ST HILDA’S YOUNGEST MEM­BERS OF GEN­ER­A­TION Z - THE GIRLS IN PREP TO YEAR 6 - ARE EM­BRAC­ING AMAZ­ING OP­POR­TU­NI­TIES THAT WERE UNIMAG­IN­ABLE A DECADE AGO.

Haven Magazine - - Education -

St Hilda’s young learn­ers are be­ing ‘ed­u­ca­tion­ally trans­formed’ in that their ed­u­ca­tion or the top­ics they seek to ex­plore, are no longer de­ter­mined by their age. For ex­am­ple, St Hilda’s Head of Ju­nior School Lisa Clev­erly says “Year 3 is be­ing in­tro­duced to ab­stract con­cepts in atomic the­ory - com­plex sub­ject mat­ter that tra­di­tion­ally would form part of Year 9 or 10 science cur­ricu­lums.” “Our Year 3 atomic the­ory pro­gram was de­vised by teacher Ian Ste­wart, based on the no­tion that the minds of very young stu­dents are able to be stretched or ex­tended to un­der­stand and ap­praise com­plex and ab­stract con­cepts,” Lisa says. She said Year 3 girls took up the chal­lenge to use their un­der­stand­ing of atoms, mol­e­cules and the pe­ri­odic ta­ble to ex­am­ine trans­fer­ence of en­ergy. They de­signed coffee cups us­ing ma­te­ri­als that would pro­tect the user from hot bev­er­ages. In Year 4, stu­dents are busily writ­ing code to pro­gram or con­trol the move­ment of a Sphero, a man­darin-size cylin­dri­cal droid that’s bat­tery-pow­ered and pro­gram­mable to move and light up. “The ed­u­ca­tional trans­for­ma­tion we are see­ing in our class­rooms is ev­i­dent in the girls them­selves,” Lisa says. “The girls are now fo­cused on en­gage­ment with prob­lem-solv­ing and their own sense of creativ­ity. We have also seen ac­tiv­ity in the class­room change with a shift from teacher-cen­tred to learn­er­adap­tive and from for­mal de­liv­ery to more in­ter­ac­tive en­vi­ron­ments.” Lisa gave ex­am­ples of Year 6 girls in­volved in cod­ing a small drone, Year 4 stu­dents who have de­signed and cre­ated (us­ing a laser cut­ter) a fork pro­to­type that could as­sist peo­ple with hand arthri­tis, and teacher Dan Martinez, an Ap­ple Dis­tin­guished Ed­u­ca­tor and men­tor for the Ju­nior School staff, who has pub­lished a course on cod­ing Spheros on the iTunes U plat­form. The im­por­tance of this ‘ed­u­ca­tional trans­for­ma­tion’ is un­der­scored by a cur­rent re­search pro­ject be­ing un­der­taken with St Hilda’s Year 3 girls and Dr Ca­role Haeusler from the Uni­ver­sity of South­ern Queens­land. Dr Haeusler is gaug­ing the ef­fec­tive­ness of the early in­tro­duc­tion of com­plex and ab­stract con­cepts, tra­di­tion­ally in­tro­duced in the sec­ondary years. “Re­search to date has shown that young chil­dren are ca­pa­ble of un­der­stand­ing com­plex science con­cepts and us­ing them to ex­plain the com­po­si­tion of the ev­ery­day phe­nom­e­non,” said Dr Haeusler. “In ad­di­tion, the early in­tro­duc­tion of ab­stract con­cepts may re­sult in more girls go­ing on to study science in sec­ondary and ter­tiary years.” This truly is an amaz­ing and ex­cit­ing time to be young pri­mary-age learner with in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­ni­ties unimag­in­able to their par­ents or in­deed to their teach­ers, just a decade ago.

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