Activities

How the outcomes were achieved

AMSPP collaboration

La Trobe University and ReMSTEP came together to run several programs, in conjunction with the Department of Education and Training’s Australian Maths and Science Partnerships Program.

Contact

Dr David Hoxley, La Trobe University.

Responds to ReMSTEP innovation(s):

1

Contemporary science and mathematics integrated in initial teacher education (ITE) units of study.

2

Undergraduate maths and science students engaging with schools.

5

Opportunities for students to interact with scientists in world-class research environments.

Key points

  • AMSPP initiatives were leveraged to provide opportunuties for pre-service teachers and science undergraduates
  • FARLabs was provided with financial support to continue servicing the education community

The Australian Maths and Science Partnership Program (AMSPP) are a nationwide set of projects aimed at improving the learning and outcomes of teaching math and science.

ReMSTEP has partnered with the projects that were being conducted at La Trobe University: Growing Tall Poppies, In2Science, and FARLabs.

Growing Tall Poppies molecular modelling

In the collaboration with Growing Tall Poppies, ReMSTEP brought together pre-service teachers (PSTs) with the intensive 3-day program conducted at La Trobe University. In these intensives, the PSTs observed and participated in the activities with the year 9 and 10 students. The PSTs were exposed to the inquiring and contemporary nature of content delivery for the students who participated in the Growing Tall Poppies Program (GTP).

The GTP intensive programs were conducted in the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Sciences over 3 days, where high school students in year 9–12 would come to La Trobe University. While the students were at La Trobe University they would participate in activities that are typically not able to be done at a school and investigate a particular topic, such as the thickness of human hair using various research grade equipment like the atomic force microscope, and compare their results from the different techniques and perform a small presentation of the experience.

Being involved with the Growing Tall Poppies program has really powerfully influenced how I am thinking about teaching

Pre-Service Teacher, La Trobe University
Exploring Inquiry Science - Growing Tall Poppies case study

Working with the Department of Chemistry and Physics at La Trobe, ReMSTEP partnered undergraduate physics and chemistry students with the In2Science project, which trained them to be volunteer peer mentors in Year 8/9 science and maths classes.

FARLabs.edu.au, a free online tool to access real laboratory equipment, was defunded in 2015. ReMSTEP came on board to support the program, allowing it to continue operating as an online e-laboratory for PSTs and teachers of physics and general science to utilise in their teaching practice.

Without FARLabs [your curriculum is] going to be a lot thinner and flatter, but with FARLabs you’ve made your lessons rich, you’ve made them relevant, you’ve made them meaningful.

Roland Gesthuizen, eLearning Leader, Keysborough College
Exploring Inquiry Science - FARlabs case study

The overall experience of all participants has been positive throughout the AMSPP collaborations. The PSTs involved with Growing Tall Poppies on three occasions were positive about the experience. The other university students, involved with mentoring students in the Growing Tall Poppies as well as the In2Science programs, were all positive about the programs that they participated in. School students that participated in the Growing Tall Poppies programs found that they were more likely to participate in senior secondary science subjects particularly physics, after participating in the program.

The FARLabs.edu.au program has seen positive growth, with over 53 in-service and pre-service teachers signing up in 2016 alone. While ReMSTEP has been supporting FARLabs, FARLabs has been able to bring online an additional experiment for schools to utilise, bringing the total number of experiments to 10.

Growing Tall Poppies

In Growing Tall Poppies (GTP), science undergraduates are the primary mentors for high school students undertaking various projects within the GTP intensive programs. PSTs are also invited into the GTP intensive programs to observe how the difference in setting and use of engaging materials, equipment and enthusiastic mentors could positively affect the learning outcomes for students.

In2Science

The In2Science program gives science undergraduates the opportunity to become mentors to individual Year 8/9 students. The program partners with schools via two delivery modes: Metropolitan in-class mentoring and regional online eMentoring. Over 10 weekly sessions per semester, they built relationships and shared their passion for their disciplines, while nurturing the students’ aspirations.

FARlabs

FARLabs provides high school teachers and students with free, online access to scientific equipment for use in pre-prepared, curriculum-relevant, practical experiments.

The platform consists of three main components: 1) the equipment, 2) the website portal and 3) the teaching materials. Teachers and students access the equipment via the website portal, while instruction and background knowledge are provided by the teaching materials. Any science teacher from any school can sign up for free.

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