Education Week: Woolomin Public School's innovative Maker Space

AT WOOLOMIN Public School, six kids sit around a table eyeing chocolate chips.

CHOCOLATE CLASS: Woolomin Public School students Corbin Steele, Joseph Sampson, Allee Thompson, Talia Summers, Indiana Fisher and Glen Meredith learn the science behind rocky road. Photo: Madeline Link

CHOCOLATE CLASS: Woolomin Public School students Corbin Steele, Joseph Sampson, Allee Thompson, Talia Summers, Indiana Fisher and Glen Meredith learn the science behind rocky road. Photo: Madeline Link

They’re making rocky road slice – believe it or not this lesson is more science than home economics.

It’s about learning skills that are applicable to real life, learning to investigate and challenge rather than accept the world the way it is.

Year 3 and 4 teacher Kimberly Nagle said the STEM model focuses on learning science, technology, engineering and maths in an integrated approach.

“It’s about investigating things instead of just accepting life as it is, about 65 per cent of the jobs we know of won’t exist when these kids are looking for jobs so we can’t train these kids for a specific area,” she said.

“These kids are going to be so creative that they’re going to find their own path and actually forge their own direction.

“To think of learning as a way just to access the world as it is now is a folly.”

The school has a dedicated Maker Space, basically, every kid’s dream.

It’s filled with all kinds of creative materials, old computer parts and the classic paddle pop stick.

The idea is for students to go in and create whatever they like, to test theories and innovate.

The Woolomin community has been hugely supportive of the endeavour, donating materials for the innovators-in-the-making.

Anything that isn’t in the room, the kids can ask for – at the moment they’re building their own arcade with mini putt putt golf.

“Kids are most engaged in learning when they can see meaning and direct connections with everyday life,” Ms Nagle said.

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“That’s why STEM is important because it does capture every student, every student has a natural curiosity about the world and we should be giving them opportunities to investigate.”

Cooking rocky road slice is a lesson in life skills and material properties and the conditions that change them.

It helps that it’s also delicious Ms Nagle said.

“We’ve been learning about properties and materials in science – why umbrellas are made with specific materials,” she said.

“This is an extension of that because we’re looking at how things change state, what would happen if we built a house out of chocolate on a 40 degree day?

“It’s getting them to think about that in a much deeper way and that’s why we’re learning about what happens when we heat and cool things.”

With just 35 kids in the school, teachers aim to support every kid’s interests.

Even if it’s just one student that wants to tackle a new model of learning or nail a new skill, they’ll make it happen where they can.

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