Congratulations to Stephanie Schwarz, who has recently received the Order of Australia medal for her work within ICT Technologies over the past years.
Those of you who know Stephanie would know her as an exceptional teacher of IPT and SDD who has consistently given her time and expertise in mentoring teachers within the computing studies field from the beginning of the subject within Australia. Stephanie has been a member and great support of the ICTENSW Association, and previously, the Computing Studies Teachers Association (CSTA) since its inception, and was given life membership of the CSTA (now ICTENSW) in 2004. In the Australian honours system appointments to the Order of Australia confer recognition for outstanding achievement and service. It is safe to say that our profession as ICT teachers within NSW would not be the same without Stephanie’s contributions to this field.
More details on her work with ICTENSW can be viewed here. The testimonials below also go a small way to demonstrating her work to support technology educators.
Stephanie Swartz is a SDD goddess #ICTENSW— Nicole Nakwaski (@nicoledecourcy) March 11, 2017
Stephanie Swartz is a SDD goddess #ICTENSW
She is a treasure. SDD teachers not on that room are missing out #ICTENSW https://t.co/qoV99Tka6F— Debra Bourne (@dbourne) March 11, 2017
She is a treasure. SDD teachers not on that room are missing out #ICTENSW https://t.co/qoV99Tka6F
No computer will ever be capable of processing information (and wit) faster than Stephanie Schwarz #ozcschat #ICTENSW #sdd— Gemma Rainger (@g3moStone) March 12, 2016
No computer will ever be capable of processing information (and wit) faster than Stephanie Schwarz #ozcschat #ICTENSW #sdd
#ictensw Stephanie Schwarz always does an enlightening HSC SDD solutions sessions #greatPD pic.twitter.com/6noXAi7Rta— Malyn Mawby (@malynmawby) March 14, 2015
#ictensw Stephanie Schwarz always does an enlightening HSC SDD solutions sessions #greatPD pic.twitter.com/6noXAi7Rta
The Mission of ICT Educators NSW (ICTENSW) is:
'to promote the interests of all educators who use technologies in learning by providing a voice at local, state and national levels. It advocates on matters of curriculum and equity, promotes best practice and provides resources, professional development and a network of collegial support.'
In keeping with this mission, the ICTENSW Board submitted the following response to the BOSTES Curriculum Draft Directions Document for Technology (Mandatory) Years 7 & 8. After meeting with Mark Tyler, Inspector, Technology Education, BOSTES, at our Term 3 workshop evening, attending a number of the BOSTES consultation sessions, and further discussion with our members, the Board crafted the following statement. Please read through the document and we welcome your comments. This is an example of the behind the scenes work the ICTENSW Board do on the members' behalf, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Board members who spent considerable time shaping this statement.
Leanne Cameron, President, ICT Educators NSW
While ICT Educators NSW (ICTENSW) acknowledges the complexity associated with introducing a new subject we recommend the following amendments:
ICT Educators NSW (ICTENSW) is the professional association that represents teachers in all sectors of education who are interested in, or directly teach, computing or ICT integration in NSW schools. Our membership has shown great excitement about the cohesiveness and logical developmental structure of the Australian Digital Technologies Curriculum and are very keen to take on a similar thrust to that in NSW.
ICTENSW is concerned that the rationale underplays the importance of Digital Technologies to contemporary society and the economy. The intent of the Australian Curriculum is that both subjects have equal significance. The opening sentence of the Australian Technologies Curriculum calls them “two distinct but related subjects”.
Our concern focuses on the BOSTES position relating to the separation of the Digital Technologies from Design and Technologies. The rationale for this position was made clear in the NSW response to the Draft Australian Technologies Curriculum. We are happy to accept that the two subjects can be treated as two parts of the same subject but are of the view that to give the Digital Technologies the credence it deserves for our students and our future, requires a mandatory minimum percentage of the allocated hours. As it currently stands, one Context only, Digital Systems, explicitly teaches the Digital Technology content of the Australian Technology Curriculum. While we can see some attempt has been made to also integrate some of the content into the other Contexts, this is done in a very ad hoc manner that would not encourage the teacher of that Context (unlikely to be a Digital Technology specialist) to provide the depth required for meaningful Digital Technology understanding.
In summary, ICTENSW can’t see how in its current form the Draft Directions document addresses the basic requirements of a Digital Technologies Curriculum as eloquently expressed in the Australian Technologies Curriculum Rationale:
“Digital Technologies provides students with authentic learning challenges that foster curiosity, confidence, persistence, innovation, creativity, respect and cooperation. These are all necessary when using and developing information systems to make sense of complex ideas and relationships in all areas of learning. Digital Technologies helps students to be regional and global citizens capable of actively and ethically communicating and collaborating”.
Quite specifically, ICTENSW is concerned that the key concepts represented in the Draft Directions document does not include the key concepts of the Australian Technologies Curriculum. There is no mention of impact (ACTDIP031), specification (ACTDIP027) and algorithms with branching, iteration and functions (ACTDIP030).
