Friday, April 25, 2014

We made the paper!

La Nouvelle Beaumont News published a great article in the paper all about our class Skyping with Jeremy Hansen.  I loved reading about what the kids thought of the experience.  Thank you LNBN!

If you want to read the colour online version click here

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Twitter is awesome

It is as simple as that.  Twitter is awesome!  I have been using Twitter to follow a variety of people to keep up with current events and innovations in science and technology that I can use in my class.  It is a great social networking tool because you can share what you find and it is not as personal as other platforms.  That way you can follow celebrities and other public figures who would not normally be "friends" with strangers.  

Follow me on Twitter @AmandaGMerriman

The Canadian Space Agency is one of my favorites.  They retweet an reply to public posts often and make you feel like your opinion matters.  See more about my interactions with them here.

I also have had a few interactions with Canadian astronauts Chris Hadfiled and Jeremy Hansen that have been awesome.  They have pretty busy lives but it makes me feel special to have them take a moment to tweet.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Going for it!

Best.  Day.  Ever.

Here is the back story ...

Last year I made it my goal to meet Chris Hadfield and have him come and talk to my school.  I am a self-proclaimed space geek and love all things Hadfield.  With his new celebrity and best-seller book he is even more popular than ever so, even though I did get to briefly meet him, I have to set the second part of this goal aside.  For now.

I have made a new goal.  Connect with a current Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen, Skype, perhaps one day have a school visit, and eventually to be there to interact and support when the day comes for his own time in space.  So now I have achieved two of the four so far and am excited to see what the future may bring.

Last November I attended the ATA Science council conference and was delighted to find out that Canadian astronaut, Jeremy Hansen, would be a keynote speaker.  I read all I could and discovered so much about Hansen, Hadfield, and the CSA.  Through Twitter I interacted with Magalie Renaud from the Canadian Space Agency and was able to meet her and Jeremy face-to-face.  It was wonderful to ask him so many questions and pick Magalie's brain about what was out there for educators in regards to our Canadian Space Program.  She asked me if I had applied to have an astronaut speak to my class and, of course, I had.  A few months later I received an email from her letting me know that Jeremy was able to Skype with my class
  This past week and a half was busy getting the students and their questions ready and even doing a practice Skype with NASA.  We had heard that there was a possibility that the event would have to be rescheduled because the astronauts currently aboard the International Space Station were planning a space walk to repair a computer, and that our own Jeremy Hansen would be the Ground Intravehicular Officer.  It was explained to me that it would be like he is the conductor to the orchestra that is the symphony of space walking.  A pretty big deal!
Fortunately the space walk was scheduled for tomorrow so we were able to do our Skype after all.  (Please click HERE to watch the space walk live on April 23rd at 7:20am MST and listen for Jeremy's voice!).  All 80 kids and 5 teachers piled in to my classroom and the excitement was palpable.  What a great moment!

 Jeremy talked to us about his journey in becoming an astronaut including Air Cadets as a youth, being a CF-18 fighter pilot for the Canadian Air Force and finally being chosen to join the CSA as an astronaut.  He explained about the detailed training including going on caving expeditions, geology and research in the arctic, space walk simulations in space suits under water, and learning how to use the famous Canadarm.  He talked about his job and all of the experiences he has had so far with such joy and appreciation that I think it was very inspiring for my students who are starting to find and follow their own dreams.

Today is also Earth Day and he mentioned how aboard the ISS they have a really good view of our entire world and that it is important to care for it.  Wouldn't it be nice to see the world from way up there?  No borders or boundaries.  Just planet Earth.

 Jeremy talked about the future of the space program and how in our lifetime we will see a boom in scientific studies, commercial space flight, and new discoveries and technologies that these kids could very well be a part of.  He told them that no matter what their dreams are they need to find that thing they are passionate about and go for it with all that they have. 

He showed us two amazing videos that were distorted by our slow bandwidth.  I thought I'd re-post them for you all to see.

The last half was spent answering the plethora of questions the kids were itching to ask.  They wanted to know more details about his training, goals, challenges, and even fears.  I asked about his role in the space walk tomorrow, the role of social media in promoting specifically Canadian astronauts, and any photography tips he may have picked up.  Space selfie? 

I want to say a HUGE thank you to Jeremy for taking the time during such a busy and important week to talk to our class.  I know I found it very inspiring and know my students will never forget it.  I also want to thank the CSA and NASA for the continual educational support.  It is an exciting time to be a teacher!  Merci.  Thank you. 

La Nouvelle Beaumont News was there to cover the story.  They interviewed me and some of the kids for an article in an upcoming addition.  Keep an eye out!  Here is the picture they took.

What an adventure!  I am smiling so much my face hurts. 

Follow on Twitter and see more here

Thursday, April 17, 2014

NASA Calling!

