We want to document things that we are doing in order to help others on their journey into the word of STEM/STEAM and Makerspaces.
Term 4 2017 UPDATE
Virtual Reality has arrived at Calrossy Anglican School and we are very excited about it!! A group of interested secondary boys (with the help of Mr Russell from IT) built a computer in order to run a very high-powered virtual reality headset. Now the computer is built and the HTC Vive headset is here and ready to use. We are testing out all of the great programs that it can run including programs like Ocean Rift which places you in the ocean where you can check out all the interesting animals and Tilt Brush where you can draw in 3D. Google Earth was also an interesting program where students can visit places all around the world. Even the teachers are excited about getting to try out this technology.
With the HTC Vive and the class set of virtual reality headsets that are due to arrive at Calrossy in the next week, we are well placed to not only view the fascinating content available for VR but also to start creating our own content using specialist software programs! Students in subjects from Science to Geography to Visual Arts and everything in between will benefit from this technology. Good times for students from Stage 1 all the way to Stage 6!
Term 3 2017 UPDATE
Primary students have been working hard this term. Some students have been designing and creating prototypes for sustainable housing. Others have been trying out stop motion animation using a mini green screen! And, of course, Makerspace is as popular as ever!
Student representatives from Years 7 through to 10 applied to attend our first STEM trip to Sydney to participate in the Young Creators Conference at the Powerhouse Museum. The conference was an opportunity for students from 16 schools to share what they had been creating within their schools. Each Calrossy student took a project they had been working on including a prosthetic hand, a hand-built, 3D printed drone, a laser-trip wire, a hand-built computer and interactive Makey Makey projects. Students then had the chance to check out some of the interesting creations that other students had made. Not only did we get to participate in the conference but we visited Apple to learn about different roles that staff can do there (and test some cool new products), participated in a Science Expo at the Australian Museum and attend a 3D printing and manufacturing workshop at Western Sydney University. It was a great trip where students were inspired to pursue more STEM-related activities and further develop their skills and interests.
Term 2 2017 UPDATE
Makerspace at the secondary girls has been buzzing with many students attending to use the Makey Makey, Perler beads and Sphero robots. As the weather starts to cool down, the Makerspace becomes a warm place to get creative at lunch. Our ISTem class has started working on areas in robotics using mainly Lego Mindstorm EV3 kits that our P&F generously purchased for us this year. They are working through some tutorials to get to know how the robots work and then they are going to build ‘sumo-bots’ which will battle each other (assuming they code them correctly). Should be a lot of fun!
Term 1 2017 UPDATE
Back in the swing of things for 2017! Makerspace has started back up for the new year and the secondary boys have been taking advantage by using Little Bits to build something that glows for the Little Bits Challenge Competition. The Year 9/10 ISTem class has been learning about Assistive Technologies and were asked to create a prototype or working model of a piece of assistive technology. One student has started to create a prosthetic hand for his brother with a disability. This have given the group a great, real-world goal to work towards!
Tinkering and Making have been mixed with Challenges this term in our Primary MakerSpace. Students have been using every opportunity to use the different resources we have in the MakerSpace leading to great collaboration and learning.
Some activities have been:
- Bridge Building Challenge
- Paper Chain Challenge
- Mystery Bag Challenge
- PaperPlane building / Flying Challenge
- Straw Rockets
- Recyclable Materials Creations
December 2016 UPDATE
The school year is nearly over but we had one last BIG week of STEM goodness to end the year on a high. All Year 7 and 8 students participated in what we called Water Week. The week involved ditching the normal timetable and creating a week of experiences around water including all faculty areas. Students chose which of the 9 experiences they wanted to participate in and then worked in groups of 3 on a project completely of their own choosing about anything related to water. The week ended in a ‘showcase’ of all of the group projects with our local Director of Water coming to inspect the students’ amazing work. Engagement levels were very high and the students produced some amazing projects through the week including making apps, working models, posters and videos. Overall, this was a big success and we are gathering feedback and planning for another similar week some time in 2017!
OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016 UPDATE
We had the privilege of presenting at the AIS STEM Conference in October. A couple of students came along to help showcase what we’ve been doing at Calrossy around STEM and makerspaces. It was a great opportunity for the teachers to share learning with other educators and for the students to spend time with other like-minded kids.
We also had a the wonderful Enchanted Engineering Day with Year 2 students. Their teachers worked very hard to put together a culminating activity for their fairy tales unit incorporating Lee Crockett’s 6Ds process. The students worked through 3 different activities related to fairy tales including building a wind-resistant house, building a chair for a 1 kg bear and building a boat for take the three billy goats gruff across a river. The students had a great time (as did the teachers) working their way through the challenges over the course of the day and learning that persistence pays.
SEPTEMBER 2016 UPDATE
September has seen Calrossy begin to invite the wider community into our Makerspaces. We hosted a professional development day attended by university lecturers from UNE, librarians from around the region and many local primary and secondary teachers. It was a wonderful day which gave us a chance to share our learnings and our enthusiasm for the Maker Movement with like-minded educators. The day included discussion of theoretical underpinnings, a look at high-tech, low-tech and no-tech makerspace options and many hands-on activities. We have received lots of positive feedback and hope to hold another event sometime next year.
September also saw our first Makerspace Open Day. We invited all Calrossy families to visit the Makerspace on the secondary girls campus to check out what our three makerspaces have to offer. We had a great turn out with approximately 50 people from all areas of the school (secondary boys and girls and primary) coming through to see what we’ve been up to. Drones, robots, green screen, OSMO and Lego along with many other things were happening on the day as well as a demonstration of our 3D printers.
AUGUST 2016 UPDATE
The first part of Term 3 was very busy with Maker Movement activities becoming more and more prevalent in all areas of the school. Junior secondary students were working on making mazes for their Spheros and then coding their way through them using the Tickle App. Ramps and tunnels were popular with students when creating their mazes and the measurement of angles became a major topic of discussion when working on coding.
Secondary girls have been busy making an Interactive Room for Grandparents Day. They have been using Makey Makeys and coding to create a room full of interesting things for their grandparents to interact with. We have been very impressed with their ideas and their tenacity in finishing off their projects ready for the big day. Needless to say, we had many grandparents saying, ‘We didn’t do this kind of thing when we were in school!’
Primary students have been LOVING MakerSpace at lunchtime. Numbers are getting to high that Mrs O has had to call in for reinforcements. Many activities happening at Makerspace although Coding Club on Tuesday and Thursday has also been very popular.
MAY/JUNE 2016 UPDATE
The last 6 weeks of Term 2 were certainly busy ones! Students in Years 7 and 8 have been working with Makey Makey and learning how to code using Scratch and Makey Makey. More information about how to use the Makey Makey can be found HERE.
Our Year 5 students also participated in an entire day of STEM with a focus on circuits. The used Little Bits circuits, traditional circuit making and Makey Makey sets to explore what they had been learning in class in a hands-on way.
APRIL 2016 UPDATE
With our Year 7 and 8 students we have begun working with Sphero robotics. Students have been introduced to coding using the Tickle app. Students then did a ‘chariot challenge’ where they had to build a ‘chariot’ for the Sphero and then rescue a super hero from atop a plinth. Students found perseverance tricky but there were a lot of successes.
MARCH 2016 UPDATE
There is a lot happening this term at Calrossy with regards to STEM and Makerspace. Both the primary and secondary girls Makerspaces are nearly ready to go with refurbishment and furniture being finalised.
We did a fun project with kindergarten using the book Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty. The story is about a young girl who loves to invent. We shared the story and then had a Mystery Box Challenge with students creating something that flies. They had a great time as you can tell by the smiles on their faces!
