Tag Archives: Europa Report

What will happen to our body in space? And other great questions at 6am…

Group-C-slides

Our second collaboration between Alma College (in the US) and Omi Brotherhood High School (in Japan) came to an end last week with some thought-provoking presentations.

We met on Skype – at 6am here in Japan, which was 5pm the previous day in Alma – for an intensive 90 minutes of cross-border discussion.

The Japanese students presented a series of questions related to the movie “Europa Report” (which we used for a ‘SkypeRead’ teambuilding exercise at the beginning of the programme). Our picture shows some of the slides from Group C’s presentation: “What will happen to our body in space?”

The American students talked about their work for Alma’s e-STEM Cooperative Research Experience (CORE), a one-month academic camp for high-school students and teachers; the students shared the results of their high-level studies on everything from flavonoids in strawberry preserves to influenza.

A very big ‘thank you’ to everyone who made this collaboration possible!

Across 6,500 miles and 13 time zones – part 2

Alma-Omi-2016

We’ve just begun our second collaboration between Alma College in Michigan, USA, and Omi Brotherhood High School (OBHS) near Kyoto, Japan.

Our 2016 programme involves 24 students, who have been drawn from:

  • Alma’s e-STEM Cooperative Research Experience (CORE), a five-week science summer camp for high-school students
  • OBHS science department
  • OBHS language department.

Our picture shows the students taking part in our cross-border team-building activity: a read-through of the sci-fi thriller “Europa Report”.

“If it’s not easy, it’s interesting”

The students began introducing themselves – and exchanging photos and videos – in a closed Facebook group last week. They also got some advice on working in a global team from Professor Kathrin Altwegg, who is part of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission.

Rosetta made a historic rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August 2014; Kathrin’s team is studying the comet’s atmosphere. The members of her team are based across Europe and the US, and I asked her if she had any advice for our American and Japanese students about working across borders.

“You have to be patient, that’s the main advice,” she said. “It will not work the first time probably, so you have to try again and again and again. Cultural diversity means people don’t solve problems the same way. You have to be patient, never give up.”

So, it’s not easy… But Kathrin says that’s a GOOD thing. “I like to work with all cultures. Some are more easy, but the others are more interesting. If it’s not easy, it’s interesting! And you learn something from other cultures – if people are the same as you, you don’t learn anything.”

Across 6,500 miles and 13 time zones…

Andy Smith, a teacher at Omi Brotherhood High School in Shiga, Japan, has put together this 23-second video of last week’s “Europa Report” read-through with students at the Co-Operative Research Experience summer camp at Alma College in Michigan, USA.

Copernicus 2.0: native-speakers are no longer the centre of the English-speaking universe

This weekend I presented the results of our first “Europa Report” read-through at the Association for Teaching English through Movies (ATEM) Nishi-Nihon Conference, which was held at Hyogo University of Teacher Education here in Japan. Here are some highlights.

Images: Start Motion Pictures; Magnet Releasing; NASA; JPL; Jan Matejko; Stockfresh; morgueFile


The Greek philosopher and scientist Aristotle believed that we were the centre of the universe. The sun, the planets, the stars – everything – rotated around one, single point: the Earth.

In the 16th century, however, there began a revolution. The Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus argued that we are not the centre of the universe, and everything does not rotate around one, single point.

There was just one problem: Copernicus didn’t have any evidence. Continue reading