The 12-year-old child lands on the earth more solidly as their bones increase in density and tendons strengthen accordingly, making Class 6 a significant time for engaging with scientific principles.
This year we have looked at features of land mass, with geology; Earth comparisons with other planets, in astronomy; optics, to explore features of our dominant sense of sight; and tonal qualities in our perception of sound, with acoustics.
Daily experiments and demonstrations have brought opportunities to broaden our experiences in each domain, opening the path of enquiry towards plenty of flow-on questions to engage with later. At this stage, we have concentrated on the use of phenomenon over theory, and experiment and example over concept.
Understanding the earth forces that shape the solid earth to produce rocks is a basic part of engaging with our mineral environment. By exploring different rock samples we have engaged with the principles of geology, with tectonic plates seen as a driving force in changing the earth’s crust. This has led to rock identification through a series of defining characteristics (hardness, density, colour etc); sampling and drawing crystal structures, weathering and erosion; and finding fossilised life in sedimentary rocks.
Becoming conscious of planetary rhythms and cosmic cycles solidifies connection with the earth by looking into the night sky and reading processes of coming and going. Sharing the ways in which people have thought about these processes through the centuries, stimulates a broadening capacity to think in the children. We have also engaged in current astronomical observations and their involvement in evolving scientific thought, from Isaac Newton to Albert Einstein and beyond!
Perceiving the vulnerability in ‘seeing is believing’ opens the capacity for accepting difference. In studying the science of light, our phenomenological approach uses Goethe’s theory of colour as the foundation. We viewed the atmosphere as a ‘semi-transparent’ medium to discover that light itself is invisible! By darkening out the classroom we were able to experience candle after-images, ‘camera obscura’ and other light phenomenon, leading towards an understanding of colours expressing themselves as deeds of the light. The beautiful dodecahedral lanterns (pictured above), created for this weekend's winter solstice, require maths and science!
Understanding the mechanics of sound can lift a passive acceptance of heard material into a consciously active engagement with harmonious (or otherwise) tone. Through the deceptively simple ratios of Pythagoras, the workings of tone given through the previous younger years are awakened. Physical expression of sound has been presented with daily experiments, demonstrations and participatory explorations to probe into the speed, means of transmission and nature of resonance. Understanding how all of these observations fit into other aspects of science ignites a rich experience of the world for the children to carry on with them.
Class 6 Science
Winter is here in our Kindy garden. We’ve all been enjoying the golden winter sunshine, watching our mandarins and oranges ripen on the trees and looking for stars hidden all around… the children even surprised me by making some star mandalas in the sandpit! We flew kites in the whistling wind, made seed babies and tucked them into their seed pod beds and painted pots ready to plant the daffodil bulb babies who will sleep until the springtime sun dancers wake them up. The children love singing songs of winter, sleeping seeds, Mother Earth’s helpers, crystal caves and starlight.
Last week we enjoyed a teddy bears picnic at Grandfather Big Fig Tree. The children finger knitted scarves for their teddy bears to keep them warm while the cold breezes blew.
This upcoming winter solstice is an opportunity for us to celebrate our inner light through the quiet darkness of winter. As we start our preparations for our Kindy Winter Festival, the children have been busy making lanterns, plaited star crowns and crystal pouches.
Hummingbee Kindergarten Teacher
During their Food Technology elective last term, our Year 9 and 10 students were given the task of designing and preparing a cake for a particular cultural event or celebration. Students learnt various cake and dessert recipes, as well as icing and decorating techniques. But none as fun and scientific as the artistic mirror glaze demonstrated by our Science teacher (and baker extraordinaire) Marie Perry.
The mirror glaze uses carefully calibrated temperatures and a precise method, requiring organisation to achieve the uniquely beautiful result. A big thank you to Marie for sharing your passion for kitchen chemistry!
For quite some time now, I have been feeling anxious. I worry about everything that is happening in the world. Concern about the environment and our future is all we ever seem to hear in the media and at school. I lie in bed each night trying to sleep but my mind is busy worrying about the future world I will be living in. Will there be any forests left? How will the cities cope with the pollution and the increase in population?
My mum is so concerned about me. She says I look so troubled and frown too much. She is always suggesting ways to help me sleep like yoga, breathing exercises and counselling. To date nothing has worked. Tonight mum has given me a small bottle of oil. Apparently the smell of it is supposed to calm you and make you less anxious. I’d certainly like to see that happen, but won’t be holding my breath for that.
I think I’ll have a bath as that always helps relax my mind somewhat. I tell mum that I will be having a bath and I’ll have dinner a bit later. Once in the bathroom I dim the lights, turn on some soft music and run the water. After adding some bath salts, I open the little bottle of oil and put a few drops in the warm water. Wow, it is different smelling stuff! Strongly herbal, but quite nice. It smells like my grandmother’s herb garden.
