Tag Archives: STEM

STEM, Art, gardening, cooking…thank goodness it’s Friday!

Our classes have been busy this week and I was lucky enough to spend a day in P7 this week and even more luckily, on a day when a trip was planned! P7 are working with staff at the Palace of Holyroodhouse on a project based around Leonardo da Vinci’s sketches which are currently displayed there and it was a pleasure to see their own sketchbooks which they have created as well as witness the time and effort they put into creating their own emblems, inspired by Leonardo.

Over the next two weeks, they will visit with P2 and help their younger buddies to make dragon masks so watch this space for some photos!

P1 have been out on the hills as usual (luckily for them the rain didn’t start until after school) and have been using natural resources to help them with their current Maths topic of time. Well done P1!

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P2 planted Mirabilis Jalapa perennials in their own alphabet pots which they had made. Not only will they look lovely as they grow in the classroom but they might even be able to be transplanted into our outdoor planters which will form part of our Outdoor Classroom and Community Garden which was launched on Monday! It was fantastic to get so many parents and lots of really useful suggestions for how we can get started, from landscapers to project managers and practical tips for growing with the children. I can’t wait to see it all begin to take shape and I’m confident there will be a lot of discussion about it at Parent Council next week.

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P3 have also had a busy week as they have made pancakes in the Cooking Classroom which included recipe writing, measuring and munching! (None made their way to Mrs Ketchin’s office I notice…). They even found time to design and make their own wooden boats before testing them in the water tray and YES they all floated!

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P5, 6 & 7 had a visit from Generation Science yesterday and learned all about electrical circuits.Everyone now knows what electrons, atoms and negative charges are, as well as how to build their own ammeter!

On Tuesday I was on a Child Protection course to update my qualification in this area. We discussed some hard hitting topics and examined practice from across Education, Health, Social Work and the Police. Online safety was discussed at length with advice for parents (and practitioners) to think of the internet as a place when you are trying to decide whether to let your child use a particular app, game or website. Just like the real world, the internet is a wonderful, diverse place with amazing things to see and do but also with plenty of hidden dangers that young people need to be guided to navigate and deal with. Would you let your child go to Waverley Station, speak to as many strangers as possible, swap phone numbers and get on an unknown train? This is the reality of what many apps and games encourage children to do with TikTok being one of the most toxic apps available at the moment.

Next week, our Parent Literacy course starts on Monday and the tutors plus teachers are looking forward to sharing tips and strategies that we use in school to help you help your child. We have a Parent Council meeting on Wednesday and I shall also be at a cluster Head Teachers meeting where P7 transition to high school will be a strong agenda item – not long now! Mrs Watt and I shall be holding interviews for citywide Pupil Support Assistant posts and the Abbeyhill Ambassadors will be crossing their fingers that they get a reply to their letter to a local soup kitchen offering to spread kindness round the community.

And finally…

There have been no reported cases of coronavirus in Scotland yet but if you are concerned about anyone in your family, please do not come to school or send your child to school but seek advice from NHS 111 immediately. Do not physically go to your GP. In the meantime, the usual good hand hygiene practices and caution about seeing anyone who has travelled to an affected area will help to keep your family healthy. The Easter holidays are still 5 weeks away but it is worth checking your travel insurance in case you have trips booked to any of the affected countries which you may be advised to cancel.

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

We love being part of our community!

From our new community garden to working hard with our royal neighbours, read on to find out what we’ve been up to at Abbeyhill this week! Our class newsletter went out today and it’s great to read about all the different things going on in each class. Nursery have been taking advantage of significant Early Years funding that was recently made available to each setting and lots of new STEM equipment has been arriving over the last few weeks. Plenty of it has gone into the garden so you may have already spotted it!

Speaking of gardens, yesterday I met with a playground development officer to discuss our proposed outdoor classroom and community garden. Simon Preston, our Parent Council Chair, was also there and we were pleased to hear about support that be offered in terms of building and sourcing the items we need to transform the area on the grass that has recently been revealed following the removal of the thorny bushes. If you are able to join us on Monday for the official launch of the project then Simon, Mr Woodhouse and Mr Hamilton look forward to giving a little more information on what you can expect to see before the school year draws to a close in June. P1 and P2 will both be exploring planting in the new garden as part of their projects this term although P3 is planning to go a little further afield and visit the Rainforest! Watch this space to find out what they are up to as they explore this topic.

