ISSN ISSN 0157-6488 0157-6488
SCIOS JOURNAL OF THE SCIENCE TEACHERS’ A SSOCIATION OF WESTERN AUSTR ALIA
Volume 46 Number 3 September 2010
inside this issue: • Little Green Steps: Sustainability practice for early years comes to Western Australia • Shark Bay Ecosystem Research Project Adventure! • CONSTAWA 2010: Bee-wild-erred
SCIENCE TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION OF W E S T E R N AU S T R A L I A
SCIENCE TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION OF W E S T E R N AU S T R A L I A
The Science Teachers’ Association of Western Australia PO Box 7310 Karawara WA 6152 Head Office Resources and Chemistry Precinct Curtin University of Technology Building 500 Manning Road entrance Bentley WA 6102 Warehouse Address Unit 6, 10 Mallard Way, Cannington WA 6107
SCIENCE TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION OF W E S T E R N AU S T R A L I A
Contact details Tel +61 (0) 8 9244 1987 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Web www.stawa.net Editor Julie-Anne Smith Perth Zoo Editorial COMMITTEE Frank Dymond Edith Cowan University Rosemary Evans Duncraig SHS Lesley Glass Ballajura Community College Suzi Greenway Perth Zoo Jennifer Pearson Edith Cowan University George Przywolnik Curriculum Council Rachel Sheffield Edith Cowan University David Treagust Curtin University Shelley Yeo Curtin University EDITORIAL correspondence Julie-Anne Smith Perth Zoo Published four times a year by STAWA through
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER’S REPORT
REPORT Feedback on Draft Australian Curriculum K-10: Science
NEWS A good news story STELR at Dongara District High School
Little Green Steps: Sustainability practice for early years comes to Western Australia
ICASE 2010 – Reflections and Recollections
Shark Bay Ecosystem Research Project Adventure!
CONSTAWA 2010: Bee-wild-erred
Tartu Declaration on Science and Technology Education
Western Australian Green Teacher Award 2010
2010 International Year of Biodiversity showcased in the Wheatbelt 24 a division of Cambridge Media 10 Walters Drive Osborne Park WA 6017 www.cambridgemedia.com.au
Using Web 2.0 Technologies in your science classroom
Graphic Designer Gordon McDade
HEADS UP ON SCIENCE WITH SCIENCE NETWORK WA
Advertising enquiries to Tel (08) 9244 1987 Fax (08) 9244 2601 Email email@example.com
University of Western Australia
GUIDELINES FOR AUTHORS
STAWA COUNCIL 2010
© 2010 The Science Teachers’ Association of Western Australia. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means without the written permission of The Science Teachers’ Association of Western Australia. Unsolicited material is welcomed by the Editor but no responsibility is taken for the return of copy or photographs unless special arrangements are made. ISSN 0157-6488 This journal aims to promote the teaching of science with a focus on classroom practice. It provides a means of communication between teachers, consultants and other science educators. Opinions expressed in this publication are those of the various authors and do not necessarily represent those of the Western Australian Science Teachers’ Association or the editorial committee.
VOLUME 46 NUMBER 3 SEPTEMBER 2010
Editorial As this issue of SCIOS goes to press, Australian citizens on the electoral roll aged 18 years and over will be heading to polling places to vote in the 2010 federal election. Many of the polling places will be based in schools and some of you may be acting as polling officials on the day. Apart from engaging your students in the sciences and inspiring our future scientists, this is the perfect opportunity to engage them in discussions about elections and how they can participate to have an effective voice on state and national issues once they reach voting age. The current government has brought about a number of policy changes affecting educators, particularly through the nationalisation of the school curriculum. Over the past few months, many of our members have been involved in providing feedback on the draft national curriculum to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) through their own education institutions, while others have attended workshops facilitated by STAWA and contributed to the response submitted by the Association. A report on the STAWA response to the draft K-10 Australian Curriculum: Science is provided in this issue, while a copy of the feedback on the draft senior secondary Australian Curriculum: Science courses can be found on the STAWA website at <www.stawa.net>. It is evident from the range of articles in this issue that science educators throughout Western Australia are actively seeking opportunities to develop professional capacity and make a difference to student outcomes. We feature contributions from
metropolitan and country members across all levels of schooling that demonstrate the high level of motivation and willingness to embrace change amongst science educators. Increasing student engagement by making links between classroom learning and local experts or community resources is the focus of a number of articles. Given the pressures to provide science programs that are rich in high-interest experiences that connect students to real life contexts, I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading these articles. We welcome papers and articles from our members and look forward to your ongoing support of our journal through your contributions. We also welcome feedback on our articles from readers and will continue to publish issues that raise questions or are debatable – such as the response (below) from science teacher, John Fry, to Ulrich Seydel’s letter to the Editor in the last issue of SCIOS regarding Dr Happs’ article, Secondary Students’ Misconceptions about Climate Change, published late last year. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this issue and for the continued support of our editorial committee. We trust you will enjoy this issue of SCIOS and look forward to receiving your contributions in the future. Best wishes Julie-Anne Smith As this journal was going to press we learnt of the death of Professor John de Laeter. The editorial committee of SCIOS offer their sincere condolences to his wife, Robin, and to his family).
Letter to the Editor
RE: SCIOS, Vol 46, No 2, June 2010 – Letter to the Editor responding to “Secondary Students’ Misconceptions about Climate Change” (page 2) I take issue with a number of issues raised in this letter. Firstly Dr Happs has never denied that Climate Change is not occurring. In fact he states we are living in a relatively mild stage of an ice age. One of his graphs shows that temperature has fluctuated considerably over the last 600 million years and over this time there is no correlation between temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. Secondly there is no credible evidence that human activity contributes more than a negligible amount to the carbon dioxide 2
concentration of the atmosphere regardless of what the IPCC declares. Thirdly I think it is outrageous that minority views not be allowed to be presented. Science teaches us to evaluate ideas based on evidence, not on majority opinion. Galileo would not have appreciated this attitude as he had a minority opinion on the position of the earth in the solar system and was ultimately proven to be correct. Yours sincerely John Fry Chemistry Teacher Presbyterian Ladies College
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Chief Executive Officer’s Report The 30th CONSTAWA, Conference of the Science Teachers Association of Western Australia, was held on the weekend of 25 June – 27 June 2010 at Curtin University of Technology, School of Agriculture and Environment, Muresk Institute, Northam. It has been about 33 years since John Anderton convened the first CONSTAWA at Muresk. Except when CONASTA is staged in Perth, the Conference has run every year since. The future of CONSTAWA at Muresk is in doubt. With the change of the Muresk semester break to late June and the proposed closure of the Institute by Curtin University, it may not be possible for STAWA to continue to stage the conference at this venue. The 2010 theme was celebrating Western Australian biodiversity. CONSTAWA again provided a mid-year stimulus for over one hundred and twenty science educators. Delegates took advantage of a broad professional development program, enjoyed a range of social and networking opportunities as well as the many exhibitors that once again gave great loyal support to our conference.
and teachers of Stage 3 Physics. It will be especially valuable for assistance, both with information and ideas to help with Physics investigations. The resource also contains practice TEE/WACE examination questions. Purchase your class set of Revising Physics Stage 3 by Dr Roy Skinner from the STAWA website or ring and place your order with Vinda on (08) 9244 1987. The STAWA AGM will be taking place on Friday 17 September 2010, in the Exhibition space, at the Resources and Chemistry Precinct, Curtin University of Technology, Building 500, Bentley Campus. The meeting will start at 5:00pm and if past years are any indication, will finish by 6:30pm. Following the meeting drinks and nibbles will be available to complement the networking opportunity. The AGM is fast becoming one of the STAWA premier networking events. More than 50 members have been present at each meeting over the last four years. I look forward to seeing as many of you at our AGM as possible. Let’s make the 2010 AGM the biggest ever. Please RSVP either online at <www.stawa.net> or by phone to Vinda on (08) 9244 1987. Regards Your Chief Executive Officer
Glenda Leslie, Chair of Professional Learning, led the STAWA consultation workshops on the National Senior Years Curriculum for Biology, Earth and Environmental Science, Chemistry and Physics. Glenda, together with Bernie Hunneybunn, has used feedback collected from consultation workshops to prepare and send a STAWA response to the draft K-10 Australian Curriculum – Science documents to ACARA. STAWA responses to the K-10 and senior years subjects can be downloaded from the STAWA website: <www.stawa.net>. On behalf of all STAWA members I would like to thank Glenda, Bernie and others who have contributed to the consultation process.
CONASTA, the annual conference of the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA), was hosted by the Science Teachers Association of New South Wales (STANSW). In 2010 CONASTA 59 was held at Sydney University of Technology. Western Australia was well represented at the conference with all delegates able to select from a diverse range of excursion, workshop and seminar opportunities. CONASTA 60 is to be held in Darwin so keep an eye on early bird registration and begin your planning now.
The new Earth and Environmental Science (EES) course has been well supported by Earth Science WA (ESWA). Teachers of EES who attended the most recent workshops in the July holidays were again impressed with the support and resources provided by ESWA. We eagerly await the launch of the text Exploring Earth and Environmental Science Stages 1, 2 and 3, the flagship of the ESWA investment in EES education in secondary schools. Don’t forget to visit the ESWA website, <www.earthsciencewa.com.au>, where both primary and secondary resources can be downloaded and where further EES course material will be housed. STAWA has recently published Revising Physics Stage 3 by Dr Roy Skinner. This new resource will be a great aid to both students
VOLUME 46 NUMBER 3 SEPTEMBER 2010
Can you contribute? Yes of course you can. So can lab technicians and students…your Year 7 or Year 8 class could write a half page article with a photo that we would love to publish. Here’s how. We are keen to increase the number and variety of types of articles published in SCIOS. So if the answer is YES to any of the following
we want to hear from you. • Have you recently conducted a new experiment that worked really well? • Is there a great demonstration that always gets your students’ attention? • Have you tried a new teaching technique that was fun? • Do you have some helpful hints for new teachers (and not-sonew ones)? • Are there some safety hints and tips that you’d like to pass on? • Have you used computers or some other technology really effectively? •
What successes have your students had in science?
• Are your students involved in a science project outside the school? • Or is there anything else science-related you would like to share with others?
