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Saturday, September 19, 2009

M&M Catapult

Last weekend I came across an M&M catapult project on Sean Sweeney's blog. This really got me excited because I was just starting to teach the unit on Quadratic Functions with my Gr.11 Math 20 Pure students.

I read and reread Sean's blog post this past week. Last night I made a list of materials I needed to construct these catapults for my class. Today I built 10 of these awesome little devices.

The building of the first catapult took a little bit of time. After I constructed the first catapult I then tested it to see how well it worked. I was getting distances of between 2 and 3 feet with the catapult. Not bad, I thought, this will be good for a classroom setting.

After the first catapult was built and tested I changed a few things to speed up production. I had used wood glue to build the first catapult. While it holds well it takes a while to dry. On my wife's suggestion, I used her crafting glue gun to construct the second catapult. What a difference!!! The next 9 catapults went together in no time flat.

I can hardly wait to have my students work on this M&M catapult project. I think they are going to love it!!!

Hurry Up and Wait!!!

We have just finished the first 3 weeks in our new high school. For the most part the start up of the new school has gone off without a hitch. However, the technology end of things is still in chaos. It started with not having Internet access because Telus was not coming to hook up our SuperNet connection until Sept.3. We would have to live without the Internet for awhile. This required ALL of us to think how we used to do things before we had the Internet and e-mail. Back to typing memos, printing them and photocopying them to distribute to staff members. We eventually received access to the Internet and that portion of our lives has returned to normal.

We are suppose to have 120 laptops on carts to use with students. At present not one of those laptops is in a cart and useable by students. How are teachers suppose to integrate technology into their classrooms when the computers are not even available?

Last May and June we tested some wireless networking at our old high school and determined that 20 concurrent users on one wireless router was about all the router could handle. Then users started dropping off of the wireless network. At that point, we informed our district IT people that they needed to install 2 wireless routers per classroom to ensure a class of 30 students could all access the wireless network at the same time. I thought they understood. However, it turns out they only installed one wireless router in each classroom and, guess what, the 2 classrooms where we are currently testing the wireless network are having issues. Once more than 20 students try to access the network computers start dropping off of the network. It would have been nice if our IT guys had just followed our advice from the start.

Then there is our 1-to-1 laptop program for our Gr.9's. With all of the network and wireless issues that the IT people have been dealing with, the 120 laptops for our Gr.9's are no where ready to distribute. We have not done any training with our Gr.9's yet because we need the carts of laptops to do this. It is going to be many weeks before these Gr.9s receive their laptops.

I know that opening a new school has its trails and tribulations. However, when we are trying to prepare our students for the 21st Century it just feels like we are being told "Hurry up and wait!!!"