CS4HS_VUW – Digital Technology teacher conference

The best(and most popular) response I get in my feedback when asked, “Why did you need this conference?” was to network with other teachers and see what/how everyone is doing.

Welcome to CS4HS-Victoria University of Wellington. Its an annual digital technology teacher conference held at the local university, run by the Engineering and CS outreach team. This year we had 64 teachers attend with a special focus on day 1 towards NCEA and Review of Achievement standards and day 2/3 for skills. Full schedule is here: https://ecs.victoria.ac.nz/Events/CS4HS2019/Schedule

While the conference itself was successful, there is some learning for myself to take back especially planning for next year. With about half the group keen to have it compressed over 2 days, while slightly under a 1/3 of the group keen to continue the current 2.5 day format (the rest didn’t care), it might be worth noting the drop in numbers for day 3. A few teachers couldn’t attend as it clashed with the Maths NCEA exam while some could not take another day off work (even though this was their only PD they have undertaken in the year). This is unfortunately a sad reality of the teaching industry.

The workshops itself were a taster for teachers to go try out in their own schools. Again, some people prefer that format, whereas a few others were keen to see a ‘stream’ created (like Robotics, Programming, Databases) which will run all day and teachers can master one area rather than learning tit bits from everything.

All in all, I have mainly positive feedback and some constructive feedback for some presenters , some of whom have shared their resources here: https://ecs.victoria.ac.nz/Events/CS4HS2019/Resources Feel free to download them.

Space and Science Festival – Rocket Soldering Kit

This kit was designed as an electronics activity for the Space and Science festival at Onslow College held a few years ago. As the website is down, I requested Lee Mauger to share the files, to solder the kit.

The soldering kit has about 17 components in all. Follow some simple soldering rules when you put them together ( YouTube would be your best bet for it). Of course Terry Miller, who designed these rockets ( https://eight360.com/ ) probably could have reduced the number of components needed, but he has done a good job making it look and appear cool!

Just remember that the transistors, LED and battery clips have to be wired with their positive / negative markings correctly to make it work. Others don’t matter.

Troubleshooting: sometimes the components are not soldered well, so once you put your batteries together, if you push and hold some components and press the button, usually it shows signs of life. Then you know which components need to be resoldered. Remember to take the battery off before resoldering. File attached below.

STEAM Teachers Education to Employment day

This joint effort between the Ministry of Education, Faculty of Education and ECS Outreach, VUW was held on 12 November 2019 at Victoria University. The objective was to provide opportunities for classroom teachers (rather than career advisors) to hear from industry leaders about the future of their business, to learn about the essential skills your students need for the market place and what this will mean for them when entering employment. After months of planning and careful selection of speakers, an outline was agreed upon, which reflected a wide range of areas in STEAM subjects.

Shane Coleman from the Ministry of Education kickstarted the day talking about why there is a need for an education to employment day? Going over some stats provided, he emphasised the fact with numbers, that a large percentage of students who complete their university do not end up with the workforce and it gets worse with stats reflecting negatively for Maori / Pasifika students. What can be done to change that and what sort of skills would we be looking to get students ‘workforce’ ready?

8 Key skills
8 Key skills

The Ministry of Education have outlined 8 key skills (for which they have made some cool wrist bands) that they believe will be essential skills for current students. Of course these skills keep changing all the time but its a good start and hopefully will remain current for the next five years. The connections that students/ teachers make with industry will be key here, as employers can make direct contact with students, as role models, sharing their experiences and providing opportunities.

Martin Emo – Changing nature of the classroom

Martin Emo, DJ-PhD student-Ex Teacher https://www.martinthomasemo.com/, came in next talking about the changing nature of the classroom. Music education in the early days was getting an instrument and learning to play it well to perform. But in the recent years, you could be sitting at home making music on your computer, publishing directly to the internet and is changing the way we traditionally envision music performances and recordings to be. He used real examples of people who made simple loops that were used published by relatively unknown musicians on the internet, but made big by famous artists. Gear and software is also relatively affordable for anyone to get into music making.

An opportunity to network with some fantastic providers like Paperkite (software development), Spark, Accenture, MYOB, Master Plumbers and other providers set the stage for the next session- Speed dating. 10 mins was given for each group to mix and mingle with these providers who gave them useful information on what they are looking for in their business and how the teachers can help shape those skills.

Whetu - Pikistudios

Whetu Paitia from Pikistudios https://www.pikistudios.com/ was next to explain his “journey” to create Piki Studios.  That traditional education didn’t seem to click with him and after he left secondary school he went on to try for carpentry course (failed) then brick laying course (also failed) and went to Australia to chase money.  Returning to New Zealand, the decision was made to home school his 4 children and his wife and he created  board games in Te Reo as educational resources for other home schoolers.  Two years after this Microsoft approached him to work on a version of Minecraft in Te Reo.  What he has discovered is that most of his developers are under 18, still at school, and work at home (or during class he thinks).  This seems to be the worldwide theme in employment in the game development space – not a physical workplace and that his employees can be anywhere in the world.

The panel discussion that followed summed up that you never quite know where your education is going to lead you.  All agreed that no-one can predict what the world of work will be in 2030.  What they do hope is more work on breaking down gender specific roles – that more women will get into Science,  IT and Engineering as it brings a different dynamic to the space and often a different ‘problem solving’ dimension.  Also, the push for the Essential Skills – that is what many employers are looking for, that you don’t need a degree to gain employment rather adaptability and ability to work with others a must for many employers.   Be prepared to change – embrace change especially in any curriculum development as this will help the students with being prepared with changes that they will face during their working life.

This day would not have been possible without the efforts of Tracey Glennie, Faculty of Education and Shane Coleman of Ministry of Education, as well as other members of the core planning team. Thanks to Tracey for some of the comments on this article.