In order for these skills to be imparted in a way that has enough depth to form a literacy, we agree with the implication of the Australian Technologies Curriculum that Digital Technologies form 50% of the whole Technologies syllabus.
ICTENSW recognises the significant implementation issues associated with the introduction of a new subject and even the introduction of new mandated content in a curriculum, however, lack of qualified staff and resources should not shape our students’ futures. Conversely, the new syllabus should drive professional development program and resource allocation.
However, any new syllabus is required to come packaged with support for the staff affected by it. ICTENSW hope to work in partnership with BOSTES, to support the computing and technologies teachers in both urban and regional areas. We believe that with our cross-sectoral membership and our proven track-record supplying teachers with high-quality practical professional learning opportunities, that we can help deliver the support to the technology teachers of our state.
A continuum of knowledge and outcomes related to digital technologies has been established at the national level. This is important to ensure that students can clearly identify pathways of learning in digital technologies subjects.The rapid decline of students selecting specialist Digital Technologies subjects in NSW Stage 5 and Stage 6 is alarming and suggests that the current pathway to upper level digital technologies specialist subjects requires clarification and distinction. Furthermore, the rapid increase in schools introducing their own programs of study in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM programs/subjects), the popularity in co-curricular ‘code clubs” suggests that schools and the community generally see a gap in the mandated curriculum related to digital technologies.
In the Introduction to the Technology (Mandatory) Years 7–8 Draft Directions for Syllabus
Development document, information is provided about the background to Syllabus development in NSW that is guided by the overarching K-10 Curriculum Framework. While we recognise this framework provides a foundation on which to develop syllabus documents and identifies essential learning for all NSW students, it was released in 2002. ICTENSW’s concern is that it undervalues the immense changes to the Digital Technology landscape in the 14 years since its release and the importance of digital technologies for contemporary learning and working beyond school.
We all agree that the world is increasingly driven by computing and computation. Fundamental to this changing world is the fact that - as the Australian Technologies Curriculum states ”[I]t is critical to the wellbeing and sustainability of the economy, the environment and society, that the benefits of information systems are exploited ethically.”
In order to exploit these capabilities, the students of NSW need an education rich, not just the use of digital tools, but the creation of Digital Technology products. The students of this state deserve at least the opportunities provided to the students of the other Australian states and territories and, the students in other areas of the western world, where the ability to be literate in the language of computing, the building blocks of so much that drives our world, form a fundamental part of their education.
We also understand that there is nothing in the current Syllabus Draft Directions document to preclude schools from implementing a syllabus giving 50% of time to the Digital Technologies curriculum but despite this, the choice would be in the hands of the individual school and, even the individual heads of faculty, whereas we believe that Digital Technologies literacies such as computational thinking are too important to implement in a piecemeal way with individual students at the mercy of the choices of individual schools. It is imperative that NSW not allow our students to fall behind the other states and territories who are delivering the whole Digital Technologies curriculum in depth.
There is an industry agreement that in order to drive the innovation of our nation we need more students to be STEM trained and STEM literate (see the evidence in the graph below).
The Board of ICT Educators NSW on behalf of the membership
Over the past two months, the CSER team have been busy working away on updating our online courses. We are now pleased to announce that our courses will shortly be available again, and are ready for you to register to enrol now!
We will initially be starting with our F-6 Digital Technologies: Foundations course, open from the 22nd August. This course is a free, open professional learning course, designed for primary teachers who would like to understand more about what Digital Technologies is, and what it would look like in their classroom.
We will be following shortly with our Years 7 & 8 Digital Technologies: Next Steps MOOC, and our latest MOOC, the F-6 Digital Technologies: Extended MOOC for those primary teachers wanting to explore a little further. These will be open for registrations shortly, and will open on the 1st September.
We are also delighted to announce that our Project Officers, based around Australia, are joining us very soon for our expanded face-to-face support program. We will be introducing your Project Officers on our blog over the next couple of weeks.
Finally, we have also been busy setting up our National Lending Library program. As part of this, as it is really your library, we are trying to understand more about what digital technologies equipment you would prefer to have in the classroom, and how you best use it. We would greatly appreciate if you could complete our survey of lending library suggestions.
We look forward to working with you in the future! You can register for one or more of our courses by following the link below.
Katrina Falkner, on behalf of the CSER Team
Education loses a guiding light
3 August, 2016
Members of the Educational technology community have been saddened by the death of Seymour Papert, one of their favourite sons.
Papert, previously emeritus professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and author of the seminal text “Mindstorms: children, computers and powerful ideas”, died in his home in Maine on Sunday.
He was revered for his take on learning and how educational technology can enhance the learning process; a move from instructionism where the teacher delivered content, to constructionism, where the learner built their view of the world by guided, hands-on exploration.