If you have our newsletter, you’ll be able to access the official photos from P6’s Burns & Beyond project that I wrote a lot about last month and P4 and P5 have also been heavily involved in live performance this week as they were lucky enough to secure tickets to The Lion King at the Playhouse where they all had a wonderful time on Wednesday afternoon. I spent time in P5 on Thursday and enjoyed hearing them tell me about their favourite parts as well as discussing the technical elements of the production!

P7 have continued to represent Abbeyhill’s new partnership with The Palace of Holyroodhouse and visited again this week as part of a project which will see them create and bind their own sketchbook will be used as the project continues. P2 are very much looking forward to the culmination of this particular project which will see them be able to get involved and explore what the P7s have learned with them as well as doing some sketching of their own.

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Next week, we have our Outdoor Classroom launch and a Generation Science workshop for P5-7. I’ll be lucky enough to spend a few days with P7 so I’m looking forward to being part of the workshop as well as accompanying them to The Palace of Holyroodhouse to see their artistic skills in action!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

Haggis-tastic!

Last night saw the third annual Parent Council Burns Supper and it was bigger and better than ever before! Thanks to our Parent Council Chair (who slaved over several hot stoves all day!) we ate a delicious meal of homemade roast cauliflower soup, traditional haggis, neeps and tatties, finished off with fruit and shortbread made by P1 in our Cooking Classroom – with all the cutlery presented in tartan cutlery holders handmade by P2. Tickets for dinner were sold out (as word has spread over the last few years) and we were delighted to welcome even more families for the ceilidh at 6pm. Before the dancing started, we were treated to performances of both traditional and contemporary Scots poems and songs by our very talented Abbeyhill pupils. We had had the dress rehearsal for this in school on Wednesday where every class from P1 – P7 prepared a performance piece with the highlights being P5’s enthusiastic rendering of ‘A Dug, A Dug!’ by Bill Keys and P6’s premiere of the song they helped to write as part of their involvement with the Burns and Beyond festival. £362 was raised for Parent Council funds and this will go towards the creation of our Outdoor Classroom which Mr Woodhouse is leading on. Well done everyone!

Speaking of which, P6 enjoyed their final event of the Burns and Beyond festival at the Assembly Rooms yesterday with pupils from Flora Stevenson’s, St Joseph’s and Corstorphine Primary Schools. The Bairns’ Burns Supper also included guests from the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council and Culture United.

Live music was featured as well as Burns poetry, guest speakers, traditional Burns Supper food and the showcase of each school’s creative ideas. It ended with a mass ceilidh with music from a live band and instructors from Dancebase before it was time to head back to school. Everyone agreed that it was a fantastic experience which we were very lucky to be part of (thanks to Miss Stamati being quick off the mark with Abbeyhill’s application!)

P1-3 were lucky enough to enjoy a visit from Generation Science on Thursday and experienced their ‘Get Fizzy’ workshop where they learned about mixing liquids and solids with often surprising results! We definitely have a few budding scientists at Abbeyhill – well done everyone!

Generation Science is the schools touring programme from the Edinburgh International Science Festival. Each year, they run interactive science workshops in schools all over Scotland from January to May and we always enjoy getting fully involved. This year the Science Festival will run from 4th – 19th April so make a note in your diaries!

Earlier in the week, I attended a Leadership Conference at our local Drummond Community High School and heard from inspirational speakers on a range of topics including assessment, middle leadership and Lesson Study, a practice originating in Japanese schools where several teachers work together to develop teaching practice in an agreed target area. It’s something we’re very keen to try at Abbeyhill so it was useful to hear more about it. Most interestingly was the acknowledgement that our young people learning in schools today need to be taught to foster creativity, critical thinking, be able to collaborate and communicate in order to be able to take successful next steps when they leave school and that the age of needing to retain endless facts may be coming to an end.

