The Hive

This morning a group of Year 7 students was treated to a very special audience with the author of ‘The Hive’, Amanda Betts. We were very fortunate that Amanda is currently on a tour of the country doing book signing for her Hive/Rogue Book Tour and just happened to be scheduled to appear at Bondi Junction this morning. For her to spend an hour with the class before heading down to the Junction was just brilliant.

Our Year 7 students are currently reading ‘The Hive’ as part of our current STEM unit based around the native stingless bees. While the book is not directly connected with bees the students certainly learnt that a lot of Amanda’s research for the book was very much connected to bees! They were fascinated with how she went about creating ‘The Hive’ and had lots of questions for her about different parts of the book.

Amanda also spent some time taking the students through the structure she uses to build a story as well as the different fields she researched to make sure the story was authentic.  This was such a great learning experience for the students and hopefully they have taken some of Amanda’s advice on board.

A huge thank you to Ms Emms for providing the students with such a fantastic opportunity and a massive thank you to Amanda for giving up her time in such a busy schedule as well as take time to sign each student’s novel!

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Fromelles Project Update

Our dedicated group of Year 10 students is continuing to work towards raising funds and awareness for their documentary on the Battle of Fromelles. Last week the team met with our local State Member of Parliament and former St Clare’s student, Dr Marjorie O’Neill.

Marjorie spent time with the students talking about the project as well as discussing strategies they could use to help build enthusiasm in our local community. We are very grateful to Marjorie for taking time out of her busy schedule to spend time with the students.  Having such high profile support for our project has given the team a great boost.

Planning for filming in Fromelles is now well underway. It is anticipated that the team will gather in Paris at the end of the Immersion Trip to Italy and France taking place in the April holidays next year. They will then travel to Fromelles for an afternoon of filming before heading to our base in Ypres.

From Ypres the team will travel to Fromelles and surrounding villages filming in the footsteps of the soldiers they researched back in 2018. Under the direction of producer, Patrick Lindsay, the students will learn more about the battle and walk the battlefield of Fromelles, walking the same ground their soldiers fought hard to secure more than a century ago.

They will also spend time at Pheasant Wood where their soldiers lay forgotten for so long. Buried in a mass grave by German forces following the brutal slaughter of our soldiers on July 19, 1916.

We are so excited by the journey we are about to embark on. Planning will ramp up in earnest towards the end of November as Patrick and his team spend time with the students researching and developing the stories around the soldiers they profiled in 2018.

Here is a reminder of what the students created last year.


Tech Girls Movement Awards

The Tech Girl Movement have officially announced the awards winners for 2019. Our team of Year 9 students can be very proud of taking out first prize in the ‘Game Changer Award’ category for their app ‘Breakthrough’.

Breakthrough is an employment education app targeted specifically for teens looking for jobs. Providing education for teenagers that are preparing for a job or who are struggling to manage the workload of having a job, Breakthrough is an innovative and informative solution to the growing job demand for teens. Breakthrough is helping to make teens confident in themselves while also helping them expand their workplace capability. With information like how to create a resume, plan for an interview, manage a payslip and tons more, Breakthrough is the free answer to teenager employment education and is an app made by teens, for teens.

Congratulations once again to team members Tilly Groves, Gabrielle Lee, Lara Ciaglia, Stephanie Hooper and Iona Dyson-Merwe, and a big thank you to Miss Nicola Steele for all the extra time she put into preparing the girls for the Challenge.

Here is the video the team submitted to the competition.

2019 Art and Design Exhibition

The annual Art and Design Exhibition took place on August 23rd through until August 25th. The exhibition is a combined showcase of the talents of the students at St Clare’s and Waverley College in both Visual Arts and Design and Technology. This year it was our turn to host and the College was filled with an incredible array of creations.

The opening night was just unbelievable with more than a thousand guests visiting the College to view the work on display. Our Hospitality team worked tirelessly to feed the guests and in doing so showcased how absolutely amazing they are. We are constantly in awe of what they are able to do.

If you were not able to visit the exhibition we have captured as many of the works as possible in this video. The senior exhibition which was showcased in the College Hall will be published separately.

Tech Girls Are Superheroes

This year St Clare’s entered into the Tech Girl Superhero Challenge. The team was made up of five Year 9 students; Lara Ciaglia, Stephanie Hooper, Iona Dyson-Merwe, Tilly Groves and Gabrielle Lee.

Over twelve weeks our team had to identify a problem in their local community and design an app to solve it. After brainstorming and conducting market research, the team decided to focus on how they could help teenagers trying to find their first job. They developed a complete business plan, prototyped an app, and decided on which platform they would use to code it. After the app was coded, these girls developed a pitch video and finalised their marketing strategies and pricing model.

The app is called ‘Breakthrough’ and is designed as an interactive job board while also providing teenagers with information on writing a resume, going for interviews, receiving payslips, and paying taxes.

The St Clare’s team were extremely fortunate to be assigned an industry mentor, Lisa Sisson from Unearth Technologies. Lisa met with our team weekly and provided guidance and support on the project, as well as valuable insights into the world of technology and the importance of female representation in this field.

At the NSW Showcase it was announced that the St Clare’s team won the category of ‘Game Changers’. Congratulations to the girls on all their hard work and success!

2019 NCSS Challenge

This year we had over fifty students take part in this NCSS Challenge run by Grok Learning. The NCSS Challenge takes place over a five week period and teaches the students how to code as they work through the weekly challenges. The Challenge is broken into different levels to cater for various ability levels. Students can choose from basic block coding up to highly advanced use of Java and Python.

