Future Learning Magazine October 2020

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My Smart Community

Zoe Eather

Clean Up Australia Pip Kiernan

Green School NZ Chris Edwards

Sustainable Schools Network Katie Norman


This issue is our biggest yet, and this month we’ve gone international. The CEO of Green School New Zealand tells us all about the philosophy behind the School, and what he believes mainstream schools can learn from GSNZ. Jonathan tells us more about the LING project in Ghana which helps young girls obtain an education. STEM Punks is proud to be a sponsor of LING.

Editor’s note

Closer to home, we learnt that only 56% of remote communities are reaching key educational outcomes. Remote communities often don’t have access to quality education. The further you go out from a city centre; the less access schools have to programs like ours because of distance and population density.

This month our focus is on Sustainability and Environment, and we’ve had a number of Industry partners wanting to be involved, which is great to see. We speak to the inspirational chairperson of Clean Up Australia, Pip Kiernan. Read how your school can get involved to Clean Up Australia, at any time of the year. Sustainable Schools Network are doing great work to help schools who are committing to a sustainability journey. SSN’s aim is to educate and connect schools to imagine a sustainable future and can help your school to join a community of engaged and leading citizens. Zoe Eather won the Rising Star in Technology award at the Women in Technology Awards recently. This remarkable young woman tells us about her fascinating journey using technology to enhance sustainability. Happy World Teachers Day to all of you. If there’s anything 2020 has taught us, it’s that the immense contribution that teachers make to children’s lives, and society in general, cannot be emphasised enough. Thank you.

We believe all children should have access to STEM programs because STEM is not just about science and maths, it is about creative thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship. So we are pleased to announce the first round of STEM Punks Scholarships. Our scholarship program for remote and regional communities will help these communities tap into online STEM programs. If we do not invest in these communities, the ripple effect is alarming – with impacts on wellbeing and our economy especially with the impact of COVID and the loss of skilled people who returned to their countries. We need to foster an attitude of innovation in Australia now, and we can’t do that if we don’t give ALL children the opportunity to see what they can do. By removing some of the barriers – access to education and cost – we can make STEM accessible to everyone and bringing our programs online means we can reach more students and spark that love for STEM across this country. If you would like to nominate a student or find out more about our Scholarships program, please contact us on hello@stempunks.com.au Stay tuned for next month’s issue. Our theme is Aviation.

Fiona Holmstrom

Editor & Publisher BFA (CW) MWEP fiona@stempunks.com.au

In this issue 03 04 06

Thought Leadership Green School Sustainable Schools Network

09 12

Clean Up Australia Zoe Eather

LING Project and STEM Punks by Jonathan Nalder STEM Punks October 2020 has seen the start of a new global collaboration between the LING Project founded in Ghana by Abdul Razak Issah and STEM Punks. LING stands for ‘Literacy In Northern Ghana’ and works as a not-for-profit to build literacy within the female population and help schools and communities access the tools, training, and support they need to be more effective. As STEM Punks gets ready to launch its scholarship program, I introduced Abdul (who he had worked with in the Empatico global empathy program) to STEM Punks programs such as Merge Cube for Augmented Reality, and Micro:bit for coding and electronics. The partnership borne of this linkup is seeing STEM Punks send these STEM educational products to Ghana to firstly be used to boost literacy as students leverage the English-language instructions to master the basics of the cube and Micro:bit, and secondly to add a whole creative STEM element to the work that LING is doing. In this way Abdul is excited to extend the definition of ‘literacy’ in their name to include digital and STEM literacy and introduce opportunities not usually available to female learners in northern Ghana. LING Project in Ghana

Green School New Zealand Situated on the west coast of the North Island, the Green School campus is a collaborative design developed by international and local designers, architects and engineers. It has been designed from the most organic materials available.