Over the last three weeks, our Year 10 students have been on a journey through time, from humanity’s oldest surviving written story Gilgamesh (which they learned, was a lot more interesting than the version they read in Class 4!) to the literature of the Baroque period - a time when new ways of seeing our world, through the telescope and microscope, were being expressed. Through each text, we inquired into the development of human consciousness and asked ourselves, What does the story reveal about the human condition at this time?
We created timelines which reviewed all the significant periods and events studied since the beginning of Primary School, building a picture of the major events that shaped human evolution up to the Baroque period, and studied some of the most influential pieces of writing from the time.
Under the microscopes, we examined a number of prepared slides, as well as creatures found around us - from a rat’s tail to a bumblebee and a centipede. Students wrote inspired poetry to express their wonder at this close up view of the natural world.
The Humble Fly
by Samadhi Bloor
The glistening and swirling of the blue,
Rests upon its wings, so perfect and true,
The complex patterns of the eye,
Might make you want to cry,
If you knew what I told you,
Was a creature admired by few,
It's not a lion nor it's cry,
But the simple, humble fly.
What an excellent time of year in our curriculum as Class 3 explores farming with Nadia. About two weeks ago, with the new moon, we planted wheat grain for the year’s harvest at the end of September. Then we prayed for rain and lo – it rained for days. The following week, Nadia took us over to have a look and to our delight our (not so) straight lines of wheat were well under way, popping up and blowing in the wind already. You can imagine the delighted children. It truly is fantastic to put the energy in and see nature working with us. What a wonder-filled gift for the children to remember and carry through life.
At home, the children have made a diverse range of stunning dwellings that have just been presented in class over the past week. Yes, we’re busy! Not to stop there, our room is full of letter boxes as the children write and post notes to each other, excited to share their developing communication skills. It’s a beehive of joyful energy.
Our days end, if we’ve listened and worked productively together, with the children’s favourite game, Wave. I’m always the seeker and the children hide. If I see them and call their name, they follow me until someone waves to them and they run off to hide again. The shrieks when I turn a corner quietly and catch them unawares! I must admit, this is such fun for us all.
Warm wishes went to our dear assistant Djuaan on his 27th birthday. We celebrated with a birthday circle in class and, of course, his letter box was full that morning!
Class 3 Teacher
I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we work and learn here at Shearwater, the Arakwal People and the wider Bundjalung Nation, and pay respects to elders past, present and emerging.
Reconciliation is a journey for all Australians and at the heart of this are the relationships between people. Reconciliation week is an opportunity to acknowledge the past, to deepen our understanding, to learn and to commit to working together for a better future. Over the last week, students in the High School have engaged with the theme for this year’s National Reconciliation Week, In This Together, in a variety of ways.
Some of our indigenous students participated in an AIME mentoring session via Zoom. AIME is an organisation that is focused on changing the world by building a "Social Network for Good.. building bridges between those with power and those without". The School has been partnering with this organisation for the last eight years and we value our connection with the program greatly, having witnessed first hand the positive impact it has had on our students.
In PDHPE lessons, students participated in a variety of games from The Yulunga: Traditional Indigenous Games, a resource developed to provide all Australians with a greater understanding and appreciation of indigenous culture.
In Year 8, Visual Art students were inspired by the use of symbols in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art to tell stories and document places and experiences. They created their own symbols to make maps of their journey to school (see above). Year 8 Geography students watched the documentary In My Blood It Runs and explored the impact understanding identity has on fostering unity in diversity.
Year 9 and 10 Visual Art elective students created their own versions of the 2020 Reconciliation Week poster, expressing what the theme meant to them (see top).
Year 11 English Studies students watched The Final Quarter and discussed racism in sport and in the broader community, and Year 12 Visual Design students learnt some local Bundjalung words, using the Planet Corroboree resource, and put their typography skills to good use (above at bottom).
Visual Art and Design Teacher
The Year 8 students have been busy in their Technology Main Lesson for the past three weeks. They have been working at the School Farm studying Agriculture and Food Technology, as well as learning about sustainable practices in Materials Technology.
The students have recycled and repurposed a range of materials to construct a Flow Form and a Black Fly larvae composter that uses natural processes to turn the organic waste from the School into compost. The Flow Form is a series of concrete forms that allows water to cascade down from one to the other to oxygenate and energise the water for biodynamic preparations to be used on the Farm.
Tony Van den Driest
At Preschool, we have been enjoying the autumn garden, with its misty mornings, sunny nooks and muddy puddles. Unstructured play (and helping with work) outdoors fosters an appreciation for the wonderful world of nature, developing in the children a real sense of belonging to, and caring for, their environment.
Physical, constructional, social and ‘pretend’ play also supports children in their skills of intellectual and emotional self-regulation: skills that have been shown to be crucial in early learning and development.
You can teach a child of 3 or 4 reading and writing, but at what cost to the development of other foundational skills. Discovering the beauty and wonder of an autumn garden with a friend provides opportunities for learning that is broad, dynamic and inter-connected. In the world of our under-sevens, play and learning are one.
© Shearwater The Mullumbimby Steiner School