#ecmp455 / Ecmp 455 Major Project

Gather & Gab Phase 2

The classroom should be an entrance into the world, not an escape from it”

-John Ciardi

This quote caught my eye because this is exactly what I feel the classroom should do. In science, it is important that we allow students to see how science is being used in the world, not isolate what is taking place in our classroom. I believe that this is why skyping scientists into your classroom can be an extremely powerful tool to aid in student learning. It also allows some career exploration within the field of science for the students.

We are officially into our second week of our Gather and Gab project ( you can find us on twitter @gathergab). Yesterday we went into our Chemistry 30 class we are working with from F.W. Johnson Collegiate and worked with the students to come up with ideas and questions for the guest skyper. This week’s guest skyper is in the potash industry and works in with solution mining. This is directly tied to the Chemistry 30 curriculum as solutions is a large part of it. Tomorrow, the students will be skyping a geologist from the Belle Plain Solutions Mine. Randi contacted the education department with the Saskatchewan Mining Association and they were more than willing to work with us in having one of their scientists skype in.

When we went to the school yesterday to brainstorm ideas of questions to ask, we decided to put 5 words on the board: Potash, Education, Career, Environment and Saskatchewan. We gave each student 5 sticky notes and asked them to either write a question they had or something they knew about each one of the topics and its relation to Potash. Once each student did that, we put the students into pairs (Randi and I were a pair as well) and sorted the sticky notes into sub topics. From there, the students formulated a question based on each sub topic. It was neat to see the whole brainstorm in the hands of the students and it was great to see them so interested and taking charge. Many of the students are interested in the environment and the industry’s affect on environment, and some student are interested in the careers aspect of potash, so the questions they formulated were of such wide variety. Below are the questions the students brainstormed (and some pictures as well)!

  1. What is the use for potash?
  2. What is the extraction process of potash (equipment, chemistry, etc)
  3. What level of education is needed to work for potash companies?
  4. Which fields of student involve the understanding of potash?
  5. What are the different career paths within the potash industry?
  6. What is your daily routine in your profession?
  7. How does the mining of potash affect our environment?
  8. What is the impact on our bodies of water?
  9. How much water is used daily in potash mines?
  10. How much of that water gets returned into the environment? What is the quality of that water?
  11. What is the role of potash in the SK economy?
  12. Where else, other than SK, do you find potash?
  13. Where is potash used in SK, and elsewhere (exportation)?

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5


Tomorrow, the students are doing a “quick talk” video as a reflection. I am excited to see what their thoughts are of the Potash industry and solution mining after the guest skyper. Have you ever skyped anyone into your classroom? Do you see any benefits or disadvantages of it? I would love to hear your thoughts/ideas/comments!


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