I am passionate about teaching digital technologies to my students, children, family and friends. Sometimes I also mentor colleagues or teachers I connect with online; these teachers tend to seek me out and ask for help with how to implement the Digital Technologies curriculum in their own teaching. I enjoy helping/mentoring teachers in this because I learn a lot about their different subjects (Art, French, Business, home schooling, etc.) and it’s fun to think of engaging ways to integrate Digital Technologies within their context.
I also enjoy teaching Business. I am particularly fond of learning about current digital marketing practices and the ethical considerations around using big data to market to prescribed (often stereotyped) audiences. Unfortunately, I do not currently have the opportunity to teach Business at school; however, the Tech Girls are Superheroes competition allows me to share my Business knowledge with the teams that I coach.
(The following sections have been written for an upcoming Somerset Times article)
It always amazes me how often colleagues and students assume that the teams are only “coding”. NEWS FLASH: there is so much MORE to this competition than coding! I love computer programming (a much better term than the media-hyped term “coding”) but it is a small part of what my teams actually do in this competition. Each team is coached as if they are a startup business. Below is a list of some of the things each team does and much of this is also documented in their comprehensive Business Plan.
This year I coached four teams in the Tech Girls are Superheroes 2017 competition. I am proud of all the girls in each team; this is not an easy competition and yet each team submitted an entry. The Blue Screen team were one of three QLD Finalists; woohoo! The team members were so excited to attend the QLD/National Showcase event recently at The Cube, QUT. The Blue Screen team didn’t win but they are already thinking about how they can do better in this competition next year. The team have now been named as Tech Girls are Superheroes 2018 Ambassadors, which is wonderful because I already see how younger girls at school view Tech Girls are Superheroes students as role models. My hope is that younger girls will see the positive impact an entrepreneurial competition and digital technologies can have on women.
Our team C Sharp, with their Go Fish app idea, have recently received the Tech Girls are Superheroes 2017 UN Education Award. The Go Fish app is a fun, interactive game-based idea; I want to play it! Team C Sharp focused their startup app on the UN Sustainable Development: Environment theme. Their app’s purpose was to build awareness about the deterioration of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and this was done through an augmented reality game where the player catches fish while also learning about the GBR. Their app development did not progress well and they did not attempt the augmented reality functionality, but the idea was brilliant!
(This post is based on an article written for the Somerset Times: 4 August, 2017)
This year I have been coaching 4 teams of girls (18 females in Years 7 to 11) in the Tech Girls are Superheroes 2017 competition. I submitted their work yesterday. The hard part is over! Now we can look forward to attending the Brisbane Showcase later this term. I attended the 2016 Showcase with my 8 year old daughter and I remember the overwhelmingly positive feeling of ‘Girl Power’ at this event. It was wonderful to see a variety of school entries from around Queensland. There were so many young innovative women in the audience and it was awesome to witness the excitement in the room when the winners were announced. The best part of this event was the acknowledgement that females CAN be entrepreneurial, they CAN DO tech! This is such an important message for our girls and young women to hear. Too often girls learn how they ‘should’ act from socially prescribed stereotypes and norms that simply are not true and not OK anymore.
There are many reasons why we need to increase female participation in digital technologies and startups. Governments, businesses, educational institutions and the media around the world are pushing to increase female participation in computer science. Some reasons for this is to improve gender equality, to increase diversity in the IT industry, to alleviate increasing IT skill shortages and to ensure that ALL citizens are prepared for an increasingly digital workplace. It makes sense that a diverse workforce will be better able to cater to the needs/wants of a diverse society! What might be the social potential if there were more women computer science graduates working in data science, software/app development, artificial intelligence, IT security and game design?
The advantages for females to participate in the Tech Girl Superhero competition
I’m the host of @EduTweetOz again. Join me this week; I’ll be focusing on Digital Technologies in education.
Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?
I work at Somerset College (private school) in the Gold Coast. I mainly teach Years 8 to 12 in Digital Technologies and senior IT subjects. Since starting at Somerset in 2016, I have worked hard to develop an exciting mix of topics and activities for the Year 9 and Year 10 elective ICT subjects. I enjoy developing full units of work and I have included topics such as robotics, game development, geospatial data and web/app solutions in the Year 9/10 ICT subjects. I also have a strong interest in increasing female participation in ICT and I am continually focused on improving my teaching strategies to ensure that I meet the needs of individual students. In the…
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You want a fun, hands-on and engaging lesson idea that includes learning about circuits? Try paper circuits! It’s relatively cheap (paper or cardboard, sticky-tape, conductive tape, LEDs and batteries) and it’s been a hit with all age levels in the classroom, at parties and at home. This is one of my old posts that I often refer to friends and educators (Primary & Secondary). I have helped friends design units of work that linked to the study of Urbanisation using this building with circuits idea. Here is a copy of my old post:
It’s school holidays and my 8 year old wanted to build a Gingerbread-style house. She carried all of her arts & crafts supplies to the kitchen and asked me to help her make it. We made the house out of cardboard. I helped her measure & cut-out the walls and then she added colour.
