How We Organize Ourselves

This is a “peek” into how we sometimes start an inquiry cycle. 
Opening statement: Societal decision-making is created to maintain a balanced community.
 
First, we looked at some of the terms in that statement and then defined them in our own words:
“societal” – of a society
“maintain” – manage, keep, control
“balanced” – fair

From that point, we discussed related topics:  laws, government, voting, order, enforcement

We thought about issues that come up within these topics:  conflict between freedom, independence,  and power or control.

Thoughts/Connections before questioning:
Carter B. brought up Russia and Ukraine as a connection. We discussed as a class what they have learned so far about this issue/current event.
Initial Questions:

  • what are the different types of governments?
  • what services does government provide? (US? Other?)
  • how do we “keep the peace” in a community?
  • what are some similar laws across countries?
  • what is the “greater good?”
  • what are differences among federal, state, city (US)?
  • what are the origins of some laws?
  • what kind of laws still exist, but aren’t enforced? Why?
  • why do only certain people get to vote?
  • why is there a voting age?
  • do all countries have a Constitution?
 Next steps:
We’ll take these questions, dig a little deeper, branch out into more complex questions, and then start looking at how we can learn more. We will use our eduClipper app to clip resources to the Clipboard section.
Next, we will decide how we want to learn more. We will work in small groups to make decisions.

Return to Discovery Center- Mars Rover Simulation

Last week, we returned to the Space Foundation Discovery Center in Colorado Springs to take part in their Mars Rover simulation! Yes, we were very fortunate to be one of the first classrooms to participate in this activity. So exciting!

When we arrived, Team Baldwin and Team Weissman (another awesome class from Anastasis) met in the simulation lab and learned about the history of the different rovers sent to Mars. The Discovery Center team talked to us about each rover, its capabilities, and what they have learned about Mars so far. The most recent rover sent to Mars is called Curiosity. We love that name! The lab looks a lot like the terrain on Mars! We looked at what they had created and then thought about which items might actually be on Mars versus those that look man-made.

Some of us were really surprised when it came time to “drive” the mini Mars rovers. We had assumed that we would use controllers like we have at home for Wii or Xbox. Instead, each station had its own laptop. The Discovery Center team divided us all into groups of 3 and then gave each student a role: Commander, Pilot, and Data Engineer. The Commanders decided which “moves” to execute. The Pilots used the program on the laptop to execute the moves, and then the Data Engineer recorded all the energy levels based on multiple factors for each move to make sure that we didn’t run out of battery before getting to our destination. Each student in the group took turns in all three roles. Lots of math, trial and error, and problem-solving!

We had a great time learning about the rovers! One of the things we learned was that when one of our mini rovers got stuck, the team could walk into the simulation and help us out. If that happens to Curiosity, no one can just take a quick trip to Mars to fix it. If Curiosity gets stuck, it’s a billion dollar mistake. Now we know why the commanders, pilots, and data engineers for NASA have to move very slowly and really think about each move that Curiosity takes.

Patterns of Learning

When we started our Inquiry Block 4, we began exploring patterns. We saw patterns in weather, climate, and temperatures; patterns in art, music, math, nature… we found patterns everywhere!

One day, we just started listing every pattern we could think of. Mrs. Baldwin asked us to choose a specific topic and explore the patterns. We traveled to the library to find some resources. We searched the web for more resources. We asked questions, found some answers, and then asked even more questions. Some of us were able to connect with experts* to ask questions about our topics.

Over a period of six weeks, we learned a lot. Some of what we learned was very specific to our pattern topics. We also realized we were learning other things, too:

ThingsWeLearned

 

Because we all chose patterns that interested us, our topics were very diverse:

  • Coding/Programming
  • Dubstep
  • Baking ingredients
  • Moon phases/Tides
  • Jet streams
  • Plant cycles/Nutrients
  • Therapy and Science Dogs
  • Plant growth in soil vs hydroponics
  • Electric fields

We held a Pattern Expo where we shared what we learned with our school community (students, teachers, parents). For each visitor to our “stations,” we explained what we had learned, how we learned, and demonstrated our findings. Some of us had experiments and products to share; some had videos and/or photos.

Each of us had a choice in how to share what we learned, so we could use the strengths and talents we have. Our only requirements were to share why we chose our particular patterns, share/cite our resources, and share main highlights of our research along with our demonstration.

One of the things we noticed about sharing at the expo is that we really had to be certain about what we knew to be able to explain it to others!

We hope you’ll visit our individual student blogs to read our reflections in learning about our patterns. You can find links in our sidebar!

We would like to thank our experts for helping us learn more, too!

  • Adam Bellow, CEO/Founder of eduClipper
  • C.T. Thongklin, Chief Meteorologist, RFD-TV
  • Chef Mark Kalix, Sur La Table
  • Pat Blocker, CPDT-KA, Peaceful Paws
  • Luca Formicola, Composer/Musician/Producer
  • Nate Polsfut, Pre-Service Teacher – thanks for listening to each of us share ideas about our projects early in the process!

Here are some photos from our Pattern Expo (click on the thumbnail to see the full photo):