He subverted the view that computers in education were to be used only for drill and practice and built his theses on the idea that the emphasis should be on the child’s learning by programming, building familiarity with some of the deepest ideas of Mathematics and Science rather than learning to program for its own sake.
His philosophy rose from the foundations built by the Swiss educational philosopher Piaget, with whom he worked after gaining his second PhD in Mathematics from Cambridge University.
With others, he developed the programming language “Logo” to explore mathematics and logic. Logo has since morphed from its text based roots into a variety of visual languages such as Scratch, SNAP, StarLogo and Tickle, to name a few.
After a traffic accident in 2006 in Hanoi, where he was attending a Mathematics education conference, he suffered extensive injuries, including to the brain.
It is particularly appropriate that his successful rehabilitation after this accident used the same principles of hands-on, experiential learning that he worked with in his research—principles that have engaged, delighted, and enthused learners for many years.
ACCE offers its condolences to his family, and shares with many educators a great sadness.
Martin Levins, President, ACCE.
The ACCE (the Australian Council for Computers in Education) is the peak body for Australia’s state Computer Education Groups: Australian Capital Territory: INTEACT; New South Wales: ICTENSW; Queensland: QSITE; South Australia: EdTechSA; Tasmania: TASite; Victoria: DLTV; Western Australia: ECAWA.
We would like to call all ICTENSW members’ attention to the fact that BOSTES has announced a revision of Technology Education K-10 and documented suggested directions in the Draft Directions for Syllabus Development documents. We urge members to take some time to read through these documents to ensure we all get the curriculum we need to ensure Technology’s relevance in the years to come. We need your input, and those of your colleagues.
What can you do?
How long do we have to do all this?
Consultations will conclude on August 31 2016 so there is not a lot of time. Get your colleagues together and send BOSTES your thoughts – highlight both the good and bad.
The original BOSTES news article announcing the revision can be found here:http://news.bostes.nsw.edu.au/blog/2016/7/14/consultation-begins-on-k-10-draft-directions-for-syllabus-development
There are two separate documents that are likely to be of interest to the Technology Education community:
The Draft Directions for Syllabus Development is the detailed blueprint for the development of a draft syllabus and is structured according to the elements of a K–10 syllabus. Each subsection of the Draft Directions for Syllabus Development addresses a syllabus component and includes an explanation of the component’s purpose. Content subsections include proposed instructions to the writers in the writing of the draft syllabus. In developing the draft Directions for Syllabus Development in Science and Technology K–6 and Technology (Mandatory) Years 7-8, the Australian curriculum rationales, aims, content and achievement standards have been considered for a NSW context.
Consultation on these document will be open for 6 weeks. Consultations will conclude on August 31 2016. Face to face consultations will be taking place in rural and metropolitan locations across the state. More information and registration to attend these events can be found on the BOSTES website:http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabuses/curriculum-development/K-10.html
Regards, Leanne Cameron,President, ICT Educators NSW
Another guest post, this time from Lee Hewes, an innovative primary school teacher from Merrylands East Public School. He writes here about how Minecraft can be integrated across all areas of the curriculum. Originally published on: https://leehewes.wordpress.com/
A few weeks ago I presented at a teachmeet at the the Sydney Powerhouse Museum, AKA the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. The topic was STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) + X (STEM+X). The idea was to share some of the things you have done and/or are doing in your classroom or workplace around integrating STEM with other KLAs, for example, a STEM and PE project would be STEM + PE.
When I was asked to present, I thought it would be a great opportunity to share how I’ve been using Minecraft in my classroom over the last few years and how it really can be used across all subject areas. Just like the ‘play’ within the game itself, what you do with it in the classroom is only limited by your own creativity and that of your students. Below I will share some of the cool things that my students and i have done and how they link to KLAs across the curriculum.
Above are some screenshots of some science projects that I have run with my students. Last year, my students completed a project with the driving question, “How can K/1L show their learning in Minecraft?” One of the groups made a representation of a silkworm life cycle by building the different stages and then sharing a screencast and overlaid audio to demonstrate what they’d learned.
Now, not only does this video demonstrate sound knowledge of stage 1 science outcomes, it also demonstrates how my students have achieved outcomes in the English syllabus by creating multimodal texts and reflecting on their own and others’ learning.
The other screenshots are of the seven buildings my year 1 class made during a science project in which they had to build a city in Minecraft. The driving question was, “Can mini MEPS people design a dream city?” Again, this crosses outcomes across both the science and English syllabuses. There was even a bit of stage 1 mathematics in there as we discussed the different areas and volumes of the buildings and had to count and measure distances between windows and doors with pinpoint accuracy. Plus it was loads of fun. My class still love visiting Lionfish City!
Technology and Engineering
Above are some screenshots of some work done in a Minecraft mod called Computer Craft. With this mod you program a little computerised turtle to build and dig for you. I made mine build a house for me and at the moment I have students from year 1 through to year 4 working regularly on Thursday mornings and within my year 1 class on a Friday to challenge themselves to do the same. Some of them are up to the point where they can get it to build four walls, and I will be teaching them how to write a ‘for’ loop in Lua so they can get the turtle to change inventory slots when it runs out of blocks.
