På skolan i världen

Här beskriver vi de olika skolutvecklingsprojekt som Sandgärdskolan deltar i.

The challenge masters go GIGS - or let’s not forget Firs

GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2017-04-20 10:33:33
Do you think they are prepared? I asked Jonas when I met him in the staffroom on Wednesday morning. ”Not too sure about that”, was the vague answer. ”We’ll have to wait and see”.

The day had come when it was time for the year nine pupils in our GIGS-project, the ones we call the challenge creators, to do the STEM-challenges of creating windmills and solar energy gadgets with the year six pupils, the challenge masters. We had spent Tuesday afternoon rehearsing and preparing, but everything was definitely not crystal clear. The morning session went really well however, from the challenge creators’ perspective. They managed to do what they wanted to. The challenge masters really mastered their challenges and were able to document what they did. They seemed to have a good time. They learned a couple of things according to themselves.

What we are facing now though is a slight dilemma. When I say ”we” it is Jonas and myself I am talking about. We agreed afterwards that there were things that had been positive. Things like the enthusiasm that the masters and most of the creators showed in the classroom and the distinct proofs of engineering skills that everybody showed. We also agreed that there were things that could be improved, and most of these things were connected with the treatment of the object of learning; energy. Even though I am not a Science teacher it was obvious to me that the presentation of different energy forms and sources could be done in another way and then the object of learning would appear in a more effective way. The most relevant and obvious way would be to make a couple of changes and then teach the same lesson to a new class. There are more year six classes. Simple learning study methodology. Problem is though that the other year six class is the control group and having them doing the challenges would probably skew the research part of the project.

I went home thinking about this and kept on thinking it about during the night when today’s second major happening for the challenge creators took place. Together with the rest of their class mates and their Swedish teacher (me) it was a night at the theater. We all went to see Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. In the very final scene the old house keeper Firs speaks up for the first time. He has been silent on stage throughout the entire play apart from almost unintelligible grunts. He has been visible and someone the others have stumbled on and shouted at and moved about, but has not said anything clearly. When everybody else is stripped down and left without anything and without their beloved cherry garden and manor he says ”They forgot about me. But I suppose that’s the way it is these days”. Firs becomes the elephant in the room, what everybody tries to convince themselves is not relevant anymore. We must not let that happen with the learning in the classroom, and in this case the learning of energy forms and sources.

Today (Thursday) Jonas and I will meet with the challenge creators and discuss what they are happy about and what they would want to improve. Then we will see how they will go about improving it, but in one way or another they must. We must not forget Firs.

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GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2017-03-29 07:27:17

I’m all lost in the supermarket

I can no longer shop happily

I came in here for that special offer

A guaranteed personality

When the Clash sang about being lost in the supermarket and growing up behind hedges over which they never could see they probably meant that there are kids whose backgrounds hinder them from seeing the bigger picture. I don’t think that any of the kids in the Swedish GIGS-group can claim that their backgrounds make up any obstacles in their lives, rather the opposite. Still, sometimes you need to stretch out and take a look at what’s on offer on the other side.

Last Friday we were at a visit to the company I3tex in Gothenburg. The visit was arranged as a part of the IGEday (Introducing Girls to Engineering). And this was surely an inspiring introduction. It started out rather modest, the girls from Sandared were rather quiet and withdrawn, but after the presentations from the young engineers and a snack in the lobby they really warmed to it in the work shop afterwards. The task was to create (or at least come up with an idea for) an assisting tool or application to a mobile phone. The group I overheard at first claimed that everything they needed already was invented, but after being positively pushed with ”nothing is impossible” and ”no idea is stupid” they soon started thinking about battery time and solutions for transferring battery power from one phone to another. The positive feedback from the engineers made the group even more enthusiastic.

The visit is further documented at and more details about the IGEday project can be found there.

I'm all tuned in, I see all the programs

I save coupons from packets of tea

I've got my giant hit discotheque album

I empty a bottle and I feel a bit free

For the Clash, the hedges and obstacles seem impossible to overcome. It is probably something you have to face if you are born where you are. For the eight students from Sweden I think that visits like these and a project like GIGS is ladder that enables you to see over the hedge and realize that there is actually something else on offer there. Anything is possible.

The pictures here are used with kind permission from the photographer Karin Fjaervoll

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Reflections on what makes teaching the best you can do

GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2017-03-25 17:33:02

What is that makes working as a teacher the best possible job you can have? It is not the pay, and being paid more does not make me any happier. Having less documentation and more time for lessons is sometimes argued being another factor that would enhance the popularity of my profession. It would not make me very much happier.

This Friday Jonas and I experienced something that we later discussed and agreed was what really makes teaching being the best you can do. We took all eight GIGS-students to a field trip to Gothenburg to visit the engineering consulting company i3tex There will be a more detailed description of the content of the visit later on in this blog. When the girls and Jonas arrived in Gothenburg I met them at the bus stop and guided us all to the trams that were supposed to take us to the site of the company. The pupils were a bit reserved at the start, but after a while they acted as if they had never done anything else than taking part in business meetings and conferences. They discussed with the invited engineers (all female and rather young) who were perfect role models.

During the first part of the project (in early autumn last year), Jonas asked the girls if there were any of them that had planned to study STEM-subjects at high school. One of them said that she perhaps would do it. When they were asked by the female engineers yesterday, two of the pupils said that their first choice for high school was STEM, and a third pupil said that she had it as her second choice. It is impossible to not come to the conclusion that GIGS is the reason for their change of plans. And I believe that the main reason is not that they all of a sudden find it funnier or more interesting. They have come to realize that engineering is something that they can do. It is not something restricted to boys only.

