Thursday, August 11, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Well over the last few days winter has well and truly struck, at the moment we still can’t get our cars up the drive. But as a friend of mine who farms in the Maniototo said "this is winter, what do you expect?"

The television, or many of the channels at the moment are being over taken by the Olympics. I always feel very proud of the amazing results that our athletes achieve at the Olympics but also sometimes a little sad because of the immense pressure that gets put on these amazing young people (or in Mark Todd’s case, not so young) by unrealistic public expectation.

There are 206 countries taking part. Over all Olympics, New Zealand has won 101 medals, 100 in the summer Olympics and one in the winter Olympics. (42 Gold, 19 Silver and 38 Bronze).

This given the tiny size of our country is an amazing result. Australia have won 469 Summer Olympic medals).

Over the last few Olympics New Zealand has enjoyed a lot of success (6 Golds in London, 3 in Beijing and 3 in Athens). But historically we have only won a handful of medals in any Olympics (in Sydney 2000 we only won four medals in total). I think that as we watch the Olympics and discuss the results with our children we need to reinforce the important aspects of sport.

Train hard—if you don’t train hard you won’t win. Play to the rules (cheats always get caught) and respect your adversaries. Winning is important, it’s why people play sport. But winning should be done with honour. I watched my daughter play a hockey match the other day against the second ranked girls school team in the country. They were leading 1-0, but the other team came back and eventually won 1-2.

However, when a team ranked 24 nationally gets that close to a team ranked 2, that is also a victory.

All of her team realised how far they as a team and as people have come.

So when you watch the Olympics with your children don’t just look at the winners or the super stars but also look at the effort made, the skills on show and the Olympic spirit being shown.

Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Talking with a number of people over the week and looking at our recent ICAS (a voluntary external

exam) results the word of the week is science.

Science in a primary school is often integrated into other curriculum areas, for example if we are studying household chemicals we might also get the students to design a package for a new chemical (art) to write an advertisement for the product (English) and research what the need was for the new product (maths). In the one series of lessons, four curriculum areas are being taught because they are all closely linked. When studying the science area of astronomy (beyond planet earth) reading Greeks Myths and Legends about the Zodiac and the uses that the ancients had for the stars is important. It is important because it explains the uses that mankind can put the study of stars to. This is applying the science hence the

differential between the applied and pure sciences.

An applied science uses existing knowledge to create practical application to solve problems, pure science is a science that yields theories and predictions. At the primary level all learning needs to be put into

context by using the children's prior knowledge and extending this. So science like all subjects relies on prior knowledge as a foundation for future learning. Prior knowledge can be gained in biology by simple observations of animals (why are ducks the colour they are, camouflage).

The use of science labs and chemical experiments still have their place, but often using technology offers a huge range of alternative ways of learning new knowledge.

So remember when your child asks you what is the first star in the sky that you see a night, the fact that the evening star is actually the planet Venus is all excellent scientific learning.

Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan