Sunday, 14 October 2018

Floodscapes Community Project

Our students have recently been involved in an amazing collaborative project facilitated by local artist Karen Revie, creative director of The Holographic Lounge. Floodscapes is a flood awareness project consisting of three short films that deliver key safety messages to the local community, including the danger of flood waters, how to make a pet emergency plan, and how you can help your community stay safe. The Floodscapes project videos were created as a shareable community resource, based on the idea that people increasingly turn to social media to learn about what to do in emergencies.

Screenshot from one of the short films, Pet Wise

In consultation with City of Launceston and SES, Floodscapes project leader Karen Revie involved students from Invermay Primary School, Launceston Big Picture School and the meenah neenah Aboriginal Cultural Education Program in creating these important community resources.  Our schools are located directly in Launceston's flood zones and students have first-hand experience of the impact of floods after being evacuated during the devastating 2016 Launceston floods.

The Floodscapes video production involved students creating drawings that were then animated onto background footage from the 2016 floods. Auslan translations were filmed by student interns from Big Picture School, this inclusion helps to ensure that the films are accessible to people with hearing impairments. 

Artist Vicki West (meenah neenah cultural education program) supporting students as they create art for the films 

The team worked with the Council's Emergency Management Coordinator, Bev Allen, who provided valuable consultation to the Floodscapes project developing the original flood safety messages with SES, visiting schools during the workshop phase and speaking to the media about the importance of the project. It was a true collaborative effort and a great project for the community by the community.

Active learning partnerships within the community provide a lasting sense of belonging and purpose for our students. It allows them to form meaningful connections with mentors, and they are empowered by the opportunity to be messengers for our city, sharing their knowledge in authentic ways. 

The Floodscapes team have been interviewed multiple times by local radio and television news outlets speaking about the meaning behind this project, what they’ve learned and the roles people played in this collaboration. 

This real-world project has seen students’ confidence, ownership of learning, and the desire to produce meaningful work increase exponentially. As Karen Revie aptly points out, "Young people are the future leaders of the community ... It is much more effective when you have children educating adults, so we deliberately put the power in their hands."  

Karen Revie with Invermay Primary and Big Picture School students
The project was funded by a City of Launceston community grant, and the three short films will be used for awareness campaigns, and during emergencies. The films debuted in May at the Breath of Fresh Air Film Festival held in Launceston and are now available on the City of Launceston and TasALERT websites. 

The Floodscapes team were winners of this year's Resilient Australia Schools award at a state level and will now proceed to the national awards facilitated by the Australian Institute of Disaster Resilience. 

 This is the first video, Waterwise, which explains the danger of entering floodwaters:

The second video in the Floodscapes Flood Awareness series, Pet Wise, provides information on how to keep pets safe in times of flooding: 

The third video, Community Wise, is about the shared responsibility to look after each other to keep our community safe:

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a solutions-based, hands-on approach to solving problems.  I use this as a framework in the classroom whenever we are going to be designing STEM/STEAM solutions to real world problems or when students are working on their entrepreneur and passion projects.

There are many variants to the design thinking process; I really like using this simple graphic from Seesaw to explain the philosophy behind Design Thinking to students:

There are two Design Thinking frameworks that I have meshed together to create my own teaching and learning tool.

The first is the 6Ds process of Solution Fluency by Lee Watanabe Crockett, which involves:
  • Define - What is the challenge and what do you need to do? What problem do you need to solve?
  • Discover - Research and gather information about the users of your solution.
  • Dream - Think big, brainstorm ideas
  • Design - Make a prototype - a model or representation
  • Deliver - Present your information
  • Debrief - What did we learn?
The second is the 4 Ws Process from Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie's book, Designing for Growth. The 4 Ws process involves asking:
  • What is? Exploring the current reality
  • What if? Envisioning alternative futures
  • What wows? Getting users to help make some choices
  • What works? Making it work in the real world
Here is the graphic I created to use in my classroom:


Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie, Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Tool Kit for Managers, 2011:

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Remade: Sustainable Wearable Art Show

Our students were recently involved in a sustainable art show organised by Interweave Arts director Kim Schneiders. 'Remade' showcases wearable art and objects by local designers and artists, and it is such a fantastic program for our students to be involved in. The show emphasises the need for environmental sustainability and students worked hard with two teachers over several weeks designing and creating their own costumes for the show out of recycled materials.

Part of this years theme included Waterways and Threatened Species, which was a fantastic way for students to get involved in making a statement about plastic in our oceans. They had a blast creating their costumes and rehearsing the dance choreography for the show.