It is striking how much the pupils’ confidence and self belief has improved. And it is not a matter of doing it “just as well as” the boys or the men. The engineers yesterday and the pupils from Sandgärdskolan were totally engaged in a discussion on the female aspect of engineering in terms of what they knew and contributed to that men and boys could not see or understand. An amazing and strong experience for both me and Jonas who listened in.

So what makes me appreciate my profession so much is when I see the power that lies in changing young persons’ views on themselves and what they can be. Taking part in a school development project like GIGS makes me see these fundamental changes more clearly than ever. Empowering young people. That’s what makes teaching worthwhile.

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GIGS Warsaw

GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2017-02-09 18:27:14
So, the second face-to-face meeting in the GIGS project is halfway through. The day started a bit slow with slight problems accessing the venue for the meeting. No real worries since that only meant that we could begin with one of the favourite Swedish activities - fika. Coffee break.

We thought we were off to a flying start in Sweden with our work, but the other countries have also done surveys and started with the work on the STEM challenges. It is nice to hear about possibilities and obstacles in Cyprus and the UK to understand that the world of teaching is to a large part global.

It was good to hear that we have a new Polish partner school. What is strange though is that it seems that our previous partner school was not the only school closing down. It is apparently many schools that are closing due to a new organization on a national level. The populistic and conservative politicians here in Poland are obviously just as hard to keep away from the school as the ones are in Sweden.

We stay in the very center of Warsaw and the first sight we spotted, Jonas and I, when we got up from the train station was the Palace of Culture. I know that many Polish citizens have mixed emotions about Stalin's birthday cake, but it is impressive and together with the giant wide avenues it really sums up the former East Europe for me.

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GIGS - The saga continues

GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2017-01-19 13:21:31

Since we might get international readers on this blog post, it will be in English. I think that the potential Swedish readers will get by too.

So, the challenge creators work with with solar energy continued with a new solar oven today. It turned out to be a major disappointment. Nothing really happened and the water never got any warmer than 40º C.

Something that did work was the solar driven dog that wigged its tail once under the sun lamp and also the solar panel that could provide a capacitor with electricity enough to flash a light. A fan was also constructed that was fueled with solar power.

The second half of the morning was allocated to start planning for the field day with the younger pupils. It was truly interesting as a teacher to discuss lesson planning with pupils and getting their views on how long 12-year-olds would be able to concentrate before they needed to get down to practical action.

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Mer byggande

GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2016-12-16 14:56:41
Andra dagen med STEM-utmaningarna gick vi in på solfångare. Efter att Anne-Sofie gett eleverna en gedigen genomgång om hur en solcell funkar började några av dem att bygga en solfångare som skulle tillaga en korv. Vi fick även ett intressant tips på ett forskningsprojekt i Karlstad där nya slags solceller skall prövas ut. Vi skickade ett mail och hoppas på positivt svar.Under eftermiddagen kom även Tobias från Högskolan i Borås på besök. Vi bestämde att det blir fler tillfällen under vårterminen som hans kunskaper vad gäller e-boksförfattande kommer att komma väl till pass.

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The challenge is on

GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2016-12-15 21:43:28
Nu är det igång. På riktigt.

I och med terminens första dag för elevens val är våra GIGS-elever igång. Det område vi blev tilldelat är FN:s globala mål "hållbar och förnyelsebar energi". Efter att ha diskuterat olika energikällor och energiformer med eleverna kom vi fram till att de energikällor som är rimligast att bygga vår STEM-utmaning kring är vindenergi och solenergi. Det är dessa som passar bäst i ett globalt perspektiv också om man tänker sig hur ett litet samhälle i en lite skala skulle kunna producera sin egen energi. Det är inte riktigt rimligt att bygga ett kärnkraftverk i byn och vatten är alldeles för mycket en bristvara på många ställen för att använda som energikälla.

Dagen innebar att eleverna började skriva på de texter som kommer att ligga till grund för undervisningen som kommer att bedrivas för de yngre eleverna under vårterminen. Det funderades också på hur vi kan använda ingenjörskonst och teknik för att lära de yngre (och dem själva) mer om hållbara energikällor. Resultatet idag blev en prototyp för ett vindkraftverk. Imorgon kommer vi kanske att beräkna hur mycket energi vi får ut av det.
Imorgon kommer vi också ta tag i solenergin. Eleverna Elvira och Emelie var ute och fotade lite vid sjön för att kunna illustrera den kommande boken. Säga vad man vill om andra energikällor, men frågan är om det finns någon som kan tävla om det estetiska värdet.

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GIGS - dag 2

GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2016-11-11 18:31:12
Det börjar röra lite mer på sig. Vi ser ut att få någon av de två STEM-utmaningar som vi vill ha. Bra. Vi fick även en väldigt generös gåva från Richard på The Royal Academy of Engineering. Lådan innehåller mycket skojigt, bland annat en robot, UV-känsliga pärlor och lite annat. Pärlorna skall tydligen reagera med olika färger beroende på hur mycket strålning de utsätts för.

Det verkar också som att vi har många olika kanaler att föra ut resultatet från arbetetDet var en så intressant bild att Alexis från Cypern blev såhär angelägen att fota av den. Man kan även se hur fin karta Jonas ritade över Europa när vi skulle spåna på vilka vägar vår STEM skulle spridas.

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