-generated heat in the building by at least 50% and probably help with the air conditioning bill as well!

Bendy Trees

There’s a small grove of regular pine trees in West Pomerania, Poland, that has become famous because of one little “twist” – all 400 of the trees located there have a strange bend at the base!

The stand of trees was planted around 1930 in what was then Germany. The trees all take a sharp 90-degree turn soon after leaving the ground before sweeping back into an upright position with a graceful curve. Their strange but beautiful nature is captured perfectly in the below photos by Kilian Schönberger, whom we’ve written about before here.

No one is certain how or why the trees were bent, but most believe that it was an intentional, mechanical process. Trees can be manipulated to create naturally bent parts for, beaots, furniture or other applications. Others have theorized that a severe snowfall could have caused the curious phenomenon.

Using the Sea to play an instrument – beautiful STEAM idea

In a mesmerizing collaboration between mankind and the elements, this 230-foot sea-organ in Croatia harnesses the energy of the winds and waters of the Adriatic sea to create random but soothing and harmonized notes.

The sea-organ, or “morske orgulje” as it’s know in Croatian, was designed by Croatian architect Nikola Basic and opened to the public in 2005. Water and wind enter through holes at the bottom of the steps, where they are channeled into resonating chambers. The sounds from these chambers exit through holes along the highest steps.

The site is a popular lunch-spot for tourists and locals alike, but it wasn’t always this way. After being completely devastated during WWII, the reconstruction of Zadar left it full of ugly concrete constructions, and among these was a long concrete shoreline. I think we can all agree that this organ was a huge improvement! Scroll down to hear how it sounds!

More info: zadar.travel (h/t: upworthy)

Pollinator Activity

To celebrate National Pollinator Awareness Week we’ve created a brand new pollinator surveying activity toolkit. This toolkit provides all of the tools you need to run a floral visitation survey as an interactive activity, whether at your BioBlitz event, at another nature-themed event, or with your school. It’s prepackaged and easy to do and by running the activity you’ll be contributing to valuable citizen science piloting work and helping participants to learn more about pollinators and their vital role.

NEW Pollinator Activity for your event – Bristol Natural History Consortium Bristol Natural History Consortium.

Very First #SPARKevent in Abu Dhabi

logoI am so excited to announce that I, in association with GEMS Cambridge International School, will be hosting the 1st ever SPARK event in Abu Dhabi! SPARKs have been held around the Middle East but never before has Abu Dhabi hosted one and so next November it’s time!

The focus of our SPARK Event is Teaching and Learning ideas applicable from Early Years through primary to secondary. We will be particularly open to innovative ideas in the teaching and use of cross curricular science, technology and maths (STEM) in the classroom.

What is SPARK?

SPARK (Sharing Pedagogy and Refining Knowledge) is a FREE CPD programme that is based on teacher collaboration. SPARK follows the hugely successful TeachMeet concept which is fast becoming globally renowned. The SPARK model involves organised and informal gatherings of teachers aiming to share good practice, provide personal insights and discuss practical innovations that work in the classroom. Each event allows education practitioners to deliver either a 2 minute or 7 minute presentation. Attendees are encouraged to engage through the use of Twitter for back-channelling and Raffle prizes are donated via sponsors. SPARK – Igniting your creativity!

SPARK @ GEMS Cambridge International SchoolWednesday 11th November, from 4pm until 6.30pm approx.

To come along and join in this very exciting first for Abu Dhabi’s education community follow this link

https://www.sparkevent.me/spark/gems-cambridge-international-school/abu-dhabi/66

 

Yoga Xrays and more

As a recent convert to Ashtanga yoga this video has me totally enthralled at how our bodies bend, twist and what various yoga poses look like from a skeletal point of view.

From another perspective, this Youtube channel is brilliant resource for teaching from looking at the various bones, locations of organs etc in Keystage 1 science to looking at types of joints and movement in Keystage 3 to much more advanced and in-depth physiological study. There are also immunology, cellular biochemistry and microbiology videos too. The videos are amazing, prepare to lose a few hours…..

Plickers – Instant Assessment Inside and Outside the Classroom

I met a teacher at my very first Dubai Teachmeet who was speaking about the use of Plickers in the classroom. At first, I loved them just for the name but as he explained how they are used I was amazed by how many different ways teachers and educators can use them to collect real time formative assessment data in a simple, low tech, low cost, child friendly way. 

These are Plicker cards. Each student is given a card with a unique visual code. The code has 4 sides, each lettered A, B, C, and D and the corners are numbered 1 to 4. The student holds the card so that the letter they choose to answer the question with is at the top of their card. The teacher uses the iOS or Android app on their smartphone to slowly scan the room. The app recognizes the cards and captures the answer that the student chose.

The results appear live and in real time on the teacher’s device, or they can be projected on a large screen for the whole class to see on the Plicker’s website if needed. They can be individually assigned to a student or you can use a class set to give you a general overview of where the class is at.

wpid-screenshot_2015-03-14-11-53-022-jpgDue to the fact that all you need is a smartphone and some paper, it’s an app that can be used anywhere from inside the classroom, inside the wildlife garden, to class trips and beyond to monitor the students’ understanding. Another aspect of Plickers that I really like is that is so inclusive and encourages every child to be engaged. As each student has a card and will be scanned, every child must consider the question and give an answer. All Plicker cards are different shapes with tiny letters in different positions so there is no possibility of copying the answer of the student next to them. Also, it’s a hell of a lot fun!  Sign up here