“Body at War” at Federation University, Ballarat


On Friday 17th April, four VCE Biology students attended the “Your Body at War” program, facilitated by the Gene Technology Access Centre at Federation University. Kiri, Leah, Che and Stephanie travelled to Ballarat to participate in the program, which celebrates the “Day of Immunology”.

Together with about 100 students from three other schools, they had the opportunity to hear from Associate Professor Robyn Slattery (Monash University) about the history of vaccination, current research in immunology and exciting new discoveries about immunotherapy in cancer treatment.

They then donned lab-coats and entered the science laboratories at Federation University, where they learned how to use specialist equipment and techniques, such as the Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA). They also had the opportunity to discuss career perspectives in science with staff and Dr Misty Jenkins from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

One of the sponsors of this event is the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. Later this year we have three Year 11 students who have been very fortunate to obtain a work experience placement at WEHI in Melbourne. This is an exciting opportunity for them to find about authentic medical research, working with expert scientists in a world-leading facility.

Also in science news, students in Year 10 have the opportunity to attend the Science Experience Ballarat, at Federation University from 29th June to 1st July. This three day, hands-on program is a great introduction to the diverse world of science and it’s connection to a range of interesting careers. Please apply online prior to 8th June. Speak to Mrs Gow for further information.

Spring is in the air!

roses and treer
bird aviaryr

The school bird aviary is like a nursery this week with the arrival of baby quail and diamond doves. The bird aviary is one of a number of special clubs and leadership oportunities that have offered students the opportunity to explore special interests. A pathway has been added to the aviary at a recent working bee and a new chook house will arrive shortly.
eggs and chickens

The green thumbs group led by Shannon Drysdale have reworked a section of our garden into a fairy garden and has planted vegetables in the new wicker gardens outside our primary building. Projects like this aim to build on student interest and builds pride in their school.

primary gardenr


fairy gardenr

Free Polycom Seminar – “The Plastic Brain”

As part of Education Week next week, we have the opportunity to link up with a special seminar to be held at the Gene Technology Access Centre in Melbourne. Associate Professor  Chris Reid from The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health will be presenting “The Plastic Brain” on Wednesday 21st May 2014, 6:30 pm. You can participate at school using our Polycom video-conferencing equipment. Dinner will be provided,  if there are enough people interested.

The brain is remarkable. Just how do we remember the colour of our first car, what we had for lunch yesterday or who our Prime Minister is? We don’t have all the answers but we have come a long way. In this lecture I will take you on a journey about how we think brain cells work. We will discuss how brain cells change when we learn, what we can do to learn better and what might be going wrong in disease. I’ll finish with exciting new ways we are looking into brain function that will tell us more about how this fascinating organ works.

 This talk is a special event during education week, and teachers and students (as well as the community) are especially encouraged to come along.  Chris Read is head of the synaptic plasticity lab at the Florey. Plasticity is the capacity of the brain to change with learning. Can an adult retrain their brain after injury? Can we train our brains to improve our performance? What are the implications for medical research?

I hope you will consider this opportunity to listen to an expert in neuroscience and learn more about this fascinating organ that defines our personality, drives our body and determines our very survival. Please contact Britt Gow by email at brittgow(at)gmail.com or by phoning the school.

Australian Seismometers in Schools Program


Last week we had the pleasure of welcoming Dr Michelle Salmon and her colleagues from the Australian National University and the University of Melbourne to the school. Their mission was to install a seismometer, which is an instrument for measuring local, regional and distant earthquakes, up to 6,000 kilometers away. We were one of 42 schools chosen from across Australia to host this equipment, funded by the Education component of the AuScope Australian Geophysical Observing System. The main aims of this project are to:

  • Increase community awareness of earthquakes
  • Raise awareness of seismology and geoscience as fields of study
  • Promote science as a possible career
  • Provide tools and resources to assist in teaching physics and earth science in schools
  • Provide real-time, research quality data to the seismological community

Teachers will be able to use the data obtained with students and also arrange class presentations from the AuSiS researchers via Skype or Blackboard Collaborate. You can ‘Like’ the Australian Seismometers in Schools page for more information about the program or check out their website at Australian Seismometers in Schools.