President’s Report The year is flying by and STAWA is as busy as ever. Wherever possible, STAWA endeavours to represent the voice of our members. Most noticeably this year, that has been in the responses put together from member feedback regarding the draft Australian Curriculum K-10: Science as well as the draft senior secondary Australian Curriculum: Science Courses and sent to ACARA for their consideration. A copy of our responses can be found on the STAWA website. My grateful thanks go out to everyone who participated in providing the Association with feedback and a special thank you to Glenda Leslie and Bernie Hunneybun who collated the Senior Science feedback and produced the STAWA response on your behalf.
country. STAWA had a visible presence with a booth in the Trade Display area, which our CEO John Clarke cheerfully manned, making conference delegates aware of our variety of resources and programs available. As many of you are aware, STAWA has been a supporter of the Gravity Discovery Centre (GDC) since it started fifteen years ago. Professor John de Laeter, who is the Patron of STAWA, was a driving force in the establishment of this centre and has only recently resigned as the Chair of the GDC Foundation due to ill health. To honour the work of Professor de Laeter and his wife Robin at the GDC a special scholarship has been set up. The John and Robin de Laeter Student Scholarship will support young people undertaking practical summer programs in science communication at the GDC. With professional guidance, students will create and present educational exhibits which will become part of the GDC exhibitions. STAWA is proud to be a part of this program and will have a representative on the panel that selects
CONSTAWA 2010 was once again very successful. The conference theme for this year was Celebrating Western Australian Biodiversity: Bee-wild-erred in support of the International Year of Biodiversity. We are still at the present time unsure of whether Muresk will be a viable venue for next year’s conference but I know the CONSTAWA committee lead by Jodie Rybicki, Convenor, will be investigating all possibilities and choose the best option for 2011. I sincerely thank Jodie and her very hard working team for putting together such a varied and challenging program. In July I attended CONASTA 59 in Sydney and was pleased to see the number of STAWA members who also took the time to attend, especially as it was so close to CONSTAWA. The range and quality of key note speakers and the variety of sessions available to choose from was well worth the trip, but what I believe topped it all was the ability to network with teachers from around the
the scholarship winners. Finally, I would like to remind members that the AGM is fast approaching. It is a wonderful opportunity for STAWA members to meet the Councillors that have been elected to represent them, to thank those who are stepping down from positions and to get to know a little more about what the Association does for its members throughout the year. The meeting will be held on Friday 17 September 2010, in the Exhibition space, at the Resources and Chemistry Precinct, Curtin University of Technology, Building 500, Bentley Campus starting at 5:00pm. I strongly encourage you to attend. You can RSVP either online at <www.stawa.net> or by phone to Vinda on (08) 9244 1987. Sue Doncon STAWA President
Emeritus Professor John de Laeter 1933 – 2010 – PATRON STAWA Emeritus Professor John de Laeter was a great man. His contributions to science and science teaching were enormous and the news of his passing fills us with great sadness. STAWA would like to acknowledge the unstinting support Professor de Laeter gave to our association over many years. John was modest, energetic, inspirational and a man of integrity. We were honoured to have him as our Patron. We extend our condolences to his wife Robin, daughter Catherine, sons Mark and Robert and their families. Goodbye John. The Science Teachers Association of Western Australia (STAWA)
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Feedback on Draft Australian Curriculum K-10: Science Three of STAWAâ€™s goals are to promote equitable access in science education, promote the importance of science education and to maintain an independent voice in representing teachers of science. The development of the new Australian Curriculum K-10: Science has significant ramifications for all teachers of science across Western Australia. With this in mind, STAWA saw it as our obligation to set up a process whereby we could ascertain the views of Western Australian teachers from all sectors regarding the Draft Australian Curriculum K-10: Science, collate them and submit feedback to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). To this end, STAWA held a review meeting on 12 April 2010 at which a significant number of members met to discuss and comment on the draft curriculum. A number of STAWA members also attended sessions held by the Department of Education, Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia, and the Curriculum Council and they also provided feedback to the Association. I then, with the help of Glenda Leslie, collated the comments to produce a STAWA response to the Draft Australian Curriculum K-10: Science, which was subsequently submitted to ACARA on behalf of all members. Below is an outline of that submission. I would like to thank all members who contributed to this process, with special thanks to Glenda Leslie and Louise Nielsen. Without such feedback our ability to influence the direction of the national curriculum is significantly reduced. Sue Doncon President, STAWA
Major Issues In Science Understanding (SU) there seems to be a lack of unifying key conceptual ideas that overarch all the grades from Kindergarten to Year 10. These ideas should be used to guide the scope and sequence of concepts so that they are progressive and developmentally appropriate across the years. Currently this area has sequencing problems and conceptual development across the years is incomplete. Diversity within the class is not catered for. The elaborations could be used to help promote this. The content does not encourage integration into common themes especially for Kindergarten to Year 6 where science is usually delivered holistically. Multi-aged groupings are also not catered for with the very different content specified for each year group. The curriculum needs to have a clearer differentiation in Year 10 to allow for two different pathways that will cater for a range of ability levels. By having the two pathways, the content would be VOLUME 46 NUMBER 3 SEPTEMBER 2010
more relevant to students and their future aspirations. Science as a Human Endeavour (SHE) needs to be reworked, especially in the Science and Culture section to make it more relevant, age appropriate and to reduce the forced fit of some statements. Standards need to be such that they reflect the actual abilities of a C grade student. It is challenging but in most years it is not realistic to expect C grade students to achieve the stated standard.
General comments It is very positive that science is seen as an important component of a school curriculum across all year levels. The Science Inquiry Skills (SIS) strand is generally well developed according to skill development across the years. There is a good balance of knowledge and enquiry skills overall. It is evident that not all teachers are clear about the structure of the curriculum. It needs to be made explicit that the SHE and SIS content runs over a two-year time frame from Year 1 to Year 10. This has implications for teacher expectations in these areas when assessment is undertaken. A Year 4 student should not be expected to have the same skills and understandings as a Year 5 student, and as such, the assessment of these should be clearly differentiated. Another area that needs to be clearly understood is that the elaborations are there as examples of activities that can be used to teach the content descriptors. They are not mandated. As some elaborations appear in achievement standards this needs to be addressed as this will cause confusion as to what must be taught and what is at the teacherâ€™s discretion. The content descriptors need to clearly state what it is the students need to learn and then the elaborations need to be matched carefully so that they are addressing the actual content descriptor clearly. There needs to be a much clearer scope and sequence developed so that conceptual understandings are developed progressively and can be easily mapped by teachers to help when programming for composite classes. General consensus is that the achievement standards are too high for an average C student across all year levels. The standards need to reflect what could reasonably be expected from an average C student, not what we would like students to aspire to.
1. Science Understandings (SU) Content Descriptors It is important that there be unifying conceptual ideas that guide the direction of the content across the years. There needs to be a developmental continuum to guide the teaching and learning of these key concepts. Currently content is taught in apparent 5
News random chunks. There is no building on of topics taught in early years and no leading into the topics taught in later years. This does not allow for the development of conceptual understanding of the key ideas to occur. It is common for many small schools, the majority being in regional areas, to have multiple cohorts in one class. With the current discrete content in each year level being so different, the ability to provide an integrated program within the strands of science is very small. Teachers will have to provide two sets of science programs for their class and assess against two sets of achievement standards. This will significantly increase the workload for teachers and also reduce the flexibility available to provide for differing student abilities within each cohort. Primary Connections is commonly used across Western Australian primary schools. This well recognised national resource has been carefully researched and the key concepts mapped at the appropriate levels for student understanding. The alignment between the Australian Curriculum and Primary Connections is out in a number of areas by, on average, one year, with the Australian Curriculum introducing concepts earlier than that of Primary Connections. This raises serious questions as to whether students are conceptually ready to understand these concepts at the year level suggested in the Australian Curriculum. An example is the Stage 3 topic of Marvellous Micro-organisms which is written for Year 6 or 7 but micro-organisms is currently in the Australian Curriculum at Year 5. It is important that, wherever possible, the content descriptors for the four strands of Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Earth & Space Science need to have common links to allow for integration within the teaching program. There is currently a lot of concern that there is too much content in the SU area. By having vertically aligned content that has common threads, teachers can provide programs that cover more than one strand at the same time and thus provide a more relevant and contextually accurate framework for their science teaching. It is also important to ensure that the content at each year level is of the same intellectual level of difficulty. In the Biology strand there is a distinct human focus within the content, especially from Year 6 up. Many of the content descriptors overlap with the Health and Physical Education learning area. It is important for students to have a wide appreciation of all organisms and their role in ecology. Similarly, there is a significant cross-over of the Earth & Space Science and Geography, especially in Years 8 to 10, and little development in Space Science in Years 8 and 9. It is important to make sure we are not doubling up by teaching what is already included in other curricula when we already have a crowded science curriculum. There appears to be a lack of quantitative science in Years 9 and 10. It is important for students to develop the necessary skills for those who wish to progress into Yr 11 and 12 science and hopefully further. 6
The Year 10 content would benefit from some differentiation such as found in mathematics. This would allow for students who are looking to do tertiary science to have a more developed curriculum than for those students for whom a general science program would be sufficient.
Elaborations It needs to be made very clear that the elaborations are not mandated and that they are there as suggestions for ways that the content descriptors can be covered. Activities that are not found in these elaborations but that still relate directly to the descriptors are also suitable for use in a teaching program. This gives the teacher the flexibility to develop a program within the context of the school/region etc. The elaborations need to identify activities that clearly demonstrate the concepts and understanding behind the statement. They need to be age appropriate and relate directly to the content descriptor. It is suggested that within the elaborations a range of activities is provided that shows a progression in difficulty. Activities should be listed in the appropriate order of difficulty. This would be helpful for teachers as they could be used to provide a range of activities to cater for differing student abilities within the class.
2. Science as a Human Endeavour (SHE) Content Descriptors The inclusion of Nature of Science; Everyday Science; Contribution of Scientists and Science careers is important. However, it needs to be made very clear that starting from Year 1 these descriptors run over a two year period. This in itself causes some issues with making the content descriptors fit together well with the SU that are currently in place. It is important that they are not forced to fit but that they do have relevance and context to the SU content. The major problem with this strand is the inclusion of Science and Culture, in particular the elaborations on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The purpose of including culture studies in science needs to be clearly articulated to teachers and protocols provided for teaching cultures, otherwise there is danger of stereotypes being developed. The Aboriginal people are described only as traditional culture (which the majority today do not live in this way). Comparisons are made between an Aboriginal culture that is 30,000 years old to present day western science, between scientific evidence and cultural aspects such as dreamtime and cave drawings. The age appropriateness of the elaborations are questionable, as for example, Year 3 students are asked to research the use of fire by Aboriginal people to promote new growth and Year 2 students describe forces and movements evident in Aboriginal throwing implements. In many elaborations it is implied that Aboriginal people think differently (Year 2, Year 4) or react differently to weather (Kindergarten) than other people. This is dangerous, can lead to racism and is not correct. The treatment of Asian cultures is similar with inclusion of traditional Chinese medicine coming across as trivial.
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Report Within SHE there is a heavy reliance on research to achieve its aims. In the earlier years this is not an appropriate method as they have not developed the skills to do this yet.
3. Science Inquiry Skills (SIS) Generally this area is well developed. As for SHE, it needs to be made very clear that starting from Year 1 these descriptors run over a two year period.
5. Cross Curricula Capabilities Sustainability There is no cross-curriculum dimension of sustainability explicitly found in the content descriptors that will develop an understanding of sustainability as a social and environmental issue. Large sections of ecology, biodiversity and balance in ecosystems are missing from the curriculum. It is disappointing that such an important issue is given such a superficial emphasis.
Within the Kindergarten year level it needs to be very explicit that learning should take place through a play-based range of activities that occur in an integrated approach with language development at its basis. This is very clearly outlined in the Early Years Learning Framework and needs to be emphasised within the Australian Curriculum as well.
Asia and Australia’s Engagement
In Years 1 and 2 the expectations should highlight that many of the activities are guided or completed with direction from the teacher for example the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to collect and record data in Years 1 and 2. This is not as clear as it could be within the content descriptors.
In Years 7-10 Evaluating Evidence content descriptors are of a very high order. It is questionable as to whether students could successfully achieve these.
4. Achievement Standards (AS) As the focus in Kindergarten is on play-based learning, with an emphasis on integration and developing language, there is a serious question as to the necessity for an achievement standard at this year level at all. Generally the statements need to be made more specific and measurable. Statements that begin with “Begins to gain an understanding…”, “Start to develop an understanding…”, “Begin to evaluate…” are unable to be assessed accurately. More appropriate verbs need to be used that can clearly be measured and assessed. The AS need to assess conceptual and skill development not behavioural development so terms such as “appreciate” should not be used. It is important that achievement standards do not contain any references to elaboration examples as these are not mandated. To leave them in implies that they must be taught. Also, it is necessary to make sure that the achievement standards do not make reference to concepts or understandings that are not in the content descriptors. For ease of assessment it is suggested that the AS be separated into the differing strands and that they are written as dot points so they can be easily identified by teachers. It is important that the AS clearly identifies the main skills and content required for a C grade. Currently it is too vague and will lead to a wide range of interpretations by teachers. VOLUME 46 NUMBER 3 SEPTEMBER 2010
Within the SHE Science and Culture it is important that superficial links are not made to the Asian culture. It should only be included where there are obvious links to Asia within specific contexts. It is important to differentiate between what is science based on evidence and what are cultural beliefs. As with the Asian cultural perspective, when looking at the Indigenous Perspective it is important that what is covered is done so in the correct context and so that it is clearly linked to the SU that is being taught. Looking at the Indigenous Perspective predominantly from the ancient cultural perspective and comparing it to today’s modern science practices does not give a fair and balanced view. More mention needs to be made of scientific practices of the Aboriginal people. But to force a link between the Indigenous Perspective and Science Understandings will do nothing to enhance students’ learning.