This year we had students take on levels from Beginner through to Advanced. Typically Year 7 and 8 students take on Beginner then move to the Intermediate level in Years 9 and 10. The Advanced level is primarily for senior students.

Both the 8.1 and 7 Newman classes participated in the Challenge as part of their work in Mathematics. Students in 8.1 primarily took on the Intermediate Challenge as most had completed the Beginner Challenge in 2018. Our 7 Newman class was happy to take on the Beginner Challenge to familiarise themselves with the basics of the Python language. We also had a small group of Year 10 students who took on the Beginner Challenge.

There were a number of standout performances across all year groups with Angelique Kennedy , Charlize Fox, Eliza Kennedy, Jasmine Parsons and Jessica Cooper from the Year 7 Newman class all scoring a perfect score in the Beginner Challenge. An outstanding achievement!

Special mention must be made of Sophia Pappas from the 8.1 class. Sophia took on the Advanced Challenge this year as she had completed the Intermediate Challenge in Year 7. While she struggled to score a lot of points the experienced gained will be most valuable when she takes on the Code Quest later in the year. Sophia is never afraid to take on a challenge and this quality is something that will take her a long way in life.


Year 11 Biology

Our Year 11 Biology students were involved in a fascinating task last week. They completed a heart dissection as they are currently learning about the circulatory system in mammals and other animals. This particular heart was from a sheep.

In the dissection students had to identify the 4 chambers of the heart, find an artery, vein, and a valve. They also needed to distinguish between the left and right chambers as the left side is usually larger. One group decided to trim away all the fat and muscle to get the aorta out, which is the largest artery in the body. From this they could feel the texture of the blood vessel and get an idea of how muscular it is and how it helps to maintain blood pressure to deliver nutrients to all cells of the body.

A great learning experience for all!

Cerebral Palsy Awareness

As part of the Art and Design Exhibition taking place this week, Olivia Zanapalis, from Year 12 presented the project she has been working on as part of her work in Design and Technology. Olivia’s project was to raise awareness on the impact Cerebral Palsy has on the daily lives of those who suffer from this neurological disorder.

Olivia has created a website that helps people understand more about the disorder. The website is very informative and includes a video where Olivia and her friends talk about how they live with Cerebral Palsy on a daily basis.

On the opening night of the exhibition Olivia was able to share her experiences with many of the visitors who attended. You can visit Olivia’s site here.

Fromelles Documentary

Over the past twelve months a small group of dedicated Year 10 students have been working behind the scenes to try and raise funds for a documentary on the Battle of Fromelles.

The idea for a documentary came about through our work last year with Lambis Englezos and Patrick Lindsay. Both gentlemen worked with our top Year 9 History students to create video profiles of soldiers killed during the Battle of Fromelles.

The documentary will tell the story of the battle through the words of the women left behind. It will feature the video profiles created by some of the students and follow the students as they walk in the footsteps of the soldier they had profiled.

At times over the last twelve months we doubted whether there was any interest in the project from outside the College. At the start of this year we were given a great boost by a wonderful donation from Peter Fitzsimons and his wife, Lisa Wilkinson. This message of support was very important in us being able to attract interest from other parties.

On Tuesday we hosted representatives from three RSL Clubs. Campsie RSL, Kingsgrove RSL and Club Rivers have all pledged their financial support for the project. This support will enable us to get the documentary up and running.

Patrick Lindsay’s production company, Limetree Studios, will be producing the documentary. Limetree Studios most recent production, ‘Kokoda, the Spirit Lives’, has received great acclaim at a number of film festivals around the country.

This is a very exciting time for the students and the College as we begin planning for filming in France next year. We look forward to sharing the journey of the students as they work with Patrick in the months ahead.

NCSS Challenge 2019

The National Computer Science School Challenge is up and running again for 2019. This year we have our 7 Newman class and our 8.1 class taking part in the Challenge. We are looking to see if it is possible to embed the Challenge within the Stage 4 curriculum.

The NCSS Challenge lasts for 5 weeks and students are presented with weekly challenges that help them learn more about coding. The Challenge is divided into levels and various coding types. There is the block coding for those students just starting on their coding journey while the more challenging levels use Python.

Our 7 Newman students are all taking on the Beginner Level of the Challenge using Python. This will be a great opportunity for them to have fun while developing their programming skills. One period of their Maths class per week is devoted to the Challenge.

Our 8.1 class consists of some exceptionally gifted coders. Five students are taking on the Championship Level of the Challenge. This is traditionally where you find senior students competing.  At this level they will build Artificial Intelligence (AI) to play a competitive card game, and then go head to head against other AIs. They will learn how to build the AI but they will have to work out the winning strategy themselves.

For most of the students in this class it will be the Intermediate Level which caters for students with previous coding experience. A number of the students completed the Beginner Level in 2018 so this will be a perfect opportunity to improve their skills in using Python.

The Challenge is more than just learning code, it helps develop critical and computational thinking in our students. They also learn to persist with a problem as they cannot move forward until they have completed the previous week’s task. Some essential skills for success, particularly in Mathematics.

St Clare’s is listed as a ‘Champion School’ on the Grok website because of the amount of work we do to develop coding skills amongst our students. We are working hard to build a culture of innovation within the College and our involvement with Grok is just one piece in the puzzle.