Developing primary-secondary links
Primary and secondary teachers (such as Sinead Senek from Sts Peter and Paul School and Brenten Higson from St Bernard’s College in Lower Hutt) can establish and maintain mutually beneficial links that support the teaching and learning of science within their community. Here, a year 5 and 6 class explores the physical and material world by building vinegar and baking soda rockets with senior students from a local secondary school.
To think about:
- How might out-of-school linkages be established, strengthened and sustained in your learning community?
- What are the purposes and benefits of the linkages?
Something we talked about earlier on when we were talking about the Chinese, how they discovered it …
Oh, OK, yes.
… but we haven’t actually done any experiment with that at all. We’ve mainly done the air pressure, the water and the balloon one – all of that sort of thing – so doing one with the baking soda and vinegar would be fantastic.
No problem at all, and I think our boys will just show you, perhaps once, how it’s done, and I think it’s really that you guys will just go ahead and do it. They’ll have all the gear, so they’ll distribute the vinegar and the baking soda and say – there will be a mark on the bottle – fill the vinegar to there, add the baking soda, push the cork in and then let them have some fun.
Brenten Higson – he works down at the secondary boys’ school down the road that a lot of our boys at the end of year 6 progress and move on to, so we have quite a strong relationship with the school – I will email him and I’ll say, look, I’m doing a unit on light. I don’t have a lot of equipment, I don’t have prisms, I don’t have lightboxes, I don’t have convex and concave lenses or anything like that. How can you help me out? The next day, I’ll get an email from him saying, look, I’ve got a team of my boys, some of my lab assistants, I’ve got all the equipment, I can come down this day. So he’ll arrive at our school. He’ll have everything there. He’ll have some of his senior science students from the college, and he will set it all up, and it’s just fantastic because it just really shows enthusiasm for science. It’s good for them [my students] to see the older role model of the boys who are really into science, and they’re fantastic because they work with small groups of children, helping them do their experiments, and it’s almost like a mentoring role.
Step 1 for this experiment is to pour vinegar up to the line, which will be around the base of the rocket, and then you’ll take a tablespoon of baking soda, put that in, and then, as fast as you can, put the cork on. Hold it down, and then place it upside down in the launcher.
It really has been down to him and his willingness to come here with all of the equipment and fit it in around his busy schedule as a secondary school, you know, science teacher and come here and actually do that with our kids. And it’s been amazing, it really has.
Kids want to know why things operate. It’s just natural inquisitiveness. Primary school kids just love, why does this happen? They’re not afraid to ask why. Why is this? What happens if we do this? And they’ve got some outlandish ideas. Great, so we try and prove whether that’s right or wrong, and that’s one thing you need to try and instil right through to year 13 boys and girls.
I think the big thing here is that primary schools don’t have the equipment that we do, and we’re just willing to share it.
Sinead Senek, Sts Peter and Paul School
Brenten Higson, St Bernard’s College