Year 8 Project Afternoon

Our Year 8 students gathered on Monday afternoon for the first of their weekly ‘project afternoons’ for this Term’s ‘Lights, Camera, Social Action’ project. Having the first project afternoon immediately after Friday’s launch day was ideal as the words of the fabulous speakers were still lingering in the memories of the students.

The three themes the students are able to choose from are ‘The Uluru Statement of the Heart’, ‘Climate Change in the Pacific’ and ‘People Who Seek Asylum’. Students work in their teams to create a short film, with each student assigned a specific role within the group.

All three themes were well represented as students began working in their teams to start building their storyboards. In order to help facilitate this process a workshop was run by Ms Prince for all students who had been assigned the role of ‘writer’ within their group.

The afternoon session was full of energy and some amazingly creative ideas! We are look forward to next week’s session and seeing how the storyboards have developed.

iSTEM Update

The students in our new iSTEM elective in Year 9 are enjoying their first module which has a focus on the fundamentals of STEM learning. Throughout this module the students are exposed to main different activities that help them develop some of the STEM skills they will need throughout the course. In yesterday’s class the students dismantled a computer.

Jasmine Parsons, a member of the iSTEM class, has put together a short reflection on the session:

When you think of a typical classroom lesson, dismantling a computer likely isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. That’s what so great about our ISTEM classes; they’re super dynamic and thanks to Ms Steele every lesson is something new and exciting that can help us learn more about STEM and pursue STEM related careers. In our double lesson on Tuesday this week, we spent an hour and a half learning about computer parts and taking apart a PC in groups. 

To start the lesson, Ms Steele showed us the computers and asked us what we knew about them. Some of us had previous knowledge of computer systems but for those who didn’t it was an immersive learning experience. We listed the parts that we already knew and then researched the ones we didn’t, compiling them into a slideshow.

When it came to deconstructing the PCs it was rather easy, especially as we had our special guest, Mr. Johnson, who helped us with unscrewing a few things and safely navigating our way around potentially dangerous parts. Once we finished taking our PCs apart it was time to put them back together. Some of us chose to properly screw everything back together, give or take a few missing screws, while some of us got carried away looking at the parts and ran out of time to do the former. Mr. Johnson also assisted us in learning the names and uses of each part. We’re looking forward to our following lessons as this one was especially fun and interesting!

iSTEM Course Commences

Our new Year 9 Elective iSTEM Course commenced yesterday with a live stream presented by  NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre (GSFC). This involved meeting a panel of expert scientists and engineers, who worked across various divisions within the GSFC including: Dalia Kirschbaum, Antti Pulkkinen, Knicole Colón and Mitchel Ammato. Topics covered included Heliophysics; NASA Earth Science; Astrophysics, Cosmology and space technologies and capabilities. 

Knicole Colón spoke to us about Astrophysics at GSFC and specifically  extrasolar planets. At Goddard they use satellites to find out where extrasolar planets are and basic information about them. She demonstrated how they use the light from the stars to identify whether there is  a curve, having a light curve signifying  there is a planet. The size of the curve indicates the planet’s size. Knicole advised us that her team had found planets similar in size to Earth and some that are the right temperature to have liquid water. It was fascinating to learn that planets are being discovered all of the time. Knicole commented that in the week since she completed drafting her presentation  9 new extra solar system planets had been discovered.

Dalia Kirschbaum a PHD student  in the NASA Earth science division, discussed how at the GSFC they focus on understanding our changing planet using technology and satellites to look down towards earth. The opposite to what is normally associated with NASA. Using data obtained through the Earth Observing system, comprising many satellites, models have been built to follow weather patterns and natural disasters, assisting in understanding the effects of previous natural disasters and enabling better understanding and forecasting on when natural disasters will happen and the likely damage. 

Antti Pulkkinen, a heliophysicist, focused on space weather and how it affects other things in space and here on Earth. Heliophysics is a concept that was new to me that relates to the  connections between the sun and  the solar system. Antti explained space weather in this context and its effect on the power at NASA.

Mitchel Ammato delivered a very interesting presentation on technologies and capabilities at GSFC. He covered many things during his part of the presentation, including in space robotics, advanced avionics and different types of fuels used. Mitchel utilised the exploration on Mars, describing the wide range of materials in the creation and coding of satellites,   including: computers, robots, specific propellers and specialised tools used in the process. 

He  explained how  different missions require different types of satellites and fuel depending on how long the mission is. Planning for a mission and identifying specific requirements takes several years to develop the concept on paper then a further  5 years for the engineers to put together the satellite and start doing test runs so that they are sure that the engine and propellers work properly before it is launched into space. Mitchel was very engaging especially when he covered exploration on Mars and the traces of water recently discovered.

Hopefully through reading this article you get a sense of the diverse and interesting  conversation we are grateful to have been a part of. There were many new and different concepts and applications of science and technology that were practically demonstrated. Perhaps like me, you discovered NASA, whilst focussed primarily on space and exploring solar systems utilising advanced robotics actually does so much more than that, including understanding Earth and its environment through the Earth Observing System, how space weather affects power and much more.

Patricia Eriksson, Year 9 

Clickview Inventors Competition Finalists

At the end of 2020 the best ideas from the Year 8 ‘People and Technology’ project that took place during Term 3 were entered into Clickview’s Aussie Inventors That Changed the World Competition. There were five entries in total that were submitted and these can be viewed on the previous post.

In exciting news we were informed at the start of the week that two of our entries had been shortlisted as finalists in the Lower Secondary category of the competition.  Clickview is used by schools around the nation and they received hundreds of amazing entries, with only thirteen being chosen as finalists to be considered by the judging panel over the next two weeks.

