Celebrate Father’s Day and Teamwork!

During period 4 “Skills for Living” today I will be assisting the Year 8 students set up for the “Shake ‘n’ Dog” fundraiser. Your task is to write a blog post about one of the following:

  • What does your Dad mean to you? What do you and your Dad do together? How does your Dad make you feel special? What does it look like and feel like when you and your Dad are together? Add an image that portrays what is special about your Dad. (Make sure it is a creative commons image)
  • Next week is Blog Action Day with the theme “The Power of We”. Read the linked post and share your ideas on your blog. Think about the quotes below and write about what one or more of them mean to you. Coming up to the winter sporting finals, write about your own football or netball team and how you work together. What is special about working together as a team? What can be frustrating or difficult?

“There is no I in TEAM!”

“No Man is an Island” (John Donne, poet)

“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much” (Helen Keller)

“Most great learning happens in groups. Collaboration is the stuff of growth.” (Sir Ken Robinson Ph.D.)

Teamwork divides the tasks and multiplies the success.” (Author unknown)

If, for some reason, you are unable to post to your blog, you can write your work in a Word document and email it to me or write this in your Skills for Living book and submit.

Hearing and Sound Waves

Photograph taken by Josh Gow at the Macarthur Wind Farm

Last week we learnt how the human eye can only detect a narrow band within the electromagnetic spectrum – what we know as visible light. Higher frequency waves are known as ultraviolet waves, X-rays and gamma rays, while lower frequency wavelengths are known as infrared waves, micro-waves and radio waves.

In a similar way, our ears can only detect part of the sound spectrum. Sound is composed of frequency expressed as hertz (Hz) and pressure expressed as  decibels (dB). This site has a simple description of what sound waves look like. Why is understanding about how sound works important? A local example is the controversy surrounding the potential health impacts of the Macarthur Wind Farm.

Since the introduction of the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act in 2000 and the Renewable Energy Target Scheme in 2009, wind farms have become more prominent in Victoria. However, this has not been without controversy as some people claim that wind turbines can adversely impact the health of individuals living in close proximity. Concerns focus on infrasound noise, electromagnetic interference, shadow flicker and blade glint produced by wind turbines. “Infrasound noise” or “low frequency noise” refers to sound waves inaudible to the human ear (although this varies between individuals). ‘Low frequency noise’ is the term used to describe sound energy in the region below about 200Hz. The rumble of thunder and the throb of a diesel engine are both examples of sounds with most of their energy in this low frequency range.

‘Infrasound’ is also often used to describe sound energy in the region below 20Hz. Almost all noise in the environment has components in this region although they are of such a low level that they are not significant. Noise which has most of its energy in the ‘infrasound’ range is only significant if it is at a very high level, far above normal environmental levels.

Wind Turbine Syndrome(“WTS”) is an alleged condition proposed by pediatrician Dr Nina Pierpoint. She cites a range of physical sensations and effects (including sleep disturbance, headache, tinnitus, ear pressure, vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, tachycardia, irritability, loss of concentration, lack of memory, panic attacks, internal pulsation, and quivering) reported by people living close to wind turbines. Dr Pierpont’s assertions are yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, and have been heavily criticised by acoustic specialists. This article by the Drum on ABC claims that “this phenomenon has disturbing hallmarks of mass hysteria or psychogenic illness being whipped up by interests groups connected with climate change denial interests, some of whom have personal financial interests in fossil fuels.”

From the Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council report – “Wind Turbines and Health” (July, 2012)

