Education update—July 2020

July 30, 2020
Science by Doing resources had been successfully used for remote learning before the pandemic so the Academy produced a starter’s guide for teachers new to remote learning.

Education programs respond to COVID-19 with new and improved resources

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the changing nature of schooling during this period, the Academy continues to provide additional assistance to schools, teachers and families. Following on from the April 2020 education update, we have been working to customise our Australian Curriculum-linked Foundation to Year 10 science and mathematics education programs. Our education programs, Primary Connections (primary science), Science by Doing (secondary  science) and reSolve (F-10 maths), continue to assist teachers and families with increased demand for online resources.

The programs have implemented several measures in response to feedback from users. Primary Connections has produced new resources to support teachers and families as well as a new online professional learning course. Science by Doing reached out to distance education teachers who had successfully used Science by Doing for remote learning before the pandemic and produced a starter’s guide, including supporting videos, for teachers new to remote learning. reSolve worked with the New South Wales Department of Education, reSolve Champions and wider networks to help teachers to access and use reSolve resources, including those housed on the NSW Department of Education website.

Program uptake and feedback

Primary Connections curriculum units provide an exemplary, inquiry learning sequence which, when brought to life by teachers, engage students through hands-on activities.

The Academy has been tracking how our program resources are used throughout the year. The numbers of users accessing the Academy’s education websites showed an increase over the first half of this year compared to the same period last year, and the total number of resources downloaded for all three programs has also increased.

Referrals to our websites have increased, most notably from state education departments including New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, confirming our role as a trusted contributor to science and mathematics education. There has also been a significant increase in social media interactions.

While demand for all program resources has been high, one of Primary Connections’ COVID-19 resources, Science for families, quickly became the most downloaded resource following its release in April. The well-received professional learning course, ‘Create a design brief with Primary Connections’ was extended by three months to allow greater uptake. 

The resources have had excellent feedback from teachers, including:

  • “Thank you, these [Primary Connections] resources enabled us to keep the students motivated with their learning throughout this difficult time.”
  • “Science by Doing is an excellent resource for schools to adopt. It is aligned with the Australian Curriculum and has tasks that engage students and teachers alike. It is also a very useful platform to help deliver content during this time of online learning.”

As the uncertainty of COVID-19 continues, the Academy will keep reaching out to teachers and other education stakeholders. We want to ensure we provide practical, engaging content and assistance for these audiences while they manage at-home learning and beyond.

ASERA conference: Supporting teachers throughout their careers

For the first time in its 51-year history, this year’s Australian Science Education Research Association Conference was held online. Academics and educational professionals gathered online to watch and discuss more than 120 papers and posters in late June.

The Academy presented two papers at the conference: How might we enable generalist teachers to become confident science and STEM practitioners?  and Enhancing STEM understanding for pre-service teachers.

© 2022 Australian Academy of Science