Preparing students for a technological future
By Michelle Dennis, eLearning manager at Mentone Girls’ Grammar School
One of my immense joys about working as the eLearning manager at Mentone Girls’ Grammar School is also the greatest challenge: to keep one eye focused on the future. Education must not just prepare students for the world we know now, but the one that our students will be living and working in 10, 20, and 50 years’ time.
The wonders of the ‘Magic School Bus’ are closer than you may think – in fact, some of our students are already experiencing some magical field trips. With Virtual Reality Headsets, we can transport our students into other worlds; they can follow red blood cells through vessels, land Apollo 11 on the Moon or have encounters with dinosaurs. To introduce students to this new way of thinking, we are currently developing a program in Year 9 Geography where students will use contour maps to construct Australian landscapes to explore in Virtual Reality.
Sewable electronics, 3D video games and dancing robots are some more ideas being explored as we develop new courses for Digital Technology at Years 8 and 9. Students will generate creative and fun solutions, engaging with new technologies and learning computational thinking skills. These core new subjects will be introduced in 2017 and will provide a platform for our students to become global leaders in the ideas economy.
It’s also imperative that students have a solid introduction to STEM-related studies in their early years of learning so they can develop their digital technology skills. For example, our Prep students have been abuzz after meeting the newest members of the school: the Beebots, which provide our young students an accessible and fun introduction to sequencing and algorithms. Meanwhile, our Years 2–6 students recently participated in Code Camp Australia, where they had the fantastic opportunity to build their own iPhone apps.
From OneNote in Japanese to the gamification of Accounting, these are just some examples of how schools can embed technology, coding and virtual reality into their curriculum.
|Years||Kindergarten - Year 12|
|Enrolment||Approximately 780 students|
12k - 16k Over 16k |
$12,215 - $27, 515
03 9581******* 03 9581 1200
03 9581******* 03 9581 1299
|Address||11 Mentone Parade, Mentone 3194|
News & Advice
A unique learning experience
Did you know that Victoria has its own specialist secondary school focusing on science, mathematics and associated technologies?
Applications open early each year for students to attend John Monash Science School (JMSS) in Years 10, 11 and 12, which is the result of a unique partnership between the Victorian Government and Monash University. It’s located in a purpose-built facility on the university’s Clayton Campus.
JMSS has formed strong partnerships with researchers and academics in a broad mix of scientific fields at Monash University, sharing resources and expertise, and allowing students to explore the cutting edge of scientific knowledge in physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, mathematics, engineering, biomedical science, geography and computer science.
JMSS is unique in many ways — learning spaces are flexible, so that students can learn individually as well as in teams, and students develop individual learning portfolios informed by their own interests and abilities.
Students travel from all over the state to attend JMSS, and current student Geraldine explains what it’s like to study at this specialist school.
What attracted you to JMSS?
What attracted me to attend were the opportunities and facilities unique to JMSS. Also, as a science enthusiast, the idea of students and teachers who share a common passion for science and mathematics coming together to achieve something greater, as well as supporting each other and learning collaboratively, appealed to me.
How is JMSS different to nonspecialised high schools?
In Year 10 we study core science (biology, chemistry and physics) as well as choosing emerging science electives such as nanotechnology, astrophysics and bioinformatics. A key feature of JMSS is the approach to learning from the students and teachers, with the open classrooms and the table arrangements, which allows flexibility as well as making it easier to communicate and collaborate with other students. Moreover, most classes are larger, and have two supportive teachers who are able to teach concurrently, or split up and take smaller groups of students in order to suit their needs. Furthermore, as a kinaesthetic learner, I learn best by experiencing things and seeing them in action, and the teachers at JMSS understand that and embrace it, and take the opportunity to engage the students as well as challenging us to stretch our knowledge of important concepts.
How did you feel when you were accepted as a student at JMSS?
I was overwhelmed with a mixture of emotions such as excitement and determination to tackle all the challenges ahead, however I was also worried about the new experiences and what JMSS had in store for me. Looking back, I didn’t have anything to be worried about because the JMSS community is one that welcomes and supports its students.
What’s your favourite subject and why?
Currently, I can’t choose what my favourite subject is because I love biology and psychology equally the most. I have a passion in these subjects, and the teachers deliver the content in an engaging and interactive method, ranging from activities such as practicals and dissections, to redesigning our brain.
What do you and your friends aspire to be when you finish studying?
When I finish my studies, I aspire to work in the field of biology or psychology because those are where my passions lie. However, I’m still watching out for other opportunities and possible future occupations available. Most of my friends are still deciding what they aspire to be, however a few of my friends hope to become engineers, physicists, chemists and biologists.
Tell us about your favourite learning experience at JMSS?