This month in our Sustainability issue of Future Learning, we speak to Chris Edwards, CEO of Green School in Taranaki on New Zealand’s North Island. The Green School has a mission to make learning joyous, encouraging children to ignite their imagination to discover their passions to lead a fulfilling, purposeful life. Three simple rules underpin all decisions students make: be local, let your environment be your guide, and envisage how your grandchildren will be affected by your actions. SP: After the success of Green School Bali, please tell us a bit of the background of the driving factors of starting the school in New Zealand? Michael and Rachel Perrett are New Zealanders whose three children had transformative experiences at Green School Bali to the extent that Michael and Rachel decided to set up the second Green School in their home region of Taranaki. They wanted as many children as possible to enjoy and benefit from the Green School experience. SP: How do you believe you are challenging traditional education and creating a new generation of students who learn to think like innovative and creative entrepreneurs and changemakers? We have no exams at all; we enjoy nature as opposed to classroom-based learning (although we have beautiful indoor spaces); we have devised a curriculum and High School Diploma co-constructed with learners, families and universities. We focus less on memory than creative problem solving in the context of the most pressing issues of our age. Learning is real from

the start. We will have learners starting, running and closing mission aligned businesses while at school. As somebody smarter than me famously said: “learning is not preparation for life: it is life.” SP: With the global disruption of education this year, what has GSNZ learnt from the pandemic and applied to their pedagogy? Lockdown hit us hard because if you are nature based you cannot then make strained claims for technology being an appropriate substitute with equivalence. So while we did, like everyone, learn to exploit technology in ways we had not previously considered, the fact is we believe that learning with others in nature has no substitute and so we were all very glad when we could get back to campus. SP: In such a socially progressive school, how do you see STEM being aligned with the teaching philosophies at Green School? STEM is most certainly aligned but would for the most part be dealt with in our termly learning journeys

or Voyages. There are four such Voyages each year. So, rather than have discrete subject lessons, learners would encounter STEM experiences while engaged on a ten-week study of a theme such as The Circular Economy, for example. The exception to this lower down the School is Mathematics which is taught as a discrete subject. In the Senior High School, learners might choose an aspect (or aspects) of STEM as one or more of their three deep-dive areas that form part of our High School Diploma. SP: By connecting students to the natural environment, what forms of learning are they receiving that they perhaps wouldn’t in a mainstream school classroom? Before I saw it for myself, I honestly wondered if all the research could really be as compelling as it sounded. And there’s a lot of research. But I would humbly suggest that stress and anxious energy are immediately lowered and, in their stead, comes an army of positives: forming relationships with people and not screens; enhancing creativity; encouraging wellbeing; inviting problem solving; and crucially…. jumping up and down in puddles instead of pressing buttons. SP: With your background in traditional education, what is one aspect of Green School you’d like to see the mainstream adopt, and why? There’s a lot. I’m a late convert with all the zealotry that implies. But if you insist on one, it would be doing away with the high stakes’ memory tests. SP: And finally, what key skills do you envisage students leave GSNZ with, and how does this set them up for a future where they can make a difference? I think I touched on this in my answer to number 2 but we work very intentionally towards a set of nine Green School skills which are: thinking creatively; thinking critically; thinking in systems; activating; adapting; communicating; collaborating; being aware; solving problems. If these skills are honed in an authentic learning environment where the impact of their application is clear to the learner, adult life will be a continuation of the school experience because adaptation will be the norm. Just as we don’t stop learning once we leave school, so we shouldn’t start “making a difference” only when we reach adulthood.

The school threads sustainability through the learning environment, curriculum and co-curricular activities.

“Learning is not preparation for life: it is life”.

Sustainable Schools Network Katie Norman

This month in Future Learning, we speak to Katie Norman from Sustainable Schools Network. The SSN’s aim is to educate and connect school communities to imagine a sustainable future. SP: Hi Katie. Firstly, can you tell us why schools should be looking for more ways to become sustainable? Our communities all interact through schools. Schools are places for children, families, professionals and businesses service schools. In Australia we have over 9500 schools educating more than 4 million children. Although we often look to schools to shape the hearts and minds of future citizens, schools also have a considerable environmental footprint to be managed and can be viewed as an opportunity to engage with nearly every member of our communities. Of course, education is identified as critical to ensuring students develop the skills, knowledge and mindsets necessary to become responsible stewards and citizens empowered to contribute towards economic, social and environmental regeneration. As the ‘green’ economy grows offering direct education to employment pathways, other vocational pathways will also value a young person who has developed a sustainability mindset. Schools and the general community are calling for governments to take greater action to prepare our youth for the challenges they will face in the coming years. In order for our youth to acquire the necessary skills and confidence to tackle these challenges we have a collective responsibility to ensure they better understand the consequences of unsustainable consumption and behaviours which includes actively designing unsustainability out of the current social, economic and environmental systems. Without better understanding of the role we all have to play, individually and collectively, we will inadvertently continue with the same mindset that enables us to live unsustainably. SP: What is the impact of environmental education on school students? Decades of research indicates the significant positive outcomes for school students engaging in environmental education. Indeed, World Environmental Education Day is on the 14th of October which is a collective effort to highlight the benefits of environmental education. Instead of going into depth about the research I’d ask you to think of a moment when you participated in environmental education or you observed a young person engaged. What happens when we learn about the natural world, particularly while we are in a natural environment….? For starters our stress levels reduce, our eyes adjust to the natural light, our ears hear sounds that perhaps we didn’t notice before… we become without even meaning to, mindful of our surroundings. All of a sudden, we are appreciating the Earth and have a purpose to learn, so that we can understand our surroundings and our place in the world. SP: What are the benefits of sustainable facilities in a school? Everything within the school grounds is an opportunity to learn. The facilities that provide the built environment to enable ‘education’ provide opportunities for learning. When we install air-conditioning there is an opportunity to engage young people in:

• understanding how air-conditioning works, • developing a system for when and why to use it, • and even potentially some students may gain experience when installing a new air-conditioning system. Beyond the unlimited learning opportunities, the built environment provides in the educational context, school facilities have an impact on learning (for example, consider fresh air versus a closed environment, poor versus appropriate lighting, and so on) and also involve the use of resources. Improving school facilities to move towards sustainable models will not only reduce a school’s carbon footprint, but it will also offer economic savings and improved wellbeing and educational outcomes. Sustainable school facilities are an essential part of educating for sustainability. SP: Can you tell us more about the Connecting Regional Queensland: Sustainable Schools Summit 2020? The Connecting Regional Queensland: Sustainable Schools Summit aims to #FightForPlanetA as well as: • Showcase leading local schools including Reef Guardian Schools • Empower youth leadership by implementing the Kids Teaching Kids model • Deliver education for sustainability professional development for the whole school community • Enable regional connectivity • Raise awareness of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 12, SDG 13, SDG 14, SDG 15, SDG 16 and SDG 17. To be held online on the 19th of October 2020, from 9am3pm, this event is for North and Far North Queensland whole school communities. This means there are learning opportunities for parents, students, teachers and school leaders/business service managers. Excitingly, Craig Recuassel will be the keynote speaker, as well as youth legend Holley Somerville Knott and Garrett Swearingen. Our partners include: Glowing Green Australia, the Australian Association for Environmental Education, Solar Schools, Reef Guardians School Program and Kids Teaching Kids. The SSN are very grateful to Energy, Cairns Regional Council and the City of Townsville for supporting the event. SP: How do you see technology being beneficial in sustainable practices? Technology has an important role to play in sustainable practices. As we automate using metadata and communicate fast and globally, there are many opportunities for an education for sustainability approach. The most obvious is that we are able to report with greater ease on the outcomes of our work. Again, within a learning context there is an infinite number of ways to use this data…. Try changing a behaviour and then test the outcomes to see what difference that behaviour change made…. How about creating a graphic for a digital display board that shows the energy savings made by the school last month? As AI becomes more accessible to schools, this will also help us manage our resources without the need to rely on

human decision making and action. If our buildings can manage their resources in response to the daily weather or settings based on optimal student performance, technology helps us focus on other aspects involved in the educational environment, like developing positive human relationships. Schools, like anywhere, are busy places. If technology can help us learn, manage our resources, and report outcomes, perhaps it is worth investing in and embracing. SP: The SSN offers free memberships for schools. Is it that easy to join or do schools have to meet prerequisites? Here at SSN we are developing a community of practice and meeting schools where they are. Our free membership aims to ensure any school who is interested in educating for sustainability can join. It’s as simple as filling out a 1-page form and returning via email. Within our member program are schools that are exemplars and schools that are just starting on their journey. We know that everyone is at a different stage of playing in this space and our program recognises the importance of supporting and helping each other. The experienced schools can teach the beginners and indeed even the beginners will have some fresh perspective to offer. The member school program is essentially about a commitment to sharing resources and ideas. It is also about building capacity through the relationships that will develop to support each other when needed and celebrate with each other when the opportunities arise. SP: And finally, by committing to a sustainable journey, what benefits do schools gain from being involved with you? The SSN invites you to be a part of a growing community of committed schools educating for sustainability. We urge everyone to take this opportunity to engage and raise awareness about the opportunities associated with increased understanding of the cross-curriculum priority sustainability within the Australian Curriculum: required to be taught in all schools. The SSN provides a community and we provide case studies of what this looks like in practice through our Journal. Our events, and indeed our approach, is one of hope and inclusion, and we are open to learning with you. We also are working with a number of community partners to provide opportunities for schools. Recently we have delivered a Discussion Paper and began advocating for the EfS sector and we know to support you better. What we need to do is work together. At the heart of what we do is the Sustainable Development Goal #17: Building Partnerships for the Goals, and for us that starts with an email, a response to a Facebook post, attendance at an event. Whatever step schools are ready to take, we are here to support you. SP: Thanks Katie. We’re impressed with the work done by the SSN to help young Australians learn about their environment and how it impacts the community and the world. For more, visit www.ssn.org.au


Become a member school today JOIN THE COMMUNITY OF CONNECTED SCHOOLS SHARING AND SHOWCASING THEIR WORK EDUCATING FOR SUSTAINABILITY. Email info@ssn.org.au for more information Becoming an SSN member school is free of charge and provides discounts to all of our learning experiences.

Clean Up

Australia Pip Kiernan

Pip Kiernan, Chairperson of Clean Up Australia

Thirty years ago, builder and passionate yachtsman, Ian Kiernan, set out on the BOC Challenge, a yacht race that would take Ian around the world. Throughout this voyage, Ian was shocked and disgusted at the amount of pollution that he saw in the oceans. On arrival back in Australia, Ian was determined to do something to reduce the amount of environmental pollution.

In 1989, one year after completing the yacht race, Ian started a ‘Clean-Up Sydney Harbour’ day. He wasn’t sure if anybody would want to help him, but to his amazement, 40 000 people did! The following year, Ian established a national clean-up program and Clean Up Australia was born. Since that time, over 18.3 million Australians have volunteered to participate in a ‘Clean-Up Day’ and have removed 380 000 ute loads of pollution from the environment.

I have great faith in our young people, that they really care about the environment and they really know that it’s in their hands.

Sadly, Ian passed away in 2018. However, his incredible legacy of raising awareness, empowering and mobilising people to take individual and community action, to remove huge amounts of pollution from our environment, continues to grow. In fact, Clean Up Australia is so successful, that it is Australia’s largest community based, environmental event. Ian’s daughter, Pip Kiernan is the Chairperson of Clean Up Australia. In an interview with STEM Punks, Pip reflected on the change in culture and mindset that has occurred over the past thirty years. “My father really struck a chord, because at that time, thirty years ago, we had quite a different mindset to what young people have today. You know, our young people today, are so conscious of what we throw out, what we throw into the ocean, the plastics in the ocean. But at that time, thirty years ago, it was a very different mindset. We were pumping raw sewage into where we swim. So, my father had a very big impact on how we treat the environment.” Under Pip’s leadership, Clean Up Australia continues to evolve. Its focus is to prevent waste from polluting the environment in addition to continuing to remove the pollution that has already accumulated. To support this prevention approach, this year ‘Step Up to Clean Up’ was introduced. According to Pip, “thousands and thousands of Australians have made their pledges, about everyday changes that they can make.” For example, “we’ve got people pledging that they will use a reusable water bottle. Others will pledge to recycle their soft plastics.” What Ian Kiernan’s vision and Pip’s commitment continues to teach us, is that making individual, practical changes to our behaviour and mindset, can lead to tremendous improvements in the environment. Pip is confident about the future. “I have great faith in our young people, that they really care about the environment and they really know that it’s in their hands. How we treat it and how we look after our natural world is up to us. I think we’ll see great progress in the years to come.” If your school would like to support Clean Up Australia, you can locate their website at: https://www.cleanup.org.au Pip was keen to point out that schools can register for Clean Up Schools day on 5 March 2021. Schools don’t have to ‘Clean Up’ on that specified day of the year, they can register a ‘Clean Up Day,’ at any time, through the website. A wide range of learning resources are also available. This includes the ‘Waste Challenges’ section of their website that details the main challenges facing Australians and their care for the environment.

