See on www.cybersmart.gov.au
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Heidi asks teams at the 2012 FLL World Festival to help her answer the question: “What is the Project?”
This video introuduces the First Lego League project. The projects are based on STEM and this video focuses on the Science aspect. Each year students are given a different theme and are asked to research the challenege theme; this could be food, transport, health, etc. Once students research the theme they then talk to real life professionals and experts in the choosen field. Students are then asked to create a solution to one of the problems they have found during their research and through talking to experts. Once students have created a solution students then present their solution as if they are selling it or marketing the idea to the public. Through students finding everyday problems in a global context that they then develop innovative solutions for, students are engage in all steps of the design process.
This is a fantastic watch and could be an exampler of a project that could be undertaken in the school community. Great inspiration for the future!!
See on www.youtube.com
The Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI) – Homepage is a partnership of the Australian Government, the States and Territories that supports schools to work towards a sustainable future.
This website provides resources for teachers and links to various websites which provide background information. The activities on a range of topics related to the Drfat Technology curriculum – design and technologies strand and the general capability of sustainability include waste, recycling, climate change and global warming. The site also provides opportunities to join as an AuSSI school.
Case studies, areas of activity and related programs make this site a comprehensive resource for teachers planning to teach design processes that promote sustainability and preferred futures for all.
See on www.environment.gov.au
Education resources on ARKive including science teaching resources, biology teaching resources and science games.
ARKives teaching resources have been developed with the UK curriculum and US National Standards in mind, however these units could be adapted for use with the Australia curriculum. The units cover Maths, ICT, English, Art and Science for years 3 to 6 approximately. Two units I have selected are ‘The Marvellous Mini-beast’ and ‘Adaptation’ units. These units require students to use their knowledge to design a new species. I would use these units for the Design and Technologies strand of the Draft Technologies curriculum. The processes and production skills descriptors for years 3 and 4, 5 and 6 could be addressed using these units by asking students to design a creature that could live sustainably in a certain environment based on their planning and evaluation of the information presented in the unit.
Students could use the knowledge from the units and process of design to evaluate the impact of our decisions on the environment and implement some community-based solutions for species in their local area.
See on www.arkive.org
This is a fantastic website for all teachers. It provides design briefs for seasonal activities, Maths and Science activities and technology and children. The design brief uses the context, challenge statement, parameters (such as materials) and evaluation format which clearly sets out the design problem. In conjunction with the ready to use design briefs, teachers are provided with alternative contexts and extension ideas, as well as a list of resources to assist in developing the activities for the classroom. The activities are based on pedagogy of STEM education and are easily aligned with the new Draft Technologies curriculum which encourages students to design, create and evaluate solutions that will address needs in an ethical and socially responsible way while adhering to sustainable patterns of living. The resources are free and are definitely worth adding to your favourites list.
See on www.childrensengineering.com
This webquest asks students to explore the problems and possible solutions to designing a natural habitat for an animal. Students participate in all aspects of the design process by first identifying the problems and needs of the animals and then designing possible solutions that address these issuse. Students design, create and evaluate the habitats created for their animal. This process is inkeeping with the Draft Technologies curriculum and would be suitable to be used in year 3 to 6 classrooms. This resource will be beneficial to a variety of students as it lends itself to diverse learning styles as well as providing students with the option of working individually or in small groups. I look forward to using this resource in my own classroom.
See on questgarden.com
This webquest has been designed to introduce students in year 5 to the concept of sustainability. The webquest provides students with background information on recycling, climate change, the effects this has on our plants and animals and environment in general. Factual accounts of inspirational young Australians contributing to a preferred future are a highlight and would be a great motivational tools for students. Although the webquest does not ask the students to create solutions it does plant the seed and prompt students to improve our way of life, thereby lending itself as a preliminary activity to designing a solution. This webquest could be used in alignment with the Draft Technology curriculum to encourage students to plan and create solutions for sustainability as a need for preferrable futures.
See on questgarden.com
I undertook an independent digital technologies project with Alice. Alice is a 3D programming environment that allows you to create an animation for storytelling, developing games and sharing them to the web. Initially I downloaded Alice version 3 which is the latest version of the programming tool. I was also required to download a specific version of Java (JDK) in order for the Alice program to work. I found this version of the program challenging and probably more suitable to those with more coding and programming experience then I possess. Therefore I felt this would not be the best option for younger primary school students just learning to code. I then downloaded version 2.2 of Alice which is more ‘object-based’ and suitable for inexperienced programmers.
Once again the process for downloading was similar to that of Scratch and the online tutorials and extensive teaching handbooks and resources provided valuable information and ideas. I then designed an ice world animation adding numerous 3D animations.
Alice provides a wide range of themes and animations to choose from but you can also upload your own. By simply dragging and dropping or right clicking on the animation you can manipulate the characters to move.
In comparison to Scratch, which features the colour coding for sound, movement, etc and is user friendly and makes looking for the correct code simple, Alice does not have this feature. However I believe the overall idea of the drag and drop to add animations is similar to that of Scratch where you manipulate the sprite.
I believe both programs could be valuable in the primary classroom with Alice being more suited to middle primary years. Both programs could be used to address the following links to the Australian Curriculum Technologies Draft (2013).
