Friday, 16 December 2011

Completing the Bamboo House Designs

Today the students completed their community house designs. They also completed individual assessments on the geometry found in the building models.

I asked the students to label their model houses with all the geometry terms that they could find. Here are the students discussing in their groups about what geometry can be found in their houses.

Here the groups are consulting their Maths reference books to check the names of the geometry terms found in their model house.

We have a total of seven house designs in the class. As a summative assessment, the students were interviewed by Ms Agnes to find out their individual understanding of the geometry terms in their house models.

To wrap up this inquiry, Ms Jane used the iPad app A+ Measuring Finger. We booked out seven of the school iPads. It was the first time that 5MJ had used them. Ms Jane asked the students to write a reflection about using the iPad app and how that has made a connection to our central idea for this geometry inquiry, “Geometric tools and methods can be used to solve problems relating to shape and space”.

The app was very useful as many groups found out that some of the angles in their house were not what they thought that they were.

After the students had finished their reflections, they posted them to their blogs and included the screen shots of their house models from the iPads. Ms Jane was very impressed with the reflection that Keaton wrote. She has sent his reflection to a new educational website about apps called Ms Jane was very excited to get a direct reply from that website saying that they thought that Keaton’s reflection was wonderful and they have published it on their site. Click here to read Keaton’s Reflection Online Congratulations Keaton!

"Grade 5 Student Reflection about Using the iPad A+ Measuring Finger App (by Keaton)

Today 5MJ finished building our model houses and we printed some labels that said things like acute angle, triangle, rectangle and all those sort of geometric names. Ms Jane found an app on the IPad called A+ Measuring Finger. We used it to measure our houses that we made. We went to the protractor section of the app and used it to take a picture of the house and then we drew the angles over that picture to measure them. It told us how many degrees it is.

There was a problem because we made this house with our hands so some of the angles that we thought were right angles were about 85 or 95 degrees. This means that those are not a true right angle. After that we found out that we have to take the picture straight otherwise when you try to draw the angle it will not be as accurate. We had to find four to five different kinds of angles such as acute, right, obtuse, straight and reflex. This app really helped us because now we know what angles are in our house and if they should be there or not.

We are now wondering when builders are building houses how do they measure the angle on the house that they are building. Do they have to carry a huge protractor to measure the house? When we were building the houses we had trouble keeping them straight and stable. I think that builders must have an easier way because they use metal in the middle and it is going straight up. Building with chopsticks it is hard to make it stay straight. Sometimes the way you put the elastic bands on is wrong and it pushes the chopstick to go at an angle that you don’t want it to be.

If we were using the app on the IPad during the building of our models, we would be able to make it straighter. We could measure it and then adjust it as we are doing the building. If our building bent in the wrong places it would fall down or the roof would fall through. The only reason we are trying to build a house is because it is part of our Maths inquiry. Our central idea is “Geometric tools and methods can be used to solve problems relating to shape and space”. Actually the main reason we are building a house is because we are hoping to build a 5×4 meter community house for the people at the Serpong landfill. Using geometric tools to build a house can help when you want to make the columns or the walls straight and so that you know what the angle of the roof is. Then you can work out how long the roof is and how many roof tiles or iron roofing you will need."

Here is the video that Ms Jane took of her lesson. Please watch it to learn about how we used the iPad app to measure the angles.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Going Further With Bamboo

Did you know that bamboo can grow between 3 and 10 centimeters a day! (Wikipedia:

Today in class 5MJ learned about how the Green School in Bali was built using traditional methods. Here is a club house made by the Grade 7 and 8 students from the Green School. We looked at how they use many bamboo lengths to add strength to the structure.

We finished off our Community house designs. Here are some photos of the students building them.

Shereen compared her house with Marcello’s house. She tried using the Green School technique and added more bamboo for her columns. Shereen's house is very stable, but Marcelo used struts (to make a strong triangle shape between the roof joins to the columns) to add stability. This is more cost effective.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Traditional Architects

Did you know that in Bali, traditionally buildings were designed by making a miniature version? When I first visited the Green School in Bali, I met with John Hardy the owner. He told me that the huge buildings in the middle of the campus were made the traditional way. These buildings are made entirely out of bamboo. The buildings were designed by making a miniature version first. This is similar to how 5MJ is making a model of the Community Building for the Serpong Landfill.