It’s a really cool mod, because unlike more basic programming tools like Scratch, you can actually switch between a visual, block style editor and a programming editor which allows the keener kids to get a sense of what’s going on with the actual language itself. If kids can understand that, then they are taken a decent step towards a proper understanding of programming.
Now, computer programming isn’t in the NSW primary curriculum yet but there is strong talk to suggest that it soon will be, and kids who are doing this kind of stuff in Minecraft are already ahead of the curve.
I have been using Minecraft a lot this year for extension in mathematics. For example, if a kid in my class totally nails what we are working on during our first lesson, there is no need for them to be sitting with the rest of the class who need further practise or additional (pardon the pun) help from me. In many cases I set them a Minecraft challenge, such as building a clock to show me a certain time to the half hour (as above) or showing me the difference between two numbers by building a series of towers and writing the number sentence on a sign (as above).
As with the videos shown above in the science section, last year my K/1 class made some maths themed Minecraft videos in order to demonstrate their learning. One group madehouses out of 3D objects such as rectangular and triangular prisms, another shared knowledge of equal groups (multiplication), while another made a truly impressive and remarkable maths game in which are presented with a series of addition problems which increase in difficulty as the game progresses. Watch the video to see how it works. Again, these videos cross outcomes across several KLAs.
So, that’s the STEM stuff covered with Minecraft, how about the + ‘X’? Well, my friends, read on to find out!
I’ve already mentioned how making videos in Minecraft is great way to work with the English syllabus. There’s a lot of teaching and planning that goes into each video as kids storyboard and write scripts to plan for what they will be saying over each video. Of course, as they speak over each video, they have to make sure what tey are saying is clear and audible – hence, talking and listening!
Above are some screenshots of videos about Minecraft castles and dragons made by the K/1 Koalas last year. We read a bunch of stuff about castles and dragons and watched a whole bunch of videos to make sure we knew enough about each topic to speak over our videos. Again, it was loads of fun. Who wouldn’t want to learn about castles and dragons!?
My students also do a lot of writing about what they do in Minecraft. You see screenshots of a Minecraft story written by one of my students very early in the year using Storybird, as well as some great writing by another of my students using Kidblog. It’s a cute little Minecraft love story which she wrote at home and then brought in to school so she could type it up on her blog and search for digital images to add to it.
I also teach my kids to search for images that are ‘labelled for reuse’ so that they are aware that it’s inappropriate and illegal behaviour to go around breaking copyright laws. All this at age 6!
Now, there are any number of ways you can link art with Minecraft. You could get kids to do cool Minecraft paintings and artworks, or you could get them to make some interesting visual art themed builds based on their favourite artists. The limit is only placed by how creative you are in your thinking.
With my class, I decided to make an epically large, life sized gigantic creeper out of cardboard boxes and papier mâché. It took weeks and we had heaps of fun and made A LOT of mess. I still need to finish off the ‘pixels’ on top of his head and make it waterproof with some outdoor acrylic varnish. The kindy kids at school want to use it to post sight words on and do a weekly creeper hunt to find him located in random spots around the school. See, there’s that cross-curricular Minecraft stuff in action again – sight words!
Above you can see screenshots of a video I made for a year 3 class a few years ago, all about sun safety. It’s all about a zombie who sets off to go fishing with his friend, Ralph. He is a very sun smart zombie and before he leaves the house he makes sure to put on his sunscreen and a hat. When he meets Ralph, he discovers that he is not so sun smart and has forgotten to protect himself. He subsequently bursts into flames!
I made this as a lesson intro but you could quite easily get students to make similar videos about a range of health related issues, such as healthy eating and hygiene. Again, the only limit is your creativity.
More videos made by me. One is of a cute little Japanese song called ‘The Frog Song‘ which I learned with the same year 3 class for whom I made the sun smart zombie video. I made the song by tuning note blocks in Minecraft and linking them to pressure plates to walk across. I then took a screencast of me walking across them to play the song. The other video is one I made of note blocks being linked to red stone circuits in order to play the intro Black Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’, I got the timing a bit wrong, but hey, it was my first attempt and red stone circuitry is tricky!
I am yet to do this with a class, but when I do, I would love to teach them the frog song and get them to go and build it Minecraft using red stone circuitry, maybe when I get a stage 2 class. It will be loads of fun.
21st Century Skills
By now you would have heard a lot of talking about the need for kids to be equipped ’21st Century Skills’ such as communication, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, digital citizenship and ICT capability. How do we teach these skills? The ICT capability component is quite obvious with Minecraft, kids need to be able to navigate their way around a 3 dimensional computer world, using computer controls, while learning basic coding skills and knowledge of things like ip addresses in order to log on to your class server. However, what about some of those other skills?
