Pendulum Waves and Metronome Sways

Pendulum Waves and Metronome Sways

Two really cool things that got my curiosity going recently…

Pendulum Waves
This I saw at the science centre in Newcastle in the ‘Do Try This At Home’ show using pots and pans. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever, ever seen! The whole audience was spellbound. I’ve made it a project to create one in the garden with tennis balls… Here is a video of the same experiment – keep watching!

“Fifteen uncoupled simple pendulums of monotonically increasing lengths dance together to produce visual traveling waves, standing waves, beating, and (seemingly) random motion.” Harvard Natural Science Lecture Demonstrations

Then searching around for instructions on how to set one up I saw that someone had created a pendulum wave with bowling balls – and hooked it up so the balls hit tubes and created sounds!! Brilliant!

Metronome Sways
Chatting about the pendulum wave to my colleague Martyn, he told me about the metronome synchronisation experiment. This is super cool – metronomes placed on a foam platform and set off at random eventually end up ticking at the same time. Amazing. This led to all sorts of conversations with scientific family members about buildings and bridges… … Read more...

Thinking Differently – Encouraging Curiosity

Thinking Differently – Encouraging Curiosity

This afternoon I was able to hear Nigel Barlow speak about thinking differently, challenging assumptions and encouraging curiosity. To encourage our curiosity and return to our childlike state of inquisitiveness it was inspiring to hear Nigel use the phrase ‘Be a Beginner’. The saying goes,

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s there are few.” (Shunryu Suzuki)

BeachThe beginner’s mind is open to new ideas, has a keenness to explore and learn and, as was grow older and acquire more knowledge, the awareness to avoid preconceived ideas and stereotypes. Reading more about the beginner’s mind led me to the term the ‘curse of knowledge’, where you know so much about a subject or problem that you can’t see it from the perspective of someone who knows less – something we must be acutely aware of when teaching others.

It can take a certain amount of confidence and courage to be able to stand back and ask the questions that you may have once thought you should know the answers to already, or to roll your sleeves up and throw yourself in to a new experience, but when you can do that and see things and ask … Read more...

International Space Station Resources

International Space Station Resources

Since watching the beautiful and moving timelapse video put together with images from the International Space Station, I’ve become curious about everything Space Station! There are a number of different resources I’ve been using to find out about life on board the Space Station and also the support that it requires to function.

Space Station Twitter Pic
@Space_Station This is the Space Station’s Twitter account and my main source of info for all things Space Station. This account also retweets tweets from the astronauts on board so it’s a great place to start finding out about who is up there, what it looks like and the sorts of experiments and work they are doing right now.

NASA Space Station website Lots of info here on what’s going on “Off the Earth, For the Earth” including links to ‘Space Station for Students’ where you can take part in experiments and look at cool resources from the Space Station, and the related ‘Space Station for Educators’.

The European Space Agency has information on the International Space Station and the parts of the Space Station that the ESA has responsibility for.

Where is the Space Station right now? This website shows … Read more...

Reflections on the world outside my window

Reflections on the world outside my window

I’ve just seen one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring videos I think you could ever see and it has moved me so much I want to share it with everyone!

Flicking through tweets from @curiositydotcom one caught my eye – Feel what it’s like to fly over Earth aboard the ISS in this stunning time-lapse video”. Time lapse videos really interest me and so this got me curious. 

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To me that is just breathtaking. That’s our world – a ball in space! I’ve looked up at the stars before and tried to imagine our place in the universe, but this just blew me away. It also makes you ask questions like, how on earth do they figure out how to build a space station! Just how does that work?! How is it possible? It really incredible, and it’s cool to be inspired to think about these things.

So to NASA, David Peterson, Don Pettit and all the other people who have ever worked to make the space station possible and bring it to the people back on earth – thank you. I didn’t think I’d ever see anything like this.… Read more...

On hard fun and flow

I had the pleasure of hearing Bill Rankin this week – the Director of Learning at Apple. He was talking to a group of educators about the learning ecosystem, about how we are no more about imparting knowledge but encouraging learning. That when we teach, we learn. That we need to always be making productive connections with our students and communities, and that it is not a one-way process, it’s a rich structure of people and places, things and technology.
Bill talked about ‘hard fun’ and had a great example of this. If you enjoy Sudoku, would you rather do this puzzle –
Easy Sudoku puzzle
or this one?
Hard sudoku puzzle
You guessed it, the second. Thinking about this ‘hard fun’, he introduced us to Muhaly Csikszentmihalyi’s psychology of optimal experience and the concept of ‘flow’. Csikszentmihályi describes flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.” 
Flow Model
Recently I’ve experienced a state of flow when learning to play tennis – an hour felt like one minute and I