Skype visit with sister school in Beijing

Success for our first Skype link session with sister school in Beijing. Organised by our Chinese Assistant Miss Wang, the session began with prep and year one students from Hawkesdale P12 greeting Beijing students with a song, firstly in English and then in Chinese language.  The session continued with year 7-9 students in Hawkesdale showing students in Beijing a range of things in their everyday lives. They talked about some of our favorite foods such as Vegemite and meat pies with tomato sauce, demonstrated the use of a cricket bat and an Aussie Rules Football and practical items from the farm such as a shearing hand piece. Students in Beijing shared information about their school days, foods, their national animal – the panda and the Spring Festival. They were also interested in Australian native animals and how we celebrate Christmas. This was a very good and valuable experience with Australian students being able to practice their Chinese and Beijing students their English. It also provided the opportunity for Australian students who had recently visited China a chance to meet again with their host student.

The start of 1:1 – netbooks for years 5 to 8

Netbooks in action

Netbooks in action

Netbooks for years 5 to 8 have arrived and are filtering out to students as initial payments are made. Sudents from year 8 are into the second day of their use and seen with them in the computer lab for their ICT classes. The netbooks are on a leasing agreement between parents and schools over a three year period. This will enable us to fulfill the goal of enabling education to be anywhere and anytime. The netbooks will be used in class time either as teacher directed use or when students would prefer to use the many online tools and software that has been installed on their netbooks.

Year 8 netbooks

Year 8 netbooks

2009 Junior Landcare Victorian Youth Environment Conference

Lorne students

Ten Year 7 students are very excited to be participating in the Junior Landcare Conference in Lorne next week. These students have beeen preparing a presentation for six weeks about the effects of global warming. They have created a 40 minute news, quiz and current affairs program, 50 years into the future, when fresh water is scarce, sea levels are rising, temperatures are increasing, biodiversity is at risk and humans are threatened by their own toxic wastes. The multimedia program includes student-produced advertisements and ‘info-mercials’ as well as a “Who wants to be a millionaire?”-style quiz to test how much the audience have learnt.

Peer to Peer Mentoring


Teaching blogging - one to one

Teaching blogging - one to one

On Friday June 5th, 23 year 7 students travelled to Portland, as the result of a grant to take part in peer to peer mentoring. The students who have been with us in primary school at Hawkesdale P12 College have been blogging on their individual student blogs, for nearly 16 months now. As such, they were amongst the first students to blog, as individuals in the state of Victoria.

Here is the wonderful presentation that the year 7 students put together independently and without any advice from any teachers.


Each student from Hawkesdale was paired with a grade 5 or 6 student from Portland.  Three lessons were spent with them. Some students did not have an email address, so that was the first task to be undertaken. Next they applied for a globalstudent blog, a campus of edublogs, run by DEECD. All went smoothly and only two students did not get their activation email for registration before lunch.

Portland North Primary school treated the students, by giving them morning tea and a drink. Another 30 minute break was taken to share class blogs between the two schools – grade 6 Portland North and grade 6 Hawkesdale P12 and to demonstrate some Hawkesdale p12 student blogs. Otherwise all students worked conscientiously, effectively and efficiently together. By the end of the three sessions, the Portland students had some great looking blogs.

Some feedback

  • “I learnt a lot today”  (from a Hawkesdale P12 College student)
  • All students said that they enjoyed the day
  • My students said “It was much better than expected”

Students as mentors is a very effective mechanism as

  • students tutor and  explain in their own language,
  • having one on one was an extremely effective learning activity – a rare luxury in the normal classroom
  • students know what they like to have on their blogs
  • it gives increased confidence and a maturity for those mentoring
  • it gives a chance to share knowledge
  • enables higher order thinking skills when working in small groups.

From Tammy’s and my point of view, the students of all ability levels, worked together intently to achieve outcomes far beyond what we expected them to achieve. They far exceeded our expectations. and we were so proud of the way that they all worked together.

Next week we go to Camperdown to repeat the exercise with their grades 5 and 6 students. A big, big thankyou to Britt Gow for organizing these activities.

Peer to peer mentoring

Peer to peer mentoring


Working intently on blogging

Working intently on blogging