PBAS STEM 8 – Discussion and feedback week 2 term 1 2017

I have tried to include everyone’s thoughts from our discussion at this weeks staff meeting. I have also drawn up a new plan (Option 3 see below) based on ideas staff put forward.

When considering how to move forward with this project I think we need to remember three key things:

  1. The need to be creative with our decisions, embrace new technologies and be adventurous in the way we use them.
  2. The need to consider this project from an R-12 perspective.
  3. The need to understand that this project is only a part of teaching STEM at PBAS. We have many other areas within the school where STEM can be and is being taught.

While there is a lot of information here and we are all time poor I encourage you to thoroughly read through the feedback and consider the questions posed throughout the post. If you leave it up to others you risk not having your voice heard. Any further feedback in the comments section of this post would be most welcome.

Feedback from staff meeting week 2 term 1

STEM Redevelopment Plan – Option 1 has been removed.

STEM Redevelopment Plan – Option 3 has been added (see below)

Computer suite 2 OR Laptops? (still undecided – no majority staff agreement on this)

  • Some staff want computer suite 2 to stay where it is. If this happens where will the year 12 room be?
  • I believe you can comfortably get 23 PCs in the current computer suite 2 (currently 18 plus 1 teacher PC). 23 might allow it to be accessible to more classes. For example the 5/6s have 23 students.
  • If we keep it then it would need the same upgrading as computer suite 1 during the redevelopment, which will significantly increase costs, but worth it if we are keeping it.


Remove computer suite 2 to make it a Year 12 room. Invest in a secure laptop cart and 26 laptops.

  • If the laptops were successful with years 5-8 that would further free up computer suite 1.
  • Suggestion made to investigate the Surface Pro, which is a mix of a tablet and laptop.
  • Suggestion made for Chromebooks.


Year 12 Room

  • Suggestion made that Year 12s would be better placed in current computer suite 2. Windows allow staff walking by to keep a closer eye on students working. Block external/internal? door to stop traffic coming through. At least two groups agreed with this.
  • Music room is next door. The noise (at times) from this room will not be great for encouraging students to study.
  • Is there another Year 12 room option?


An second door needs to be considered for computer suite 1 for emergencies.

  • Some staff suggested an exit door into computer suite 1 from the eastern side but this is not possible as the girl’s toilets are in the way.
  • A second door could possibly be put through to the STEM classroom (see plan Option 3).


Computer suite 1 will remain essentially as is with at least 28 PCs. The only difference is walls have shifted.

  • Computer suite 1 will accommodate R-6 and secondary classes when required for example Robotics.
  • Computer suite 2 OR laptop option and 1:1 MacBook program would accommodate 7-12.


Ventilation and airflow from a comfort perspective is an issue in computer suite 1 – need to identify how this can be improved.

  • This discussion will need to include research about 3D printers and other devices that we may use that can cause potentially harmful fumes. What is required? The latest 3D printers come with their own filtering system. Is this enough?


3D Printers and ….???

  • What type of 3D printer do we want? 3D Up Box @ $2500? Needs research and discussion.
  • How many do we get to begin with?
  • Are they wireless?
  • Do they need a dedicated PC for each printer?
  • Do we have a dedicated room or can they sit out in the open?
  • What other technology do we want? 3D printers, decal printers and laser cutters are ideas.


High end design software like CAD

  • How many PCs do we need to have this software on them? All of the computers in suite 1? All PCs in the Tech area?
  • Can more PCs be put in tech so Tim can have half his class working on design portfolios and half working on practical if need be?



  • The STEM classroom offers potentially 6.5m of storage (the large bank of cupboards in the wet area is 4.8m long and .55m deep). We could make the cupboards in the STEM space up to .8m deep.
  • The current storerooms off the year 12 room can have their dividing wall removed to create a 1.75m x 7.97m space. It is not very wide and the configuration of shelving or cupboards would need to be considered very carefully.


Green Screen and Photography studio

  • Can this be moved into the Art room? Shae has already cleared a space where this could go (3.46m x 3.9m). Smaller than the suggestion on Option 2 but useable for a 3m wide green screen kit and still life/portraiture photography. Green screen kit is portable and for certain times could be moved and used in other spaces like the primary POD.
  • If the photography room moved to Art it would free up space in STEM redevelopment area. It would allow us to have a lockable specialist equipment room in within the STEM redevelopment (see Option 3 below).


Canteen space

  • A Makerspace with a STEM focus – http://makerspacesaustralia.weebly.com
  • A place where people can come together to use, and learn to use materials as well as develop creative projects.
  • Foster play, exploration and participatory learning.
  • Facilitate learning opportunities where connections between home, school, and community are enabled and encouraged.
  • Collaborative learning where educators and students pool their skills and knowledge and share in the tasks of teaching and learning.
  • Develop a culture of creating as opposed to consuming.
  • This classroom is for STEM work that does not need access to computers.
  • Resources supporting the teaching of STEM will be stored in this space.
  • It increases the “Makerspaces” we have in the school. The wet area in primary being the other.