6. General Capabilities The articulation of the general capabilities most relevant to science is supported. There needs to be clarification as to why and how various capabilities have been highlighted using the filters. It is difficult to see explicit links or to determine the reasoning behind the selection. What is written in the science overview for each capability is not reflected in the content descriptors. The curriculum takes a narrow view of literacy. It should include more scientific literacy skills as only communicating skills is highlighted, with very little else in other strands. It is suggested that the SU and SHE strands be developed further to identify any literacy focus, especially research requirement in SHE. Links can be established with regards to reading, writing and critiquing claims made by others in the content descriptors. Numeracy links well to SIS and these are easily identified. Reasoning and patterns is a major part of SIS analysing and evaluating data. There is, however, a distinct lack of numeracy skills in the SU statements especially with the lack of calculations, use of formulae and quantitative analysis in Years 7-10 physical science. ICT is evident in the SIS strand but not SHE or SU. The curriculum needs to give examples about what ICT tools could be used. This could, however, be a potential problem with access and opportunity in the classroom. ICT used for data collection and graphical representation is introduced too early in Year 1. Teacher 7
Report capabilities may severely limit the use of ICT in data collection, analysis and presentation at any year level. Thinking skills need to be appropriate to the year group. They could be incorporated into the SIS in terms of problem solving and innovations. The SU statements for individual year groups need to be checked to have the statements promoting the same level of thinking skills. More progression is needed on thinking skills and reasoning patterns, especially in the primary years. Creativity: overuse of the stem “developing curiosity and creativity” in SU Years K, 1, 2 and 3 elaborations – then it disappears. Even in Years 1 to 3 the reference to creativity seems tokenistic, eg. the elaboration in Year 2 whereby students develop curiosity and creativity through sorting living and non-living things. There is no explicit reference to creativity written in Years 4-10. It is suggested that creative problem solving be considered as a skill for SIS.
Ethical awareness and behaviour needs to be made more explicit in the SIS and SHE strands – use of organisms in experiments, risks and benefits of processes and products, eg. biotechnology, nanotechnology, ecological interventions, mining processes. Self management: the only links are to safety in Year 7.This capability could be included in SIS with meeting deadlines, individual management. Teamwork: could include references in SHE when research is mentioned in elaborations this could instead be “collaboratively research” which is more reflective of classroom practice. Also add collaboration to Investigation Methods throughout each year level. Intercultural understanding links are non-existent, forced or inappropriate. Social competence is not included in the general capabilities outlined in the science overview.
A good news story: Aboriginal students achieving above the state average in the Western Australian Monitoring Standards in Education (WAMSE) science testing Robyn Bull, PrimaryConnections Indigenous Perspectives Coordinator 2006-2009 At Maylands Peninsula Primary, a small, suburban Perth school where almost 40% of students have a language background other than English (LBOTE), the school community is very proud of all their students’ achievements. They are especially proud of their high achieving Aboriginal students, who outperformed all other
Students at Maylands Peninsula Primary School conducting an insulation investigation. Photo courtesy Maylands Peninsula Primary School. 8
cohorts in the state in the 2009 WAMSE science testing. Maylands Peninsula Primary School is one of six schools that participated in the Western Australian Aboriginal Education Department’s High Achieving Aboriginal Students (HAAS) program in 2006-2009. The program was designed to support high achieving Aboriginal students (identified as high achievers in Year Three Western Australian Literacy and Numeracy Assessment testing) to maintain their high achievements through to Year Seven. Data from previous studies indicated that the high achievement levels of Aboriginal students in Year Three almost always declined by Year Five and then even further by Year Seven. The HAAS program utilised the PrimaryConnections – linking science with literacy curriculum resources and professional learning program developed by the Australian Academy of Science. PrimaryConnections uses an inquiry-based approach to support more relevant and effective primary science teaching and learning. At the HAAS program’s showcase event at Kings Park in Perth late last year, principals and teachers from the schools involved reported that the implementation of PrimaryConnections had not only supported increased engagement, attendance and achievement for the Aboriginal high achievers, but also improved achievements for many of their peers.
THE JOURNAL OF THE SCIENCE TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA
News Steve Salamon, Principal at Maylands Peninsula Primary School described PrimaryConnections as having “added another layer” which drove “improved numeracy and literacy learning across the school”. Also, he said, “all the kids love coming to school and they love learning”. With increasing pressures for improvements in students’ literacy and numeracy results the teaching team at Maylands quickly realised the potential of PrimaryConnections when it was introduced as part of the HAAS program. Steve said that through PrimaryConnections the entire teaching team had embraced “the teaching of science” and adopted it as “a priority” for their school. He explained how “science had been embedded in a whole-school literacy approach, so it was no longer only taught once a week”. Maylands Peninsula Primary School developed a fully integrated school program that promoted deeper understanding of science and a more meaningful approach to literacy and numeracy learning for students. Now, teachers at the school talk about “students making sure they are at school every day because they don’t want to miss science” and “students in the playground discussing what they’ve been learning in science”. Fran Tye, one of the teachers leading the implementation of PrimaryConnections at Maylands Peninsula Primary School explained that both students and teachers talk about “never having done science like this before”. Fran added that “all the kids enjoyed the Indigenous perspectives” as part of the program and particularly commented on how “the hands-on, collaborative and inquiry-based approach in PrimaryConnections really supported Indigenous students’ learning needs and styles”. Teachers and school leaders from the other HAAS schools recounted similar stories and spoke enthusiastically about the impact of the program on both students and teachers. They all agreed that the benefits “far outweighed the issues” and that the literacy, particularly the oral language promoted through the PrimaryConnections approach is a “big plus” for LBOTE students and English as a Second Language (ESL) students. Marcella Fielding, Aboriginal Education Officer at Leda Primary School specifically commented on this aspect of the program. She said, “now when I close my eyes in the classroom I don’t know whether it’s the Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal students talking… they are now all speaking beautifully…they are more articulate through the science.” Through the intensive literacy focus that was an integral component of the HAAS program at Leda, teachers were able to focus on the students “that really needed help, as well as extending the high achievers”. They reported upward trends in literacy learning especially spelling for all students. Students at Coolbellup Community School raised funds for wildlife injured in the Victorian Black Friday Bushfires through their HAAS Sustainable Kitchen Gardens project. The Coolbellup students particularly enjoyed creating a frog bog, completing waste audits and using the organic produce from their sustainable VOLUME 46 NUMBER 3 SEPTEMBER 2010
gardens to cook delicious and wholesome meals that were sold to raise funds for the bushfires appeal. At the HAAS program’s showcase event, Robert Sommerville, Director Western Australian Aboriginal Education, highlighted the importance of “consistent attendance at school” and the enormous impact this has on learning for “all students – Aboriginal and nonAboriginal”. Each of the schools involved in the HAAS program reported improved attendance rates and improved attitudes towards school and learning for their Aboriginal students and acknowledged PrimaryConnections and science in these gains. The Aboriginal students (and their non-Aboriginal peers) involved in the program were more engaged in learning and were attending school more often and more consistently. They were achieving higher levels of learning and importantly, they were maintaining these levels. At Onslow Primary School in the state’s remote Pilbara region teachers work with a “transient” Aboriginal student population that “at most times equates to about 60% of their student numbers”. Onslow also reported “increased engagement and more regular attendance” of Aboriginal students during the HAAS program. Onslow Primary School supported their teachers and students by ensuring that “all their staff had access to PrimaryConnections professional learning” as well as providing mentors for their “low-confidence teachers”. The Indigenous Education Action Plan Draft 2010-2014 states that “Governments across Australia have agreed to take urgent action to close the gaps for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and that to drive this, the Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers have agreed through the Council of Australian Governments to six ambitious targets” (MCEECDYA, 2010). One of the targets is to “halve the gap for Indigenous students in reading, writing and numeracy within a decade”. Research on PrimaryConnections linking science with literacy and Indigenous perspectives (Bull, 2008) indicated the potential of the program to support quality teaching and more effective learning for Indigenous students. Sandra Robinson, a first-year graduate teacher at Leda Primary School in 2009 spoke at the HAAS showcase event about the success she and her students had experienced through the linking of science with literacy in PrimaryConnections. Sandra said that in her short journey as an educator “PrimaryConnections was the one program” that had really supported her and her teaching “in a holistic way” and added that “it really is the complete package”.
References Bull, R. (2008). Small study – big success story: PrimaryConnections Incorporating Indigenous Perspectives Pilot Study Report. Canberra: Australian Academy of Science. Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs, (2010). Indigenous Education Action Plan Draft 20102014. Carlton South: Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs, and Curriculum Corporation.
STELR at Dongara District High School Jane Ganfield, Dongara District High School The STELR Project is an Australiawide secondary school science education initiative of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). STELR is the acronym for ‘Science and Technology Education Leveraging Relevance’ and the project is supported by the federal government. Dongara District High School was one of a handful of Western Australian schools that successfully became part of the STELR project this year.
The initial application It’s windy in Dongara. In fact it’s really, really windy. While this is generally looked upon as a curse, for a change it was actually a bonus. In our STELR application, Sharon Cheeseman, a science teacher at Dongara last year, highlighted the fact that Dongara is a perfect place to explore the potential for sustainable energy use. She also mentioned that Dongara is a small town (population about 3,000) with a small school. This means that equipment and professional training valued at over $4,000 would have a huge impact on science teaching and learning. That amount alone is over half our annual science budget! Obviously both of these points were enough to convince the STELR powers that Dongara was worthy. Either that or we were just really lucky!
Being told we were successful Once we were told late last year that our application was
successful, the first thing that happened was that Sharon got a sore hand from the all the high-fiving. Our success and what it meant was published in the school newsletter and our local paper. The school was a buzz with speculation about what sort of equipment we would get, particularly amongst the secondary students. I think the students were also a little surprised, being a small school and winning all this gear. Any little boost that suggests that the little guys can be just as worthy and successful as the big guys is a great lesson for our students.
The professional learning Early this year, successful school representatives met in Perth for two days of professional learning. It was great to see that a variety of schools (big/small, country/city, public/private) were successful. Apparently this was the whole idea. The STELR project only began last year, when it was trialled in a number of Australian schools, including two in Western Australia. The STELR crew wanted feedback, ideas, barriers and success stories from a variety of different schools. This is why I suggested earlier that maybe a bit of luck was involved in our application. The schools came from as far north as Newman and as far south as Busselton. All costs were covered, so representatives coming from a long way away weren’t disadvantaged. The professional learning included the STELR philosophy and goals of the project. The STELR crew acknowledged that many students in lower secondary school weren’t engaged in science and that this was having an impact on upper school subject choices which ultimately meant a lack of interest in university science courses. The project is aimed at increasing interest in the physical sciences, in particular. The idea is to engage students by using topical issues such as global warming and sustainable energy use. The professional learning also involved using the equipment that we were given as part of the project, as learning to use a whole new set of gear would obviously be time consuming and would be used most effectively by teachers if shown how. An impromptu talk from a teacher at South Fremantle Senior High School, a
Year 10 student (right) explaining the equipment to Year 3 students (left). Photo courtesy Donelle Forsyth.
