My school was one of hundreds across the country that had a part to play in the amazing educational experience that was Tim Peake’s Principia Mission. For schools this opportunity combined so many elements; real life science experiments; a dash of danger; story-telling and adventure; and an actual application of technology in the classroom. See, whilst arguments rage around the transformative effect (or not) of ed-tech, here we are with an actual amazing bit of collaborative education that just would not be possible without technology. That is without technology in schools, in the classroom, used by teaching staff.
During this project we were able to live stream the international space station and other bits of the mission, straight into school. We have been able to watch, and repeatedly watch other important bits as recorded by the astronauts themselves. An amazing number of pupils took part in a live science lesson, from the International Space Station itself, sharing questions via video and social media whilst the International Space Station answered them. Yes – the children asked a question and they received a live answer, with demonstration from the space! Talk about awe and wonder!! Schools were able to communicate with the Space Station at other times, asking and answering questions via social media, or asking other astronauts or European Space Agency folk! We were inspired in other areas of school life as well, of course, and even our Code Club got in on the action…
This project also asked us to grow seeds that had been in space – we received all this information via email, children recorded information using spreadsheets, video logs and photograph; sending in this information digitally, along with thousands of other children.
None of these elements of the experience would have been available without schools and teachers that were able to use technology in the classroom for collaboration and communication. Skyping interested parties, writing blogs, sharing information via cloud services are all integral parts of so many schools that we seem to be taking it for granted. Yet they offer primary pupils the chance to create their own content, to learn from experts that they would never otherwise get to meet and to collaborate with children from across the planet. This kind of ed tech is what pupils should be exposed to – the use of technology to do things that could not be done otherwise. I think we need to shout more loudly for the use of technology in such areas – investment in infrastructure and training rather than the ‘whistles and bells’ approach.
I’ve felt incredibly privileged to be a small part of this mission, to be able to enthuse our community about the value of science.
There is no doubt it has been a huge success!