National Science Week 2012

Last week, Hawkesdale P12 College celebrated Science Week with some great activities across the school.

Monday, August 13th:- Students from years 9 to 12 interested in gaming as a career participated in a webinar (virtual classroom)  hosted by Qantum Victoria as part of their “The Young Scientist and Engineer” series. Paul Taylor, a game designer, educator and software engineer described the skills required and the same exciting aspects of a career in Gaming and Game Design.

Tuesday, August 14th:- Magdelene Lum spoke to year 9 students via skype from Perth about her jounrey in Science as a chemist, metallurgist, photographer and science writer. Mags writes a blog Philosophically Disturbed which students commented on. Mags encouraged students to do what they enjoy and work hard to achieve their goals.

Wednesday August 15th:- Catherine Anderson, a molecular genetics specialist from Canada, spoke to year 7 students about DNA, genetics and why she loves it. She wrote a great post on her blog for our students on What is DNA? Our students have commented back on this post.

Friday August 17th:- Year 7 students will use Polycom videoconferencing equipment to link up with the Australian Museum for a session on “Life in Freshwater”. This videoconferencing equipment is to provide high quality videoconferencing for our students and classes to link up with other classes, speak to experts and form collaborative partnerships with other schools.

Thanks to Mrs Gow for her great work in organising these wonderful opportunities for our students. Thanks also to our wonderful presenters for taking the time to share their learning and experiences with our students and encourage them to continue on studying science.

Book Presentation by New York author

Last year, a group of 9 students volunteered for weekly lunchtime videoconference linkups with an author from New York to pursue their passion for writing. Each week they were set writing tasks. Their completed tasks were shared online with Chrisopher Herz, a New York author, using evernote. He would then look at their work, give them feedback and set further tasks.

Christophers second novel  was released in December last year. On Thursday, last week, at a special lunchtime ceremony, Christopher ‘beamed’ in from New York, using skype and presented each student with a copy of this novel. (He had posted the books to our school during March.) A big thank you is extended to the parents and teachers who attended the celebration with the students.  This was an exciting  connection and an amazing opportunity to learn from and with an author. It is hoped that lunchtime connections will continue during late term2 and term 3. Any secondary students who wish to improve their writing skills are encouraged to attend.

Thank you so much Christopher for giving up your valuable time to work with our students!

Students with Christopher

Introducing Malay Customs and Cultures – An eIntercultural Learning Adventure!

Veronica Woo, an innovative teacher from Malaysia, organized an extravaganza two weeks ago. The library was booked so that we could videoconference with skype using the Interactive White Board to project the web  conference. A number of classes from year 6 to 11 were present – a total of more than 45 students and 6 staff members.

Year 11 students from  SMJK Poi Lam School in Ipoh, Malaysia, demonstrated to and treated us with the following:-

  1.  Malay dance performance
  2. Demonstration on how to play ‘congkak’
  3. Demonstration on how to beat the Malay drum ‘kompang’
  4.  Brief introduction of a Malay wedding
  5.  Demonstration on paper money-folding ( folded items are given as Bridal gifts to families concerned )
  6. Ended the web conference with a song!

Three of our year 6/7 students learnt how to dance the Malay Dance by following the Malay girl’s movements on screen. Most students had an Australian paper note to practise folding the paper money.

In turn, our students and staff demonstrated the following:-

  1. a bearded dragon lizard
  2. a pet colourful baby bird
  3. how to play Australian Rules Football (footy)
  4. vegemite and how to spread it on a dry biscuit

It is always great to see that the sharing of objects over the web cam, makes students overcome their shyness, as their curiousity drives them to naturally ask questions about the object.

Grade 4 skype a person who has MS

Student asking their question
Student asking their question

Grade 4 after their magnificent fundraising effort for the MS readathon drew up some questions and were able to skype a person who has multiple sclerosis and ask him directly, their questions. Skype was used for its videoconferencing facilities. Here are some of their questions:-

  1. When did you first find out that you had MS? How old were you then? How long have you had it for?
  2. How did you and your family react when you found out that you had MS?
  3. What did Doctors do to work out that you had MS?
  4. What Symptoms do you have?
  5. Many people with MS have trouble walking. Do you have trouble?
  6. Do you have trouble with your eyesight?
  7. Have they (The symptoms) made it hard or more difficult to do everyday things?
  8. What do you do for work? Have you had to change things since you got MS?  
  9. Do you have to take medication to help with your symptoms? What medication?Is your medication expensive?

What a fantastic outcome and great use of skype! Well done, Ms Vize and grade 4.

MS 008B

eDiscussion with ASB, Mumbai, India on racism

The Event: American School of Bombay, Mumbai, India and Hawkesdale P12 College, Victoria Australia discuss racism especially in relation to whether “Should Australia go to India to play sport?”

Date: Tuesday May 19th

Who was involved: 12 excited volunteer students from grades 5/6 Humanities class, Hawkesdale P12 College, 14 year 6 phys. ed students from American School of Mumbai. Alex Gustad and the phys ed teacher, three ASB technicians, myself and Graeme Poynton, the Humanities teacher.