  • ‘There is no reliable evidence that infrasounds below the hearing threshold produce physiological or psychological effects’ (Berglund & Lindvall 1995).
  • Infrasound associated with modern wind turbines is not a source which will result in noise levels which may be injurious to the health of a wind farm neighbour (DTI, 2006).
  • Findings clearly show that there is no peer-reviewed scientific evidence indicating that wind turbines have an adverse impact on human health (CanWEA, 2009).
  • Sound from wind turbines does not pose a risk of hearing loss or any other adverse health effects in humans. Subaudible, low frequency sounds and infrasound from wind turbines do not present a risk to human health (Colby, et al 2009).
  • The Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit (Ontario, Canada) reviewed the current literature regarding the known health impacts of wind turbines in order to make an evidence-based decision. Their report concluded that current evidence failed to demonstrate a health concern associated with wind turbines. ‘In summary, as long as the Ministry of Environment Guidelines for location criteria of wind farms are followed … there will be negligible adverse health impacts on Chatham-Kent citizens. Although opposition to wind farms on aesthetic grounds is a legitimate point of view, opposition to wind farms on the basis of potential adverse health consequences is not justified by the evidence’ (Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit, 2008).
  • Wind energy is associated with fewer health effects than other forms of traditional energy generation and in fact will have positive health benefits (WHO, 2004).
  • ‘There are, at present, very few published and scientifically-validated cases of an SACs of wind farm noise emission being problematic … the extent of reliable published material does not, at this stage, warrant inclusion of SACs … into the noise impact assessment planning stage (EPHC, 2009).
  • While a great deal of discussion about infrasound in connection with wind turbine generators exists in the media there is no verifiable evidence for infrasound and production by modern turbines (HGC Engineering, 2007).
  • There are no direct pathological effects from wind farms and that any potential impact on humans can be minimised by following existing planning guidelines. (NHMRC, 2010)

National Health and Medical Research Council Public Statement

“Infrasound from Wind Turbines: Fact, Fiction or Deception?” Geoff Leventhall

What do you think the scientific evidence shows? What are the ‘placebo’ and ‘nocebo’ effects?

I spy with my little eye…….

Image source

Learning Intention: Students will understand the structure and function of the human eye and investigate how it works and some of it’s limitations.

Success criteria: Students will be able to draw and label a diagram of the eye and describe how it works. They will also be able to give a brief demonstration of an optical and visual phenomena.

This site, by Michael Bach, has not quite 100 different visual illusions for you to examine. The emphasis here is on relative novelty and interactivity, in combination with a scientific background. The National Institute of Environmental Health and Safety have a kids page with some very interesting examples of visual phenomena. There are some more you can try out at Optical Illusions 1,2,3.

Change blindness is a is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when a change in a visual stimulus goes unnoticed by the observer. Here are some examples of change blindness. There are some more examples, using the “mud splash” phenomena here.

The following activities are sourced from the CSIRO “Science by Email” archives. They are all about sight and perception. I would like you to work in pairs to read the instructions, set up the experiment or demonstration and then explain it to the class.

1. Blind spot

2. Lasting color

3. Corner of your eye – peripheral vision

4. Coloured words – the “Stroop” effect

5. Look into your eye

6. How a filter works

7. Phantom eyelids

8. Are you predator or prey?

9. Persisting illusion

10. Pepper’s ghost (this one takes a bit longer to set up)

11. Make a mirage

12. Invisible coin

13. Why is the sky blue? Or pink?

14. Puzzling pendulum

Skills for Living: Friday 17th August Period 4

Learning Intention: To reflect on the things that students have learnt about organisation, confidence and persistence in Year 7.

Success Criteria: You will complete the tasks below to the best of your ability.

This lesson you need to revisit your blog post from last week – “Letter to my six month younger self” and check your spelling and grammar. You need to add another paragraph, giving advice to a new student starting in Year 7 in 2013. How could they keep organized? How can they remember which room to go to? What have they got to look forward to? What should they be careful to do or not to do? Make sure you add a creative commons image (or one you have taken yourself) to this blog post.

This post, “Letter from a primary school student“, describes what a student wants their new teachers to know. Do you agree with the student? What would you like your teachers to know about you and how you like to learn? What would you suggest to teachers to help you to improve your learning? Please write me a email with the answers to these questions, then copy and post this onto your blog.

Science Week – Energy Revolution 11th-19th August

Australian Science Teacher’s Association Science Week Booklet

Next week is Science Week across Australia and ASTA have produced an excellent, free resource with information and activities on the theme “Energy Revolution”. It includes sections on types of renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable homes, schools, transport and buildings. There are plenty of links to resources and practical activities for your classroom.