My favourite learning experience as a JMSS student was attending the annual Japan Super Science Fair held in Kyoto last year with a small team of students and a teacher to showcase our projects, as well as to interact with other schools and passionate and determined students. This opportunity has impacted me greatly, broadening my exposure to the scientific field and developing my communication skills, not only in English, but also in Japanese. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is one that I will never forget.
What would you say to students thinking about applying at JMSS?
To those thinking about applying at JMSS, I thoroughly recommend it because some of the experiences and opportunities that will be open to you here will not be available in any other place.
Join John Monash Science School for its Information Night at 7pm on Wednesday 4 May 2016, at Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University, Clayton, Melbourne. Entry is free, and bookings are not required.
* See the school in action at its annual Science Exhibition Night from 5pm to 7pm on Tuesday 10 May. Entry is free, and bookings are not required.
Address: 39 Innovation Walk, Monash University Vic 3800
Phone: 03 9905 1002
News & Advice
Curious minds wonder alike
First national program to mentor schoolgirls with women leaders in STEM
It is a concerning issue in today’s high-tech world that secondary school STEM units of science, technology, engineering and maths are still overwhelmingly dominated by boys. Boys outnumber girls in Year 12 physics by three to one and almost twice as many boys than girls study advanced mathematics in Year 12, according to a recent study*. Moreover, recent international testing has found Australian girls’ performance in science and maths is falling behind boys by at least a third of a school year. Even though popular culture tends to promote women in scientific roles – for instance, Dr Temperance Brennan in television show Bones and Dr Jemma Simmons among others in Marvel’s Agent of Shield – girls are seemingly finding it hard to identify with STEM subjects and careers.
Although the total number of Year 12 enrolments in Australia is increasing, enrolments in traditional STEM subjects are declining. This is why it is important to encourage programs such as the National Curious Minds Learning and Mentoring program for girls in STEM. Starting this year on 9 December, 54 schoolgirls from more than 20 regional towns and every capital city across Australia will participate in Curious Minds at the Australian National University in Canberra. This pioneering program aims to help redress girls’ declining engagement in STEM subjects at high school.
The government-funded program will help Year 8, 9 and 10 school girls from diverse backgrounds to meet and be mentored by one of 124 women working in the science industry and engineering fields. Selected on their performance in three national secondary school based STEM competitions, the students will spend four days at the Australian National University for an intensive week of learning in physics, informatics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and earth and environmental sciences. There, they will also meet their mentors with whom they will work over a six month period.
Preference has been given to girls from rural, disadvantaged and Indigenous areas and backgrounds.
“Some of these highly capable girls have never had an opportunity to take part in this kind of extended learning, but now federal government funding has opened up this opportunity for them,” says Kyi Muller, Program Director, Curious Minds.
The program will put students in touch with inspiring Australian women in science, including: the 2013 Life Scientist of the Year, Professor Angela Moles; young innovators such as Microsoft technical evangelist Esther Mosad; and women working in fields as diverse as astrophysics, renewable energy and visual science communication.
“This program is all about helping to remove the barriers that are hindering our young women from excelling in science and maths at school, as well as opening up opportunities for them to consider study and careers in STEM,” says Dr Cathy Foley, Patron, Curious Minds.
Interestingly, STEM skilled jobs are growing at 1.5 times faster than any other job sector (Australian Bureau of Statistics). However, an incredible 44% of Australian employers report difficulties in recruiting STEM-qualified technicians and trade specialists, according to Australian Industry Group’s ”Progressing STEM Skills in Australia” report, March 2015. This demand makes it ever more crucial to encourage girls, half of our working population, towards STEM fields.
Curious Minds is funded by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Department of Education and Training through the Restoring the Focus on STEM program. The Australian Mathematics Trust and Australian Science Innovations jointly administer Curious Minds. These organisations also reach thousands of talented students and involve hundreds of teachers and schools in the Science and Mathematics Olympiad programs.
* “The continuing decline of science and mathematics in Australian high schools”, Kennedy, Lyons and Quinn, Vol. 60, No. 2, 2014
WORDS: Alana Lopez
IMAGE: Camberwell Girls Grammar School
News & Advice
Gratitude given to science teachers
TWO science teachers were presented with the 2015 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science award last week, for excellence in scientific research, innovation and teaching.
The winners, including Ken Silburn from CasulaHigh School in NSW and Rebecca Johnson from WindarooStateSchool in QLD, were congratulated by the Prime Minister and Minister Christopher Pyne at the Great Hall of Parliament House.
Nominated for actively increasing student science participation, Silburn said he was able to spark student engagement through extension programs and practical, interactive activities.
“I’m very proud of the achievement of our school. Getting so many students to choose to study science shows that what we’re doing in the junior school is working,” he told Science In Public.
