Software is the language of the world and is becoming a critical layer in our lives. At Camberwell Girls, we don’t just want our students to ‘use’ technology. We want them to be creators of it.
An important part of our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) Program is ‘technology’… in particular, Digital Technologies. Digital Technologies also form an integral part of the Victorian Curriculum – allowing our students to develop computational thinking and problem solving skills.
In this edition of CamNews, Kim Perkins our Head of Digital Learning and Kathryn Brandt the Junior School Digital Learning Leader share some of the exciting initiatives that our girls are currently participating in.
STEM App Challenge
Girls in the upper years at Ormiston have been given the opportunity to participate in the Australian STEM Video Game Challenge. The purpose of the challenge is to engage students’ creativity and encourage their participation in learning vital skills such as designing, building and testing an original video game. We currently have 12 girls in Year 5 working in teams to create a video game based around the concept of ‘Reaction’. The girls had to initially start the challenge by investigating different types of reactions – ranging from chemical to emotional and even the idea of allergic reactions. They also worked through the process of coming up with a very detailed game design document that outlines the key elements and direction of the video game. This has proved highly insightful, as it has given the girls valuable insight into the life of a professional game designer.
The project reinforces collaboration but also allows a self-directed and peer-directed approach, as students have to manage some of their challenges at school and at home. It has been extremely beneficial to have the girls apply their coding skills from previous experiences and be able to find a place where they can take these skills to a new level. The challenge concludes at the end of August and we are looking forward to seeing their ideas come to fruition.
Coding and Robotics
With such an emphasis on technology in our world, it is imperative that we are providing our girls with a range of opportunities for digital creativity. Since 2016, we have offered Code Club as an after school activity and have continued to do so this year. It has been a huge success with students always showing great interest and enthusiasm.
Last semester our Year 3 students were introduced to coding by using the program ‘Scratch’. They were able to create greeting cards and dance projects that required them to learn and apply a variety of skills. They were given the opportunity to learn from one another whilst being faced with constant challenges, such as working out what part of their code was malfunctioning.
This Semester we have created an after school Robotics project for our Year 4 students where they will be looking at ‘Maker Challenges’. They will be participating in tasks that involve design briefs and applying creative thinking skills in order to create a robot.
With the completion of the MakerSpace, students now have access to a dedicated area where they can face challenges, design solutions and test their outcomes. This is particularly highlighted in two new subjects; ‘STEAM of Dance’ which combines coding, robotics and dance to produce a choreographed sequence performed by our humanoid robots Nao. The other new subject is the Years 8 & 9 ‘Robotics and Design’ elective, which requires students to solve problems using robotics. They analyse the task, design the robot to complete the task, build the robot and then test the results. This is an important shift from using pre-built robots to actually designing and building a solution. Lego robotics are used extensively in this subject.
In the Senior School coding and robotics continues as a co-curricular activity but has also been integrated into both elective and non-elective subjects. The new ‘Digital Literacy’ subject that operates from Years 7-10 combines a range of technology related skills including, robotics, coding, virtual reality, networking and computer security. Students at all year levels develop a deeper understanding of robotics and coding through the use of Nao our humanoid robot. Year 10 students complete the Cisco NetAcademy course on the ‘Internet of Everything’. An externally offered, self-paced, fully online course, NetAcademy, not only offers student an insight into the future of the internet and how it will impact their lives, but also valuable experience in completing an online course.
Our students are provided with a variety of engaging learning experiences in their classrooms. Video conferencing is another means that is constantly adding an extra dimension to the girls’ experiences. Each term we are linking our learning to experts in their field and creating an interconnected and enriched program.
At Ormiston we have connected with organisations such as The Big Issue to enable our Year 6 students to discuss the Homelessness in Victoria. Our Year 4s have participated in video conferences with the State Library of New South Wales to complement their unit on Australian history. They were able to view original artefacts and listen to stories about the colonisation and European exploration of Australia.
In Geography Year 8 students participated in a video conference with scientists from GeoScience Australia, the government body charged with monitoring earthquakes and giving tsunami warnings. This gave students an excellent insight into the operation of that agency, the manner in which seismic data is collected, how it is analysed and how warnings are issued. It also gave students a window into the working lives of these scientists and the important role they play in a globally connected endeavor.
Students from Years 5 through to Year 10 are also participating in the annual Virtual Debating Competition, involving students from schools across Australia. Utilising our Cisco video conferencing equipment and the TV studio, students’ debate on a range of topics and are evaluated by an external adjudicator. This program is proving to be highly successful and builds skills in collaboration, problem solving, research and computer and digital literacies.
Although students have been using virtual reality for some time now, we are now enabling them to be creators of virtual worlds through the use of the HTC Vive VR headsets and the Google Tilt Brush application. Although in its early days, this initiative is gaining considerable interest from students with an aptitude in coding, design, art and digital multimedia.
Kim Perkins Kathryn Brandt
Head of Digital Learning Junior School Digital Learning Leader