We are really looking forward to Skyping with Canadian astronaut, Major Jeremy Hansen, on Tuesday April 22nd from 1:00-2:00pm.  See more about it here.

Today NASA called me at work!  The last thing I expected was to hear our lovely secretary say "Mme Merriman NASA is on line one."   I just about fell off my stool!  We did a quick practice Skype to make sure we are ready to go on Tuesday.  After that I was so distracted I couldn't even think straight.  The kids worked on their science projects while I giggled like a little kid.  I am such a space geek!

I also received an email from the Canadian Space Agency letting us know that it is possible that we may have to reschedule.  Here is what they wrote:

"As mentioned in our confirmation email, astronauts’ schedules are subject to last minute changes and I’m afraid this could be one of those rare occasions. A computer problem was reported aboard the International Space Station last Friday and a contingency spacewalk is being planned for some time next week, possibly on the day of your Skype session. For the moment, your Skype session is still on the schedule for next Tuesday, but we may have to cancel at the very last minute.   

Jeremy has been named Ground Intravehicular (IV) Officer for the spacewalk. The role of the IV is to support the astronauts and help them with procedures while they are spacewalking outside of the station – a little bit like an orchestra conductor if you will. It’s the first time that this kind of assignment is given to a Canadian astronaut – and a rookie nonetheless – and we feel that it’s actually a strong statement of confidence in his skills.

The date/time of the spacewalk is still uncertain as the scheduling depends on several factors including the successful launch of a rocket this Friday carrying the SpaceX Dragon resupply capsule.  If we end up cancelling the session, we will be in touch early next week to reschedule the session for the end of May or mid-June.  

I understand that the students may be disappointed, but I also think that this can be turned into a fantastic learning opportunity. The spacewalk can be followed live on (exact day and time still TBD). Normally, the exchanges between Jeremy and the crew should be heard on air. Students can follow the spacewalk in class or at home and ask their questions about it to Jeremy during the Skype session.  

We will keep you posted as soon as we get more information. Thank you very much for your understanding and collaboration."

If you want to catch a fly over of the ISS as it zips across the sky here is the information for tonight if the clouds break and this terrible weather changes.

Time:Thu Apr 17 9:48 PM, Visible: 4 min, Max Height: 41 degrees, Appears: W, Disappears: SE

The SpaceEx launch is live tomorrow on NASA TV

April 18, Friday - EST - Eastern Standard Time 
9:30 a.m. - ISS Program Status and Spacewalk Preview Briefing - JSC/KSC (All Channels) 
12:45 p.m. - ISS Expedition 39 In-Flight Educational Event with the University of Connecticut, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Houston, Clear Lake - JSC (All Channels) 
2:15 p.m. - Coverage of the SpaceX-3/Dragon Launch to the ISS (Launch scheduled at 3:25 p.m. ET) - KSC (All Channels)
5 p.m. - SpaceX-3/Dragon Post-Launch News Conference - KSC (All Channels) 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Gravity and rotation

Today we learnt all about centrifugal force, center of gravity and stability through rotation.  Here are some great videos and things to try!

For teachers click HERE to download some activities to go along with this as well as the template for balancing the letters (p.11) and the provinces of Canada.

What is center of mass?

Other demos
  • Balancing letters
  • Gyroscope
  • Balancing cowboy

Balancing objects (to try at home)



Hand balancing - Kristef Brothers (A little cheeky)

Stabilization through rotation and center of gravity

Literacy Celebration

April is poetry month and ECES is embracing the fun!  We will be working on performance poetry, poetry slams, and even "poetry in your pocket".

Tuesday April 18th - Learn about performance poetry and write our own poems

  • 2-3 minutes long
  • Uses actions, intonation, and enthusiasm
  • students write with the purpose of performing
  • passion, strength, energy
  • word play, rhythm & rhyme
  • expression, gestures, projection
  • written & performed individually, in partners, or groups
  • content appropriate for ALL grades
Criteria for the poems are found here
A simpler version here

Some great examples found here:

Thursday April 17th - perform our poems and pick one for the performance.

Tuesday April 22nd - Make our poems for "poetry in the pocket day".

Thursday April 24th - Morning - Poetry in your pocket day

  • We will give staff and students a pocket template to print their name and write a short poem of their own or a copied piece of poetry (with credit to the poet). 
  • Carry your poem around with you.  When anyone asks or you just feel like it, perform your poem.
  • Have them sign your card to keep track
  • Throughout the morning, everyone will find three people to share their poem with who will initial the back. 
  • As students enter the gym for the presentation, these pockets will be entered in a draw for prizes.

    Thursday April 24th - After lunch - Literacy Celebration

    • Classes will present their performance poetry to the school in a special assembly.  You can have a writen copy
    • Special performance by Mary Pinkoski, Canadian National Poetry Slam Champion and Edmonton’s Poet Laureate. 