Meanwhile teacher Rebecca Johnson took out the prize for her model on teaching science in primary schools.
Fifteen years in the making, her teaching model aims to improve the quality of science subjects and involves the teacher educating students in science classes every week.
“I don’t think I could love a job more than I love teaching science,” she said.
“I encourage my students to use their prior knowledge, and to show me just how much they know.”
Words: Chanel Zagon
Image: Assumption College
News & Advice
Melbourne – The City For Students
International survey affirms Melbourne as a cultural and educational hub
Melbourne’s position as the cultural capital of Australia has been confirmed and complemented by our ranking as the second best student city in the world and the best city for student diversity.
A recent survey by QS Top Universities gave Melbourne this flattering rating but our area of excellence was for welcoming International Students into our student population.
The fabric of Australia has cultural diversity deeply woven in and this cultural heartbeat beats stronger in nowhere other than Melbourne.
Our student population is a testament to this with the City of Melbourne citing that almost 55% of students living and studying in our city are International.
Paris led the QS Top Universities ratings as the best city in the world to be a student but impressively, Melbourne bumped London from second place.
While we may not have an Eiffel Tower or a thriving crepe industry, Melbourne’s diverse range of universities can offer something for everybody.
A historically interesting building at Melbourne University is as charming as RMIT is innovative and spunky. Meanwhile, Monash explicitly welcomes International Students with a whole day of celebration dedicated to them.
In general, the survey looked at a range of criteria including pollution, safety and cultural tolerance so in general, Melbourne is ticking a lot of boxes.
So whether you are from Australia or abroad, you can feel that little bit better about the university grind knowing that, as Melbournian uni students, we almost have it the best in the world.
Words: Georgina Owen
News & Advice
Helping Parents Keep Their Children Cybersafe
Protect-A-Child offers an innovative technological solution to the growing problem of cyber-bullying
With the internet, smartphones and social networking sites, children and young people are entrenched in a digital world. These technologies can be invaluable assets to a child’s learning and development as they provide no shortage of interesting information from around the globe with just the click of a mouse or a tap of a touch screen. However these technologies also make children more susceptible to what can be described as bullying of the 21st century.
Cyber-bullying is the act of using the internet, email and text messages to harm other people in a deliberate, repeated and hostile manner. This risky behaviour can be damaging to a child’s state of mind and can result in a child no longer feeling safe in what should be a comforting and welcoming environment. In January last year alone, Victorian schoolgirl Sheniz Erkan took her life after being a victim of both cyber and schoolyard bullying.
In 2012 Protect-a-Child successfully delivered an innovative technological solution to the growing problem of cyber-bullying. The first of its kind, the cloud-based tool allows parents to monitor their child’s activity across various social media networks and alerts them to any potential cyber-bullying risks. Operating via a database of recognised keywords, and fully customisable in terms of severity, the system notifies parents of any inappropriate or abusive language as well as any attempt at coded conversations that could indicate cyber-bullying.
The Community Crowd Protection (CCP) feature prompts parents to verify the true identity of any new individual that their child connects with on social media. Working as an online ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ scheme, the CCP feature makes these verifications visible to all PAC subscribers, so should another child connect to the individual, parents can rest assured that the verified connection is a legitimate peer.
PAC Founder and CEO, Jason Edwards, believes that the launch of the tool and its development throughout 2012 sees a real breakthrough in the fight against cyber-bullying.
“We believe that through technology, we have produced a product that can arm parents with the tools required to protect their children from the agony of cyber-bullying,” says Mr Edwards. “PAC will pick up any words and images that relate to bullying, drugs, alcohol and depression while the CCP feature gives parents the power to decipher unknown people.
“These days’ children see having a large amount of friends on social networking sites as a competition and are innocently letting strangers into their lives. You can lock your house up as tight as you like, but your children may be unknowingly inviting strangers into your home.”
PAC provides real-time awareness while safeguarding the privacy of their children. It does not hack or violate the privacy of children but rather works as a search tool that analyses posts and provides parents with accurate awareness of the existence of content that can be harmful to their child’s safety, reputation, or standing in the community.
“It is important for parents to understand that we are not the sole answer to this issue,” says Mr Edwards. “In order for PAC to work there needs to be 40 per cent implementation, 40 per cent communication and 20 per cent product. Tackling this issue is about partnership and trust between the parent and the child – the child needs consent for the product to be used.”
PAC is currently working with internet Safety experts Brett Lee and Susan Hall to create website content for those parents and teachers. They have also partnered up with not-for-profit Australian anti-bullying organisation Angels Goal to combat the issue of bullying in schools.
For more information of Protect-a-Child visit www.protectachild.com.au.
Image: Geelong Grammar School