06 February 2007

nairn part 2

Okay. More thoughts from the Nairn trip.

As far as the workshop went, only one team tried a more complex mechanism. The rest just tried to mount the motor and get direct rotational motion out of it. And the team that tried a mechanism didn't really finish. So. Hm. I blame this on myself. Because even with the same amount of time (or less), other schools managed to build something off of a mechanism... and could actually explain the mechanisms to me.

In addition to the workshop with the kids, I also met with a group of teachers after lunch. It was amazing how different this group was compared with Jamie in Plockton. I guess, first off, the room we were meeting in was very dark and an old nurse's office.... a little creepy, actually. The teachers seemed downtrodden, tired. It was quite a lot of work to get them to talk with me. There were two chemistry teachers, a math teacher, and a technology teacher. Out of the four, the technology teacher was the most talkative. And after a while, the math teacher opened up and started talking more. One of the chemistry teachers never raised his head from staring at the ground. The other chemistry teacher had seen the workshop and had good thoughts, but was overall still very quiet. All in all, the teachers at Nairn seemed interested, but reserved. The teachers who were around the room while the kids were building things all just observed things and then would come over and quietly ask me questions. I did my best to give them a feel for what I was about and what was going on.

I also got a chance to talk with the ICT youth challenge teams. Two of them. That was nice. The kids were really talkative and happy to give me their impressions/ideas. Neither group had gotten through to the next round. I was amazed, though, at the fact that they were still adamant that their ideas were good ideas. The team that had proposed the idea for an electromagnetic sphere that could levitate you and get you to move around in response to video games... well... a good sci-fi holodeck idea... but not something that was really feasible. But the one boy was convinced that it would work because he had "done the equations." Which I'd be happy to see, but I doubt that they were quite right. Nor do I think it would be as cheap as 1000 pounds (sterling), like he seemed convinced it would be. I mean... I guess my thoughts on that would be that he would probably learn quickly after starting to try to prototype this just how hard and expensive it would be... as well as just how little his equations probably helped.

But despite the students' enthusiasm, I left the school with a feeling of heaviness. The slightly oppressive architecture wasn't helping, either.

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