Year 10 and Year 3 students using the STELR equipment. Photo courtesy Jane Ganfield. THE JOURNAL OF THE SCIENCE TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA
News with your normal teaching program. There is flexibility to use it however it best suits your students; it’s really just extra resources to enhance the teaching and learning of Energy and Change concepts in an interesting and topical way. I therefore combined parts of Science Aspects 1, 2 and 3 and parts of the STELR resources into a term-long unit for the Year 10 students. The unit went as follows: • Energy transfer and energy transformations • Energy efficiency • The basics of electricity and how electricity is made in WA power stations Matt designing his solar car. Photo courtesy Jane Ganfield.
pilot STELR school, also gave a realistic perspective on how the equipment worked in a classroom and school context. Feedback from the pilot STELR schools was gratefully accepted. One of the main issues with the equipment, originally, was that it wasn’t robust enough for curious students with the old “If I pull this bit really hard is it going to break?” mentality. This was rectified through a whole new set of equipment being constructed, and from my experience it’s almost teenager-proof!
The pre-test and prior knowledge One of the requirements for the STELR project is that students complete an online pre-test and then a post-test after using all the resources. The pre-test is composed of 30 multiple choice questions and the post-test can be adapted to assess whatever you have covered in class. The project is very flexible and teachers can choose to use all or none of the equipment or teacher and student resources. I have almost completed a unit on Energy and Change using the STELR equipment with a group of Year 10 students. The students performed surprisingly well in the pretest and haven’t completed the post-test yet. I still have a few weeks left before completing the unit. I was a bit surprised about the lack of knowledge about the greenhouse effect and global warming amongst the students. I thought that being in the media so much the students would have a lot more understanding.
• Fossil fuel formation and use in Australia • The impact of fossil fuel use, eg. global warming and climate change and energy conservation • Sustainable energy use and energy use issues, eg. nuclear power • Then we backtracked a bit and are in the process of doing more electricity, eg. current, voltage, resistance, circuits etc. Before doing the sustainable energy use part of the program, we visited a wind farm just north of Dongara, close to the town of Walkaway. The students were (pardon the pun) absolutely blown away when they got there. There are 54 wind turbines at the wind farm we visited. They supply enough energy for 60,000 homes. We then estimated that to power Dongara we would only need three wind turbines. The effect was huge and a heated discussion was started on the way home as to why Dongara doesn’t have wind turbines, where they should go, why Western Australia doesn’t have more wind turbines, and so on. It was really great to see and hear. The pros and cons of wind turbines were discussed and the students learnt a lot from their discussions as there were differing opinions and varying degrees of understanding. The students’ youthful enthusiasm was once again reignited.
As mentioned previously, STELR can be used in conjunction
After the visit to the wind farm, we spent a week looking at alternative energy sources. The students researched one alternative energy source, then did a jigsaw to learn about all the other sources. We then used the wind turbines and solar panels and looked at how to get maximum power out of them. The
Two Year 3 students testing their wind turbine. Photo courtesy Donelle Forsyth.
Year 3 and Year 10 students testing out the solar panels. Photo courtesy Donelle Forsyth.
How we use STELR
VOLUME 46 NUMBER 3 SEPTEMBER 2010
News and the impact of the angle of the solar panel in relation to the sun and the voltage output. The students didn’t seem to realize that getting the angle right was crucial. The students really embraced the challenge. It was reiterated to the SWL students that their practical skills and problem solving abilities would be advantageous for the challenge, whereas the knowledge and technical side of the challenge may mean that the mainstream group performed better. The challenge highlighted the fact that the strengths and skills possessed by the SWL group were just as useful as the more academic groups’ skills and knowledge.
Results 1st – Josh, Matt (mainstream) A Year 3 student thinking the more blades the better! Photo courtesy Donelle Forsyth.
2nd – Beau, Nathan (SWL)
Year 3 students were invited into the science laboratory as they were also learning about energy, and took part in a competitionbased investigation. Each pair of Year 10 students was grouped with three or four Year 3s. The competition was for the Year 3s to create the wind turbine that created the most volts. The STELR equipment has different length blades and you can use as many blades and blade combinations as you like. The groups also “played” outside with the solar panels, experimenting with angles and shade, and making buzzers sound and lights glow. Both levels of students loved the activity, which helped to increase enthusiasm towards science. On the last day of term the mainstream Year 10 students had a competition against the Structured Workplace Learning (SWL) stream Year 10 students (vocational pathway) to see who could make the fastest solar car. The equipment for the cars is not part of the STELR equipment but STELR is planning to include this kind of equipment into the kits in the future. The students were allowed to use one solar panel, one motor and any combination of wheels, pulleys and gears that they liked. The learning and problem solving that occurred during the design process was immense. Some students’ cars were travelling backwards so they had to figure out that they needed to change the configuration of wires. Others had a gear ratio that required more torque to get the car moving than the motor could provide, while others designed intricate systems to make sure their car went in a straight line. If I were to repeat this activity, I would probably engage the students in small experiments before hand, such as gears and gear ratios,
The very technical solar car brake – a shadow! Photo courtesy Jane Ganfield.
3rd – Hayley, Kate, Melissa (mainstream) After being exposed to the STELR equipment for about 6 weeks I asked the Year 10 students for their feedback. Below are extracts from some of their responses: “I feel that using the STELR equipment has helped my learning a lot because it’s very “hands on” and I understand how electricity works a lot easier now.” Zoe “I learnt more about how wind creates electricity and how solar systems work and I think it’s a great way of teaching kids about science.” Hayley “I find while using the STELR equipment I have learnt faster than copying out of a book.” Matt “The STELR equipment was interesting and fun to play around with. It showed that electricity can be produced in different ways, eg. wind turbines and solar panels.” Barry
STELR in the future at Dongara Next term, two classes of Year 9 students will use the STELR equipment and resources as the resources fit in really well with Science Aspects 2 and parts of the Western Australian Syllabus and proposed Australian Curriculum. With the MSE testing, athletics carnival, interschool sports and country week, the unit may take a bit longer than expected. Towards the end of Term Three, a designated STELR mentor has arranged to visit our school to provide support and gain feedback on how the project if going. The Year 10 students will complete the post-test, online, in about Week 2 of Term Three. Results are instant so I can use them as part of their assessment. Collaboration with the primary students will continue next term and we have a school open night towards the end of term where we will have a STELR display to promote and gloat about all our new STELR equipment. It’s always good to reiterate to our parents that being part of a small country school is not a disadvantage and that the students have lots of cool resources to help them learn, the same as in any school. The science staff and students at our school would like to thank the STELR crew and ATSE for helping to improve science outcomes and enjoyment. It has had a huge impact on the students’ enthusiasm for science, especially Energy and Change. It is amazing how two days of professional learning, a teacher and student friendly resource, and some well thought out equipment can make such a difference. Have a look at the STELR website for more information about how to get involved at <www.stelr.org.au>.
THE JOURNAL OF THE SCIENCE TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Little Green Steps: Sustainability practice for early years comes to Western Australia Elaine Lewis, AAEE-WA Member and Innovation Grant Co-ordinator at Coolbinia Primary School and Dr Jennifer Pearson, Convenor of AAEE-WA Little Green Steps, a training workshop on education for sustainability for early years educators, was recently conducted by the Australian Association for Environmental Education – Western Australian Chapter (AAEE-WA). With a grant from the Waste Authority of Western Australia, AAEE-WA was able to provide professional learning for staff of childcare services, kindergartens and preschools. The purpose of the training was to encourage sustainable practice through zero waste policy and practical implementation of these practices for children, staff and parents. This training was developed by Lady Gowrie Child Centre in Sydney and the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water in New South Wales, and assisted in the setting up of the professional development component of Gosford City and Wyong Shire Councils’ Little Green Steps Program. To increase national exposure to the program two days were offered in WA. Each day stood alone as a discrete training program. The two training days were led by Helen Nippard, from Practical Solutions for Early Childhood Services (NSW), with the support of Dr Jennifer Pearson, Convenor of AAEE-WA, and Elaine Lewis, AAEE-WA member and Innovation Grant Co-ordinator at Coolbinia Primary School. Supporting the implementation of Little Green Steps in WA was an integral part of Coolbinia Primary School’s Innovation Grant, which aimed to facilitate the development of community partnerships that encourage sustainable practices in educational settings. All Little Green Steps participants indicated appreciation for the training program as there are no other professional learning opportunities in WA in this field, specifically targeting the early childhood sector. The first training workshop was held on Friday 14 May 2010 at East Victoria Park Primary School. Nineteen people attended, with nine from schools and ten from childcare systems. Educators from Albany and Dunsborough also participated.
Helen and participants. Photo courtesy Jennifer Pearson. VOLUME 46 NUMBER 3 SEPTEMBER 2010
Twenty attendees came to the Saturday 15 May workshop at the Mount Lawley Child Care Centre. Ten participants were from schools, including a parent from the grounds committee, six from childcare systems, one AAEE-WA member and three early childhood students. The educators were given a range of activities throughout the day and these included discussions and hands-on experiences. Through the use of statements and photographs they refined their understanding of sustainability, as this term has multiple meanings for most people. They explored ethical dilemmas related to using toxic chemicals in gardening and cleaning. Everyone learnt from the hands-on experience of creating a small no-dig garden, cleaning without toxic chemicals and building a worm farm from scratch. The participants interacted with two water catchment models and discussed the impact waste and pollution had on plant and animals in a catchment system. Many of the educators were unaware they were able to book a session with Amy Krupa from the Phosphorus Action Group to come to their school or centre to show the children the model and talk about where the water they use and tip in their drains goes. Ms Krupa can also help schools/centres build frog bogs and improve the biodiversity of playgrounds. Use of a simple catchment model, in a tub, was also displayed. The Roaming Recycling Trailer was on display during both training days. The educators explored the wide range of hands-on activities available from the trailer; activities to support children understand what goes into waste and how to limit waste. All classes at East Victoria Park Primary School utilised this free service during the first training day. Other schools and centres
Establishing a worm farm. Photo courtesy Jennifer Pearson.
Setting up a no-dig garden. Photo courtesy Jennifer Pearson.
Helen demonstrating a simple water catchment model. Photo courtesy Jennifer Pearson.
within the North Metropolitan Regional Council can similarly access this service. Educators were encouraged to discuss their experiences in sustainability education as different topics arose. For example, there was lively discussion about how to encourage parents to provide waste free lunches. A great story from one centre related how to reward children who bought a waste free lunch to school. The children’s names went into a box and at lunch time one lucky child was selected to play with “Lenny the Lizard” for the rest of the day. Lenny became a powerful tool for encouraging children to ask parents to stop incorporating packaged foods in their lunchboxes. Another teacher noted on the course evaluation survey: “I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and having my knowledge shared and appreciated.” Participant The training days concluded with an opportunity for participants to share ideas, experiences, and concerns about implementing zero waste initiatives. Ms Nippard described initiatives from centres in the eastern states which showed that with good planning and resourceful staff and parents anything is possible in education for sustainability. A typical participant survey response was: “Great day, thank you. Will be off to implement ideas we have already had in conjunction with these new ones.”
Non chemical cleaning. Photo courtesy Jennifer Pearson.
The educators who attended the Little Green Steps program indicated they needed an Early Childhood network set up for them so they could continue to exchange ideas. Many participants offered to host the next training day at their centre. As one participant stated, the network will provide: “Another opportunity to re-meet and share experiences from changes we have attempted and/or made.” AAEE-WA has facilitated the creation of this network of support. The network is now in operation for early years educators who are keen to educate children and parents about sustainability. Other interested educators who would like to join this network may contact Elaine Lewis by email on: <firstname.lastname@example.org> for further information. AAEE-WA would like to acknowledge the generous support provided by Mr Neil Spence, Principal of East Victoria Park Primary School, for the use of school facilities to implement the Little Green Steps training program. Similarly acknowledged is the generous support given by Ms Jody Cable and Ms Debbie Van Leen, Directors of the Mount Lawley Child Care Centre on behalf of their committee for the use of their facilities. Contact Dr Jennifer Pearson on <email@example.com> if you wish to register for upcoming workshops.
