Coding and STEAM Workshops in Australia, 2016

Australia coding and STEAM

You wouldn’t put someone in front of a piano and say, ‘Figure out how to play it’. The same can be said about coding in schools.

Following the endorsement of the new Australian Technologies Curriculum, the Queensland Government made coding and robotics compulsory in schools from Prep to Year 10. Its reasonable to expect that it won’t be long before each Australian state will ensure that schools are embedding coding and robotics in the curriculum – which is clearly a very good thing.

But what does this mean for schools, institutions and teachers who are expected to deliver this new curriculum? Whilst Scratch, Code.org and similar packages give students and teachers an entry point, teaching “General Purpose Computer Languages” to students is an altogether different matter.

And its a similar story for the broader push towards STEM/STEAM. Whilst schools are equipped to teach each STEAM subject area, making learning gains from the integrated STEAM approach requires careful thought, planning, development and investment.

To help schools respond, CLWB will be delivering Coding and STEAM (Science Technology Entrepreneurship Arts and Maths) workshops in Australia in February – March 2016.

In October 2015, we ran STEM workshops in Melbourne and Brisbane, and at the Cognitive Acceleration conference in Queensland. We received a clear message at these workshops – “please help us implement the Digital Technologies curriculum – particularly coding – in our schools”. So, we’ll be coming back to Australia in February and March 2016 to run a series of workshops focusing on teaching coding and STEAM.

The CLWB “You Can Teach Coding” workshop will directly teach teachers how to teach coding. The CLWB “Practical Steps to STEAM” workshop will build on our recent STEM workshops and provide opportunities to plan STEAM, and participate in hands-on learning activities.

Option 1: “You Can Teach Coding” @ School

One-day In-School Bespoke Workshop

This is a full-day, in-school bespoke coding workshop for a group of up to 10 teachers paired with up to 10 students. This workshop will not only teach teachers how to code, but also how to teach coding. Participants will be taken from assumed no-knowledge to being confident in teaching with a “General Purpose Programming Language” by the end of the day. The workshop can be used to train student “Digital Leaders” and build a coding culture across the school. Teachers will be given a CLWB Computer Science kit and post-workshop Skype distance support as part of the workshop package.

Option 2: “Practical steps to STEAM” @ School

One-day In-School Bespoke Workshop

This is a full day bespoke workshop focused on creating a STEAM curriculum at your school. In the morning, participants will be lead through Science, Technologies, Arts and Maths subject content. This will be followed by a planning activity aimed at getting maximum learning gains from the STEAM approach, and integrating technology and entrepreneurship into the curriculum. The afternoon session focuses on a practical, hands-on STEAM activity, enabling participants to acquire new skills in Electronics, Programming, Designing and practical ‘Digital Making’. Teachers will be given a CLWB STEAM Kit and post-workshop Skype distance support as part of the workshop package.

Option 3: “You Can Teach Coding” Professional Development 

One-day Teaching Coding workshop

Meet and work with teachers from other schools at this full-day workshop, which will not only teach you to code, but also how to teach coding. Participants will be taken from assumed no-knowledge to being confident in teaching with a “General Purpose Programming Language” by the end of the day. Participants will receive a CLWB Computer Science Kit and 1 post-workshop Skype support, as part of the workshop package.

Option 4: Practical steps to STEAM Professional Development

One-day STEAM workshop

Meet and work with teachers from other schools at this workshop, which builds on the STEM workshop that we ran in Brisbane and Melbourne in October. The workshop will focus on creating a STEAM curriculum within your school. In the morning, teachers will be lead through Science, Technologies, Arts and Maths subject content. This will be followed by a planning activity aimed at getting maximum learning gains from the STEAM approach, and integrating technology and entrepreneurship into the curriculum. The afternoon session focuses on a practical, hands-on STEAM activity, enabling participants to acquire new skills in Electronics, Programming, Designing and practical ‘Digital Making’. Participants will receive a CLWB STEAM Kit and post-workshop Skype support as part of the workshop package.

If you or your school is interested in any of these options please use this form to let us know.

Note: You might be interested in having both Options 1 and 2 in your school over 2 days or you might be interested in sending teachers to workshops covering Options 3 and/or 4 in your area. You may also like to consider having a bespoke workshop in your school and invite other schools in your area to send teachers. Use the “Comments” box to let us know what options you would like.

Australian Technologies Curriculum – STEM Workshops

Australian Technologies Curriculum

Following the recent approval of the Australian Technologies Curriculum, CLWB with Intuyu Consulting and Cognitive Architecture ran a series of STEM workshops in Victoria and Queensland.

