Mega Maths Day

Our top Year 10 Maths class spent today at Sydney University participating in a Mega Maths Day. The purpose of the day was to provide Year 10 students with experiences that might inspire them to take on higher levels of mathematics in Stage 6.

The day started with a fascinating session on number hosted by the incredible Adam Spencer. He is always entertaining and he had the students in the palm of his hand as he explored prime numbers, indices and factorials. Two of our students were lucky enough to join him on stage and both received a signed copy of his latest book.

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We then went into a series of interactive workshops that were designed to show the students how mathematics could be incorporated into a variety of disciplines.

The first workshop was a amazing game built around probability. The students were split into teams where they competed against each other over three rounds. The second workshop was called ‘Economics 1+1’ but was more of a lecture about the fundamentals of economics. It certainly gave the students an insight into what life at university might look like!

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Finally we finished with an activity that was designed to show how bees and mathematics were connected. The activity was a lot of fun and was a great way to finish the day.

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Atlassian Hackathon

On Friday 22nd March, four Year 9 students from St Clare’s were invited to the Atlassian Office for a hackathon facilitated by Education Changemakers. There were also many other schools present, primary and high schools, from across Sydney.

As a team we were provided with 3 questions to choose from to solve within our school context:

– How can we prepare our learners for an uncertain future?
– How can we engage kids in STEAM learning?
– How can we best support students to be healthy and happy?

The day began with a presentation about “Ship IT”, a day of brainstorming that all Atlassian employees engage with once a quarter to improve their own company and products/services. The Ship IT initiative was modified to fit our educational context to make Ship ED.
Each team were then introduced to two Atlassian employees from all areas of expertise. Ours happened to be coders who were enthusiastic about helping us in our project. We chose to focus on solving the question “How can we best support students to be healthy and happy?” and as a team we brainstormed what problems we had at our school, the consequences of these problems and its root causes.

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From this brainstorm we decided to develop a solution to improving mental health in the form of an online chatroom. We agreed that pressure to do well in assessment tasks was a cause of stress and lack of academic support led to unhappiness at school. We thought that an online space where students could discuss homework and assessment tasks after school hours would be really helpful. We could also share motivational quotes and encourage good eating habits, regular exercise and set reminders for upcoming homework and assessment tasks. Our hope is to trial this with a class in the future.
At the end of the day, each school presented their ideas. We were given 60 seconds each, and we voted for the “most innovative school”. St Clare’s came in 7th place, and the winning idea was to celebrate STEM through a week long festival at school. Overall, the day was very enjoyable. The presenters were engaging, and Atlassian kept us well fed with pizza so that our brains were fully charged.

STEAMPunk Project Update

Our 8.1 class was joined this morning by Rachel, a water engineer from UTS. Rachel spent some time sharing a little of her journey to becoming an engineer, before talking about some of the recent projects she has been involved with.

The idea behind the visit was to connect our students with someone working in the field they are investigating. The driving question, ‘How can we survive drought?’, connected with the work Rachel does, so she was able to move around to each group and discuss their ideas for responding to the question. This was invaluable feedback for the students as they progress towards their final product.

The students also had time to work on their projects and the arrival of a myriad of electronic equipment had the teams frantically working to connect sensors to their Microbits. The incorporation of sensors required a whole new level of expertise and we were fortunate Mr Johnson was available to guide the students through this next phase. There was even time to venture outside and test the soil moisture in the front garden!

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The project is developing well and we are starting to see the ideas become reality. With only three weeks to go there is much still to do as each group must create a presentation for the showcase and a supporting website.

Acknowledgement to Country Project

An exciting project is underway that links the indigenous students from both St Clare’s and St Charles. The project is a great initiative from two of our fabulous Year 12 students, Yafalina Close-Brown and Brodie Booth.

Yafalina and Brodie are keen to leave a lasting legacy at the College and have decided to create an ‘Acknowledgement to Country’ that can be used by both communities in future years. The ‘Acknowledgement to Country’ will feature students from both St Clare’s and St Charles and be filmed around our local area.

The students will be working with the team from CASPA to ensure the final production is of professional quality. Prior to filming there is much work to be done and those involved are spending a lot of time creating a comprehensive storyboard.

Last Thursday the entire team met up with Karen Horder and Aunty Emma Peel from SCS. It was a great opportunity to chat about the ‘Acknowledgement to Country’ video and enjoy a lovely lunch together. A big thank you to our own Sarah Collins for the work she is doing bringing the project together.