There is a lot of ‘incidental learning’ which takes place on a Minecraft server. For example, in the screenshots above you can see a wither (a three headed Minecraft monster which flies around shooting flaming skulls at anything that moves). Now, obviously you don’t really want one of these flying around your server shooting at everyone and destroying all of your builds. Last year, however, one of my students purposely spawned one of these creatures in our class world, and it set about causing destruction. This prompted a server shut down and a lengthy class discussion around what it means to be a good digital citizen. How your online actions affect the online experience of those who share the same space. My students agreed that the wither spawning had not been a good idea and the student involved went on to write an apologetic blog post about what he had done and why it had been a bad idea. A blog post by a year one student regarding digital citizenship!
I also run a school Minecraft club on Wednesdays and Fridays in which I set club challenges using a Minecraft challenge generator. The amount of collaboration, communication and problem solving which goes on in these short meetings as students work together to meet these set challenges is amazing. Sometimes I jump in the world to help them solve these problems, but mostly I’m just there in the background watching as they work through the challenges together, all the while creatively mining and building away.
So there you have it, these are just some of the ways I have used Minecraft ‘gaming’ in my classroom and I’m sure I’ll find more awesome ways in future. You can see my presentation below if you’re interested, but I’ve basically just written you through it. Thanks for reading!
We have received the following Ministerial Fact Sheet about the National Innovation and Science Agenda from the Federal Department of Education and Training which may be of interest to members.
Measure: Inspiring all Australians in digital literacy and STEM
This initiative will increase the participation of all students and the community in ICT and improve their digital literacy. There will be a focus on tackling the digital divide by ensuring that students most at risk of falling behind in the digital age are given opportunities to participate and engage.
About the initiatives
School education ($50.6 million)
Upskilling our teachers The Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies provides teachers with a world class curriculum which prepares students for the challenges of the digital economy. The Government will roll out a nationally available, free online course – with dedicated support and some start up equipment for primary and early secondary teachers to help develop fundamental teaching skills and knowledge relating to the new digital technologies curriculum.Additional support, according to state priorities, will be provided to schools in disadvantaged areas through access to specialist ICT teachers who can provide extra in-classroom support to such schools for up to a term.
Upskilling our students
The Government is funding national computing challenges for all Year 5 and 7 students as well as a national competition “Cracking the Code” which will set various types of computing/coding challenges for Year 4 – 12 students. A computer science summer school for up to 60 Year 9 and 10 students will be held annually, focusing on students who are underrepresented in STEM subjects such as those living in disadvantaged areas.
Facilitating partnerships with industry
The Australian Government will provide support for at least 2000 flexible partnerships between STEM professionals and schools, helping students and teachers understand how STEM is applied in the real world. They will be introduced to emerging STEM innovations and potential career paths, student mentoring opportunities, and a better understanding of industry expectations. There will be a focus on brokering partnerships with women currently working in STEM.
Enhancing digital literacy through a whole-of-school approach
Principals and ICT school champions will be identifed to promote best practice and change management across all Australian Curriculum learning areas. $4 million in grants over two years will be available for 100 plus projects which partner successful school ICT leaders with other, less ICT capable local schools and which propose innovative methods of driving enhanced digital literacy across the curriculum.
Engaging in the early years ($14 million over four years)
As a part of a suite of initiatives (to be implemented with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science), the Australian Government will invest in the foundation of the STEM skills to promote positive science and maths experiences for children aged three to five. This will include developing online resource for teachers, parents and studentsand a series of apps to engage curiosity and learning.
The amount of funding for the measure and the timeframe
Total funding for Inspiring all Australians in digital literacy and STEM is $112.2 million. The Department of Education and Training’s initiatives total $64.6 million. These will be provided over four years. The initiatives commence from July 2016.
Why it is important
Ensuring the next generations of young Australians have the skills to equip them for the workforce of the 21st century is critical in maximising our economic and social wellbeing in an increasingly global and digital age.
Given the impact of emerging technologies will be felt disproportionately by those in low skilled occupations, it is more important than ever to increase digital literacy among the most disadvantaged students – such as those in low SES areas, Indigenous students and those living in regional and remote areas. The initiatives will also engage and retain girls in STEM studies, and address systemic barriers to STEM careers for women.
How it supports the Government’s agenda
The Foundation for Young Australians claims that up to 70 per cent of young people are preparing for jobs that, due to the impact of automation, will no longer exist in the future – especially in entry level occupations for schools leavers. The range of initiatives under the Inspiring all Australians in digital literacy and STEM measure will ensure future generations are STEM skilled and digitally literate. By supporting the implementation of the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies and closing the digital divide for Australia’s most disadvantaged and underrepresented students, the next generations of Australian students will have the skills to equip them for the 21st century workforce.