JANUARY 2016 UPDATE
The holidays are over and school is back in full swing for 2016! We are looking forward to many STEAM things happening in our school this year.
- Primary students are having purpose-built furniture installed in the next month or so to develop a Makerspace with movable carts and baskets and collaborative workstations.
- Secondary students will be able to take advantage of a newly renovated space created with 21st century learning in mind. Open space with a break-out room with varied seating available for collaboration and tons of storage for maker supplies.
- We now have ready to use class sets of Spheros and Makey Makeys as well as a workshop set of Little Bits at the primary. Several 3d printers are waiting to be set up at the new Makerspaces when ready (hopefully in the next 6 to 8 weeks).
We will post more photos as these new spaces develop!
Calrossy is very excited about helping our students in this area as we see the benefits that STEAM can have on student learning!
We were lucky enough to be able to travel to Sydney as a small group the first few days of November 2015 to take a look at some of the things that other institutions are doing to promote STEM/STEAM learning and how they are using MakerSpaces.
MLC at Burwood was first to show us around their facilities. They have a dedicated STEAM Lab and are working at integrating STEAM into the primary through linking making activities with curriculum outcomes. Their secondary Enlightenment Centre is still being developed but already has wonderful flexible learning spaces with room for students to collaborate.
A huge thank you to Daniel and Vanessa who showed us around their amazing spaces.
Next we visited the University of New South Wales – Paddington Campus where Jim Ward showed us around their MakerSpace and complimentary facilities. Again, great to see how the Maker Movement is filtering through to the university level with many of the themes that were expressed at MLC being carried through to UNSW. Their MakerSpace itself was not huge but there are definitely plans to change location and expand to increase for the growing interest. 3D printers were popular with their students as was the amazing Tool Room where students can borrow all variety of tools to work on their ‘making’ projects.
Thank you very much to Jim and Damien for showing us around their facilities. Jim’s passion for this space is palpable.
Next stop was Kambala School where Nikki Zimmermann showed us their STEAM Space. They are just starting their journey also and it was very valuable to see another school in a similar position to ours. Their current space, situated in the Junior School, is an amazingly large room with phenomenal views across the harbour. Students are allowed to access their storeroom to choose Maker activities that interest them such as Arduinos, Lego and Lilypads.
Daniel from MLC then got us in contact with at Peter Mahoney the Powerhouse Museum who graciously agreed to a behind the scenes tour of the great work they are doing. They operate what they call a Think Space where school groups can come and work and summer workshops are run. (More information can be found at https://maas.museum/learn/thinkspace/) Peter shared with us ideas that they are working on with Arduinos, green screen technology, webcasting, Minecraft and work they are doing alongside UNSW.
Peter was amazingly hospitable and we are really grateful for his time and enthusiasm!
On our way back to Tamworth we were lucky enough to stop in at Hunter Valley Grammar School as they are currently in the process of updating their spaces. Cameron Wallace gave us a tour of some of their flexible learning spaces which gave us some great ideas of how new styles of mobile furniture can be used to enhance teaching and learning. Their new ICT Block gives students an opportunity to connect globally with other students and professionals within Australia and abroad. We are now mapping out how to make this happen starting in our primary school.
Thank you very much to Cameron for his time. There is so much that we can learn from what is happening at HVGS!
- New learning spaces must first identify the pedagogy behind why these spaces are changing and make sure that teachers are equipped to use these spaces effectively
- Mobile furniture that can be used in different spaces with different purposes and outcomes is important (whiteboards and glass on tables and walls for collaborative planning and learning). Fewer individual desks and more collaborative table space.
- Many mentioned training teachers and students in individual skills (ie using a saw or drill, coding, working with circuits) and then using these skills as part of solving a greater project/problem.
- Maker Movement/ MakerSpaces as an extension of traditional classroom learning as opposed to a separate entity.
- Having the latest technology is exciting but make sure that it is underpinned by solid pedagogy and is useful in addressing content rather than being used as a ‘toy’.