Junior Parent Letter -1

The Year of Science and Technology 2017-2018

From 25th September, students at Kuwait English School have started celebrating a Year Of Science and Technology. The theme is ‘Climate Change’ and students will attempt to find out how global warming is taking hold on our planet and what can be done to stop the release of greenhouse gases.

To start their year, students have been taking part in a range of activities including exploring scientific processes, finding out about materials and taking part in cultural events such as Art competitions linked to the project.

In the Junior Department the effort has been led by Head Teacher, Mr Liam McLoughlin, and he has asked all his staff to make a special effort to promote study opportunities. “This is a great opportunity,” said Mr McLoughlin. “Under the leadership of our School Director, Mrs Rhoda Muhmood, we can help the children explore important issues using their own ideas and initiatives.” Junior School Science Coordinators, Mrs Cathryn Quinn and Mr Peter Lowe have introduced topic work which is linked to the ideas produced by staff and children during ‘brainstorming’ sessions .

“It has been a great opportunity. We have the chance to let the children use their scientific knowledge and understanding to explore issues such as sustainability, re-use and recycling, and really help promote some positive values,” said Mrs Quinn.

We have asked all the children to bring in pre-used materials from home and we intend to let them come up with their own ideas through experimenting with Science and Design and Technology in mini-projects. Our first activity has been making working toys and models from recycled materials which also incorporate electrical circuits that can run from cells,” said Mr Lowe.

The project started on September 25th and on the first day some spectacular results were achieved.

In Class 6E, taught by Miss Mala East,  mini hanging gardens were built that used recycled materials such as plastic water bottles and trays to grow plants from seeds. “With watering, warmth and sunshine we can grow lots of things,” said student Alya Mohamed. “I am growing water cress and beans in my mini garden. Every green plant we can grow will help to save the planet because green plants do so many good things,  such as absorbing Carbon Dioxide and giving off Oxygen. This is important to sustain life at all levels.”

In Class 6G, taught by Mr Hewinson, students have been building wind powered windmills and turbines. “Wind power will help us all be sustainable,” said student Eleanor Hall. “The wind can provide energy that does not pollute or release Carbon Dioxide and that will help stop Global Warming. It took us a whole day to make our models but they work really well and we had so much fun thinking through our own ideas.”

In Class 6A and Class 6B, students started their own design and technology projects that used recycled materials as the basis for investigations with materials and circuits. Students designed and made diverse models such as a mini air conditioner, a fan-powered car, moving toys, models that made optical illusions, safety clothing that glowed in the dark, communicators, parachutes that slowed falling objects, robot figures with working circuits and a dispensing machine. Glue guns and cellotape held everything together. “I have had so much fun in these Science lessons,’’ said student Elisavet Stergiou. I have made a working model from old materials that I brought from home so I have been able to try out my design for a Star Wars light sabre and come up with something I am proud of. No one else is making what I am making. In fact, we are all making different things and coming up with our own ideas. Brilliant!”

The results from just three hours work were stunning. Machines, models and ideas tumbled out of the classrooms and the children had fun thinking for themselves, setting their own construction goals and testing to improve. “That is what lessons should really be like,” said Mr Lowe. “It is just great that children invent and modify and apply their learning. Their originality and determination in following their ideas is amazing. They can be proud of themselves. We are certainly proud of them. Well done students!”

In Year 5 students studied the properties of materials and how they can be used in the real-world. Students created biodegradable casein plastic and used moulds to form small objects including geometric shapes and medallions depicting the Kuwait Towers. The children were fascinated to discover that this process, based on the protein molecules in milk, was actually used to create buttons and jewellery in the first half of the 20th century! Many of the children were so fascinated by the investigation that they repeated it at home a second time.

Year 4 looked at how climate change will affect different parts of the world. They used atlases and their Chromebooks to study recent hurricanes, droughts, forest fires and floods. They were astonished to discover the link between natural disasters and climate change. They also listened to Michael Jackson’s ‘Earth Song.’ Michael Jackson’s passionate lyrics helped them create their own Google Slideshow presentations about helping to save the Earth. “Soon, many countries will be underwater if we don’t do something,” remarked Farah from Y4. Year 4 also read the beautiful poem, “The Lightkeeper,” by poet Robert Louis Stevenson. They used the poem as a springboard to discuss the use and benefits of solar panels today.

“Cross-curricular links between Science and Literacy enhance children’s understanding and give children a purpose for writing,” said KES Literacy Coordinator, Miss Sharon Jones.

Year 3 looked at the devastating, ongoing effects of climate change. They had the opportunity to use their creative skills to design and build two identical villages out of Lego. They put an ice cube in both villages and covered one with cling film. The cling film represented the thick layer of damaging greenhouse gases that currently surrounds our planet. After only 30 minutes the ice in the village covered in cling film had melted completely! This showed the young scientists just how quickly the ice in our polar regions is melting because of the greenhouse effect.

“I feel so sorry for the polar bears because they are losing their homes,” remarked Raihan from Y3.

Inspired by the shocking results of their climate change experiment, the Year 3 children used their Chromebooks to research ways in which climate change can be prevented. They worked together in groups to create colourful and informative posters to encourage people to take better care of the environment we share.

Year 3 and 4 also used their special Science Day on the 25th September to explore Science and Technology in their Literacy lessons. Year 3 classes studied significant inventors of the 20th century. They also enjoyed researching the life and work of John Logie Baird. After finding out about his life and discoveries, they wrote fascinating biographies about the inventor of television.

A Year 6 Design and Technology group that is run by Mr Lowe, decided to use Art Straws made from recycled materials to test the strength of shapes and materials by building bridge models. “We can test the bridges that we design and make by loading them with weights and then see how strong they are,” said Mr Lowe. “We have some great competition going on between students who are making a basic bridge design in the first lessons and who later learn how to use strong shapes such as girders and frames. I can’t wait to see how strong their constructions turn out!”

Student Dalal Al Sabah said,  “Bridge building is fun. My partner and I think we have found a way to make our bridge stronger and better using a truss and beam design. I just hope our bridge is the best!”

The bridge-building lessons help the students understand the processes involved in design and technology, especially those of prototyping and testing to make a better product. “If our bridge fails, we have to learn the lessons from the failure and make a better one next time,” said student Dalal.

The Junior Department at KES have also put together a display of some of the children’s work. It shows just how original the students’ ideas were. Lovely designs and original thoughts are everywhere. “We are so proud of our students,” said Head Teacher, Mr McLoughlin. “They can come up with ideas and they can find ways to overcome practical problems to actually see an idea through. Along the way they learn so much.”

The next project that the Junior students in KES are aiming to take part in is an Art competition that explores the ideas behind Climate Change. Photographs and art can be submitted for judging by the Senior School Art Coordinator who will decide which picture project best gets across the idea that we are all contributing to Climate Change and that our planet is in peril.

Written by the Junior School Science Coordinators, Mrs Cathryn Quinn and Mr Peter Lowe.

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