[IAEP] FW: My 1st experience in class with SoaS (by Cherry Withers)

Caryl Bigenho cbigenho at hotmail.com
Wed Feb 2 15:40:02 EST 2011

Hi All
Here is a great account of Cherry Withers' recent experience with SoaS and the Physics Activity with a class of 2nd graders.  It is perfect... you will laugh, you may want to cry, and you definitely will be able to learn a lot, both about what does and doesn't work with SoaS and which of a variety of usb drives seem to work. The best bonus is a really wonderful lesson plan for Newton's Laws of Motion using the Physics Activity with 2nd grade students.  Wonderful!  Enjoy!

Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2011 10:24:58 -0800
Subject: Re: My 1st experience in class with SoaS
From: cwithers at ekindling.org
To: cbigenho at hotmail.com
CC: caroline at solutiongrove.com

Please feel free to share. I wrote it quickly and didn't pay attention to grammatical and spelling errors. Oh well. 

On Wed, Feb 2, 2011 at 10:08 AM, Caryl Bigenho <cbigenho at hotmail.com> wrote:

I laughed and I cried!  This is too good not to share with the rest of IAEP and the SG.  What an adventure!
Plus some very useful/helpful observatons and a great lesson plan!

Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2011 09:58:20 -0800
Subject: My 1st experience in class with SoaS
From: cwithers at ekindling.org
To: cbigenho at hotmail.com; solutiongrove at gmail.com

Hi Caryl and Caroline, 

Thought I'd share with you my first experience of using SoaS in a classroom of 23 2nd-graders. I was
hoping to use all 11 of my netbooks (9 Asus Eees and 2 Acers...see below for more info on the hardware & BIOS) 

for this but ended up using just 5, not for lack of USB sticks, but for one reason or another the rest of them 
had problems. Skip "Set-up" section if you don't want to hear about my set-up woes.  


I started with using my Windows Vista machine, USB Creator 3.10 software, and just one of the Asus Eee Windows XP to test their
viability. Naively I thought that it works for one it should work for others. On my third burn of 3 different USB sticks I gave up on the Mango 

Lassi version as none of them would work. I power cycled 2 out of three drives and moving them to different USB connectors on the laptop,
and even a few times I would start off on the BIOS to make sure that in fact I did choose those drives to be 1st priority to boot up from. 

BIOS goes straight to the hard drive (one did say missing operating system). 

Using one of the duds from above I was able to successfully boot up a Blueberry version. This wasn't smooth sailing either because I was getting a boot prompt 

that I couldn't get rid off (with a "vesamenu.c32: not a COM32R image" message) and didn't know what to do with at first. I looked online and majority of the people said to type in "help". 

That didn't work out for me until Brian saw a tidbit on one of the forums that says to press the Tab key but nothing else and it should just work.   
The tab gave me three things: linux0 check0 local. Typed in linux0 and viola! It worked! So... naively AGAIN I started "mass producing" and installed

Blueberry on the rest of my drives (all 2GB): 2 PNY Attache', 3 Polariod, 1 HP, 1 Microcenter, 4 Generic USBs that I got from Intel. I formatted them all in FAT. I also tested
one from each brand thinking that it's not band dependent. 

I started my SoaS journey at 9pm and by 2:30am I was ready to call it a night. 


I needed to charge my net books anyways so I thought I'd test out the boot-up of the sticks and need to set-up the BIOS as well. To my horror, only 7 of them reliably 

booted up (the 2 PNYs turned primma donna on me in the afternoon when they refused to boot-up at all as I was about to start my workshop). 
My 2 Acers decided as well that they were only willing to work with two of those drives: the HP and the Microcenter. With more sleep, I finally decided to be a bit more methodical in my set-up and labeled which drives works with what type of netbook.   


I had 10 minutes of set-up for my small "talk" with a classroom full of 2nd graders and 40mins of instruction/play time. All told, I had 5 net books working with SoaS and 2 XO 1.5s. I was hoping to get all of my 11 netbooks along with the 2 XOs for a 2:1 ratio but alas that didn't work out. The class was tackling Motion, Force and Balance on their Science curriculum and I thought the Physics Activity would fit in perfectly. They haven't tackled the Law of Inertia (and I guess didn't have plans to for this year).  

I didn't start with Physics right away. For the first law I opted to have them stare at an unmoving object, a plastic bowling pin. I told them to use their brain power to move it. Needless to say after almost a minute of doing this they were ready to knock the thing down (which they did in so many ways: shaking the desk, blowing on it, and just the good ol' hand knock-down) They recorded their observations and we were ready to move on to the second law. 

I set-up it up so that they already have Physics opened. I had them draw a ramp but didn't tell them how to draw it. I told them to use whatever they can find in the program to do so. I got the variation: some groups drew it with the pencil, some with the triangle tool and a few found the polygon. Then I asked them to drop a ball on the top of the ramp and see what happens. They quickly figured out that their ramp would tip if they drew a big ball. Brianna's group already knew the tricks (this is her favorite activity) and told everyone to "pin" it down. So we talked about what happens to the ball and how it ties to the 2nd law of inertia. One of the kids did ask me a question that stumped me for a second: "How do you know if it in fact goes on forever? You can't see it go on forever. What if it did slow down and stopped some where else?".  My brain was working on 4 hours of sleep at that point and decided that it would go with the cop out answer: The designers of the program created it so the floor of the screen is slick and that this slickness extended for a long long time.

I told them to try to stop ball from rolling off forever. Some did try the easy way by just drawing an enormous "block" at the end of the ramp, but others found more creative ways: piling up blocks, some drew a bunch of tiny triangles and squares to slow it down, walls that are bolted and pinned. One group surprised me by thinking out of the box: slow down the ball with tiny objects on the floor and then bolt it down with pins. It was late in the exercise when one of the groups discovered the "pause" button. 

Overall, it was a fun experience for the kids and they just absolutely loved the Physics activity! 


Asus Eee Netbook 1005HAB: Windows XP, BIOS UTILITY: American Megatrends v02.58
Acer Aspire One D250: Windows XP, BIOS UTILITY: InsydeH20 Rev. 3.5


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