We have a few things happening at Hawkesdale to celebrate Science Week:

Monday 13th August (11.30am – 12.30pm): Games and Game Design: Skills needed for a career in games Quantum Victoria present “The Young Scientist and Engineer series” with Paul Taylor, a game designer, educator and software engineer. Click on this link for the Blackboard Collaborate session.

Tuesday 14th August (9.00 – 10.00am) Mags Lum (@ScientistMags on Twitter) is a chemist, metallurgist, photographer and writer. She writes a blog, “Philosophically Disturbed” and will be Skyping into our classroom to talk about “Science is a journey” with our year 9 class.

Wednesday 15th August (11.15am to 12.05pm) Catherine Anderson (@genegeek) is a molecular genetics specialist who writes at “Musings of a gene geek”  about science, DNA, genetics and more. She will be Skyping in to our Year 7 class with “Genetics 101, Why I love it and science career paths”. Catherine has written a great post about DNA on her blog, “What is DNA?”. Please leave a comment on her blog about what you found interesting about today’s session, if you might be considering science as a career and thanking her for her time today.

After our Skype sessions, please follow the links to Mags’ and Catherine’s blogs and add a comment – What did you find interesting, amusing, difficult to understand or strange? Did their talk make you think about a career in science?

On Monday 27th August (11.30am to 12.30pm): Quantum Victoria present “The Young Scientist and Engineer series” with Matt Bliss, a geologist studying the chemistry of volcanoes, who will be speaking about “The Earth as a Dynamic System”.


Landing Time of a Parachute – Air Resistance

Creative Commons image from Wikimedia

Learning Intention: To investigate the effects of forces and to design, carry out and report on a simple practical experiment with controlled variables.

Success Criteria: Students will design and carry out an experiment to find out the effect of different factors (mass of object, size of canopy or shape of canopy) on the landing times of a parachute with a toy (Barbie, toy soldier or Lego man) attached. They will vary only one factor, collect data to gain an average of at least three ‘jumps’  and record their results in a table. Students will complete a report of their investigation that includes Aim, Method, Materials, Results, Discussion and Conclusion.

When objects are dropped from a height, gravity is not the only force acting upon them. You would feel the other forces if you jumped from a plane, as air resistance. The picture above shows the design of the world’s first human parachute – can you think of any animals use air resistance to aid movement?

Your task this week is to find out the effect of one of the following variables (something that changes) on the landing time of a parachute. You can use cotton or nylon thread to attach the parachute and drop it from at least two metres.

  • Mass of the skydiver (use a Barbie doll, toy soldier or Lego man with weights added)
  • Size (area) of the canopy (use plastic freezer bags or garbage bags)
  • Shape of the canopy

Make sure that only one of these factors changes and repeat each trial at least three times. Draw up a table to record your results.


Wheel Talk with Jason Sleep

Image Source

On Tuesday 24th July we had a visit from Jason Sleep, who works with Disability Sport and Recreation to improve student awareness of people with disabilities in our community and the benefits of healthy exercise. Each student had the opportunity to participate in a game of wheelchair basketball and ask Jason questions about the sport and his disability. Today I am asking students to write a blog reflection on his visit. Please answer at least six of the following questions in your post:

1. What was something that you learned about Jason?

2. What was something that surprised you about what Jason talked about?

3. What was something you learned about disability?

4. Why do you think it is particularly important for people with a disability to be fit and strong?

5. When you played the game of wheelchair basketball, what were you good at?

6. What did you find difficult about wheelchair basketball?

7. What techniques helped you to move around in the wheelchair?

8. Write down some of the emotions you were feeling while playing the wheelchair games.

9. What were some of the skills you practiced during the session e.g dribbling, catching, passing.

10. What do you think you could improve on with these skills and how could you do this?

Love your Locals – Get Grubby

Learning Intention: Students will continue to develop their understanding about the importance of biodiversity and how threatened species can be affected by human activities. They will contribute to discussion about how we can maintain biodiversity in Victoria and learn about the ways that Zoos Victoria contribute to biodiversity management programs.

Success criteria: Students will participate in the Zoos Victoria webinar, demonstrating appropriate online behaviour and contribute to discussion about threatened species. They will produce a blog post describing what they have learnt about biodiversity, threatened species and the ways that Zoos Victoria contribute to biodiversity management.

