Category: Year 7 Science

Lizard Area at Hawkesdale Common

Lizard area#1

On Friday, students from 6/7R walked to the Hawkesdale Common to meet Bruce Mirtschin, member of HADDAC and the Hopkins Moyne Landcare Network. The aim was to create a habitat area suitable for small lizards, using rocks, fallen branches and vegetation. The Hawkesdale Common is 5 acre area opposite Apex Park, with a gravel loop and interpretative signs about the local flora and fauna. This area has been planned by members of the Moyne Shire Youth Council, in conjunction with DSE. If you find and can catch any small skinks at home, take a photograph and bring them in a small container so we can release them at the park. Check the Victorian Museum site, “Bioinformatics” to identify your skinks and lizards. 6/7R students should leave a comment below to tell me what reptiles need to survive and why. For example, why do lizards need rocks?

Virtual teaching with Michelle Iro


This is Michelle Iro, a fourth year teacher-in-training at University of Ballarat, holding a lava bomb at the Penshurst Volcano Discovery Centre. Michelle has been working at Hawkesdale P12 College over the past four weeks, teaching my Year 6/7 Maths and Science classes. On Friday, 5th November she will run an Elluminate session with the 6/7G class as an introduction to Monday’s class, about Tower Hill, the State Game Reserve near Koroit. Click on this link for the Friday Period 2 Elluminate session. Tower Hill is the remains of a Maar volcano, formed when molten magma is forced up through the water table, causing huge amounts of steam and pressure to blow material out of a crater. Tower Hill is well known for it’s abundant wildlife: emus, koalas, kangaroos, echidnas and wetland birds.

6/7G : Click on this link for the Period 2 Elluminate session on Monday 8th November from Tower Hill.

6/7R: Click on this link for the Period 4 Elluminate session on Monday 8th November from Tower Hill.

Kanawinka Global Geopark


Lake Surprise at Mt Eccles National Park

Hawkesdale is right in the middle of a geologically significant area, recognised by UNESCO as a Global Geopark, for it’s volcanoes, caves, tumuli, sink holes and lava flows. This week you are required to complete two of the following tasks:

  1. Take a photo of a geologically significant feature near your home – it could be basalt (bluestone), scoria, a rock wall or sandstone building. Upload the photo to Flickr, with the CC license and tag it #kanawinka; #rocks #pics4schools #earth and #geology. See if you can identify whether it is an igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic rock.
  2. Use CC photos on Flickr to create a Voicethread about the different types of rocks and the rock cycle. or you can add your voice to the one I have uploaded here. Make sure you speak clearly and describe how each of the rock types are formed.
  3. Imagine you lived in the Kanawinka area 40,000 years ago, when the volcanoes were active. Write a short story (at least 400 words) about what life was like for you – your family, food, shelter and activities – when one of our volcanoes erupted (Mt Eccles, Tower Hill or Mt Rouse). Check out the images at the Budj Bim Tours site to see rock huts, fish and eel traps and the wetlands.
  4. Design a reptile area (20 metres square) for our threatened species of striped legless lizards, corangamite water skinks and other snakes and lizards. What features do they need to survive? Bruce Mirtschin (from Hopkins Moyne Landcare Group and HADDAC) will assist us to construct this area at the Hawkesdale Common, opposite Apex Park. Design interpretative signs about the different reptiles for visitors to the area. You will find more information about the species of lizards that live in Victoria at the Museum Victoria site.
  5. Create a 60-second science video for the competition that explains clearly a science concept – how igneous rocks are formed, how slow cooling produces larger crystals, the different types of volcanoes, how fossils are formed, what weathering and erosion does to a landscape etc. Videos must be uploaded by November 7th to qualify for the competition (great prizes!).

Year 8 Assessment tasks:

You may choose one of the following tasks:

  1. Test on Friday 29th October (Revision questions on pages 142 and 143 must be completed)
  2. Make your own My Studiyo Quiz (at least 15 questions with images) and embed it in your blog.
  3. Create a Voicethread or Photostory about the types of rocks and rock cycle
  4. Film an entry for the 60 second science video about types of rocks and the rock cycle; how fossils are formed; tectonic plates and continental drift; how life began on earth or another relevant topic (see me before you start your storyboard).