You can see the real one being built in the background. At the Green School, the Grade 7 and 8 students are making their own clubhouse. You can see the photos on a Slideshare that I embedded just before this post. Notice the construction of the roof. The bamboo has to be close together to make sure that the grass on the roof can be tied down and made waterproof!!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Designing a Community Building for the Serpong Landfill

5MJ have begun putting into action their intent to build a community building for the Serpong Landfill. They are starting to create a design for a community building. First the students talked about the building and what it could be used for. The class decided that they could probably raise about 3 million rupiah by holding some market days.

Next the class worked with Ms Agnes to measure the two traditional buildings in the SWA playground.

In class the students sat in the shared area to try to decide how big the building needs to be. We decided that 4 meters by 5 meters could fit about 20 people comfortably and possibly come under our budget of 3 million rupiah. But we don’t know for sure …

Now that we have the dimensions, the students created a detailed drawing for homework. In the meantime we have started working on the design in Sketch Up. We have been really using our geometry skills. In Sketch Up we learned about components, using the protractor, measure the sides accurately, rotation, alignment, axis and units.

After thinking about it. Ms Jane decided that Google Sketch Up wasn’t working because the students didn’t understand the concept of form. The students needed to work in 3D. Sketch Up is working in virtual and the students really needed to understand 3D by touching and seeing it in front of them. We needed to try to build it …

Today in class we started making structures using bamboo chopsticks. Ms Jane bought a lot of chopsticks so that we could learn about the form. Together with a partner, we began making the structure.

It was fun and very challenging! All the students have written a blog post about what they did and what they learned.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Installing a Liter of Light at the Serpong Landfill

On the second visit to the Landfill, the Liter of Light group installed 2 Liter of Lights in two houses. The students in this group also surveyed the houses at the Landfill to find out how many more houses wanted the lights installed.

Here is the video showing what happened ...

Friday, 9 December 2011

The Project Presentations

On Friday the 2nd of December, the class presented their three projects to parents and teachers.

The awareness campaigns had many benefits:

1. Share the students’ knowledge and understanding

2. Help synthesize ideas for their project, and give it direction

3. Announce their intentions to a wider audience

4. Affirm a commitment to help the landfill community

The class had spent the major part of three days getting their awareness campaign together including slogans, a logo design and a central question. Each team spoke to the audience for about 6 minutes, using keynotes, slideshows and iMovies to aid their presentations. Each member of the team prepared their own speech.

After the talks, each team had project boards to talk about and they spent time explaining everything to their visitors. These project boards showed photos, copies of emails, instructions, reflections, ideas for improvements in the Landfill etc. It was impressive to see how well the students could demonstrate what they had gained from their inquiries – a testament to real-life learning!

Each group in turn outlined their plans for possible solutions. In some cases action had already taken place and this gave an opportunity to tell about the outcome of that action.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Second Visit to the Serpong Landfill

This afternoon we went back to the local landfill area. The students were now firmly divided into three “camps” – the water group, the shelter group and the liter of light group. Each group had been working hard in class time to prepare further questions and to find out as much helpful background information as they could, much of it related to mathematics. For example, the shelter group actually measured out the dimensions of an average shelter in the piazza, and they planned to build a scale model although they haven’t decided which materials they will use. The water group measured out a distance and carried water backwards and forwards to see how far they could carry their water. The liter of light team looked at costings for tiles and special cement. Maths, maths, maths!

Here’s the field trip schedule:

  • meet the RT (head man)
  • divide into groups to ask questions, each with a teacher supervisor
  • measure, count, calculate
  • share food and drinks, and give out the laminated Comic Life posters

The liter of light group and the water group prepare their questions. Giuseppe has the trundle wheel to measure the distance that the water is carried.

Mr Rick tried to carry the 30 liters of water up the slippery slope. It was hard work!

Here you can see Mr Rick talking to the RT about the water problems that face this community.

The shelter group ask a lot of questions about what the buildings are made of.

Below you can see one of the water bottles in the roof. We needed a sunnier day to see how well the light will work under the best conditions. But so far, so good! Take a look at the photo - it was still very bright considering how cloudy it was!

Below is the bottle embedded in the roof of the house.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Liter of Light Prototype

The Liter of Light group have been working on a Prototype. Here is the video telling the story so far …

The Liter of Light has a fan page on Facebook. Ms Jane was able to share our video with the group by sending them a message. Grade 5 are not encouraged to use Facebook as you must be over 13 to use it. Ms Jane made a screen capture of the message written by Illac Diaz on the Liter of Light FB page about our Grade 5 Liter of Light project.

