Engineers Without Borders

Source: Engineers Without Borders

One of our initiatives for 2017 has been to increase the opportunities for our students to be involved in both STEM and STEAM activities that link to real world problems.

The visit by the Engineers Without Borders students from UNSW was an excellent example of the type of projects we are looking to link with. The students worked across all Year 8 Science classes.

Each of the classes had a group of four engineering students to explain the project. They provided background information around a scenario faced by people who live in some of the poorest regions of our planet before going on to explain the challenge for the day.

From there the class was divided into groups, taking on the challenge with limited equipment. Each group had to use a range of skills to come up with a design that could withstand the test they would face at the end of the session.

The test involved placing their construction into a container of water and filling it with marbles. The construction that stayed afloat under the greatest weight was deemed the most successful.

This type of activity connects the students with real world situations faced by people around the planet. They are authentic learning experiences, enabling the students to see the importance of collaboration and communication in the learning process.



Innovating learning environments: 4 ways to think about sustaining change

This is a great post that reflects on how to approach innovation in schools. The garden analogy is just perfect.

anne knock

We love the photos of cool learning spaces with funky furniture They are captivating, inspiring, but it is impossible to know the full story from a tweeted photo. Recently I’ve had numerous opportunities to talk about the context for change and  several resonating themes are emerging around people and change:

  • That chair/table/tech won’t be the silver bullet
  • It’s just like Maslow’s Hierarchy
  • How does your garden grow?
  • This is just the tip of the iceberg

30289155395_85ce26a053_o.jpg Photo credit: Derek Bartels

That chair/table/tech won’t be the silver bullet

When I walk around our school with groups, they take notice of the elements, the physical designs, the furniture and configuration of spaces. One thing that people notice in innovative learning environments (ILEs) is the lack of, or perhaps different thinking around, the teacher’s desk. At NBCS, we have ‘caddies’ in our learning spaces that serve the purpose of storage and provide a stand-up place for student-teacher chat…

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Collective Teacher Efficacy: The power of more-than-just one

anne knock

Sometimes I feel like I’m learning a new language. Beside me as I work I have a thick research methodology book to clarify ‘phenomenology’ and ‘epistemology’. There is also Prof Google to double-check new words I come across, not assuming that I know what ‘extant’ or ‘reflexive’ actually mean, or for looking up new words like ‘polyvalent’ (
effective against, sensitive toward, or counteracting more than one toxin, microorganism, or antigen) and ‘attenuated’ (To reduce in force, value, amount, or degree; weaken; diminish). So when I started reading about ‘collective teacher efficacy’ I wanted to make sure I knew exactly what it meant.

img_3001This weekend I have been exploring the idea moving beyond teacher efficacy, and considering the power of a faculty or team of teachers. Teacher efficacy is the capacity of a teacher to believe they can positively  influence the learning outcomes of their students (Goddard, 1990 -reference below). The…

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