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Commander Chris Hadfield In My Classroom

Two weeks ago I came upon a wonderful idea at Pedagoo. Very simple, as many wonderful ideas usually are. I resolved to bring a specific teaching strategy to my classroom. I wrote about it here a little while back, In fact, it was my first post on this new Irish blog from Dungarvan, in County Waterford, Ireland. To summarise: rather than ask a question for pupils to answer, I turn the tables and provide the answer. The pupils’ task is to research in order to find a suitable question for the particular answer.

I certainly am delighted with the results. Yesterday’s answer was “Commander Chris Hadfield”. Immediately, to my shock and amazement, one of my pupils stood up, stretched herself tall and raised her hand. When asked for her question she replied “Yes, who was the first Canadian to walk on the moon?” (This was news to me!) The following morning several of the girls had similar questions. Currently, Commander Hadfield is orbiting the earth on the International Space Station. I know this because I’ve tweeted him twice recently. He’s got multi-thousand followers, so I really don’t expect a reply. However, the power and the reach of blogging will likely mean that this blog post will arrive on his laptop screen pretty soon now…fingers crossed here in Stradbally. The world is a small place.

The answer, and several subsequent questions opened up a wonderful lesson and a very lively discussion, including speed of orbit, general onboard tasks, lots of “I wonder how do they ….?” type questions. But the one that really was the icing on the cake concerned a tweet about an annual overhaul of the urine hoses.  “Space Plumber – annual overhaul of the urine hoses, valves and sensors. After I was done, it worked.” Here’s a link to the tweet. Shrieks of “O my God” and such like, further questions about the mechanics of body waste in space, and much smirking and inventive querying (I don’t know all the ins-and-outs of the matter, pardon the pun) brought this unplanned lesson to a wonderful conclusion. Thank you Chris Hadfield.

It was a good, unplanned geography / science lesson, one that I will not forget in a hurry. Sometimes the best lessons are unplanned. Well, unplanned in the sense that I certainly had not anticipated the outcomes. I had planned the ANSWER. And I want to thank Pedagoo and the #PedagooResolutions Document for inspiring my new teaching strategy.

Time now methinks for my morning exercise. Walk to town, and my weekly opportunity to undo it with hot chocolate. My chance to read the weekend Irish Times. Who knows, there may be more answers?

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