Here is the first post on the Liter of Light Fan Page

Illac Diaz has been encouraging our class to keep going with this project. Here is the post that he made about our first light installation at the Serpong Landfill Community. 5MJ students are being called 'Ambassadors of Light'.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Measuring an Accurate Circle

When the Solar Bulb group of students wanted to mount a coke bottle into a rigid piece of cardboard, they came up against a problem that they tried hard to solve by themselves. How can you make the hole the right size if you have a bottle and you cannot measure the it’s diameter. The idea they came up with to solve the problem was after much discussion…but was it accurate!

It looks simple to embed a coke bottle into a sheet of plastic ... but how do you measure the circle accurately?

Does the diameter equal half of the circumference?

How can you work it out? Is there a Mathematical formula that can help you?

Below are the calculations that Grade 5 came up with.

What we wanted to find out was - Does a = 2b? a is the circumference and b is the diameter.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Liter of Light

5MJ looked at this TEDx talk by Illac Diaz from the Philippines. He is the founder of the Light of Light group which is responsible for installing 200.000 lights in slum areas in the Philippines. 5MJ are very interested in learning about this as a possible solution for the people at the Serpong Landfill.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Singing at the Landfill Community

Ms Marion made a video about our first visit to the Landfill in Serpong. The students were given the task to get to know the children there by asking simple questions such as "What class are you in?", or "What time do you make up?".

The students from SWA were surprised to find out that many children don't go to school and some children have to wake up at 2am in the morning to collect water as they don't have running water in their house. It made us realize that many children have to live without basic rights such as access to clean water and the right to have an education.

After returning to SWA the students looked at some of the issues facing these children. They decided which issues they were interested in and began to inquiry into possible solutions for these problems.

The 3 issues that the class decided on were:

Lighting: the houses were very dark in the middle of the day. What could be a low-cost solution?
Water: the houses had no running water. The well was far from the houses and was very poluted. What solutions are there to help this situation?
Housing: the houses were very small and looked unsafe. What can be done to help this?

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Observations at the Landfill Site

On Wednesday 5MJ went to visit the Landfill site otherwise known as TPA Serpong. They made many observations and are currently doing some real life problem solving activities to see what solutions are needed to improve the quality of life for the residents there.

Here are some photos and the initial observations by 5MJ. The class has broken into three groups based on the student observations.

Those groups are:

Water – there is no running water in these houses. The children have to carry water to use in the kitchen. How could this problem be addressed? What is needed to have running water in each kitchen? Is it possible?

Shelter – these houses look very unstable. How could they be improved so that they are safer to live in? Why do these houses look temporary. Do they own or rent this land?

Light – the Liter of Light is a project in the Phillipines. It is a project where you place a used liter Coca cola bottle in the ceiling of a house to act as a skylight during the day. (Click here to see the website Liter of Light) We went inside some of these houses and it was very dark despite it being very sunny outside. How could we install some Liter of Lights in these houses? Ms Jane has been in contact with the head of this project in the Phillipines and he is keen to help us. How could the students of 5MJ start a Liter of Light project in Indonesia. What needs to be organized? How can we get sponsorship?

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Jangan Menyerah

5MJ decided to go further with learning about how resources are unevenly distributed in the world. The teachers arranged a visit to the local landfill community. This community is only 15 minutes drive from school. There are 40 families who live on the landfill amongst the rubbish. The class has been learning to sing a pop song in Indonesian which is all about trying your best no matter what the circumstances. It is a lovely song which fits well with the class as we are currently striving to complete some personal goals. We hope that it will inspire the children that live at the Landfill community.

Here are the words and a video of the teachers singing the song.

F G Am
Tak ada manusia
F G Am
Yang terlahir sempurna
F G Am
Jangan kau sesali
Segala yang telah terjadi

F G Am
Kita pasti pernah
F G Am
Dapatkan cobaan yang berat
F G Am
Seakan hidup ini
Tak ada artinya lagi

F G Am
Syukuri apa yang ada
Hidup adalah anugerah
F G Am
Tetap jalani hidup ini
Melakukan yang terbaik

[intro] F G Am

Jangan menyerah…jangan menyerah jangan menyerah ….aaaaaa
jangan menyerah jangan menyerah jangan menyerah aaaaaa

[intro] F G Am

F G Am
Syukuri apa yang ada
Hidup adalah anugerah
F G Am
Tetap jalani hidup ini
Melakukan yang terbaik
F G Am
Tuhan pasti kan menunjukkan
Kebesaran dan kuasanya
F G Am
Bagi hambanya yang sabar
Dan tak kenal Putus asa
jangan menyerah….menyerah …..
Jangan menyerah…jangan menyerah jangan menyerah ….aaaaaa

Monday, 14 November 2011

Our Class eBook

Technology is alive and well with our students!