  • Can we cater for everyone R-12?
  • What flexible furniture is out there?
  • Needs careful research.

Click on the plans below to access a downloadable version.

STEM Facility Plan Option 2

STEM Facility Plan Option 3

Reflecting on practice 2: Feedback

For a more detailed look at feedback read this great article from Dylan Wiliam called The Secret of Effective Feedback.

"But as many studies have shown, students often learn less when teachers provide feedback than they do when the teacher writes nothing (Kluger & DeNisi, 1996). The apparently simple process of looking at student work and then giving useful feedback turns out to be much more difficult than most people imagine. We could make the whole process considerably more effective by understanding one central idea: The only important thing about feedback is what students do with it." Dylan Wiliam 2016

Reflecting on practice 1: Success Criteria & Learning Intentions

With the start of term 1 almost here I thought I would share some practices that regardless of the year level or curriculum area you teach will support good teaching and learning.

Including today I will post four times on the following things: learning intentions & success criteria, feedback, Learning Design and relationships. The purpose of these posts is to remind us that while we are busy planning content it is important to plan how we deliver that content.

This first post look at the importance of success criteria and learning intentions.

Professional Reading from Facebook and Twitter Part 14

Reading number 1

Blog: Edutopia

Blog post: 22 Powerful Closure Activities Teachers use closure to:

  • Check for understanding and inform subsequent instruction
  • Emphasize key information
  • Tie up loose ends
  • Correct misunderstandings

Posted on Facebook by  Edutopia

Reading number 2

Blog: Mind Shift – How we will learn

Blog post: Beyond Working Hard: What Growth Mindset Teaches Us About Our Brains

Posted on Facebook by  MindShift

Reading number 3

Blog: MLTS (Most likely to succeed)

Blog post: Failure and Growth Mindset (a video not just for understanding the importance of failure but allowing us to reflect on our own attitude towards failing – do we shutdown or retry?

Posted on Twitter by  @martinwestwell

PBAS STEM 3 – Technologies

In PBAS STEM 1 – What is STEM and what does it look like?  it is clear that while STEM projects can be enhanced by expensive high-level technologies STEM does not have to rely on these technologies to be successful (see the Year 2 STEM project video). The focus of STEM should always be on making connections between STEM subjects, challenging students, testing ideas and creating innovative solutions to real and complex problems. The idea of purchasing a range of expensive technologies and then assuming these make a good STEM program is a mistake. It is important to consider and understand how each piece of technology can support STEM at PBAS. How can it foster curiosity, problem-solving, creativity, trial and error and innovation?

PBAS already has a range of technologies including iPads, MacBooks, CAD, computer suites, robotics, Bee Bots, tech machinery and tools and standard science and maths technologies that have always supported our programs. I have put together a selection of videos that show a range of technologies for us to:

  1. consider developing further, for example, Lego robotics and Bee Bots and
  2. consider purchasing as new technologies to PBAS.

Raspberry Pi

 Raspberry Pi School Projects

Pakuranga College using UPBox 3D Printers 

Roland Stika Printer 

PicoBoards and Scratch 

Creating a gaming console with Picoboard and Scratch

Lego Mindstorm Robotics 

How to create a program – Lego Mindstorm 

Awesome Lego Machines

Using Bee Bots for Numeracy 

Weather Station Kit

Green Screen Kit

Educational Drone Kit

Little Bits Electronics 

Create Chain Reactions 

PBAS Stem 2 – Redeveloping the use of IT spaces

The previous STEM post (12th September) discussed what STEM was and how it could look at a classroom level. You can read this post here. In this STEM post I want to discuss the IT spaces in our school.

A range of discussions have occurred during this year specifically about redefining the spaces we have dedicated to IT. This has mostly occurred at leadership and within the Teaching and Learning SIP group. What is needed now is the input of all staff who have a stake in using these spaces and ideas about how they could service the learning needs of our students more effectivley.

The ideas in this post are just that, ideas. Nothing is final and everything is up for discussion. Including the obvious one (as you will see below) – do we need a canteen?

Below is a plan that shows the current Year 12 room, Computer Suite 1 and the canteen. The plan includes the following redevelopments:

Computer Suite 1

  1. The wall between computer suite 1 and the canteen is removed creating better use of the hallway (dead space). This would allow for two robotics tables to be included in the work space (one 3×1.6m and one 3x1m)
  2. Storage can be created below the robotics tables to keep robotics equipment. This equipment is currently kept in tubs on the floor of the tech room.
  3. Two LED screens (strategically placed) that show what is on the main teaching screen. This supports students who are the furthest away from the main screen allowing them to clearly see what is being discussed or shown to the class.
  4. Whiteboard walls. To the right of the main screen create a whiteboard wall that is a 3.5m long for use by the teacher or groups of students as a planning space to share ideas.