Design Hackathon

Four of our best Year 9 students will be attending an exciting event at the Atlassian offices this Friday.  The day is a design hackathon where there will be up to thirty education teams on the day all ranging in size from two to five people.
All of the teams will have some brilliant Atlassian staff members attached to each them for the day, with great coders, designers, HR experts and marketing people helping the teams innovate. Atlassian being one of the most innovative companies in Australia.
The Education Changemakers crew will be facilitating the day.
Prior to the day each team has to plan a potential challenge they would like to take on. The challenge needs to fall into one of the following three categories:
  • How can we prepare our learners for an uncertain future?
  • How can we engage kids in STEM learning?
  • How can we best support students to be healthy and happy?

Last week our team worked with Miss Ruan to look at possible options. At this stage the team are looking at creating a prototype for a ‘wellbeing app’ or Instagram page to address mental health.

We look forward to sharing how they responded to this challenge in later posts.

STEAMPunk Update

Our 8.1 class spent time this morning fine tuning their ideas for the STEAMPunk project currently underway. Each group has been able to narrow down their focus to a practical way of responding to the driving question, ‘How can we survive a drought?’.

These are some of the ideas being developed:

    • A Microbit robot to sense the amount of moisture and temperature of soil to make decisions about where to plant crops, and how much water is needed to irrigate crops.
    • Use a Microbit to measure temperature, humidity and moisture, connected to an app which provides advice on how to manage water during that particular day.
    • A device on a shower head which calculates how much water has been saved depending on how long the shower was incorporating a reminder when the shower exceeds 5 minutes.
    • The Microbit sends a text message to phone regarding information about which parts of the farm requires watering by sensing the moisture in the soil.
    • A ring in a cows ear that indicates rising body temperature to prevent livestock death (text message).

Lots of great ideas! We will update on the progress of these innovations over the next week.

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Study Hubs

Our study hubs that are happening each Day 8 of the timetable cycle are proving exceptionally popular. Led by our senior students as well as some of our 2018 HSC high achievers, the study hubs are attracting students from across all year groups. This peer mentoring is a wonderful example of how we are all called by St Clare to live a life of service.

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STEAMPunk Girls Project Launch

As part of our ongoing commitment to incorporating STEM/STEAM projects into the curriculum our 8.1 students are participating in an initiative by STEAMPunk Girls from UTS.

The driving question for our project is, ‘How can we survive a drought?’. The project will run over the next four weeks and will be embedded across most of the subjects the students are studying in that period. 

The students will work in groups to respond to the driving question. The one requirement is they must include their Microbits into their solution. Each student has their own Microbit and they will need to work out how to code the Microbit to collect data as well as talking to other Microbits. How the group uses the data to respond to the driving question is up to them.

We launched the project with the 8.1 class yesterday and they were certainly buzzing with some great ideas. We started with an excerpt from the 7:30 Report  which looked at the harsh realities of life in drought affected parts of NSW and then the students worked in their groups to unpack the driving question.

The students were then issued with their Microbits and after a short demonstration from our Mathematics Coordinator, Chris Pocock, there was time to set up the Microbit and explore the capabilities of the device.

We will share the progress of each group as the project gets underway.

Maths Virtual Classroom

Our top Year 10 Mathematics class participated in a virtual experience this week with a Mathematics student from the University of Sydney.

This was the second time we had conducted a virtual classroom with our students and it was certainly a unique experience. Our teacher for the lesson was Hazel, who was in her fourth year of study.

Hazel spent some time talking about how much she loved studying mathematics and how her current study involved the exploration of maths and knots. She also spent a little time talking about where the study of mathematics could lead and how it was important to take on higher levels of mathematics in Stage 6.

Once the preliminary question and answer was over the students took on an investigation involving the ‘Mobius strip’. The students created different varieties of the strip and in each example they were required to cut them in half. The results were quite surprising and had the students pondering possible patterns that were emerging from the activity.

Hazel then explained to the students how this activity was related to the study of DNA through organisms storing their structure within a double helix shape. The cutting of the Mobius strip down the middle replicated what happens to our DNA when cells split.

The session was a fascinating look into the world of mathematics beyond the HSC. We hope by exposing our students to this type of experience they will be inspired to pursue a career that involves mathematics.

English Studies Excursion

Our Year 12 English Studies class ventured into State Parliament this morning to learn more about the way our state government system works.

The students participated in a tour of the State Parliament building in Macquarie Street. The level of security upon entering the building was a surprise to some. During the tour the spent time in both houses of parliament.

The Lower House, the Legislative Assembly (Green) and the Upper House, the Legislative Council (Red) provided opportunities for the students to role play parts of the democratic process. This was a great way to learn about how our system of government works.

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