Top Ten Volcano sites


Image Source

To celebrate Earth Science week I have compiled a list of my top ten sites for learning about volcanoes:

  1. Volcano Live web cam List of links to 23 web cam sites at volcanoes around the world.
  2. How Volcanoes Work, sponsored by NASA
  3. Virtual Volcano Explorer from Discovery Channel
  4. Forces of Nature from National Geographic
  5. Interactive Volcanoes
  6. Volcano Project by Oregon State University
  7. Volcanoes On-line – an Oracle ThinQuest project – by students for students
  8. Global Volcanism Program by the Smithsonian Institute
  9. This Dynamic Planet by USGS – Science for a Changing World
  10. Volcanoes for Kids – images, different types, how they form and erupt.

Maybe you know of another great site to learn about volcanoes? Just add it to the comment section below.

Earth Science Week – Hong Kong Geopark

Elly and volcano

Today we had an exciting opportunity to link up with Ng Young C. Y., a Hong Kong national who is a driving force behind the establishment of the Hong Kong Geopark. He is an expeerienced presenter, member of and advisor to  numerous committees and boards of management for conservation of geologically significant areas. Young had lots of information about the difficulties establishing a geopark in a metropoliton area, wonderful images of the park and it’s significant features and ways they market the geopark using appropriately named dishes of food (such as the tempura prawn volcano!).

Students learnt about the igneous rocks that we passed around, drew a labelled cross-section of a volcano and were able to ask questions about the geology of the park. We also look forward to tomorrow’s presentation by Ian Lewis about caves, sink holes, fossils, volcanoes and bats. Ian is an ex-teacher, geologist and member of the Kanawinka Global Geopark committee. He was born on the side of a volcano, loves caves and diving and will be sharing lots of his photos and knowledge about all things volcanic!

Two International Science Projects


The International Paper Airplane Challenge

To finish off term 3, year 6/7 students will be learning about the scientific method, while they research, make and fly paper planes. Students from three  other schools, in Philadelphia, New York and Tasmania, will be doing the same experiments and we will compare our results. Ms Catherine Laguna from Philadelphia, Dr Gerald Ardito, from PVC Middle School (NY) and Mr Deon Scanlon from St Aloysius Catholic College (Tas.) all teach 12-13 year old students science.

Students decide what defines the “best” paper plane for them – is it the one that flies the furtherest, most accurately, highest in the air or looks the best? They research different styles of planes and develop a hypothesis – a statement about a measurable factor of the plane (length, width, angle of wings, mass etc) that impacts on the best performance. They then write up the procedure accurately, so the experiment can be repeated anywhere, anytime, with the same results. Students choose three planes to trial and collect the data to graph and compare with international students.  Students will use The International Paper Airplane Challenge wiki to document their progress and post their videos and Google Docs to compare their results.

International Energy Challenge

This project, for year 6/7 and 8 students, will involve Terri Johnson (Bode Middle School, St, Joseph, Missouri) and Kristy Lathrop (Messa Middle School, Castle Rock, Colorado) and Gerardo Lazaro (Lima, Peru)  in a Siemens – STEM – Institute facilitated collaboration. We will use the Energy Challenge wiki, Google docs, Skype and other tools to allow communication with students across the Pacific Ocean.

Terri and Kristy have already done some great brainstorming and planning during their school holidays, with the ideal aim of the collaboration being that students will:

  • see different viewpoints
  • be able to suspend judgment
  • be able to make informed decisions
  • be risk takers
  • understand that “energy cannot be created or destroyed…” and that
  • there are costs/benefits to all technology decisions

Year 6/7 Light and Sound


Our next unit of work in Year 6/7  Science will be Light and Sound. We will learn about luminous, incandescent and fluorescent objects and bioluminescent organisms (such as glow worms, some deep-sea fish and phosphoresence in the ocean.) We will also find out about the structure and function of your eyes and ears. We will find out the answers to the following questions:

  • What makes a rainbow?
  • What are polarised sunglasses?
  • Why can’t you see through tinted windows?
  • How do some animals see in the dark?
  • Why can’t anyone hear you scream in space?
  • What is a wave?
  • Why can’t humans hear sounds that some animals can?