Based on the recent Leadership at the Speed of Thought program, Mike Lloyd gave a worldwide view of how technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ‘Internet of Things’ are disrupting the world of work, opening up new opportunities and threats, and the implications of these developments for education.

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Participants were then guided through a mapping of the new Australian Curriculum to STEM activities, and shown where technologies and new pedagogies can make the most learning impact.

Following this, teams created one-year STEM plans for their schools.

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A key component in STEM is multi-disciplinary projects, so teachers finished the workshop by designing, building and programming a Wearable solution using a CLWB Wearable kit. This gave them the opportunity to develop new skills and understanding – e.g. Programming, Design, Making and the science behind conductive thread.

We were delighted to bring an edited version of the workshop to the Cognitive Accelaration Conference, Australia –

Cog Accel

Mike would like to thank Adrian and Rachel at Intuyu; Tim Smith from Cognitive Architecture; Mt Alvernia College, Brisbane and Genazzano College, Melbourne, and all the participants at the workshops.

CLWB Down Under

Swinburne

C/O Swinburne University – Kilometer Sq. Array. 

If you are reading this using a device connected to WiFi thank Australia. I’ve been lucky enough to spend two weeks in the birthplace of WiFi, the feature film, the electric drill and of course mass education technology (School of the Air). Here’s some highlights:

LEARNING IMPACTS

Simplifying Astronomy 

Thanks to Sarah Maddison for this wonderful insight and set of resources:

Astronomy is a fascinating subject of interest to people of all ages, and a great way to expose people to all areas of science, from physics to chemistry to geology and geophysics and even biology. For example, Astronomy can be used in the International Baccalaureate IGCSE Mathematics with students between 14-16 years to learn Number; Calculation of powers and roots; exponents; estimating; calculations involving time; solving problems involving speed, distance and time.

Astronomical objects are often structurally complex and can be difficult to visualise, so astronomers at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, lead by Sarah Maddison, have been developing a set of 3D PDF documents that allows students to see objects in 3D and interact with the structure – rotating and changing positions, zooming in and out.

To view the 3d PDF documents, just download the latest version of Adobe Reader, download the documents, and run them on your device. (The 3d feature does not work within a browser, but works beautifully across platforms in Adobe Reader).

Swinburne has some wonderful astro 3D PDFs freely available online – see http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/sao/students/3D-pdfs/ Explore the orbits of the planets in our Solar System and the smaller bodies like asteroids and Kuiper Belt Object (http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/sao/students/3D-pdfs/pdfs/solarsystemorbits.pdf) and zoom into real asteroids to view fascinating shapes (http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/sao/students/3D-pdfs/pdfs/asteroids.pdf)  Check out Swinburne’s online astronomy course – Swinburne Astronomy Online for more terrific materials.

The software used to create the 3d models is called S2PLOT – see http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/s2plot/index.php?title=S2PLOT

3D PDF has great application beyond astronomy and I’m looking forward to seeing its creative use in many other learning scenarios.

Mars Lab

Another great Australian initiative is The Mars Lab – a re-creation of the Martian surface and a robotics lab in Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum. Mars Lab offers High School children a Project Based Learning experience based on the search for life on Mars. With relatively inexpensive equipment, there is no reason why schools couldn’t have their own extra terrestrial environment, and CLWB can help with this.

Pushing the Boundaries 

Since “School of the Air” Australia has always pushed the boundaries of technology in education. Lessons from schools such as Hermit Park and Eltham College, and statewide systems such as Queensland’s Smart Classrooms were documented in Schooling at the Speed of Thought. More recently, New South Wales has pioneered e-testing with online Essential Secondary Science Assessment (ESSA) tests in New South Wales and Melbourne University are pioneering the electronic assessment of 21st Century Skills (http://atc21s.org).

Speaking at the “Education Technology Solutions Magazine” 2014 Award for Innovation, industry veteran and Head of Judging Panel, Bruce Dixon said “we’re seeing a shift in schools across the country towards recognition that innovation is becoming a mainstream responsibility for school leadership teams. Schools acknowledge that the world in which their young people are growing up in demands fresh thinking and new ideas around engagement for achieving improved education outcomes”.

Whilst Australia’s leading schools lead the world, there is also  much to learn from schools in disadvantaged areas, such as Upper Yarra Secondary School, just north of Melbourne. Here, children have an options program that covers no fewer than 22 modules, each aimed at giving practical and valuable skills. This includes:

  • “Green Machine” – a program designed to make the school greener
  • “Robotics”
  • “Human Powered Vehicle”  – designing, building and testing vehicles
  • “How to Fly an Aeroplane”
  • Astronomy

(Thanks to Patricia Broom)