Roaming Recycler landfill activity. Photo courtesy Jennifer Pearson. 14
This project is supported by the Western Australian Landfill Levy fund. THE JOURNAL OF THE SCIENCE TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA
ICASE 2010 – Reflections and Recollections Frank Dymond, Edith Cowan University When Perth hosted the second World Conference on Science and Technology Education in 2007, delegates were invited to attend the next conference to be held in Tartu, Estonia. I’m sure I was not the only one who wondered just where Estonia was. Nevertheless, Mia Rannikmae, who spoke on behalf of the Estonian organising committee, convinced me I should attend. The decision was made; the planning began. My wife, Lyn, agreed to accompany me – provided we visited Prague along the way! Our flight took us to Vienna from where we caught trains through the Czech Republic and Poland, then we flew to Estonia. Estonia is the most sparsely populated country in Europe. It has a population of just over 1,350,000 and an area of 45,000 square kilometres – most of which is flat and 50% of it is forest. It borders Russia on the east and Latvia is to the south with Finland immediately north across the gulf. The capital city, Tallinn, is on the northern coast but the conference was held in the university city of Tartu, a two and a half hour bus ride away. Arriving a day early we had the opportunity to explore the town, which is quite small with a population of 100,000. The university is very central and, although small has produced a Nobel Prize winner, Wilhelm Oswald, who received his PhD from there as well as teaching at Tartu University for a number of years. The Nobel Prize was awarded in 1909 for his invention of the process, which bears his name, to manufacture nitric acid. Estonia also gave Skype to the world! Attendance at the conference was smaller than that in Perth but it meant that delegates were better able to get to meet representatives from other countries. Roger Bybee, from Biological Science Curriculum Study (BSCS) fame, was the opening keynote speaker who presented us with “Grand Challenges and Significant Innovations” as his theme. Sadly, many of the challenges that Roger identified appear to be the same as those that have pursued us over the past forty years. He then focussed on technology and its links with science. This was followed by two excellent ‘Highlight Presentations’, one by Beverly Cooper from New Zealand and the other by Robin Groves. Robin spoke on “Assessment for learning: A top priority for helping students to learn”. His talk was thought provoking and promoted animated discussion within the group after the session. Bev Cooper introduced us to “The Science Learning Hub”. This is an amazing online resource to “promote science for good students in Years 9-10”. The material on The Hub is not intended for the students to access but is meant to provide the teachers with the science they need in order to teach these students. New Zealand was also represented by Mark Treadwell who, not only delivered a keynote address, also offered several workshop presentations. I attended all of these and they provided me with the highlights of the conference. In his keynote address, “Whatever”, he put forward the proposition that we are witnessing the second major paradigm shift in learning in human history. The first was when the centricity of learning shifted from oral language to text. Mark pointed out that text centred learning is heavily dependent on rote learning as this VOLUME 46 NUMBER 3 SEPTEMBER 2010
is how we learn to read and write. He illustrated the difficulty of this approach by comparing the time it takes for us to learn to read with the time taken to learn to drive a car. He claims the second major paradigm shift in learning is taking us from text centric to Internet centric. The shift, he claims, comes at a cost – not just financial – but it does have benefits. Those students, who had difficulties, because they failed to learn to read competently, now have access, through the Internet, to a variety of other learning media. The new learning paradigm has not only accelerated the potential to learn, it has been democratised. The cost we have to face is the need for us as teachers, to “cross the chasm”. His point is that many of today’s teachers, although highly competent in the art of learning, lack the e-technology skills to take full advantage of the new medium. Conversely, the students have these skills and use them in a social networking context, but they do not have competent learning skills. Hence the chasm that needs to be crossed. Mark’s other presentations were equally challenging and thought provoking and I would urge readers to access his website to view his contributions to e-learning. He has several websites but if you start with <http://www.i-learnt.com/index.htm> it will take you to most of his ideas. There was a surprising lack of sessions that focussed on hands-on science activities. Almost all were oral presentations. However, I was lucky to choose a presentation given by Janchai Yingprayoon who is from Thailand. He showed how science could be taught creatively using simple materials and toys. These were hands-on activities with entertainment and humour! We learnt how to make a thermometer using chopsticks a rubber band and not much else. That was followed by a simple microscope using a glass bead and what seemed to be the cut-off tops of plastic bottles. There was more, all provided by a skilled presenter. Other sessions attended included problems students and teachers face with science text books – including wrong information and poorly presented material. Abstracts of these and the other presentations are available on the ICASE website. As usual, there were a number of excursions that could be attended by participants. I chose to go on one that explored a newly developed rose garden where they are determining the best types to survive the Estonian conditions then on to a very old church from which we then ventured to the real reason for my choice – wine tasting. This was a real surprise! The surprise was that Estonian wines are not made from grapes but from berries. Sadly, I cannot recommend them. The best one was something like cough mixture. It is clearly an acquired taste. The meal that followed made up for the wine but the bottles at our table remained untouched. The conference closed with Robin Groves presenting us with the final version of the Conference Declaration. This was challenging since it required agreement from all delegates on not only the content but also the wording. (See page 20). 15
Shark Bay Ecosystem Research Project Adventure! Kym Phillips, Denmark High School When I attended a biology teacher professional learning program with EcoEducation towards the end of the 2009, I never imagined that it would lead to the experience of a lifetime. EcoEducation collaborated with Florida International University to offer teachers the opportunity to participate in their research project being conducted out of Shark Bay, Monkey Mia. I was lucky enough to be chosen to participate in the program and headed to Shark Bay for two weeks starting on 1 March 2010.
Another amazing experience was ‘turtling’. This involved using the boat to come up behind loggerhead turtles. Two people would spot, one drive and one DIVE! Yep, to catch the turtles someone would have to dive off the boat onto the turtle, bring it over to the boat, tag it and take measurements. Far out – was it fun! The program allowed me to further develop my knowledge and experience in the field of biological science that, in turn, will help me to provide enriched learning experiences for students.
The graduate student running the project, Katy Cameron, and her team were very welcoming and went out of their way to provide me with a wide range of experiences, which included conducting shore bird surveys alongside the Birds Australia team and local Department of Environment and Conservation rangers. We also dived on hooker to clean and repair dugong exclusion cages over the seagrass beds, tracked big tiger sharks with radio tracking equipment, camped out in remote locations and performed transects in the boat surveying for prey species.
Thank you so much to Elaine Horne and Katy Cameron and their respective organisations, for providing Western Australian teachers with such a unique opportunity. Shark Bay Ecosystem Research Project (SBERP) resources for science teachers linked to the Western Australian curriculum (Years 8-10 Life and Living and 1A/1B Biological Sciences) can be located on the SPERB website, <www.sberp.org>, and are well worthwhile integrating into programs for students.
The majority of time during my experience was spent fishing for tiger sharks. This was challenging work even for someone who feels fairly comfortable in the ocean as I do. The sharks were big, mostly between 3-4 metres in length and when one was caught it needed to be measured and tagged, as well as having tissue and blood samples taken. Sometimes a radio tracker was attached. Katy was extremely supportive, allowing me to participate fully in all aspects of this research.
If you ever get the opportunity to participate in the program I recommend you do so without hesitation as this is an opportunity NOT to be missed!
Participating in the research also required me to reach a new stage in my personal development in order to be successful. As you can imagine, when Katy is telling you to lean out of the boat to basically hug a 3-4 metre shark while she tries to take blood from near its tail it seems to go against all your instincts!
Measuring a loggerhead turtle. Photo courtesy Kym Phillips.
Tagging a female tiger shark. Photo courtesy Kym Phillips. THE JOURNAL OF THE SCIENCE TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA
CONSTAWA 2010: Bee-wild-erred! 25-27 June 2010 Carissa Tandjung The United Nations has proclaimed 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. People all around the world are now working to protect the world’s irreplaceable natural resources and reduce biodiversity loss. In support of these global commitments, Celebrating Western Australian Biodiversity: Bee-wild-erred was chosen as the theme of the annual Conference of the Science Teachers’ Association of Western Australia (CONSTAWA). Taking place at Muresk Institute of Agriculture, Northam, the 30th CONSTAWA was a resounding achievement as it gathered the many dedicated primary, secondary and tertiary science educators. The conference was an excellent opportunity to celebrate 2010 International Year of Biodiversity and formulate a number of strategic approaches to hook more students in environmental science. “Certain challenges in the science education field include encouraging enough students to take science in high school,” STAWA President Sue Doncon said. “It is a trend, I believe, that science is not being picked up by many students. The challenge is for teachers to make science an interesting and engaging program so that the kids want to go in and do the course, which then leads on to university and careers in science.” More than 30 workshops were offered to inspire teachers in generating student interest in science. The parallel programs, which ran from Saturday afternoon through to Sunday evening, covered all areas of science: physics, biology, chemistry, geology and also cutting-edge sciences. Brad Norman of Murdoch University started the conference with an inspiring keynote speech. He talked to an enthralled crowd of science teachers about his passion and commitment to the study and conservation of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus). In Brad’s office in Exmouth, these endangered fish have become the pulse of the tourism industry. It is the research on whale shark preservation that has swamped the region with tourism dollars. Thousands stream to Ningaloo every year to swim with the threatened gentle giants of the ocean, spending as much as $400 purely for the pleasure. These 20-tonne animals, whose ancestry is traced back to the Jurassic period, are thought to be filter feeders, with a diet primarily of microscopic plankton. But just as the whale shark itself is great in scale, so is the lack of knowledge about this creature, and it is in this field where Brad has become a pioneer. VOLUME 46 NUMBER 3 SEPTEMBER 2010
Together with his two partners, Jason Holmberg and Zaven Arzoumanian, Brad established a not-for-profit group ECOCEAN Whale Shark Photo-identification Library in 2003. The cuttingedge software enables users to identify whale sharks encountered using pattern recognition and photo management tools. The photo library employs the same technology used by NASA to map stars for the Hubble telescope. Indeed, instead of reading star patterns, the algorithm has been adopted to read the distinguish patterns of white spots on each whale shark’s fin. “The beauty of the research program is that anyone who swims with the whale shark anywhere in the world can become an ECOCEAN research assistant simply by taking a photograph of the whale shark’s left pectoral fin, noting the date and location of sighting, and submitting it to the online library”, Brad explained. The photo ID library, which is accessible at <http://www.whaleshark. org>, links whale shark movements worldwide. Every time a whale shark is re-spotted, the person who originally captured and submitted its photograph is sent an email notification of the shark’s action. Therefore, the citizen scientists can keep in touch with their shark progress. Hosting more than 11,000 whale shark reports and 28,000 photos of whale sharks, the ECOCEAN project also facilitates almost 365 research days per year. This has earned Brad global tributes, as he was one of the recipients of Rolex Award laureates for the environment in 2006. In 2008 he was named as an emerging explorer by National Geographic. Whale sharks are currently listed as “vulnerable to extinction” on the World Conservation Union’s Red List for Threatened Species. These fish have been hunted for many years at unsustainable levels mainly in India and Taiwan. Through education programs held by ECOCEAN, great progress has been made as it helps raise awareness of the global threat to sharks from over fishing, pollution and indiscriminate hunting. Educating more people to become aware of the environment has been the core of Brad’s project. “By being aware, there’s a sense of ownership amongst the community. That’s what we’re trying to instill in people, a sense of ‘it’s up to you to actually do the right thing to the world we live in’,” Brad said. Stephen Crane of the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) was also particularly vocal about fostering the community’s sense of belonging to the environment through the Department’s Western Shield Project (WSP). 17
News Launched in 1996, the project is a leading nature conservation program in a bid to bring back Western Australia’s native animals from the edge of its extinction through bating feral animals, captive breeding and also education of the community and school groups. This unique project, which is available for Year 4-12 students, introduces Western Australian youngsters to threatened animals through a number of its excursions and incursions in Perth Hills National Parks Centre and the Margaret River area. Baiting, setting up traps, catching animals and doing live trapping are all part of the environmental education programs designed by DEC’s EcoEducation. Students will experience some sort of handson activities in handling and doing measurements on live animals. “These experiences can be very changing for the students”, Stephen said. “We knew a girl, who was part of the project, who went on to study conservation biology at the University of Western Australia. She is now completing a Masters Degree through researching the Red-Tailed Phascogale, which is an endangered species.” Stephen said the experience gathered from the WSP, combined with what students learned at school, helped give students a direction in life, especially in considering careers in science. Biological scientist turned teacher, Bryan Ferrara, does not need a feral cat and live-trapping kits to help children discover science. Two A4 sheets of paper, thin corrugated cardboard, glue stick and hot glue gun will just do the trick! Those are the materials needed to assemble a modified Paper Tiger Rocket – a low-cost and an easy-to-build handmade rocket, which construction of can be completed in less than an hour. The Rossmoyne Senior High School teacher has been teaching his students about rocketry for over a decade. Building a model rocket from scratch is certainly one of his favorite in-class science projects. “I am sure many science teachers realise that if they have the pops and bangs in the classroom, the smiles go up and that motivates the students to grasp the concept of rocketry”, Bryan said. Following Bryan’s rocketry workshop, participants had the opportunity to construct and also launch this simplified model rocket. “With this project, there might be a bit of wasted time because students will be talking and chatting while cutting papers. But when they see their rockets go up, it should be amazing and also challenging to see”, a participant said. The conference was summed up with its rendition of “Show Me Yours and I Will Show You Mine”. Teachers showed their favorite science maneuvers and good teaching ideas. “The conference is something that we are very fortunate to have. We’ve given up a weekend, but we certainly learn a lot of things to get our students to think more about science,” Alex Moroz of Governor Stirling Senior High School said. 18
THE JOURNAL OF THE SCIENCE TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Photos courtesy Lance Taylor.
