Watercolour Art

For the previous two weeks we have been developing our skills with watercolours with a view to producing a piece of art. Today was the day we began the creative process. We were using a work by Kyle Brock called Sails and Sunsets as our inspiration. Below are a couple of pictures of the students concentrating on their art.

Watercolour 1Watercolour 2

Traffic Survey

As part of our Geography studies we’ve been looking into the features of an area that can make it a more or less desirable place to live. We conducted a traffic survey on several streets within our local area to see how different sections within the same suburb can have a very different appeal. We counted the number of vehicles and the types that passed within a set time-frame. We also conducted an environmental survey at the same time to measure the cleanliness, greenery and general attractiveness of the same streets. Below you can see a couple of photos of the students counting vehicles as they pass along.
Traffic Surver 1Traffic Survey 5


This week we’ve been having a look at the Mars rover, Curiosity. We had a look at the amazing technology that went into getting Curiosity safely to the surface of Mars and at some of the fascinating, new information the scientists have discovered. Our observations were mainly done just through viewing the NASA and JPL websites and holding discussions on the topics. Sometimes the excitement such a discussion generates doesn’t need to be bogged down with formalised writing and this was certainly one of those moments. The students were clearly interested in this topic and the depth of their knowledge and understanding regarding space and space exploration surprised me. To see what some of the fuss was about have a look at the video below.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

This latest podcast was on an extremely difficult topic. As part of our My Place studies and our investigations into Australia’s role in the Vietnam War we looked into the subject of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The students completed a note taking session on the subject, wrote up their information, organised their speaking roles and had a brief time to rehearse. This was very much the students’ own work, on a very complex topic and all completed in a short time frame. This makes this podcast even more impressive.


Great Work

The students have recently been working flat out on a number of great topics, especially the My Place work already mentioned on this blog. However, I thought I’d show some work from two other topics we’ve been busy with. One of these topics was in our Health area and focused on acne. The students are about to literally burst forth with all the joys of acne, pimples and zits as they fast approach their teenage years. This topic was very apt and timely, with some good information and advice.

Another topic was based on our mini project and required the students to investigate their family tree. I have to say that I’ve had some amazing projects handed in with heaps of great information. The students had to ask parents questions about family migrations and the reasons their family migrated to Australia. This included the problems they had in their home country and the difficulties they encountered as they tried to migrate. The whole project tied in nicely with the emerging Australian Curriculum which requires students to research reasons people migrated to Australia. Who better to research than their own family? Enjoy the photos below.

Oriyah's Family Tree

Oriyah’s Family Tree


Ronan's Poster

Ronan’s Poster

Science and Yeast

We recently conducted a series of science lessons on micro-organisms. The last one included investigating the reaction of yeast when mixed with other ingredients. The formal part of the investigation was ensuring the test was a fair one with consistent measurements, and that we included a number of options and a control. We found that the yeast really enjoyed water, energy (sugar) and warmth (the water was heated). Water and yeast alone had no reaction, neither did water and sugar, or sugar and water. You can see the results in the photo below. Can you tell which one shows the reaction?

The Reactions

The Reactions


As part of our studies from the excellent My Place television series we’ve been looking at the Vietnam War, particularly the causes of the war and Australia’s involvement. The episode entitled Lily looks at the 1970s and features a character who is an asylum seeker from Vietnam. The programme has allowed us to look at different styles of government, such as communism and democracy, and how different perspectives and interpretations of situations can lead nations into conflict. We also had the opportunity to investigate the differences between asylum seekers and refugees and discovered how events after the war led to an increase in the Vietnamese population in Australia. This topic enabled us to look at Australia’s not so rosy past, in particular the White Australia Policy, and from this we developed our knowledge of the current offshore policies of recent governments.

Last year I was able to spend some time traveling in Vietnam and discovered an amazing country with fabulous, friendly people. The photos below show some of the military hardware left over from the war and myself descending into one of the tunnels used by troops from the then communist North Vietnam.


Going Underground

US Tank

US Tank

My Place

Our studies on the excellent ABC programme, “My Place” are going extremely well. Not only has it lent itself to some great work with our English studies, but it has also enabled us to begin working backwards through a timeline of Australian historical and social events. So far we have studied the “Stolen Generation”, cricket (in particular Shane Warne’s “Bowl of the Century”), equality and discrimination, the Vietnam War and refugees and asylum seekers. Whilst an in depth study of all these issues and events is impractical, the students are developing a solid background knowledge of how we evolved into the Australia in which we now live.

My Place

This semester we’ll be viewing the excellent ABC children’s drama My Place. The programme follows the life of a house over a period of over 100 years. Various families come and go and we witness their trials and experiences along the way. The house welcomes Aboriginal families, refugees and war veterans, amongst many others, and we experience their challenges and their successes in the context of the unfolding history of Australia. My Place is an excellent, integrated programme for English, history and social studies. Hopefully the students will have lots to blog about from their studies.

More Meccano

This term we started making Meccano models in class. If you want to know the rationale behind the decision to do this then check out my previous post, Meccano. The students have worked hard to move their models along and have had to overcome a lot of problems. Following the instructions has proven to be a fantastically worthwhile task in itself. The students have had to overcome so many problems, frequently referring back to their instructions, finding where they went wrong and dismantling the model to correct it. The teamwork, problem solving skills and oral language that has come out of this programme has proven what a worthwhile activity it is. I recommend it to all teachers!

Can you tell what it is yet?

Can you tell what it is yet?

Budding Engineers

Budding Engineers