This week also saw a new Artist in Residence, Anna Danikwicz start work with P4. Anna will work with the class for 7 weeks and is a sculptor, ceramicist and writer so we’re very excited to see what she develops with the class. All the work produced with our Artists in Residence will of course be available to be viewed by the public at the Colony of Artists festival later this year (19th & 20th September 2020). Next week, P6 will be continuing work with Holly McCulloch from the Collective Gallery who we have built up a sustained and productive relationship with over the last 5 years. Check back here to see what they get up to!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher

We love the rain!

I hope you all enjoy reading your class newsletter if you receive school emails. Paper copies will also come out next week for those who don’t! It’s full of information about what has been happening in school since we started back in August. As you will read, everyone has been extremely busy and there is still plenty of excitement to come!  

We had our first outdoor wet break of the session on Monday and it was a new experience to be out in the rain, rather than cooped up indoors. Thank you to the families who have donated waterproof jackets that their children have outgrown as we needed quite a few spares for those of us who were unprepared! Thank you also to the parents who have taken the time to let me know that they think staying outdoors in (almost) all weathers is a positive thing. There certainly seemed to be less frayed tempers in the afternoon as we’d all had a dose of fresh air and enjoyed the delights of being outside in the rain – like jumping in puddles! PUDDLES.jpg

Spotlight on….P5 with Miss Howson

This term Primary 5 are exploring states of matter and substances as part of our introduction into chemistry! This started with an opportunity to make Ooblek (a non-newtonian fluid) which changes with force. We build on what we had learned in previous years, about solids, liquids, gases. We discussed how water is found naturally in all three states and reminded ourselves of the water cycle. We then began to deepen our understanding of how temperature changes the state of objects (how the addition or removal of heat leads to water/ice/steam). We began to look at how molecules in substances look (and you can see our photos of us being the molecules in a solid, liquid and gases state! We discussed how heat equals energy, so we break bonds and move more freely!

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This terms science topic is looking at substances and chemical mixtures. To introduce the idea of chemical mixtures (more than one component within an item) we used Chromatography. Each pupil was shown 2 ways to conduct the experiment, and then with a partner had to agree on what protocols and techniques they were going to use. It was brilliant to watch the class as young scientists, discussing how to get the best results. After some experimentation, the class were then allowed to change the experiment, opting to investigate if we had to use filter paper or if normal paper would work. We were astonished to find out kitchen roll works! It was brilliant to see the different colours in our inks – and we created a brilliant display to show this science off!

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If you would like to recreate this experiment at home you will need, a cup of water, a long piece of kitchen roll and some felt tipped pens. Draw a line a 5 cm from the bottom of your kitchen roll in felt tip. Place 3cm of kitchen roll (below the line) into water. Wait…. and watch the colours appear! Our young scientists can explain to you why!

We began to discuss the differences between mixtures and solutions this week, by watching Ms Howson make a picnic for herself – we all thought it was a little unfair! Into the first bowl she added: granola, dried apple bits, chocolate buttons, white chocolate buttons, and into the second bowl she added orange dilute and water. We were given a task, in groups discuss strategies we could use to separate the items in the bowls into their original items. It was a lot trickier to separate the orange juice! (and Ms Howson was very impressed when she saw people try filtration like the chromatography experiment!).

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We then watched The Great Picnic Mix-up and returned to our mixtures with our new knowledge and could discuss what was a mixture, and what was a solution – and how and why we could tell them apart.

With our new knowledge of solutions and mixtures it was time to make our own! We had four stations set around the room, each with a bowl, water and a bag of solute (different types of sugar and salts). To begin with we each went around the four stations in teams, trying to work out if our solute did dissolve, and how best to measure. We agreed on a sprinkle measure as a class. We were then given team captains and assigned a station – our task was to recreate the experiment, tallying each sprinkle to see the solubility of each solute. We worked hard as teams, sprinkling and tally marking trying to discover which solute would win!

After we had tidied up we discussed how we could improve the accuracy of our experiment (standardised measure, same temp water, same number of stirs. We agreed as a class we may return to this experiment later in the year and complete it in a more scientific way!

To recreate this science at home: you need a cup of water and a solute (salt, sugar (anything that would dissolve in the water). Our young scientists can explain why this works, what dissolving is, and why you cannot dissolve forever!