VOLUME 46 NUMBER 3 SEPTEMBER 2010
Tartu Declaration on Science and Technology Education A Declaration on behalf of the International Council of
Declaration in their regions of the world, acknowledging the key
Associations for Science Education (ICASE) by the participants
roles of teachers.
in the ICASE World Conference on Science and Technology Education, July 2010 The World Conference on Science and Technology Education was held in Tartu, Estonia, 28 June – 2 July 2010. We, the conference
• innovative STE is of fundamental importance throughout life commencing at the earliest years;
participants from 35 countries, believe that 21st century Science
• major goals for STE are active, ethical citizenship; responsible,
and Technology Education (STE) should prepare students for
evidence-based decision-making; and high levels of
rapidly developing, knowledge-based societies.
satisfaction in STE;
Access to high quality education is a fundamental right for all
• STE involves students developing and applying scientific
in preparing for responsible global citizenship in a sustainable
conceptual understanding to make sense of contexts in their
world. Human considerations that need to be at the forefront
of thinking, planning and actions related to STE include respect for: human rights; health; peace; poverty alleviation; cultural diversity; indigenous knowledge; and gender equity.
• inter-disciplinary learning in relevant contexts is essential, to reflect the nature of professional science and everyday science and to allow teachers to build on students’ interests
Young people are naturally curious about their world and issues that affect them personally, locally and globally. Increasingly they indicate their interest in current science and technology.
and questions; • an integrated approach to STE needs to be implemented, because science and technology are inseparable as we move
Nurturing confident life-long learners, with skills, attitudes and capacities to thrive in complex societies is a high priority. Planning and implementing effective STE needs to take account of the moral, ethical and value-laden contexts within which science
into the future; • students’ involvement in decisions about their own STE learning is essential;
and technology is situated. Effective STE includes an emphasis
• an inquiry approach is central to STE, where students formulate
on the development of life competencies such as problem-
scientific and technological questions, investigate those
solving, decision-making, learning and working individually and
questions and build and apply conceptual understandings;
• assessment policies and practices that improve students’
Increasingly, an STE teacher’s role is to provide links between students and scientific and technological expert sources. Curricula should allow students to participate in engaging, experiential, hands-on STE. This should be in a range of relevant contexts, on a need-to know basis, and build on children’s natural curiosity.
We resolve that:
learning need to be implemented; • high-quality teacher preparation and continuous professional learning support are essential in order for teachers to create rich, relevant, interesting, current and timely STE.
Information and communication technologies, particularly the
STE policy and practices should be informed by evidence-based
Internet, are increasingly becoming essential tools for students to
research findings and research in STE encouraged and supported.
interact with science and technology. Health and safety concerns
The Tartu Declaration (2010) builds on the Penang (2003) and
are integral and important to STE.
Perth (2007) World Conference Declarations. Copies of these
The conference participants call upon all involved in research,
are available from Robin Groves, Chair ICASE World Conference
policy development and practice in STE to implement this
Standing Committee, at R.Groves@curtin.edu.au.
THE JOURNAL OF THE SCIENCE TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Western Australian Green Teacher Award 2010 Mark Merritt, Marmion Primary School I was thrilled to be notified by Ian Kiernan AO, Chairman of Clean Up Australia, that I was selected as the Western Australian recipient of the Sanyo Oceania Clean Up Australia Green Teacher Award 2010. The Green Teacher Award seeks to recognise and reward environmentally conscious teachers across Australia. State and Territory recipients were selected from schools that demonstrated inspiring environmental programs. It was a privilege to meet these teachers and share our successes. Thanks to the generosity of Sanyo Oceania, we were all presented with a four-day study tour to Japan to visit Sanyo’s Solar Ark, which is the world’s largest solar panel structure that stretches 315 metres wide and 37 metres tall. Built in 2002, this solar energy generation facility generates a proportion of electric power required by Sanyo’s Gifu plant. In the centre of the ark we visited the Solar Lab, a museum dedicated to the solar battery (<http:www.solar-ark.com>). Sanyo is a company committed to the ongoing development of electronic components and a tour
of the Sanyo museum had actual products released since its foundation in 1947. Sanyo’s founding product was a dynamopowered bicycle lamp manufactured in 1947. Radios, washing machines and televisions followed in the 1950s. Home electrical appliances were produced in the 1960s with Sanyo releasing the industry’s first 19 inch colour television in 1967. Following the oil shock of 1973, energy awareness increased rapidly around the world. Products requiring less power consumption began to appear. Sanyo produced the world’s first calculator with a built-in solar battery. The Sanyo museum brought back a few memories. Now to the present. Bill Crichton, President and Managing Director of Sanyo Oceania, invited us all to view Sanyo’s latest technologies and products available. We were shown the eneloop rechargeable Ni-MH battery which can hold up to 85% of its charge for 2 years without use. It can also be recharged 1,500 times. The batteries now come with a solar panel for recharging. The next product we were shown was the safe and secure
Clean up Australia Chairman, Ian Kiernan AO, with recipients of the 2010 Green Teacher Award. Photo courtesy Clean Up Australia. VOLUME 46 NUMBER 3 SEPTEMBER 2010
News Up Australia Green Teacher Award 2010. West Coastcare is an environmental organisation responsible for the rehabilitation of the coastal area in the northern suburbs of Perth. Thanks to the dedication of these and other community volunteers, partnerships have been developed to protect our biodiversity along the coast. I would like to mention Penny Stewart who works tirelessly for West Coastcare and thank her for her support. The following is my journey that led me to be nominated for the Green Teacher Award:
The plant nursery at Marmion Primary School. Photo courtesy Mark Merritt.
rechargeable lantern. It has a multi-way charging system and is available with a solar panel. Sanyo also produces photovoltaic products for the solar power industry. The group also viewed the extensive virus washer products available for home and office use and the new technology of their washing machines. My favourite was the eneloop electric bike. I have never ridden an electric bike before, however this experience was fantastic. It looks like a normal bicycle with a very compact rechargeable battery that provides energy to the wheel hub. This bicycle has received numerous design and environmental awards; I was disheartened to find out that it is not available in Australia. It produces 250W of energy and is classified as a motor bike/vehicle and requires special licensing and thus cannot be imported. Whilst in Japan I noticed thousands of these bicycles in everyday usage. I wish to thank Clean Up Australia and Sanyo for supporting and acknowledging excellence in environmental innovation (<www. cleanup.org.au>). I would also like to acknowledge West Coastcare Inc for nominating me for the Western Australian Sanyo Oceania Clean
Marmion Primary School students planting a native flora garden. Photo courtesy Mark Merritt.
In 2007, arsonists lit a fire in Star Swamp, a 96 hectare ‘Class A’ reserve near the West Coast beaches of Perth and Marmion Primary School. After the fire consumed much of the essential habitat containing unique flora and fauna, I saw an educational opportunity for my school and class to be actively involved in the rehabilitation of the area with other community partners. The project gave a sense of ownership to the students, and saw the successful development of a plant nursery to raise seedlings for the reserve. I initiated a plan at my school that provided the opportunity to work scientifically with other major community stakeholders. The project aimed to improve the quality of the habitat in the coastal reserve through education and conservation, ultimately leading to the protection and restoration of this significant ecosystem. Working in partnership with the City of Stirling, Friends of Star Swamp, West Coastcare and the Marmion school community we established a community-based plant nursery at Marmion Primary. I secured close to $22,000 through a Federal Government Envirofund grant application, that enabled us to build the 80 square metre nursery. The nursery housed seedlings grown from seed stock specifically for the Star Swamp reserve and other coastal reserves. Local interest groups assisted with the identification and propagation of native plants and local students were involved in plantings. The school and community, under my guidance, coordinated the project, provided the location of the plant nursery, watering costs,
Coastal dune rehabilitation. Photo courtesy Mark Merritt
THE JOURNAL OF THE SCIENCE TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA
News supervised activities, volunteers, planting, weed eradication, and re-vegetation. I have extended the classroom into the natural environment and the political process of a community working scientifically together. The impact of re-vegetation will take time. One hundred and forty seven volunteers have contributed 931 hours of their time to support and achieve the objectives of the project. The re-vegetation of Star Swamp, Coastal Areas, and School Bushland is a slow and sometimes thankless process. However, the enthusiasm displayed by the volunteers is an indication of the commitment they have in supporting environmental issues and education. The devastating bush fire destroyed a significant proportion of the ecosystem. The arsonists were believed to be children. The project has given a sense of ownership to students and volunteers of the surrounding environment. The vision I had as a dedicated environmental teacher has made an impact on so many and will continue well into the future. This project not only fosters real-life working scientifically processes and ethics, its cooperative community engagement has provided opportunities to secure expertise from a variety of community stakeholders. Lunch-time activities associated with the use of the nursery have resulted in enthusiastic children assisting in the planting, growing and eating of seasonal vegetables to propagating native flora. The students can see a real purpose for caring for the environment when they are active participants. I have been commended for this initiative, which the school and wider community have embraced, supported, and continue to actively participate in.
Plant nursery at Marmion Primary School. Photo courtesy Mark Merritt.
Acacia cyclops and Isolepis nodosa on benches in the nursery. Photo courtesy Mark Merritt. VOLUME 46 NUMBER 3 SEPTEMBER 2010
2010 International Year of Biodiversity showcased in the Wheatbelt Mathew Harding, Department of Environment and Conservation 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity and there is no better place to experience the importance of maintaining biodiversity than in Dryandra Woodland. Wandoo Woodlands are restricted to Western Australia and approximately 98% of them have been cleared for agriculture since European settlement. Dryandra Woodland is a 28,000 hectare conservation reserve fragmented into 17 discrete blocks and is one of the largest remaining patches of Wandoo Woodland anywhere in the world. Dryandra is home to over 800 native plant species – 20 of which are priority species, over 100 species of birds and 24 species of native animals including 5 threatened species. Although the reserve is set aside as a conservation area, it is constantly under pressure from a myriad of threats to its biodiversity. These threats include feral animals and pests; disease; fragmentation and land clearing; low population numbers and low genetic diversity; irregular fire regimes; illegal hunting and harvesting; and climate change. Part of the Department of Environment and Conservation’s (DEC) commitment to maintaining biodiversity in the Wheatbelt is to present quality education programs at Dryandra Woodland that identify issues within the Wheatbelt and how they manage them. Using the Woodland for educational activities also gives DEC the ability to show off some of the unique and interesting species that call Dryandra home. Dryandra Woodland is an ideal location for schools and other education groups to run environmental, science and EcoEducation programs. Dryandra is easily accessible as it is located only two hours from Perth – 30 kilometres north of Narrogin. A tremendous range of nature-based educational material is available at Dryandra Woodland. Many schools and educational groups that visit Dryandra Woodland take advantage of the live marsupial trapping activity that is available. A qualified staff member
Setting traps. Photo courtesy Mathew Harding.