Since it was quite large the walls fell-in a bit and the roof line was not stable. We sat there talking about how we might stabilise the house and then with the help of Dad we added beams across the walls and the roof line. We also decided to not stick the roof on because we wanted easy access to the inside of the house. When you look through the door you can see my daughter’s drawing of Santa.
My daughter was very happy with her house but I encouraged her to add lights! 🙂 First we had to learn about simple circuits, parallel circuits and how to connect LEDs.
Once she understood how the circuits worked we added 2 parallel circuits to her house. The parallel circuit on the left-side seemed really weak after a few lights were added. But the parallel circuit we added on the right-side went up along the house and across the front of the house (on the inside). This allowed us to add some lights on the front of the house. My daughter loved testing the LEDs first and she found that the white & blue ones were the weakest, so we avoided using them.
Ah but that’s not all! My daughter also loves using LittleBits and so we decided to add a touch sensor on the side of the house. When you touch the touch sensor Santa vibrates and lights turn on around him. She LOVES her house! But after we were done she said it would be better if we made Santa’s legs vibrate out of the chimney on the roof; sounds like a job for her & Daddy!
(this post is based on an article I wrote to be published in an upcoming digital Somerset Times edition – some variations have been made here, including some personal reflections on this event)
Congratulations to the Somerset College students involved in the recent Startup Weekend Gold Coast event, hosted by Bond University. The Overall Favourite and the Crowd Favourite winning team was Waterways, a team of seven members which included four Year 10 and Year 12 Somerset students. The High School Favourite winning team was Yetti Wear, a team of six members which included one Year 11 Somerset student.
This exciting event brought 70+ diverse participants together. Teams were formed on the Friday night and then they spent the whole weekend working on their innovative ideas. Each team had to consider the needs of their potential target audience, conduct comparative business analysis, research and forecast potential earnings, develop marketing strategies, and design digital app solutions. All 9 teams’ innovative startup ideas focused on digital technologies, including app solutions within digital marketplace environments catering for business-to-business and business-to-customer models.
Startup weekends, Hack events, and Entrepreneurial Pitch competitions are now a common feature in our society and it is no surprise that our young people are excelling at these events. Working on a startup idea and pushing through to a viable product solution is an invaluable experience for people interested in starting a business. It is especially important for our youth to experience this to help prepare them for their future lives in a digital, competitive and global economy.
It was lovely to see my students pitching their ideas and the enthusiastic responses from the judges was great. I especially enjoyed watching some of the parents proudly sitting in the audience. As a parent myself, I can imagine their feelings of pride, excitement and hope for their child’s future. It was really great to see the people that are involved in these types of events, including parents, academics, startup and tech enthusiasts, and supportive businesses and organisations. It is a type of event where you can visibly see the positive impact these events have on people and society resulting from grass-roots movements, teacher and parent support, and business and institutional sponsorship.
My school purchased 27 Lego Mindstorms EV3 kits and 8 Extension kits this year. I thought it was important that the school offered robotics in IT subjects and for use in a Robotics club. Lots of schools already do this! Plus, the use of robotics and automation are increasingly more common in both our work and home lives.
You want to see some simple EV3 examples + related code? Check out my previous post here: https://elketeaches.wordpress.com/2017/02/19/ev3-robotics/
Here are some videos and photos to digitally document the results of this Year 10 unit: Design & Develop a robot prototype that is based on a real-world robot solution
Year 10 IT students learned about the importance of continuous testing, tinkering & redesigning of their robotic prototypes. I like how this team is not rushing to build the whole cyborg arm yet, instead they are taking time to test their build & their programming to ensure they are on the right track. I think these two students are doing a fantastic, methodical job here!
An EV3 robotics unit also easily links to a range of Year 9-10 Digital Technologies and Production skills associated with the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies. This particular unit links specifically to the following (not including the purple-highlights):
***Note: this year for Year 9 and 10 we used Lego Mindstorms drag-drop programming. Next year, the EV3 robots will hopefully be implemented in earlier years, maybe Year 8 and 9. The Year 9 subject should include an appropriate OOP language instead of the drag-drop approach.