For more information visit www.innovation.gov.au
Leanne Cameron, President, ICTENSW
This guest blog post is from Joachim Cohen, Education Outreach Program Manager for Intel Australia and Contractor, Creative Activation. It forms the first of a three part series on STEM Education.
A passionate educator, excited by the potential the 21st century connected landscape presents to grow, harness and develop the skills of learners as creators. As an Australia wide Educational Technology evangelist with Intel I am passionate about professional development for teachers with a focus on STEM and educational innovation to ensure the best outcomes for schools, students and teachers.
It’s time to #STEAM up the curriculum to invigorate student’s interest in #STEM
I thought I would start this journey with a statistic from an Infographic Intel has recently created
65% of students in primary school are being prepared for jobs that don’t exist yet
75% of the fastest growing jobs require STEM skills 70% of Australian employers regard their STEM staff as their most innovative
Maker / STEM Infographic with Statistic and Quotation Links:http://bit.ly/STEMInfographic15
There is a clear imperative to grow STEM, that is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics competencies in our students, yet only a small percentage of our students take them up when given a choice. Sitting writing this article in Sydney’s Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (Formerly the Powerhouse) I am struck by the buzz of students exploring the physicality of STEM. Jumping through spaceships and steam engines, laughing in wonder at the size of computers that physically define Moore’s Law and driving the Mars Rover. So, the conundrum is how do we recreate this excitement in our classroom to drive and keep students engaged? With the Digital Technologies Curriculum now ready for introduction in some states and to follow with a similar emphasis in others, the time might be right to start an integrated STEM conversation with maker technologies the inspiration for a project that can span the curriculum, incorporate digital technologies and ignite student’s imagination.
How can we ignite interest in STEM?
Bunsen burners, measurement wheels, scones and toolboxes are always on the agenda at any high school open day, exciting students about the potential of STEM subjects and driving their eager path to high school. Yet as the real year 7 begins in many schools this is replaced with text based scenarios and minimal real world connections. Adopting a project based approach to learning can provide a platform to combine all these skills in a real world situation. Students can be presented with or develop a driving question and then use a process such as design thinking to investigate, evaluate, deconstruct and propose, develop and execute a digital solution. The model below is an exploration of the components:
Further Information and Conext: http://innovationtoolbox.intel.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/A-Teachers-Guide-to-the-Intel-Galileo-Final.pdf
The challenge then as a primary teacher or a cross-curricular secondary team is to ensure this project or challenge has the potential to jump outside the text and get physical keeping students motivated and engaging their natural drive to design and engineer. Providing students with access to maker technologies can provide the key and the inspiration they need and the tools to help engineer solutions.
Jumping on to a website such as LittleBird or Sparkfun or delving in to Gary Stager’s Guide to Creating and Inventing with Technology in the classroom you will find a plethora of maker tools available. In the majority they are simple and easy to use but importantly provide students with the ability to create and engineer digital solutions as well as providing a tactile connection for online technology, computational and mathematical tasks such as coding and programming. Effectively bridging the divide between the digital and physical worlds and providing the means to integrate technology, design, mathematics and science.
Arduino microcontrollers, sensing and doing computers:
As the Education Outreach Programs Manager for Intel in Australia, I am fortunate enough to have access to some really cool technology, but it is something with a little less bling yet so much opportunity that is catching students’ and teachers’ attention across Australia.
An Intel Galileo Board in action
The Intel Galileo (pictured above) is one example of an Arduino compatible Microcontroller Computer….in non tekkie terms a computer that senses and responds according to how it is programmed. Using computer code (technology and mathematical skills) connected through electrical circuits (science) students can design (engineering) solutions to real world or simulated problems that take the curriculum out of the textbook and in to a students reality across the curriculum.
So what are some STEM projects you can do with a Microcontroller?
How about a Mars Rover?: A smart robot requires computational coding skills to program its functions, scientific circuit knowledge to connect all components, traditional wood and metal technology engineering skills to create an effective design.
Pimp that pillow or soft toy: Add lights, a buzzer and movement or touch sensors to STEM up a favourite textiles technology task. Students will need to code their pillow, develop circuits and engineer safety through design.
An Automated Model Home: With the assistance of sensors and internet connectivity a microcontroller can provide the basis for home automation, and with a little extra work create data sets for use in science and mathematics. Construction, programming and design of the connected home taps in to technology and engineering skills. A real, tangible project with a connection to a student’s reality helping science and mathematics come to life with the infusion of the STEM skillset.
A Mars Rover, a Landmine detector….whatever you can invent
These are just some of the projects students across Australia have created that solve multidisciplinary problems with maker technologies, and at the same time giving students a reason to need and get excited about STEM.
Are you sitting there reading, wondering where the A went from the title? Some of you may have already been converted from STEM to STEAM, A being officially ‘Art’ but I like to think ‘Anything’ agriculture, architecture, automotive, because I challenge you to name an area of study in which design, technology and engineering cannot play a part. STEAM plays a vital role in playing down the ‘geek’ and adding in the ‘glamour’ to drive momentum towards STEM.
