Re: launch day

From: (Ginny)
Subject: Re: launch day
Date: Thu, 3 Apr 1997 20:31:05 GMT

Dear Jan and all,
        The 5/6 grade class from Hydesville, California jumped into the big
yellow bus again and went exploring using our PET kit.  We picked a site
that I think is unique to our area.  I think it was a great learning
experience for all of us!  Each student had a job to do, all 28 of them and
no one was absent!  Most of this I had never done before. For instance, I
had never used a topo map to figure out Latitude and Longitude, never
evaluated soil before, never found wind direction, etc.  So, it was
definitely a learning experience for myself as well as my students. A
couple of my students weren't able to go down to NASA Ames with us due to
religious reasons but were able to go on this trip as it was just for the
day and close to the school. They were the two students that I thought were
the most enthusiastic and thrilled at the opportunity to do this
exploration. If just for those two, I think that the project was beyond a
        Being my own worse critic and always evaluating my teaching, I
would of done some things differently. I wish I had taken the tools out
into the school yard and done a trial run to give the students the
opportunity to become familiar with the tools. I would  of given the
students groups to work in rather than individual jobs. I would of also
asked them to take more than 1 or 2 readings.   I am still considering
doing a pet school-yard comparison. I think that more exploration would be
good for my students.  So, I am very much considering a "round two" as I
think it is a real important way to get to know your environment, and the
tools we use to explore it and other environments.
        Thanks so much everyone for such a neat on-line experiment and
experience. I think it such a great experience for kids to think through
the process, plan an exploration and then follow through with it.  I am
amazed at how much the students were into this from the start. (and that
was many months ago)  Even when I felt overwhelmed by parts of it, like
coming up with all the tools, once I let down my need to be in control and
gave it to all those scientific minds, they were able to come up with the
materials we needed. So you see, I think that it was just as great a
learning experience for me as for them! Again, thanks to all for your help,
At 5:58 PM 3/30/97, Jan Wee wrote:
>Dear Bryan and all,
>It was *great* being able to experience Pathfinder School's Launch
>Day  -- albeit vicariously -- but even still it felt like I had an
>over-the-shoulder view of the day's events.  Sounds like your students
>had a great day teaming, collecting data, and being real scientists-explorers!
>What is very unique about the P.E.T. experience is that it is result of
>collaboration -- a true group effort -- and it reflects the
>strength of diverse insights.  It's amazing to think that students and
>educators from Washington to NY, Texas to Minnesota, England to California
>and many places in-between created the Toolkit, visualized and shared
>procedural logistics, and devised our report form.
>I hope that each participating class will, like Bryan, share your LAUNCH
>PHASE day.  I, for one, very much appreciate hearing about the experience.
>You may have helpful pointers to share with folks who have yet to
>do their data collection.  You may have some pitfalls, some quick
>hints and planning short-cuts, or some "don't forget to..." for the
>rest of us.
>This is a great idea...
>>For the last half hour I took them all out to the site and had them find a
>>spot - alone - to write their 2-4 descriptive sentences about the site. When
>>they were finished writing they were to draw something of their choice. As
>>they were writing and drawing I went around and had them take one picture
>>each. I had told them to choose a spot where they thought they could get a
>>representative picture of the site.
>>My students will never look at the "lower field" the same way again.
>And isn't that what we all hope for -- an experience that changes the
>way kids look at their natural world... motivates them to think about things
>differently and ask new questions.  It's reassuring to hear this!
>Jan Wee, moderator