Report from the sidelines

Well done to our football team who did Abbeyhill proud at their first match last Saturday! There was some excellent football for our team and best of all, great teamwork. The parents and carers were great too at giving support and encouragement. Our opponents – Wardie – were all P7s and a well established team. They initially took a strong lead but in the second half Abbeyhill played some amazing football and pulled back to 5-7, the final score. We didn’t win but have lots to be proud of. Good luck in tomorrow’s match!

And finally….

Are you looking for things to do in the Leith and Abbeyhill area? The updated ‘at a Glance’ guides have just been published and will be shared with you next week. If you want to have a look now, please click here to access the website.

Next week, it will be all systems go as we gear up for our involvement in the Colony of Artists festival on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd September, Russell McLarty will start his ‘Listening Spot’ on Wednesday in the playground and our Abbeyhill Ambassadors will be doing a bag pack at Sainsbury’s. Remember that school is closed for the September weekend on Monday 16th September but we resume as normal on Tuesday 17th. Have a lovely weekend!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher 

 

Looking ahead…

It may only be August but you have to be fast when it comes to the festive season and I’m delighted to announce that we’ll welcome M&M productions to Abbeyhill to perform ‘Dick Whittington’ in two separate showings for everyone from Nursery – P7! By going a little early we’ve secured the production at just £6 per child which is a fantastic price for a professional performance. Look out for more details coming out soon.

It’s Meet the Teacher next week and I look forward to welcoming as many of you as are able to come into school to meet some of our community partners as well as have a look round classrooms and have an informal chat with teaching staff. Please remember that this is not Parent’s Evening and if you would like an private conversation with your child’s teacher, you can arrange one at a different time. Parent’s Evening is next month and more information will come out about that shortly.

On Wednesday I met with Lynn Yeneka from Education Scotland who is keen for Abbeyhill to be involved in the pilot of a new STEM award (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) which would see us working to achieve 5 different elements over a 3 year period. This could fit well with the work we are doing with Education Scotland and Mrs Lansdown on Gender Balance so please watch this space to find out more as the pilot unfolds.

Yesterday I met with Russell McLarty who treated us to a storytelling session in assembly on Monday before talking to P4-7 about Chit Chat Club which starts next week. Russell and I discussed plans for ‘Listening Walks’ which we hope to reveal more about and start in the next few weeks. Russell is also keen for Abbeyhill to take part in the Nativity Labyrinth event at Meadowbank Church again this year and, judging by the success of last year, I think it’s safe to say that everyone will be keen to go!

Meanwhile, it’s the Colony of Artists festival in just a few weeks and final preparations are well under way. Alice Myers was in school this week planning a photography treasure trail which looks really exciting! Please make sure you visit the festival (Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd September) as there is always a fantastic atmosphere which gets better and better each year!

Spotlight on…Primary 3 with Mrs Flowers

P3 have just finished ‘Silly Billy’ by Anthony Browne. In the book, billy gets rid of his bedtime worries  by telling his worry dolls and popping them under his pillow. P3 made their own ‘Worry Monsters’ to take away any bedtime worries they might have.

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Well done P3, I think these would sell out in moments in the playground!

Have you read….

…your Scotland 4 Kids magazine?  There are loads of great articles this month including ‘Stop fighting’ (p6) and the WOW (What’s On Where) list for Edinburgh (p14-15). I’m going to be checking out the Batch Lady website www.thebatchlady.com for batch cooking inspiration which you might find useful coupled with ‘Not a sandwich in sight lunchbox savers’ on p6. Miss Macdonald will be interested in ‘Question Time’ (p8) which talks about modern day philosophy for children, something she has done a lot of with her classes. It also helps you to deal with the perpetual ‘why?’ question!

Next week is the Families Connect coffee and information session, Meet the Teacher, Parent Council, the first meeting of the newly appointed Abbeyhill Ambassadors AND I’ll be doing Outdoor Learning with P1 while Mr Hamilton and Mr Martin are on a ‘Play for Learning’ course. Check back on Friday to see how it all goes!

Sally Ketchin, Head Teacher