This is such a powerful experience for our children; not only are they collaborating and engaging with the community and 'showing off' their skills and creativity, but they are also empowered by the opportunity to be activists through art. They feel like they play an important role in eductating others and raising awareness of the need to take care of the world they live in.

These amazing photos of our students on the catwalk and performing their dance were taken by Anne O'Connor, and are too stunning not to share!

Here is a local newspaper article on the event: Sustainable art, Remade

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Article: Big Ideas for a Cleaner Planet

One of my students was so excited to be interviewed about her STEAM project by Total Girl, a magazine for 'tweens.' It's so fun when classroom projects cross over into the real world!

Sunday, 19 August 2018

National Science Week 2018: Part 2

As part of National Science Week celebrations, 20 of our Year 5/6 students were lucky enough to attend an interdisciplinary STEAM day at  Launceston College.

Students had the opportunity to participate in workshops in the Launceston College STEAM NGN as well seeing science demonstrations, stalls and other STEAM/Science work that has been completed by the college students and local high school students. As you can see below, they had a ball!

Some short videos recorded by students:

Here's a link for more about our Science Week celebrations: National Science Week - Part 1

Friday, 17 August 2018

National Science Week: Game Changers & Change Makers

Wow, what a massive week Science Week turned out to be! This year was the first time our school has hosted a community after school STEAM Fair and it was sensational to have so many people come along to learn and play.  This event celebrated "Game Changers and Change Makers" and showcased some of the wonderful STEM/STEAM projects our students have been working on. 

We were lucky enough to receive generous funding through the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA) school grants for Science week; without this support we would not have been able to have as many interactive activities for our families to get involved in.

The day started early with some student representatitives invited to talk on live radio about what Science Week means to them. The students handled the pressure of live interviewing well and I was so proud of them. For part of the interview they were asked what they liked the most about Science:

"I like the hands-on part of learning, getting to put things together to make something, building, creating ... We started making a game for younger kids. We've animated a fridge and it's got to run around and collect the good food and not collect the bad food." - William

"I love Science because you get to do things that you normally wouldn't get to do if you were just at home, and you get to do things that are different and really fun. You get to do hands-on learning and it's not just sitting back to watch, you get to play with it as well." - Edie

"I love STEM and STEAM because you get to do hands on stuff instead of just normal school, you get to make stuff." - Georginia

"I really love Science because you get to step out of your comfort zone and you get to help the world with the real life issues, and as everyone has said the hands-on learning is really the best part." - Bella

It's not every day a Makey-Makey appears on live radio!

After school we had our STEAM Fair, which was open to the wider school community with the aim of promoting the value of hands-on learning activities and inquiry-based learning. It was amazing to have so many families (and people from the broader community) come along to get a first-hand glimpse at the technology and activities that our students are engaging with in their classrooms.

This term we have had the opportunity to borrow Spheros from CSER Digital Technologies Lending Library, and they were certainly a hit at the fair! Here are a few snaps of some Sphero soccer fun:

We also had plenty of buzzing around the Bee Bots we had borrowed from Launceston NGN STEAM Room, and our Ozobot towns and tracks. Some students had created straw mazes and simple arcade games out of recyled materials, which people enjoyed testing:


Year 3s used their visual art skills to share "Inventions that were Game Changers and Change Makers":

There were Makey-Makey arcade games to play, and we also had a few interesting game controllers to test out! Rain clouds in a jar was one of the simple science experiments we had set up to explore:

Here's a slide with other simple STEAM activities we had set up for people to enjoy:

By the end of the day I'd clocked up a fair few steps on my fitbit ... I wonder if I can beat it next year!

For more Science Week fun see National Science Week - Part 2

Monday, 2 July 2018

Kindergarten Family STEAM Afternoon

Last term we had a wonderful open afternoon of STEAM for our Kindergarten families. Some of our Year 4, 5 and 6 mentors came along to help with some simple science, technology and engineering activities. It was great to see so many of our families having fun and learning together. Here are some highlights:

Test out the cars going down the pipe into the sandpit. How can you make the cars go faster? How can you make the cars go slower?

How tall can you make a balloon tower that can stand up without anyone holding it? The only things you can use are a piece of paper for the bottom, balloons and masking tape.

Can you design a lego marble maze?

Can you make a shape bubble wand using the materials provided? Which ones work best? A square, a circle, a triangle, or a star? I wonder why ...

Design challenges are fun for everyone!

Ozobots: Can you make a track for your robot to follow?
Can you make Ozobot do any special tricks?

Floodscapes Community Project

Our students have recently been involved in an amazing collaborative project facilitated by local artist Karen Revie, creative director of...