Processing traps. Photo courtesy Mathew Harding.
of DEC demonstrates how to set traps, handle, process and record data about native marsupials in Dryandra Woodland. Past trapping sessions have seen schools and other education groups capture and release Brush-tailed Possums, Woylies, Red-tailed Phascogales and more recently Chuditch. Other education programs offered include flora studies, invertebrate investigations and how to monitor animals using radio trackers, scats and tracks. All education programs have a strong focus on biological investigations and the correct procedures involved. This array of programs enables teachers to design comprehensive, enjoyable and effective education programs for their students to emphasise the importance of biodiversity and the management strategies implemented to protect it. Dryandra also offers a range of accommodation options, walk trails, Nyoongar and European heritage, diverse bushland areas
Releasing possums. Photo courtesy Mathew Harding. THE JOURNAL OF THE SCIENCE TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA
News and a suite of other attractions, which provide plenty of opportunities for teachers to co-ordinate fascinating residential camps for students. Barna Mia Animal Sanctuary is an education facility that was developed to highlight the work of DEC’s Western Shield program. Western Shield, coordinated by DEC, is the most ambitious fauna recovery program in the world. It aims to reduce the impact of introduced predators and reintroduce native animals to their former habitat. Dryandra Woodland plays an important role for much of this work, and Barna Mia provides an opportunity for visitors to gain information and understanding about conservation on site. Barna Mia is home to five threatened species of marsupial. This unique facility, nestled in the heart of Dryandra Woodland, provides a rare opportunity for visitors to have a close encounter with Bilbies, Boodies, Woylies and Mala. Guided nocturnal tours at Barna Mia also provide valuable information about conservation and the importance of maintaining biodiversity in Western Australia and are an excellent compliment for education groups undertaking educational programs. Barna Mia aims to touch the heads, and the hearts, of visitors by allowing them to witness threatened species up close in a natural setting that would otherwise be a rare occurrence in the wild. Each of the species at Barna Mia was once prolific in Western Australia. However, predation by introduced cats and foxes, the clearing of vegetation and altered fire regimes decimated their numbers. They are now restricted to several offshore islands near Shark Bay and a few isolated mainland populations. Accommodation at Dryandra Woodland is available in selfcontained, restored forestry cottages or in the Currawong
complex, which consists of dormitories and shared dining facilities and caters for up to 60 people. Accommodation at the Lions Dryandra Village is managed by the Lions Club and enquiries and bookings can be made by contacting John Lawson on 9884 5231. Congelin Campground is an alternative site, with group camping facilities including toilets, fire rings, gas barbeques, a shelter and rainwater tank. Dryandra Woodland is a unique and special place for many reasons. The high conservation value of the woodland, the vast array of flora and fauna, and the conservation programs being implemented in the area enhance the Dryandra experience. They provide an ideal opportunity for visitors to appreciate the value of Western Australia’s flora and fauna and the importance of maintaining biodiversity. For further information, bookings or ideas for school programs and Barna Mia, please contact Mathew Harding at the Department of Environment and Conservation’s Narrogin Office on 9881 9207.
SCIOS Deadlines for 2010-2011 Issue
Articles and Advertising
1 August 2010
1 November 2010
1 February 2011
1 May 2011
1 August 2011
1 November 2011
Important STAWA Events for 2010
SCIENCE TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION OF W E S T E R N AU S T R A L I A
The Science Teachers’ Association of Western Australia (STAWA) welcomes all teachers of science to 2010 International Year of Biodiversity. 2010 poses many different and exciting challenges and events. As teachers of science, we can inspire and motivate thousands of young minds with exciting, fun-filled learning experiences. As ASTA members, we can support each other, and our associations, by participating in professional learning opportunities and by sharing our love of science and science teaching, and the skills and knowledge developed through practicing our profession.
VOLUME 46 NUMBER 3 SEPTEMBER 2010
17 September STAWA Annual General Meeting Resources and Chemistry Precinct 18 September Science Talent Search Awards Ceremony Scitech Discovery Centre 23 September Physics Day Adventure World 29-30 September Chemical Safety Course Belmont City College 30 September Earth and Environmental Science 3A/3B Curtin University 5 October Teaching Biology for Understanding Perth Hills National Park Centre, Mundaring Weir 10 November ScienceIQ Registrations Close for Term 4 (Years 7 and 8) 3 December Future Science Murdoch University For further information on any of our events check our website <www.stawa.net>.
Using Web 2.0 Technologies in your science classroom Mark Lehmann, Padbury Senior High School What is Web 2.0? If you are as old as me, you may remember the daggy old web pages – lots of colour, maybe a daggy sound effect and lots, and I mean LOTS, of clickable links! You may have had your students make these and you may still do that. If age hasn’t affected your neurons, you may recall Microsoft FrontPage! That was Web 1.0. Web 3.0 is what you may have seen chasing Arnold Schwarzenegger back to stop it! So, none of that answers what Web 2.0 is! In short, Web 2.0 is sharing, interacting, being social and collaborating using the software that occurs online. It encourages standardisation; so no more Mac versus Windows issues. The browser, or browser like software, is the centre of Web 2.0 technologies. As we can see with emerging technologies, mobility is becoming important and Web 2.0 is central in what we are seeing. Much of Web 2.0 is free and lots of it can be used in the classroom. The following are some of the sites that I have used or have investigated and considered using in the science classroom. The addresses provided are current at the time of writing, but the dynamic nature of the Internet will change this. I intend to address the large number of available software from Google in a future article. In another article I also intend to address terms like mash-ups, cloud computing, mobile computing including apps and open source software.
Delicious (delicious.com) You probably have a collection of favourite websites, bookmarks or favourites depending on the browser you use. There are probably times when you wish you had them handy, or even wish you could just share them. You probably spend hours looking for good links and know that someone has most likely done the same. Using delicious can solve all of this. Described as “social bookmarking” it is a free online storage of your and others favourite websites. People have done the filtering of good versus bad sites and added their favourites. The keys here are tags, keywords that describe the link. Try it and search for some tags…Science, global warming, Bacteria…your call. More importantly, add your favourite sites to your own registration and make it public. Tips for using in the classroom or personally: • Provide the sites for your students to use by making a specific tag related to them, or in separate logins • Have your students search and add sites for a particular topic and add them to a public delicious page, or create their own • Add yours to STAWA’s delicious page. VOLUME 46 NUMBER 3 SEPTEMBER 2010
Wikis (eg Wikispaces.com, Wikipedia.com) Wiki is Hawaiian for quick. These are some of the most talked about (and hyped about) opportunities for teachers in using Web 2.0. They are, at least in a simple sense, a collection of web pages that can be created by an individual and edited by others. They allow people to communicate quickly. How often have you been asked to review a document, comment on it and make changes? As you do so you are aware that others are doing so and you may be making the same changes, or making a change that won’t assist when collectively looked at. Wikis can solve these problems. Add a document, and have anyone modify the one version so that everyone can see what others think. Plagiarism is discouraged by a Wikis nature. Wikis can be set up for free. Numerous sites offer simple Wiki creation, you just need a web browser (Firefox, Safari, Explorer etc). The pages are built using “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG – whizziwig) software. You can build a site with many pages or just a page. If your school uses a content management system, like moodle, you may have easy access to a school wide Wiki creator. Tips for using in the classroom, or personally: • Make a Wiki as an assessment. Have students edit it and add their initials to any changes. The final Wiki is a collaborative effort and can be assessed by peer or self-marking. • Provide a series of Wikis for a topic and have students read and modify for homework. • Set up a school Wiki for staff to add to as comments on school policies. • Set up Wikis for manuals and how-to’s like lighting a Bunsen or class rules • Have students set up a Wiki as a portfolio.
Gliffy (gliffy.com) Have you ever wanted your students to draw a mind-map, flowchart, floor plan of an energy efficient house? SWOT analysis, organisational charts and technical drawings can all be done here. This can be easier than using a specific software package. It is easy to use and very, very flexible. Gliffy is free and, again, just needs a web browser. Tips for using in the classroom, or personally: • Have students design an effective design of a study friendly bedroom • Demonstrate understanding of a topic using a flowchart of ideas 27
News • Design a dichotomous key of a collection using an org chart
Tips for using in the classroom, or personally:
• Use an org chart to show the schools behavioural management policy
• Share your presentations
• Have a students complete a SWOT analysis of an article.
• Looking for a five-step lesson plan? The last five steps before you walk into a class? Have a look here as a start.
Bubbl.us (bubbl.us) Whilst dedicated software exists, and is usually brilliant, sometimes a free version or one that can be used at home by students would be more convenient. And whilst Gliffy above allows brainstorming of sorts, this is designed just for that purpose. Bubbl.us doesn’t pretend to do more than brainstorming and therefore does it well. Again, free!
• Set students a test to do at home where they show their understanding of a topic by showing it as a brainstorm
Having students search for images to use in an assessment or presentation can be time consuming and they often find low quality images that are poorly suited. Flickr is a photo-sharing site that is the best around. Many good images can be found here (but be warned some are ordinary…and some are “dodgy”) but from my perspective, results are better than those from a search engine. If you have some great photos, share them for others and tag them with words such as science or teaching. Other ways of searching Flickr can found that allow better results – Google it – and until then try compfight.com.
• Any topic can be brainstormed in class
Tips for using in the classroom, or personally:
• Classification of organisms can be done using a brainstorm.
• Share your own images, especially those showing experiments
• Add high quality images easily to presentations and notes
We have all designed, at some time, a wonderful PowerPoint presentation. We have had our students do the same. They sit in a file somewhere and are never utilised by anyone else. Share them. Let others see and use them. More importantly, share what your students do. They get a big kick out of seeing there work on line… legitimacy! If you are stuck for a presentation on a topic you are likely to find one here.
• Have students take photos for an assignment and add them to flickr
Tips for using in the classroom, or personally:
• Share your students PowerPoint’s
All of these Web 2.0 technologies are just the tip of a growing iceberg, for a good overview and guide see go2web20.net. Many more are becoming available daily and I will address these in future updates to this topic, but next is the raft of software that can be found free from Google.
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VOLUME 46 NUMBER 3 SEPTEMBER 2010
THE JOURNAL OF THE SCIENCE TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA
STAWA AGM â€” Friday 17 September Curtin Resources and Chemistry Precinct Building 500 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm, followed by refreshments. Please RSVP www.stawa.net or phone Vinda on 9244 1987
VOLUME 46 NUMBER 3 SEPTEMBER 2010
Heads up on Science with ScienceNetwork WA Media contact Natasha Richards, Corporate Communications Officer, 6304 2208 or 0422 326 745.