    Monday, April 14, 2014

    Gears and pulleys

    Here is a lab for gears and pulleys that we did this week.  Lean all about mechanical advantage by testing out some of the equipment in class.

    If you are done early try out these virtual labs

    For teachers the worksheet is available for download HERE in English or French

    Driver and driven
    Speed ration and direction of rotation

    Direct lift - 500g = 50N
    Fixed pulley - Changes direction of the force, MA = 1
    Movable pulley - MA of 2 = Force advantage
    Mixed Pulley - MA = 2, Force advantage and changes direction of the force
    Block and tackle - MA <1 - Force advantage.  Every time the cord goes around the movable pulley the mechanical advantage doubles.

    Sunday, April 13, 2014

    Les Machines Simples

    Voici des ressources pour apprendre plus à propos des machines simples étudiez en classe.  Amusez-vous bien pendant le temps libre, si vous avez fini vos devoirs ou mathletiques tôt, ou à la maison.

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

    Sci 7

    Sciences 7e - Jeudi le 10 d'Avril

    Here is what you need to do for our science lesson today.  I am writing this in English just in case your substitute does not speak French.  Make sure to read ALL instructions


    Work quickly!  You only have the first period (A) to finish numbers 1-3 below!

    1.  Check Power School for ALL missing (m) assignments.   These are all due and to be marked TOMORROW (Friday) at lunch.  Anything with an A (absent), NHI (Not Handed In), or a zero is due Friday.

    2.  Jeremy Hansen
    • Make sure you have read THIS blog post about Jeremy Hansen and watch all the videos
    • Answer THIS survey about what question you would ask him when we Skype on April 22nd
    • Make sure you hand in your permission form and check your name off the list on my front counter
    3.  Virtual Labs (with your partner from the structures lab) 
    • Check out Building Big and fill you the worksheet (one copy per group - due for marks next class).
    • If you have extra time:
      • Try and build your own structures here.
      • Try to be a bridge architect here
      • Try Engineering games here
    4.  Structures Project (in pairs)

    • Start your presentation about a famous structure/building of your choice.
    • Bonus marks if you pick a Canadian structure.
    • You will have only two more classes to work on this so get on it!  Divide and conquer and make sure everyone in the group is working and not just watching the other work.  
    • See details here 

    Sci 8e

    Sciences 8e - Jeudi le 10 d'Avril

    Here is what you need to do for our science lesson today.  I am writing this in English just in case your substitute does not speak French.  Make sure to read ALL instructions

    1.  Check Power School for ALL missing (m) assignments.   These are all due and to be marked TOMORROW (Friday) at lunch.  Anything with an A (absent), NHI (Not Handed In), or a zero is due Friday.

    2.  Jeremy Hansen
    • Make sure you have read THIS blog post about Jeremy Hansen.
    • Answer THIS survey about what question you would ask him when we Skype on April 22nd
    • Make sure you hand in your permission form and check your name off the list on my front counter
    3.  Online unit review (with your partner) 
    • Use THIS Google Spreadsheet to fill out your part of the summary
    • You will get more time on Friday, April 11th
    • Due Thursday April 17th
    4.  Study for quiz

    Six String Nation

    We were very fortunate to have a special presentation called Six String Nation.  It was truly inspiring, touching, and makes me very proud to be Canadian.

    "Six String Nation is a guitar created by award-winning writer and broadcaster Jowi Taylor. Built from 64 pieces of bone, metal, wood, stone and fabric, the guitar was made as a symbol of national unity, to explore Canadian identity, and to connect people from all regions in Canada. The guitar - nicknamed Voyageur - made its official debut on July 1, 2006, at the Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Over a period of eleven years, Taylor collected pieces for the guitar from every province and territory in Canada." - Wikipedia

    See a bit of background on their website and all about the pieces of history woven into the guitar at

    Our very on Mr. Fisher and Mr. Berg serenaded us with lovely acoustic songs.  Mr. Berg's step-daughter, August, played and sang an original song and everyone was blown away by her voice and lyrics.  Beautiful.  Finally our very own BGRS Dr. Norm Yanitski also had a turn.  It must have been amazing to be able to play such a unique and important guitar.

    Six String Nation made it's way through most of the schools in Beaumont and my friend Daren Maltais and another friend's son, Johnny Nelner were lucky enough to get to play the guitar at J.E.  See more about it here and at ESBCHS here.

    It was beautiful to see how each student was welcomed up to touch the guitar, meet Jowi and have a look at the unique case.


    Of course, my favorite part was when he showed pictures of Chris Hadfield playing the guitar and told us that Chris even took one of the SSN guitar picks up in space!  Chris also gave him a mission patch that is now part of the case. See all about it here!