Putting it all together:
Design Thinking especially when combined with maker technologies in projects like those we have explored, provides the means to ensure the development of learners and individuals with the well rounded skill set demanded in the General Capabilities section of the Australian Curriculum. Take a look at the diagram below for a summary of the skills a maker inspired Design Thinking approach can promote. This is of course, in addition to the cross curricular links inherit in project design:
But I can’t, I am not technical?
An enthused teacher, lighting up the harbour bridge in one of our training sessions
If I can you can! I am a teacher-librarian who has always shied away from code, but I am now inspiring teachers and students with the Intel Galileo. I can make lights blink, sensors react, buzzers sound. I have come to realise it is not about the code but about the thinking behind it. It is all about using the code to solve a problem and developing and tinkering with code and design is problem solving and computational thinking in itself. Actually as a language teacher I have come to see code as really just another language.
Are you inspired to begin your #makered #STEM #STEAM journey and want to know what the next step is? Why not take a look at all the resources available on our resource site the Innovation Toolbox. As part of our efforts to assist schools get excited about STEM we have created this community driven website, here you will find all the resources to learn and be inspired, including a highlight video that showcases physical computing is possible in both Primary and Secondary settings:
Galileo Teachers Guide: http://bit.ly/GalileoEducatorsGuide
Galileo Introduction Slide Deck: http://bit.ly/GalileoIntro
Sample Projects: http://bit.ly/STEAMProjects
Innovation Stories: http://bit.ly/InnovationStories
Innovation Playlist: http://bit.ly/InnovationVideos
Physical Computing Continuum: http://bit.ly/GalileoContinuum
MacICT Course: Introduction to the Intel Galileo: http://www.macict.edu.au/professional-learning/introduction-to-the-intel-galileo/
The Teachers Guide, a sneak peek at one awesome Curriculum linked resource
Where can you begin?
Many teachers and school communities are reticent to dive straight in to the integrated STEM/STEAM space. Visiting schools across Australia, many have begun with the introduction of a MakerSpace or FabLab, a place to show teachers and students what is possible with STEAM tools like physical computers before taking it in to the mainstream. Add an Microcontroller like the Galileo to a suite of maker tools such as a 3D printer, Laser Cutter, and basic maker technologies, and you will inspire a generation…in the words of Gary Stager ‘Making is the best thing schools can do to prepare students to solve problems.’ Source: http://innovationtoolbox.intel.com.au/intel-blog/learning-in-the-making-how-the-maker-movement-powers-stem-and-student-curiosity-an-infographic/
In the meantime combine a MakerSpace with the introduction of a Project Based pedagogical approach using Intel’s Online Teach Elements professional learning program and you are in prime position to adopt a Maker / STEAM mindset that fosters critical thinking and prepares students for those 65% of jobs that have yet to be invented.
Educators, it’s time to inspire a generation!
Intel Teach Elements Courses: http://bit.ly/intelteach
Gary Stager’s Guide to Creating and Inventing with Technology in the classroom :http://bit.ly/MakerSpaceGuide
ICT Educators NSW held their Term 4 meet on Monday 26 October 2015 at TARA Anglican School for Girls. The focus for the evening was implications for NSW educators following theendorsement of the Foundation to Year 10 Australian Curriculum: Technologies by the Education Council in September.
BOSTES (http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/) Inspector (Technology Education), Peter Thompson (@TechEdBOSTES), presented the first keynote. Peter has had a long association with ICT Educators NSW. As well as a source of information about teaching and learning in our area, he is an enthusiastic advocate for our organisation, and importantly, for the role for digital technologies in NSW education.
Peter spoke about the process in NSW that follows endorsement. It does not mean that NSW teachers begin teaching the Technologies curriculum next year. The Australian Curriculum: Technologies is not a syllabus and its implementation is different across jurisdictions in Australia. The 23 independent people who make up the NSW Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) members now begin the process that drives syllabus development and educators across the years are encouraged to join the conversation informing syllabus development through contributing through the consultation processes.
Syllabus development in NSW is not a quick process. However, Peter reminded us that outcomes relating to digital technologies are already an important part of the existing mandated curriculum implemented in NSW schools. Teachers don’t need to wait for the new syllabus to design authentic learning activities promoting the type of problem solving that is inherent in computational thinking processes.
One teacher who is already doing this is Abi Woldhuis (@abiwoldhuis), primary school teacher and Innovation Specialist at Roseville College. Abi gave an overview that explained key concepts of computational thinking and presented many examples of how that can operationalised currently in NSW classrooms. Computational Thinking, according to Abi, is a ‘problem solving process that includes a number of characteristics and dispositions’ – so it is a way of thinking about problems and using digital technologies to help solve them. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the (U.S. based Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) has put together a one-page flyer that helps to define the concept.