Edith Cowan University team finalists in worldwide robotics challenge
Edith Cowan University team winners in Google Challenge Edith Cowan University (ECU) undergraduate students Georg Widschwendter, Micheal Allbeury and Marjorie Fouquereau Google Challenge team was announced as the winning team in the Google Challenge Asia Pacific Region (APAC) category recently. Held in semester one 2010, the Google Challenge is a unique competition that enables student teams to work as online marketing consultants, competing at a global level against other university teams from around the world. Each team receives US$200 worth of free online advertising with Google Ad Words to work with a local business to devise effective online marketing campaigns. This year’s winning ECU team worked with the Busta Moves Dance Studio in East Perth, utilising effective online marketing tools to create an interactive website which effectively promoted the dance studio and its activities. The team went through a vigorous three-stage judging process, which began with quantitative evaluation of the client account through the use of variables such as impressions and click throughs, followed by a qualitative evaluation by Google experts, and finally an evaluation by a global academic panel. ECU Program Director of Communications, Dr Peter Ling, is thrilled with the team’s efforts. “To receive such high recognition from Google is a tremendous achievement for these three ECU undergraduate students, especially considering other winning teams had five and six members. “Last year only one ECU undergraduate team reached the third stage of judging, so to make it all the way and become regional winners is fantastic. I’d like to congratulate all team members on their amazing efforts.” Acting ECU Vice-Chancellor, Mr Warren Snell said the Google Challenge is a unique opportunity for students to experience the world of online marketing and advertising. “The hands-on experience of working with a client and creating an online marketing campaign will certainly benefit the students in starting their careers.” The winning team will receive a trip to Google in Sydney, including accommodation, flights, meals and a tour of the Google offices. All members of the winning team will also receive a laptop valued at USD$1,300. A total of 3,034 teams from 60 countries participated in the 2010 challenge, with regional winners from America and Europe, as well as a global winner also announced last week. For more information on the Google Challenge, and a full list of the winning teams, visit <www.google.com/onlinechallenge>. 32
Researchers from Edith Cowan University (ECU), in collaboration with the University of Western Australia, Flinders University and primary sponsor Thales Australia, have been announced as one of six international finalists in a multi-million dollar competition run by the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) and the US Department of Defence. Known as the Multi-Autonomous Ground-robotic International Challenge, or MAGIC 2010, the competition attracts the most innovative solutions from around the world to address a technology gap faced by coalition forces operating in urban combat zones, with the aim to develop robots that can operate autonomously on the battlefield in dangerous situations, keeping soldiers out of harm’s way. The MAGIC 2010 Robotics Team is one of only six international university teams chosen for the finals, which consists of teams from America, Turkey and Japan. The final six teams, announced this week by Australia’s Acting Chief Defence Scientist, Dr Warren Harch will now go on to compete in the international finals in Adelaide in November. “These teams are at the forefront of robotics technology. They have survived a rigorous assessment and elimination process against six other semi-finalist teams.” “They now have a few more months to fine-tune their concepts for the grand final challenge, where they will be required to field at least three robots and accomplish a complex task involving mapping and identification of threats while demonstrating a high level of autonomy between the robots,” said Dr Harch. ECU Acting Vice-Chancellor, Mr Warren Snell, congratulates the team on their fantastic achievement. ‘The achievements of the WAMBOT team highlights ECU’s continued commitment to research and innovation, and we wish the team all the best in the final challenge in November,” he said. Australian and USA officials visited all twelve short-listed teams over a three week period, assessing the teams on a range of tasks, including the ability for their robots to operate autonomously and to map their surroundings digitally, before selecting the final six teams. WA team coordinator and lecturer at ECU’s School of Computing and Security Science, Dr Adrian Boeing, is thrilled that the team has made the finals. “I am very proud of our team’s efforts and to be the only remaining Australian team in the competition is a fantastic achievement. “We are all very excited about the finals and are looking forward to bringing the first place prize to WA.” For more information, visit <www.wambot.org/robot.html>.
Media contact Natasha Richards, Corporate Communications Officer, 6304 2208 or 0422 326 745
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Heads up on Science with ScienceNetwork WA contributions to the project. For information about making a donation, contact the Veterinary Trust on (08) 9360 2731.
Addressing the rural vet shortage
$440,000 for unmanned aerial marine mammal research
Murdoch University is hoping to encourage more students to take up rural vet positions by improving its production animal teaching facilities.
The Australian Government has awarded $440,000 to a strategic marine mammal research project to be done by Murdoch University marine scientist Dr Amanda Hodgson.
Vet shortages in rural and production animal practices are a problem in Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
The three-year Bill Dawbin Postdoctoral Fellowship was announced by Environment Protection Minister Peter Garrett in June.
Professor Ian Robertson, Acting Dean of Murdoch’s School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, said, “To encourage students to take up careers in rural and production animal practices we need to give them the best production animal experience possible and that means providing the latest state-of-the-art equipment.
Mr Garrett said the Australian Government was committed to continuing the fight for the long lasting protection of whales.
“We are refurbishing the sheep and pig facilities to showcase best practice, including the most rigorous animal welfare and human health and safety standards. “We are also upgrading our reproduction labs to assist in developing of breeding stock and artificial insemination. “Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of primary products and this has been achieved through efficient farming practices and freedom from the major diseases affecting animals in many other countries. “These facilities will help maintain best-practice training of veterinary and animal science students which indirectly contributes to maintaining our valuable export markets.”
“The projects funded by the Australian Government will utilise the most powerful non-lethal research techniques to build our scientific knowledge of whales and dolphins not only in our backyard but across the Pacific and Indian Oceans,” he said. Dr Hodgson’s project will use innovative methods and technology to monitor marine mammal abundance, distribution and habitat use, including miniature remotely controlled aircraft equipped with cameras and sensors to conduct unmanned aerial marine mammal surveys. “Dr Hodgson’s cutting edge research will be investigating whether this new technology can improve current manned aerial survey methods by eliminating human risk, increasing accuracy of detection, location and identification of species, and enabling surveys in remote regions where manned surveys are impossible,” Mr Garrett said.
The on-campus farm facilities were originally built to state-ofthe-art standards in the 1970s, but standards of animal welfare, human health and safety and farm management have greatly evolved over the past 30 years. The number of vet students at Murdoch has also risen from 40 to almost 100 per year. Alcoa Farmlands, Craig Mostyn Group, Primaries of WA and National Australia Bank have pledged a total of $35,000 to support the refurbishment. David Lock, CEO, Craig Mostyn Group, said, “As Western Australia’s major pork producer and processor, Craig Mostyn Group and Linley Valley Fresh Pork are fully committed to the highest possible standards of animal welfare, quality control, biosecurity, human health and safety across its operations. “Craig Mostyn Group recognises the importance of training the next generation of veterinarians and animal scientists and therefore is proud to financially support the upgrading of the production animal teaching facilities at Murdoch University.” The University is seeking additional funding to complete the project. Murdoch University Veterinary Trust has initiated the Investing in Rural and Production Animal Veterinary Training Fund for VOLUME 46 NUMBER 3 SEPTEMBER 2010
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Lessons from parrots’ vision to help with human eyesight The apparent ability of long-lived parrots to see ultraviolet light without sustaining eye damage could provide new insights into ultra violet (UV) protection in humans. A study into UV-sensitive vision in parrots, undertaken by a team of researchers headed by Winthrop Professor David Hunt of The University of Western Australia’s School of Animal Biology, was published online recently in Proceedings of the Royal Society. UV sensitivity is rare among mammals and is certainly absent in humans but was known from Professor Hunt’s previous work to be present in two species of parrot, the budgerigar and African grey. The present work has extended the study to include representatives from all the long-lived parrots – South American macaws, Caribbean amazons, Indonesian and Australian cockatoos, the Australian rosella and the New Zealand kea – in all, a total of 14 species. In every case, the findings indicate that UV-sensitivity is present. Since these birds have a life-span similar to that of humans – there is anecdotal evidence that Winston Churchill’s African Grey lived to the ripe old age of 104 – it raises the question of how their eyes cope with long-term UV exposure. “We humans wear sunglasses to protect our eyes from UV rays but this is not a luxury that is available to a parrot,” Professor Hunt said. “The ability to see into the UV means that the world is coloured differently to a parrot. What do they use UV vision for? It may be useful for foraging for food or for selecting a mate. \A parrot’s feathers strongly reflect UV light so what looks dull to us may look very bright and enticing to a mate.” Professor Hunt said more study was needed, but the mechanisms these parrots use to deal with this long-term exposure could give us new insights into UV protection for humans. This also underlies the importance of conserving species for the future – as a group, parrots are among the most endangered species in the world with more than one third of species considered at risk of extinction worldwide. Author and co-author of more than 200 books and papers, Professor Hunt’s work extends from the evolution and ecology of vision to inherited retina diseases in humans. He is also co-author of a book entitled Purple Secret that examines the evidence for the blood disorder porphyria in King George III of England and members of the British and German royal families. Professor Hunt’s co-authors in this study are from University College London, and Bristol, Deakin and Adelaide Universities.
Media references Winthrop Professor David Hunt (UWA School of Animal Biology) (+61 8) 6488 3044 Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 5563 / (+61 4) 32 637 716.
Sex in bees and ants: male warfare and female power Seminal fluid from one male can damage the sperm of other males in insect species where females mate with several males, according to international research carried out at the University 34
of Western Australia and published recently in Science. UWA QEII Fellow Dr Boris Baer said the paper provides the first evidence that it is seminal fluid – rather than sperm – that may harm other males’ sperm in the female, until a substance in the female acts to prevent further destruction. While the quality of human sperm continuously decreases in western societies, selection has maintained very high sperm viability in social insect males because the sperm is used for fertilisation long after the males’ death, which occurs during or shortly after mating. “These social insects are amazingly efficient at keeping sperm alive but it is still too early to extrapolate the importance of our results for altering human fertility,” Dr Baer said. Dr Baer and colleagues at the University of Copenhagen studied the seminal fluid of two species of bees – the multiple-mating honeybee and the single-mating bumble bee – and three species of Panamanian leaf-cutting ants, of which two are multiplemating. They found that only the seminal fluid of the multiple-mating species appears to have the capacity to damage the sperm of competitors. In the single-mating bumblebees, the male inserts a ‘plug’ into the female once she is mated which seems to prevent her re-mating, so ejaculates from different males never get into contact with each other and have not evolved a system of sperm warfare. “The queens of ants and bees mate only during a brief period early in their lives, as young virgins, and store the sperm of their mates for the rest of their long lives in a single specialised organ, the spermatheca,” Dr Baer said. “In some species such as leaf cutting ants, queens can initially store close to half a billion sperm and use them during several decades to sire a hundred million offspring.” Dr Baer said the current working models of the group can be illustrated by the 1872 painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme, ‘Pollice Verso’ (‘Thumbs Down’) <http://www.jeanleongerome. org/ecard-71820-Pollice-Verso-(Thumbs-Down).html> depicting a triumphant gladiator standing over the bodies of his enemies as wealthy women in the audience, who have given the losers the thumbs down, congratulate the victor. “By analogy, the arena is the females’ sexual tract, the gladiators are the ejaculates and the women have the power. Our current findings now provide first empirical support for this idea, and our current work at the University of Western Australia has started to identify those components within seminal fluid that are responsible for the effects as published in Science,” he said. Dr Baer is the coordinator of CIBER, the Collaborative Initiative for Bee Research. Located at UWA, CIBER aims to intensify basic scientific research into honeybee reproduction, immunity and ecology alongside with partners from the Australian bee industry. The ultimate goal is to better understand honeybees to avoid future dramatic losses of Australian honeybees as occurring elsewhere. Media References: Dr Boris Baer (+61 8) 6488 4495 / (+61 4) 24 652 911 (ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology UWA) For more information about CIBER see <www.ciber.science.uwa. edu.au>Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 5563 / (+61 4) 32 637 716
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Chase, A., & Smith, P. (1981). Hunter gatherers in a rich environment. Aboriginal coastal exploitation in Cape York Peninsula. In A. Keast (Ed.), Ecological biogeography of Australia. The Hague: W. Jung Publishers.
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Posner, G.J., Strike, K.A., Hewson, R.W., & Gertzog, D. (1982). Accommodation of a scientific conception: Towards a theory of conceptual change. Science Education, 66, 211–217.
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