Year 12 Room

  1. The year 12 room becomes computer suite 2. This helps to centralise our computing facilities while providing an extra space (storeroom attached) for the storage of IT equipment including printer cartridges, materials for 3D printers and decal machines, paper, maker space materials and computing components used for building and designing and Bee Bots. This storage room while not in a brilliant position alleviates the need to have storage taking up space in the IT teaching areas.
  2. The wall between the two suites would have a 3-5m window installed allowing students and teachers to be visible (mostly) regardless of which room they were in. It would also provide a feeling of a more open space. This window may also have the ability to be opened (sliding panels).
  3. A new entrance door for this room would mean that classes would not need to enter the new suite 2 via suite 1.


  1. Remove all internal walls and relocate the switchboard (currently on one of the centre walls in the canteen). This would create an 8x5m classroom space.
  2. A classroom that has a flexible furniture arrangement. The tables shown in the image have 4 height adjustments so potentially all year levels could access the room, the tables can also be manipulated to change the seating configurations depending on group sizes and task requirements (each table has 2 castors for easy movement). One or two flip tables may also be considered as a way of creating more floor space when not needed but available to be used if a bigger class needed the space.
  3. This classroom could be a Maker Space. Like the current primary wet area is used for students to build and create this maker space could be a place where students can come together to use, and learn to use materials as well as develop creative projects. The important idea is that it is a place that can be used for a range of activities with changing and flexible educational goals and creative purposes. Typically the space will; 1. Foster play, exploration and group learning, 2. Encourage collaborative learning where educators and students pool their skills and knowledge and share in the tasks of teaching and learning, 3. Develop a culture of creating as opposed to consuming. Two immediate examples of learning that come to mind are the school’s Bee Bots and PicoBoards (used with Scratch programming software). Many great kits and resources are available now to help schools develop effective maker spaces.
  4. Whiteboard walls. Depending on what was most suitable creating whiteboard walls would allow for student planning, explaining and discussion of ideas.
  5. Green screen technologies on the MacBooks and iPads provide students with opportunities to produce great videos. Paint a wall in this room green (floor to ceiling). Create a moveable green floor panel that could be stored elsewhere but brought in when students required it.
  6. This classroom could potentially be home to some new technologies the school is considering. These technologies include 3D printers , a decal printer and laser cutter. There is an alcove in the bottom right of the canteen space which could house the decal printer and 3D printers. Depending on our technologies and the space available it is possible that the 3D printers could be placed in suite 1.



The x’s on the plan indicate a computer.

It would be great to have staff voice their opinion in the comments section to help generate discussion which will help this process move forward. A chance to discuss this in a staff meeting will also occur.

PBAS STEM 1 – What is STEM and what does it look like?

Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) is a focus for DECD, see DECD STEM Works and the Federal Government, see Restoring the focus on STEM in schools initiative and Federal government unveils boost for maths and science in schools. It is an area we need to be prepared to develop and inspire our students in.

This is the first in a series of posts that will help us to have discussions about STEM and how we can develop this area at Port Broughton Area School. By the end of 2016 I hope every teacher involved in STEM based subjects R-10 can not only answer the following question but feels confident and supported to implement their answer.

In 2017 what STEM project will I undertake with my students?

So what is STEM?

  • The STEM approach to teaching and learning gives students the opportunity to work on challenging problems and projects.
  • It makes students aware of the connections between science, technology, engineering and maths and the importance of each to successfully solving problems in the real world.
  • It’s about a range of staff collaborating to show students the connections, for example a Year 5/6 STEM project could involve Paul contributing perspectives from maths and science while Tim provides expertise to support students with design and digital technologies.
  • Students experiment, use old and new technologies, test ideas and make and create innovative solutions to real and complex problems.
  • Real depth is given to STEM projects when partnerships are formed with local industries within the community.
  • STEM will look different across every class at every school.
  • Students identify needs and opportunities, visualise and generate ideas, plan and develop solutions and evaluate products and processes.

Information about what STEM is was provided by Jim Goodall, Maitland Area School.

What can STEM look like in the classroom?

Year 2 STEM Project

2015 ACARA STEM Connections Merici College, Canberra

Kings School Student Project

Bee Bot Art Project – This is an adult project but it does not take much imagination to see how this could be applied to a Year 1/2, 3/4 or 5/6 class. Design a piece of art created by Bee Bots!