CEWA teachers and students ready for National Science Week

17 August 2020

CEWA schools have been busy preparing for National Science Week, which runs all of this week, with some staff and students even getting a head start on celebrations. 

St John Bosco College teachers Heather Brocklehurst and Courtney Tetlow took the lead in organising and hosting a free TeachMeet professional development session at the College last week, focussing on digital technology tools with a group of 20 teachers.

The session walked participants through some of the technology that St John Bosco College educators and students are using to celebrate National Science Week, with augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), smart boards and devices all aimed at engaging with the ‘Deep Blue’ theme.

The technologies explored on the day included Google Cardboard VR goggles, Quiver, JigSpace and Merge Cubes, all relatively easy to use and affordable tools that are useful for teaching a wide variety of topics for both primary and secondary students. 

Participants in the session were able to see how students could bring ocean-dwelling organisms to life in their classrooms, or take a virtual tour of a coral reefs or a virtual shark dive. 

During National Science Week St John Bosco College is conducting a round robin style session for each class, from Pre-Kindy to Year 7, with Year 7 students leading the primary students through different tasks using AR and VR. 

The College’s aim is for students to be able to complete the ASTA Australian Science Innovation Competition, with students who complete five tasks receiving a badge and certificate.

“There are so many new and exciting augmented reality tools that can be used to engage our students,” said Heather. 

We thought it would be good to share the AR and VR tools we are using to celebrate National Science Week with other teachers so that all of our students can benefit and learn,” 

Courtney said the session was a great way to engage and connect with other teachers. 

“It allowed everyone to have a play with the AR and VR equipment while exploring options that they could use in their own classrooms – there was a lot of discussion and helping each other,” she said. 

While teachers were preparing at the TeachMeet, National Science Week was celebrated a week early at St Helena’s Catholic Primary School in Ellenbrook, to avoid clashes with other school events. 

The annual Brain Break morning tea for staff returned for 2020, with Caterina Di Carlantonio, the school’s Science Specialist Teacher, supplying Periodic Table cookies, lollies in test tubes and syringes, cupcakes with science-themed toppers and more for the staff room. 

The Brain Break usually features a science quiz, and always sparks conversations through the snacks alone. 

Students had the opportunity to take on staff in an engineering challenge, which sprung from the student response to STEM projects during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The challenge gave 16 teams of three from Year 5, Year 6 and school staff 20 minutes to complete free-standing spaghetti towers, with students who were not competing gathered around to cheer on their friends or teachers. 

The challenge was revealed just before the timer started to add to even the playing field and test teamwork. 

A teacher group was the overall winner with the tallest tower, earning the Golden Microscope trophy, and the student group with the tallest tower also received a prize. 

CEWA’s Teaching and Learning Directorate have created a National Science Week SharePoint site for educators, with a range of ideas and resources, many of which link this year’s theme of Deep Blue: innovations for the future of our oceans to Laudato Si, Aboriginal perspectives, and ocean-themed art and literature.

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