 “How Stuff Works” is a great site for finding out how light and sound work. Some good resources from Scholastic StudyJams here. Recent article from New Scientist about how brain damage can have interesting effects on eyesight. The Bioluminescence Web site has some great information about the living organisms that emit light. Here are some links to some good Sound and Light Experiments you can do at home at Fizzics Education and ACS Chemistry for Life.

Constellations and Forces Stories


Image Source – Creative Commons

The path followed by the Sun is called the ecliptic, and any constellation within the ecliptic is called a “zodiac constellation”. You may be familiar with these as the symbol of your ‘star sign’ or horoscope identity. The word “zodiac” comes from Greek, meaning “circle of animals” and each of the twelve (except Libra, the scales) is represented by an animal. Year 8 Science students are required to search for an image of their zodiac sign and recreate the constellation using black paper and pin-holes. Use my Delicious links at right to start. If you have completed this task, you can search for your 2010 horoscope, and we will try to guess which prediction is true for each student in the class.

What is the difference between astrology and astronomy?

Have astrologers contributed to the science of astronomy?


Year 6/7 students will be creating a children’s story book to teach Mrs. Lee’s prep/1 class about Forces. You will use the on-line program “StoryJumper”, which allows you to add scenes, props, text and a cover to an on-line story book. Make sure your story includes one or more of the following forces: Gravity, Bouyancy, Friction, Surface tension, Magnetic forces, Muscular Forces, Static Electricity or Lift. Here are some examples of stories I have written and illustrated to demonstrate:

“Gravity and the Baby Bird” by Britt Gow

“Platypus Forces” by Britt Gow

You will need to sign up to “StoryJumper” and activate your account using your school email address. You can access your school email account at any time by going to webmail – make sure you have this link book-marked, so you can get to your email quickly and easily.

Week 6 at Hawkesdale


Image Source – adapted from Ryan Wick

This week the Year 8 Science class will submit their 60-second science videos to be entered into the national competition. Each of the videos submitted have been uploaded to TeacherTube and can be viewed by clicking on the links below. The next topic is Space – stars, comets and asteroids in our solar system.

Rachel and Kirsten’s “How to make a Rainbow” video

Luke’s “How does a  Wind Turbine Work?” Video

Jess’s video about “Oil Spills and Wildlife”

Josh and Cody’s “How a Star is Born” video

Georgia and Maddy’s “Phases of the Moon” video

 Year 6/7 students will complete their “Forces” project – a poster or video about the actions of forces. The best of these  videos have also been uploaded to TeacherTube and can be viewed by clicking on the links below. The next topic is Electricity. Students will learn what is important about electric circuits, how to make a switch and then construct a simple torch from basic materials (cardboard tube, wire, paperclips, globe, aluminium foil and tape.)

Aaron and Jim’s movie

James and Nick’s Forces Video

Nathan’s Pivot animation about Forces

James C.’s Forces movie with Pivot

Jayden’s Forces Video

Stephanie’s Forces movie

Elly’s Forces video

Emalee’s animal forces video

Shannon’s Forces video

Kiri’s Forces video


Year 6/7 Forces Assignment

Forces - comic life

Each student prepared a storyboard by folding a sheet of A3 paper into 6 sections and then drawing an example of the following results of forces:

  • Forces can start motion
  • Forces can stop motion
  • Forces can change the speed of motion
  • Forces can change the direction of motion
  • Forces can change the shape of an object, and
  • Forces can have no visible effect at all!

Now they are using various programs (Pivot, Photostory, Monkey Jam, Windows Movie Maker and Paint) to illustrate a short movie demonstrating each of these effects of forces. Some students prefer to draw with a real pencil and can take a photo of their drawings and add headings and speech bubbles with Comic Life – which is available on the computers in Room 2 or you can get a free, 30-day trial at Comic Life.

These videos show how you can convert Pivot (stick figure) animations to AVI files for YouTube and how to put a Pivot animation into Windows Movie Maker. You could also try this one. You will need to access these from home as YouTube is blocked at school.  Students, please make sure any digital images you use are in the public domain or Creative Commons (free to use with certain conditions) and that you list the sites you have referred to on the last slide of your video presentation.

Here is Nathan’s Forces Movie, made in Pivot, converted to WindowsMovieMaker and uploaded to YouTube.