2.4 Identify, explore, and use digital systems (hardware and software components) for personal and classroom needs
4.4 Use a range of digital systems and peripherals for diverse purposes, and transmit different types of data
4.6 Design and implement simple visual programs with user input and branching
6.7 Design and implement digital solutions using visual programs with user input, branching and iteration
8.9 Develop and modify programs with user interfaces involving branching, repetition or iteration and subprograms in a general-purpose programming language
8.10 Manage the sequence of tasks, the types of processes and the resources needed to develop software that meets user requirements
10.9 Collaboratively develop modular digital solutions, applying appropriate algorithms and data structures using visual, object-oriented and/or scripting tools and environments
10.10 Use agile development techniques to iteratively and collaboratively develop (design, implement and test) software that meets user requirements.
In conclusion my learning through these digital technologies activities has allowed me to search and critique various options for teaching future students the skills of coding, all of which could be applied in the classroom with adequate scaffolding and resources, to cater for the needs of students with differentiated learning abilities.
The following screenshot shows a simple creation using Alice.
During the third phase of my digital technologies learning journey I was asked to explore some alternatives to Scratch. The first program that I chose to explore is called Stencyl. This program is dedicated to the development of games. Games are created through a simple drag and drop method that is similar to that used by Scratch. Stencyl has hundreds of ready to use blocks that assist their users to quickly and easily make games. They also allow users to create and share their blocks and import existing code libraries. While simple games can be created without writing code, users can always access their game codes should they wish to make changes. Users also have the option of writing their own codes during all stages of game development. This would enable them to create complex behaviours and achieve extra functionality. Stencyl has extensive platform support and the current free version, 2.1.0, allows players to access games on Flash, iOS, Windows and Mac. Players are able to use web, iphone and ipad platforms to produce their games and can even have them published and uploaded to the app store for others to purchase and play.
Stencyl can be found at http://www.stencyl.com/
The second program that I chose to explore is called Alice. Alice is a 3D programming environment that can be used to create story animations, interactive games, and videos. Alice users create programs through a popular and simple drag and drop method. This method is effective and allows the users to easily see their animations in action and to understand the relationship between the programming language and an object’s behaviour. In Alice, 3-D objects (e.g. people, animals, and vehicles) populate a virtual world and students create a program to animate the objects. When creating my virtual world I dragged and dropped graphic tiles to create a program, the instructions correspond to standard statements in a production oriented programming language, such as Java, C++, and C#. Alice allowed me to immediately see how my animation program ran, enabling me to easily understand the relationship between the programming statements and the behaviour of objects in my animation. By manipulating the objects in the virtual world, students would gain experience with all the programming constructs typically taught in an introductory programming course. This program would be very suitable for use in the primary school classroom as the teacher has access to a resource textbook and materials and tutorials which they can guide their class through.
The above screenshot is an example from the Alice tutorial page. Alice is available at http://www.alice.org/index.php
Alice would be a valuable digital technology tool in the classroom, which it fits into the Draft Australian Curriculum: Technologies for Years 3-4, Design and implement simple visual programs with user input and branching and Years 5-6, Design and implement digital solutions using visual programs with user input and branching.The applicable content descriptions are numbered 2.5, 4.5, 4.6, 6.6, 6.7 and 8.9.
In addition to supporting outcomes in the Technology key learning area, programs such as Alice and Stencyl expose students to programming concepts in an engaging and meaningful way, and they promote the development of logical thinking skills. Creativity and problem solving skills are also enhanced through the use of these kinds of software.
During weeks 4 and 5 of this semester I extended my Scratch programming experience by developing my own project. After looking at the Scratched site for some inspiration. I developed a game similar to Robyn Hauptran. The game focuses on skills used in the physical education key learning area. The development of three sprites, using drawing tools to draw a ball and adding a background were needed for this game. The object of the game is for the central sprite (which does not move) to pass the ball to the 2nd sprite without the 3rd sprite intercepting the ball. The sprites are moved by the mouse and the ball is thrown when the selected letter key on the keyboard is pressed.
This program could be used as a teaching tool in most curriculum areas, integrating the general capability of ICT. This general capability allows students to engage with technology to gain the skills, knowledge and confidence to engage competently with ICT at home, work and school (ACARA, n.d.).
In relation to classroom connection, this extension activity could be undertaken
by students in most year levels. It connects to the Australian Curriculum (n.d.) Technologies and Physical Education Key Learning Areas. Scratch programming when used within the Primary classroom can be linked to the following sections of the Australian Technology Curriculum:
Design and Technologies
Design and Technologies processes and production skills:
•Generating, developing and evaluating design ideas for designed solutions.
•Planning, producing (making) and evaluating designed solutions.
Digital Technologies processes and production skills:
•Defining problems and specifying and implementing their solutions.
Digital Technologies knowledge and Understanding:
•How data is represented and structured symbolically.
•The components of digital systems: software, hardware and networks.
(ACARA Draft Australian Technology Curriculum, February, 2013)
Digital technologies Foundation to year 10 scope and sequence:
•Follow, describe, represent and play with a sequence of steps and decisions needed to solve simple problems.
•Identify and explore digital systems.
•Use align development techniques to iteratively and collaboratively develop (design, implement and test) software that meets user requirements.
(Draft Australian Curriculum: Technologies, February 2013).
I believe Scratch programming allows the teacher to use a constructivist approach within the classroom allowing students to use a hands on approach to learning where they can make their own inferences, discoveries and conclusions, while being a creative and critical thinker using problem solving skills.