Resources: Skype for videoconferencing, Google docs for the collaborative online discussion, Interactive Whiteboard in the library

Setup: Students applied for a gmail account prior to the event, then were divided up into groups of 4 or 5 by the teachers involved, 5 groups in all. Alex Gustad, the Community Projects Co-ordinator for ASB, setup the questions and google docs. Thanks Alex.

Pre- planning: two practise skype linkups between HCP staff with the ASB technicians and Alex to discuss the software to be used/procedures, regular use of email

The lesson

Students came up individually to the webcam and introduced themselves. Our students are geographically and culturally isolated, although we had one New Zealander in the lineup. As ASB is an International School, their students are third culture students, in the main, and came from India, Australia, Dubai, Korea, USA, Scotland, China, Canada etc

Once the introductions were complete, Alex explained the routine. The students were to use the text or chat feature of the document to discuss their questions. Each group appointed a leader who was the scribe and wrote the discussion points into the google doc. There was a mix of Australian and Indian leaders. After 15-20 mins of discussion, each group leader came to the camera and summarised their reflections. Skype was kept open throughout the session, so that we could talk to each other and ensure that both sides knew what was happening. What an amazing experience, it was as though we were one class!

Students worked well into their lunchtime and still wanted it to continue! Here are some of the questions that each group discussed. They all discussed the first question but the second question changed for each group.

  • Please write some bullet points about what has been happening to Indians in Australia in the past year. Include the response from Indians as well as the impact of these events on the upcoming Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi.
  • Why do you think these incidents of violence have been occurring against Indians? Is it happening against other ethnic groups in Australia?
  • How could these violent acts been handled by the Australian and Indian governments in a way that would keep it from happening over and over again?
  • Do you think there is a sense of racism towards certain groups in your own communities? How is it expressed (through stereotypes, in the media, through violence, etc.)?
  • What would or could you do if you felt racist attitudes against certain people in your own community?
  • How have these acts and threats of violence affected the spirit of the Commonwealth Games? What can the teams do to encourage camaraderie during the Games so that they are not overshadowed by these unfortunate events?

Thanks Alex for putting together these great questions, summarising the student input/outcomes and for the opportunity to work with your school. We look forward to further association with you and your classes! It felt like we were one class, with one project and one passion – to wipe out racism!

Cross posted at murcha

Skyping with Darwin


On Tuesday 8th September, students in prep to year 3 from Hawkesdale,  had a skype link up with students in years 1 and 2 at a school in Darwin. The students in Darwin told us about cane toads, breakfast club, crocodiles, their 8.00 am start to the school day and what they do after school. The Hawkesdale students shared information about life in the country, our cooler climate and introduced the Darwin students to Cookie, our Picasso cow. (pictured below)  We hope to visit Darwin again next term, for a shared activity.


On Russian TV – such an exciting day for our school!

A baby cockatiel

A baby cockatiel

The girls involved in the student summit

The girls involved in the student summit

We had so many exciting activities today, that took us from one end of the earth to the other, and so much in between.

The student summit

Today was such an exciting day for us, and further posts will be written on the separate events, when time permits. First, my girls had their flatclassroomproject student summit online through elluminate. Steve Madsen from Sydney (who did a lot of the administrative work for the project) and Lorraine Leo from Boston, USA joined the classroom with the five year 9 girls involved and and several of their fellow class mates.

The girls reflected on the project and after a nervous start, they soon relaxed and spoke very well of what it meant to them, in a school where

mobile phone service is non-existent, unless you turn the phone upside down, go to selected windows, face the right direction and you may be able to send/receive a message.
monoculture is the norm – just a few NZ students and a couple of Koori (aboriginal students)
is classified rural remote by the Victorian Education Department.
They spoke of the highlights, some of the problems and issues and thanked everyone concerned. Questions were asked of them and they were able to answer them well. The recording of the session can be viewed by clicking on this link.

Virtual classroom with Manila

We were quickly able to link up with Manila, even though we had confused the times and show them some Australian native animals – a blue tongue lizard, a bearded dragon and a baby cockatiel. Thank you to Emalee and her Mum for bringing them in.

Skype videoconference with Russia

Our Russian classmates

The class in Russia

After the success of our previous linkup with Russia of last week, I got a request to bring a kangaroo or an emu into the library so they could see them. Unfortunately, we could not arrange that, so instead we showed a blue tongued lizard, a baby cockatiel and a bearded dragon. However they were excited and we were too, that their local television station came in to televise us and put us on the Russian TV station. I wish we could have seen the coverage. The Russian students, demonstrated some of their national crafts and objects, their wooden dolls Matrioshkas and beautiful ceramics. Next, they surprised us with some younger students, in national costume demonstrating their traditional dances. That was just a wonderful sight to behold. Another treat for us was hearing one of their guitarists play some wonderful Spanish music on his guitar- a very clever 15 year-old musician. Then we exchanged national foods. We saw their pancakes and we, of course showed them our vegemite and anzac biscuits. Soon, the different monies were displayed and they were asking us about our capital, why we had the Queen on our monetary notes etc.