Today we put the finishing touches on our eBook.

Here is a photo of our class editors Shereen and Keaton working on compiling all of the student work into the book. Every student in the class wrote a chapter for this book. Shereen and Keaton asked the class to email their finished work in Pages so that they could put it all together. These two students then collated all the work and made it into the finished book. Initially we wanted to make an ePub format but we had trouble controlling the layout as we had a lot of pictures to include in the book. This book is all about our class inquiry into rice. Most of the content for this book has come from primary resources. We used only a few references from the Internet.

We agreed to make it into a PDF so that the students could have greater control over the layout. Take a look at the finished work here via Issu.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

How Did People Measure Rice Fields in the Past?

Today we discussed how rice fields used to be measured. Ms Jane’s husband told her that in the Batak villages in North Sumatra the rice fields would be measured in depa.

One depa is the distance between your wrist and your elbow.

You measure by using string (raffia) and winding the string around your arm.
Cupak is used to measure the volume of rice. One cupak is one half coconut full of rice.

Did you know that your foot is approximately the length between your wrist and your elbow?

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

SWA Soccer Field and a Rice Farm – Which is bigger?

Today we sorted out our Math problem for measuring the SWA soccer field.

We had a small competition to see which group got the closest measurement to the actual size.

The size of the SWA soccer field is 4,000 m²

Group 3 (Shereen, Gabi, Zubin and Rifqi) had the closest answer which was 3,969 m²

What we realized was that the average size of a Javanese rice farm in Indonesia is smaller than the school soccer field. The average rice farm is 3,333 m². Most of the Grade 5 students thought that the rice farm would be much bigger. It was a shock for us to realize this. We now know that the rice farms that we can see are often several rice farms joined together so therefore have more than one owner. It is now not surprising to us that the farmer will only make 9 million rupiah per year based on getting two harvests in a calendar year. This is not enough to live on as this gives the farmer less than US$100 per month to feed their family.

Take a look at our video to see how we measured the school soccer field. It was not work but a lot of fun!!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Visualizing the Size of a Rice Farm in Indonesia

This is the SWA soccer field. Is it bigger than the average Javanese rice farm?

Here are some students ready to measure the school soccer field.

Today 5MJ had the task to measure the area of the soccer field at SWA. The students have been learning about area. This is a part of our inquiry into the size of a rice farm in Indonesia. We have learned that the size of an average Javanese rice farm is 3,333 square meters. The purpose of measuring the soccer field is so that the students can compare the size. They cannot image how big 3,333 square meters is, so once we know the size of our soccer field we can see if the rice farm is bigger or smaller.

We got our information about the size of rice farms in Java from

This morning each student made a drawing of the soccer field and put a drawing of how big they thought an Indonesian rice farm would be next to it.

Shereen makes her prediction. She thinks that the average Javanese rice farm is much bigger than the school soccer field. Look at her prediction drawing on the mini white board. She then captured this with her Photobooth and uploaded it to her blog. Read Shereen's post.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Thursday, 3 November 2011

A Deeper Inquiry Into Rice

As promised, today Ms Jane brought in some rice plants for 5MJ to look at. She brought red rice, white rice and rice seeds for planting. The students were very interested to look at the plants and to continue their inquiry into how rice is grown and distributed.

Each student wrote a blog post about the rice. Some students were so excited they decided to make a poster about the rice. Other students made a video to show the grain of rice inside the husk.

We chatted about many things throughout this lesson.

Ms Jane brought in 3 kinds of rice

5MJ takes a closer look at the rice plants

They were excited to try to open up the rice to find the seed.

Rifqi takes a look and finds to rice grain inside.

Here is the rice grain for the red rice.

We watched a news clip that Ms Agnes found from Indosiar TV about rotten rice. Some people have no choice but to eat Nasi Aking which is rice from a rubbish bin that has been thrown away. This rice is dried out and cooked again. It is eaten with shredded coconut to make it taste better.

Here is the Indosiar video clip about Nasi Aking.


Student blogging in action ...

Many students made posters and movies which they captured with their Photo Booth on their Macbooks. This was a spontaneous reaction as they were intent on capturing their personal learning.