Abi went on to explain how she operationalises these Computational Thinking dispositions and attitudes in her teaching. She taps into excellent programs such as the Young ICT Explorers and a number of resources by organisations such as Made with Code. Abi has generously curated a range of resources for educators across the years to tap into.
Below are the keynotes and resources provided by our speakers on Monday night. ICT Educator’s NSW thanks Amanda Hogan (@hogesonline) and TARA Anglican School for Girlsfor providing our venue and catering for our meeting on Monday evening. A special thank you to our presenters, Peter Thompson and Abi Waldhius for their time in preparing the presentations, allowing us to record their presentations and for making their resources available to our members and associates.
Peter Thompson presentation pptx format – ThompsonICTENSW20151026Peter Thompson Presentation in PDF format – ThompsonICTENSW20151026
Peter Thompson Presentation – Audio Only (mp3)
Peter spoke about the following resources during his presentation:
A unit of work integrated Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – the iSTEM course http://www.meprogram.com.au/2013/11/istem-course-ready-to-go/Australian Curriculum: Technologies (ACARA)
CEDA – Committee for Economic Development of Australia – Australia’s Future Workforce. On 16 June 2015, CEDA released a major report focused on the future of Australia’s workforce. The report is available for download on CEDA’s website.
Office of the Chief Scientist – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in the National Interest: A Strategic Approach. The report can be downloaded from their website.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia’s Future (September 2014):
Progressing STEM Skills in Australia (March 2015)
The Warren Centre’s 2015 Innovation Lecture with Salah Sukkariech Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems UoSyd; Nov 17.
At the end of Peter’s presentation, Leanne Cameron showed us a clip created by TASITEand ACCE called Demystifying Digital Technologies:
Abi Woldhuis presentation pdf format – AbiWoldhuis20151026
Abi Woldhuis presentation Audio only mp3
Abi spoke about the following in her presentation
Made with Code by Google – https://www.madewithcode.com/Promotional Video clip showed by Abi – https://youtu.be/aFF8PYDU0D8Google’s Computational Thinking Guide Computational Thinking for Educators, an online course where you will learn what CT is and how it can be integrated into a variety of subject areas https://computationalthinkingcourse.withgoogle.com/preview
Promotional Video clip showed by Abi
Debra Bourne, Vice President, ICTENSW
This guest blog post is from Chris Woldhuis, Head of Professional Development and Student Opportunities at Northern Beaches Christian School. Chris is an innovative and experienced IT Educator, who has now progressed to developing special programs within the school, presents regularly at conferences, and coaches staff.
This is Chris’ report on a different way to structure the Northern Beaches Outdoor Education Program.
Northern Beaches Christian School Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning
Creativity is an important aspect of IT and Design. When considering the current camping or Outdoor Education program, Northern Beaches Christian School, decided to reinvent the program and create options for staff to choose the types of programs on offer and for students to be able to choose the program they participate in. Essentially, a passion based co-curricular program.
IT & Design is one of the programs that has experienced significant student interest and has generated a number of projects that continued to develop after the initial program.
In 2015, around 80 students chose the IT & Design program. They were given a wide variety of ideas to spark their imagination. Their task was to generate an idea and shape it into a proposal. Most students utilised the current resources available at school to create their projects.
Students then proposed their ideas to the IT & Design team leaders, made up of staff and external experts. The team worked through the proposals with students changing some of their ideas, refining them or keeping them as is.
As students arrived at the Design and Production Suites at NBCS for the program, they were given a quick welcome and introduction to the team and they were welcomed to start their work. Some examples of the projects are below:
A number of students arrived at camp not knowing what they were going to do, they started exploring the equipment and resources available and sometimes joined other groups who needed more people.
The projects were interesting and varied, but what made the program fantastic was the engagement of the students. Full engagement. So engrossed in their projects that they needed to be stopped for break times. They turned up early and wanted to stay late.
Problem solving was happening consistently. As a number of the students were aiming to create something they were unsure was actually possible, normal techniques sometimes didn’t give the desired result. New ways of working had to be engineered.
The management of skills within teams was also evident. Comments like: “You’re good at building, so you take this complex model and I’ll help you program it once it’s built” or “This model has a higher difficulty rating, so you focus on that otherwise we won’t have time to complete the model”.
A good example of the nature of the problem solving, was the WWII model creators who completed numerous tests and experiments. They wanted to get the correct texture of the ground to make it authentic but had to consider the drying time fo the glue to fit into the schedule.
Steve Jobs once said that:
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.
Did this program improve creativity? Absolutely yes. The students were challenged by the tasks they chose. Challenged to express, produce, invent and innovate. Some even edged into the space of imaginative creativity. How did the program create this? By encouraging and allowing connections to be made, between students, staff, experts, resources and time.
Where is the program headed? What is in store for 2016? It’s not clear yet, students will have the final say.
© ICTENSW 2016
ICTENSW is a non-profit professional association supporting teachers in New South Wales.ICTENSW Suite 1A Level 2 802 Pacific Highway