REGISTER YOUR SCHOOL Schools Clean Up Day - Friday 5 March 2021 Inspire your students to learn about the impact of rubbish on their local environment while playing an active role in their community. Early bird registrations are now open.

mart S


Zoe Eather Audio only

Zoe Eather is a civil and environmental engineer and founder of The Smart Community Podcast. She is also the founder and owner of the My Smart Community Consultancy, which Zoe established to help clients identify and implement the real needs of their community. Zoe’s engineering career saw her working in construction in the middle of regional Queensland. She credits this experience as being where she developed an enthusiasm for improving systems and processes. In 2016, Zoe successfully applied for a three-month opportunity to work in South Korea. It was there, that Zoe learned about Smart Cities. She observed of South Korea, “they’re definitely willing to test and try things as well. Then, move on, if it doesn’t work or change their direction. So, yeah, I really enjoyed my time there. Reflecting back now, at the time, I thought it was super awesome and advanced and cool.” Zoe had discovered her passion and her desire to engage further on Smart Cities continued, on her return to Australia.

There was lots of good stuff happening, quite small but getting there. Zoe explains, “There was lots of good stuff happening, quite small but getting there. Then, there were lots of conversations but only about technology. How we can put more tech, throw more tech at these issues that we’re having, even though we might not understand what the issues are.” “Then I started to, I guess, to shift and change or try to shift and change the conversation to be more about people. Not just the people you need, both sides. I’m an engineer, so I’ve got that systems thinking. We need all of these different things to come together in this space.”

Committed to pursuing her passion, Zoe decided to leave her government engineering job to start her My Smart Community Podcast. She soon realised that her passion alone wouldn’t feed her, so Zoe then started her My Smart Community Consultancy. A typical day for Zoe will now see her doing interviews for her podcast as well as providing consulting services for local and state governments, that include Victoria and Queensland. When Zoe isn’t working, she’s studying a Master of Data Science Degree. Looking toward the next five years, Zoe forecasts, “lots more work with regional areas. I’ll be doing lots more work in data. Lots more work in how we can apply data and new ways of thinking actually, rather than just technology. I know we talk about technology enabled solutions, and we were talking about it earlier, it’s actually about a different way of thinking. You need to think with a different brain. I call it the possible brain. Where it’s possible that it could be done differently.

I think the next five years we’ll see some seismic shifts in how we use technology “You know, it’s no longer good enough that we’re wasting resources purely because we can’t think differently, or we can’t change. So, I think that will be a real shift and I’m excited for this. I think the next five years we’ll see some seismic shifts in how we use technology, how we question technology and how we question data and how we question what’s happening in the world.” Whatever the next five years may bring, you can bet that Zoe Eather will be asking those questions, interrogating the data and helping people build better communities. If you would like to learn more about Zoe Eather, read her blog or listen to her podcast, Zoe’s website can be located at: https://mysmart.community

Zoe Eather is a civil and environmental engineer and founder of The Smart Community Podcast.

STEM Punks Ventures Pty Ltd ABN: 51 620 117 348 Phone: +61 7 3289 5092 Email: hello@stempunks.com.au Web: www.stempunks.com.au iLearn: www.stempunks.com