This is so exciting for the students involved who worked so hard to bring their idea to life and then prepare a presentation that communicated their idea to a wider audience.  We are so proud of all of them and hopefully one of the teams will be chosen as the winner of the Lower Secondary category!

Here is a reminder of the two presentations:

Clickview Inventors

As a follow up to the work our Year 8 students did as part of the People and Technology project in Term 3, the teams judged to have had the best five concepts have entered their ideas into the Clickview Inventors Competition.

In order to participate in the competition each of the teams had to revisit their ideas and then present them in the format required by Clickview. One of the requirements was that the teams had to identify which Aussie inventor most inspired or connected with their idea.

This part of the competition was most interesting as most of us had no idea that so many items we use everyday came from Australian inventors. Hopefully there will be an inspirational invention emerge from the talented students you see in the following videos.

People and Technology Project Update

Two of our Year 8 students had the opportunity to meet Paul Apostolis from MCare Watch on Thursday. The meeting was organised by Robyn Chapman from Assistive Technologies Australia who saw the presentation given by Keira Juniaro and Amelia Sanidas last term as part of the People and Technology project in Year 8.

Keira and Amelia came up with the concept of an i-Watch that would improve the lives of elderly members of our community. Their idea was inspired by Amelia’s grandmother who battled ill health for the latter part of her life.

Paul showed the girls the MCare Watch that he and his brother developed in response to their own father’s battles with ill health and their desire to make his life better. The MCare Watch has all the facilities that Keira and Amelia envisioned for their watch and they were delighted to share their ideas with Paul and hear more about the watch.

The MCare watch is a locally developed product and is an example of what can happen when people are inspired to make a difference in the lives of others. We were all blown away by the features of the watch and how it can change the lives of the elderly and those suffering various disabilities. For those of us old enough to have watched the ‘Dick Tracy’ cartoons it was amazing to see the future of our childhood come to life.

3D Animations

Our best 3D animators gathered last week with the team from Block 42 to fine tune the work they did during the Term 3 Space project. We had teams from across the Year 7 cohort working with the animators to get their presentations ready for the POP 3D Challenge which has been moved to March 2021.

Each team had already created a series of scenes representing the journey from Earth to Mars and put them together in an iMovie. While the animations are short they took a considerable amount of time to put together. The entire process has given all of us a unique perspective into the world of 3D animation, especially around the time it takes just to create one scene.

We still have a couple of teams working on their final presentations but are two samples of the work that was created during the day.


Flip Robot Workshop

A small group of students from 7.1 participated in a robotics workshop on Wednesday. The purpose of the workshop was to learn more about the AI camera that is built in the Flip Robots.

The students involved had been working with the robots in their Maths class and all had been able to code the robot and use the infrared sensor to follow a line, but none had been able to get the AI camera to work. 

After contacting Actura we were fortunate to be able to link up with a Flip Robot trainer from New Zealand who joined us via Zoom for a one hour training session. The trainer took us through the basics of the AI camera and showed the students how to train the camera to recognise objects. 

Using the AI camera is a little like having to program an autonomous car. The camera is able to recognise various objects based on the training done by the operator. The robot is then able to navigate its way through a course built around the signs it can recognise. This is the basis of the One World Robotics Smart Cities Challenge that we hope to be part of in 2021.

The workshop proved very valuable until we hit a major stumbling block around the Flipcode software. Flipcode is used to program the Flip Robot and it seems in their latest software upgrade the Flip Robot training team had not updated their code to match the update. In the end we were not able to test out the code we had developed to run the AI camera, which was a little disappointing.

Overall it was a very worthwhile experience for all of us, including the trainer from NZ! We learnt how to program the AI camera, how to include Flipcode into the process and then the order of operations needed to make the robot follow the various codes.

St Clare’s Inventors

The best presentations from the recent Year 8 ‘People and Technology’ project are currently repackaging their presentations for submission to the Clickview Inventors Competition.

The five teams chosen were judged to be the best from the presentations that were shown during the course of a day at the end of Term 3. Two panels watched teams from across the entire Year 8 cohort present their solutions to a problem they had identified in their local area.

Over the course of the next week each team will be creating a report and a video submission outlining the problem they identified and how their invention will help solve that problem.  Each team also needs to identify a major source of inspiration based on the Clickview series, “Australian Inventions That Changed the World”. Clickview has a series of episodes that highlight the amazing inventions Australians have been responsible for developing.

Once the video submissions are complete we will share them to our local community.

Year 10 Projects

Our Year 10 students have been participating in a new initiative over the past two weeks which is designed to help them prepare for Stage 6. This new initiative is built around students being involved in projects that help them understand what will be required in the subjects they have chosen for Year 11, 2021.

The project runs over the final three weeks of this term and all students have been required to take on three projects of their choice to complete over this period of time. At the project launch a group of current Year 11 students spoke about their experiences in transitioning from Stage 5 to Stage 6 and the challenges they faced. This was followed by information sessions designed to help the students access materials required to complete their projects. At the completion of the launch day each student submitted their selections via a Google Form and from their mentors were assigned to each student.

Over the past two weeks the students have been working on their projects ‘off timetable’ in and around The Hub space. This means that there are no scheduled classes run for the students in Year 10. The students meet with their mentors at various times throughout the day and it is during this time that valuable learning conversations take place. These conversations have already proved extremely valuable for some students who have realised that the subject they selected may not be the best option for them in Stage 6.

The project has the potential to be a valuable tool in assisting students transitioning into Stage 6. It has been a great learning experience for all involved and will be a valuable addition to the programs run at the College. A very big thanks to Mr Andrew D’Archy, who was the architect of the project and whose boundless energy and enthusiasm has ensured its success.