The workshops were held in seven locations: Far North Queensland (Cairns, Townsville and Mount Isa); Central Queensland (Rockhampton and Bundaberg); Toowoomba, Queensland; and the Red Hill Environmental Education Centre in Gulgong, New South Wales.
In addition, a two-day workshop was held for 82 pre-service student teachers at two venues: the University of Western Australian in Perth (with combined registrations from five universities); and the Gold Coast campus of Griffith University in Queensland.
Feedback on the workshops shows consistently high rates of satisfaction. As one teacher commented, the workshop they attended was ‘a very positive and enlightening learning experience that I hope will bring a major teaching change to my science lessons’.
In early November, Shelley Peers, Director of Primary Connections Development, gave an invited presentation to more than 400 international delegates at a science teaching conference in Mexico, on ‘The teacher as a trigger of change’.
The two-day eighth international conference on inquiry-based science education in elementary schools aimed to discuss the principles and core ideas of science education, as well as the pedagogical strategies needed for effective models of inquiry science teaching for elementary education.
Shelley’s presentation was an opportunity to showcase the teaching strategies embedded in the Primary Connections materials and professional learning program, and to demonstrate how they are based on research about how students learn science.
In November 2015 Primary Connections released a new unit, Creators and destroyers, for Year 6 Earth and Space Sciences.
Three new units—‘Dinosaurs and more’, ‘Among the gum trees’, and ‘Circuits and switches’—were also trialled. They will be released in late January 2016. ‘Rising salt’, for Year 6 Biological Sciences, is currently being trialled, and will be released in February 2016.
Primary Connections is also trialling Student Science Journals. Students can complete the journal as they study one of the curriculum units, providing a comprehensive record of their work. Primary Connections units are reviewed by Fellows of the Academy.
Educational resources developed by the Academy’s Primary Connections team have received two awards in the Primary category of the 2015 Educational Publishing Awards.
The national awards featured more than 125 entries in categories across the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors.
The Primary Connections resource, ‘Feathers, fur or leaves’ won best Interactive Teaching Resource in both the Primary Teaching Resource and Outstanding Digital Resource categories.
‘Feathers, fur or leaves’ is a teaching tool for Year 3 Biological Sciences for use on interactive whiteboards in classrooms. Linking science with literacy, it encourages students to explore and classify living things by asking questions like: What is that? Is it alive? Is it similar to other things I know? This award-winning resource is available at the Primary Connections website.
Primary Connections is supporting teachers in regional, rural and remote locations to nurture scientific curiosity in schools, thanks to the Academy’s Enlightening Campaign. A one-day workshop was held in Emerald in central Queensland in November. The workshop, an introduction to Primary Connections, was made possible by donations to the Enlightening Campaign.
Four teachers were also sponsored to attend an introductory workshop in Perth in October: one primary teacher from Exmouth District High School, two from Esperance Christian School, and one from Tom Price Primary School in the Pilbara. Alicia Druskovich from Tom Price Primary School said, ‘I now feel inspired, ready to get back into the classroom and teach inquiry-based, collaborative science. Thank you’.
Donations to Enlightening have been made by Australian research scientists, science supporters in the community, and Australian businesses which understand the importance to our future of nurturing great science education at all levels.
More workshops and sponsored teacher bursaries will be offered until the middle of 2016.
To discuss a how your gift can support quality science education, contact the Academy’s Manager, Development and Stewardship, Isobel Griffin, by email or on 02 6201 9400.
© 2017 Australian Academy of Science