Student Researchers: Interviews Using Google Hangouts

The tools that we have in today’s libraries and classrooms are just amazing.  Gone are the days where you have to look for an expert in the local community that can leave his or her job long enough to come to a school to speak to a whole class or an individual.  While that is certainly possible, the collaborative tools we have online make the entire world our local community.

Today, a 4th grader came to the library to hold an interview with Joey Shea at Southface Energy in Atlanta.  Danny is doing an inquiry project for his 4th grade class.  He recently read a book about energy that made him very curious about how energy can disappear and what we might need to do in the future in order to conserve energy or find new ways of producing energy.  His teachers found Mr. Shea and began an email dialogue with him to setup a time to Skype or Google Hangout with Danny.  Danny worked on a list of questions, and I setup the technology side of things.  I communicated with Mr. Shea in a few emails to determine that we would use a Google Hangout.  I setup a Hangout on Air so that Danny could record the interview to refer back to in his researcher.

For 30 minutes, Danny setup in my office and talked with Joey Shea.  It was awesome.  Danny was the leader through the whole interview, and Mr. Shea even got a chance to ask him some questions about our school and his project.  I love that when students interview someone through Skype, Google Hangout, or Facetime that it doesn’t intrude very much on that person’s schedule.  I also love that students see the person in their own setting and often get to see parts of a career that couldn’t be carried into a school.

I don’t think that this happens often enough.  I hope that we will continue to find opportunities to connect young learners with experts in the world.  It empowers them to realize that they have a voice in seeking answers to their questions and it connects adults with the young learners of today to remind them of the upcoming generations and their curiosities.

Thank you to all of the teachers who help make these experiences happen and thank you to people like Joey Shea for taking time to connect.

Why Do We Explore Space?: A Virtual Field Trip Opportunity

Ms. Kelly’s Kindergarten class has just amazed me across this year by how they have used a study of space to flow into so many of their standards.  They have written their own ebooks, composed music, written lyrics, researched multiple questions, and now they are coming up with a plan to help the people who want to go on a one way trip to Mars.  During the course of this study, an interesting question came up.  Why do we explore space in the first place?  It’s something we haven’t even considered during all of our research.

It came about because of an email that Ms. Kelly got about a virtual field trip to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

30 minute virtual field trip begins at 1:00 PM (ET) and is appropriate for all grades. Get a tour of a NASA facility and learn about the research being carried out into planetary exploration. Learn why it is important to explore the universe and how our knowledge of the universe has expanded due to the space programs. Understand the multitude of scientific practices involved in space travel, and see the application of many of these in the real world.

The virtual field trip is next Friday May 1, 2015 at 1PM EST.  It’s appropriate for all grade levels and it’s free!  All you have to do is register and you can even have students submit questions ahead of time.  http://www.discoveryeducation.com/Live/of-the-people-space-day-2015.cfm

Ms. Kelly wondered if we might explore the idea of space exploration a bit before students engage in the virtual trip.  I’m brainstorming about this right now, but I first wondered about putting the question out to more people.  I wonder what all of us think about why we should explore space or even why we shouldn’t.  I decided to make a Flipgrid.  Anyone can post a 90 second to this grid responding why we should or shouldn’t explore space.  I would love to have kid voices and adult voices from multiple perspectives to share with this Kindergarten class.

If you have a moment, reflect on the question and make a video.  If you have even more time, do this with your own students in the next few days.  If you don’t have time to make a video, consider sharing it with someone who might.

Why should we explore space? (or not explore space)

My thinking at the moment is that I will share these videos with my Kindergarten students as an opener.  We’ll take time to read some books such as The Planet Hunter or Moustronaut and reflect on the question ourselves.  Then, students will have a chance to add their own ideas to the grid along with the other voices.  http://flipgrid.com/#c6c0c1f0

Ms. Kelly and I never know where we are going to end up.  We just keep our minds open, look for opportunities, and give it a shot.  We usually find that our risk-taking leads to some miraculous opportunities for our students.