Zoos Victoria is Fighting Extinction for 20 local threatened species and they need your help! In this interactive web-conference you will get to know a bit more about some of our most endangered and amazing local animals, and some of the people working hard to save them. You will also gain some practical tips and how to best help native wildlife. Chat live to experts from the Zoo and Greening Australia, view exclusive video footage, and find out how you can help to get grubby to directly help save these shy and unique Victorian animals from extinction.

To Join this session on Tuesday July 24th at 11.30am, please click this session link within 30 minutes of start time: Love your Locals – Get Grubby!

Enter your name and school e.g. Britt at Hawkesdale P12 College and remember your online etiquette  – no spamming, be respectful of everyone in the room and use all the tools appropriately.

Year 7 Science: Forces

Magnet and Compass

Click to Run



Interactive Learning Object from PheT, Colorado

Learning Intention: Students will understand that forces can start motion, stop motion, change the speed or direction of motion, change the shape of an object or have no effect at all. They will be able to distinguish between contact forces (friction, buoyancy, surface tension, mechanical forces) and non-contact forces (magnetic and electric forces).

Success Criteria: Students will create a 60 second science video that demonstrates their understanding of forces.

This term Year 7 students will continue learning about forces, using simple experiments with magnets, water, weights and wires. We will also use some online and netbook tools to learn about forces. Click on the interactive above to enter the learning object. Read more about the magnetic field of the earth at BBC Bitesize: Magnetic Fields.  Do-it-Yourself magnetic levitation at You Tube. Everything you ever want to know about magnets from the Cool Magnet Man. 

Your task this week is to produce a 60-second science video that demonstrates your understanding of forces – choose one of the forces we have discussed (magnetic, friction, static-electric, buoyancy, surface-tension, gravity, muscular and mechanical forces). Create a story board and a script before you borrow the cameras and start filming and editing. You will need to register on the site using a username and password before you upload your video.

Western Volcanic Plains – an ancient landscape

Image Source: Google Earth

Although Australia is located in the centre of a continental plate, we still experience earthquakes and volcanoes from time to time and our landscape is shaped by these forces. Mt. Eccles, Mt. Rouse, Mt. Napier and Tower Hill are all local examples of extinct volcanoes. 

Mount Eccles is an inactive volcano near Macarthur. It is composed of scoria hill, formed from a series of volcanic vents. The Gunditjmara name for the mountain is Budj Bim meaning High Head. The roughly conical shaped peak rises 178 metres. You can re-create a cinder-cone, like Mt. Eccles, at “Volcano Explorer” by choosing medium viscosity lava and low gas.

Mount Napier is one of the youngest volcanoes in Australia, last erupting in 3290BC. It has a composite lava shield with a superimposed scoria cone. The cone rises 150m above the surrounding plains to an elevation of 440 m, making it the highest point on the Western District Plains of Victoria. The flow also created lava blisters or tumuli along the flow, creating mounds of basalt rocks. The blisters are unique in Australia and a rare occurrence in the rest of the world. They are formed by gas and heat from the lava pushing up against the crust. You can re-create a shield volcano by choosing low viscosity and low gas at the “Volcano Explorer“.

All of these volcanoes erupted in the last 25,000 years, when indigenous tribes lived here. You can see the remains of stone huts, fireplaces, fish and eel traps and middens in many parts of the western district, including Lake Condah and the Mt Eccles State Park. Catalyst produced an interesting program about the aboriginal villages at Lake Condah, which described ancient eel farms, where indigenous farmers bred, caught and smoked eels for trading purposes. You can read more about the aboriginals and the lava flows at Mt Eccles and Lake Condah here.

Your task is to write a 300-500 word story about a day in the life of an indigenous child when one of these volcanoes was actively erupting. Include information about food, family life, shelter and the local flora and fauna. Please check the Google Docs assessment rubric to see what is important about your work. When you have finished, create a matching image in Paint, or find an appropriate creative commons image to share, and add your story and image to your blog. Make sure you send me an email with a link to your blog post, so I can comment on your work, or leave a comment below with your blog address so we can access your post.  Here are some links to assist your research: