The Interactive Technology in Education Conference was recently held at Sydney Opera House in partnership with Australia’s Academic and Research Network (AARNet), during the July school holidays. ITEC 2014 featured national and international educators, innovators, researchers and industry experts leading the integration of interactive technologies into teaching practice.
Presentations were also delivered by leading science communicators who are adapting technologies to bring science to communities virtually across Australia and beyond.
STEM highlights included:
Cathal O’Connell, Science Communicator at La Trobe University
Cath spoke about The Freely Accessible Remote Laboratories (FARLabs) project, an online platform allowing high school students to interact with pre-prepared and curriculum-relevant science experiments and equipment located in Universities using web browsers in the classroom or at home. The results of the real-time experiments can be downloaded and analysed as a class activity. FARLabs is led by the Department of Physics at La Trobe University in collaboration with James Cook University, Curtin University, Quantum Victoria, the Australian Synchrotron and the V3 Alliance.
I provided an overview of a Winston Churchill Fellowship undertaken during May and June 2014. The 7 week study tour took me through a variety of North American museums, zoos, aquariums and science centres whereby educators shared best practice techniques on creating engaging STEM video conferences. The full report on my trip will be published on the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, Virtual Excursions Australia and Fizzics Education in the coming month.
Natalie described the Mission Astronautica Challenge being conducted by Questacon and sponsored by Ratheon, whereby project-based virtual excursions designed to promote STEM careers are conducted with secondary students. Secondary school students are challenged with hands-on projects via video conference that emulate issues faced by NASA astronauts and engineers when conducting missions in microgravity, including opportunities to connect with the NASA Neutral Buoyancy Lab.
Isabelle and Peter discussed classroom activities available at the The Mars Lab where students can remotely pilot a Mars Rover in a simulated Martian environment, collaborating on remote sensing experiments and navigating the rocky landscape. Students also have connected with scientists from Caltech and the NASA Ames Research Centre plus the museum had a recent visit from NASA Chief Charles Bolden.
Lloyd described the establishment and scientific operations of the Nautilus Exploration Program run by Ocean Explorers Trust. Apart from conducting biotic and abiotic surveys, piloting remotely operated vehicles and mapping the seafloor the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus has an education team communicates with schools live via on board telepresence technology.
Robert and Will spoke about connecting communities virtually to discuss shared water based issues, and making water management an appealing topic and career choice to young audiences. The presentation highlighted collaboratrive videoconferencing via telepresence robot and a recently released Run the River app.
Visit Virtual Excursions Australia for more information about ITEC2014.
Ben Newsome is Director of Fizzics Education