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Winter holiday sees nature in focus

QUT’s Winter holiday program saw The Cube come alive with over 3,700 budding geologists, nature explorers, and aspiring artists. The holiday program, inspired by The Cube’s new project Nature imaginedoffered a range of activities for visitors to explore and interact with science, art, and nature.

A guided tour of Nature imagined kicked off the first day of the program. Led by artist Maureen Hansen, visitors were led on a journey of discovery from The Cube to The William Robinson Gallery. Maureen highlighted inside information on the artworks gained through her time as a student of Robinson’s. She demonstrated his brush mark techniques by zooming into the detail on The Cube screens and pointed out the distinctive use of colour in the original paintings displayed at the William Robinson Gallery.

Nature imagined at The Cube. Photo by Patrick Hamilton

In the Micro Macro sessions, children made their own artworks using source images of plants, animals, and even microbes drawn from the Springbrook region. We were impressed by the wonderful variety of creative responses – from ladybugs, to frogs, birds, and even butterflies! The huge evolving collage was curated by resident artist, Jacqui Smith, from the Scale Free Network. She orchestrated all the elements (and kept chaos at bay!) by adding individual artworks to the collage which was also captured in the time-lapse video recording.

Micro Macro. Photo by Patrick Hamilton.

Each morning of the holiday program, an excited group arrived to take part in the Become a budding geologist workshop. Kasia and Adam, QUT Extreme Science Van ambassadors and real geological researchers, lead a group of 8-15 year olds and uncovered the mysterious world of minerals. Over 240 visitors booked into the workshops and the children were amazed to see the colourful rock samples through the high-tech polarizing microscopes and were keen to learn about the techniques used by geologists to identify rocks.

Become a budding geologist workshop. Photo by Patrick Hamilton.

QUT’s Science and Engineering Faculty lent us their augmented reality sandpit and it proved to be a real hit with children! With hand-sanitiser at the ready, visitors were able to shape mountains and valleys generating new topographic projections and even created virtual rain.

To complete the digital scavenger hunt, visitors borrowed iPads and collected fun facts about insects, animals, and plants. These super sleuths did a great job and even had to peek under The Cube stairs to complete some of the scavenger hunt missions. Beanbags, books, and puzzles were the order of the day for those wanting to read and relax.

Nature imagined guided tour at the William Robinson Gallery. Photo by Patrick Hamilton

Thank you to all the enthusiastic art and nature explorers who came along to QUT Winter holiday program! Nature imagined is now in rotation on The Cube screens and the exhibition at the William Robinson Gallery remains open until June 2019.

 

Creativity and empowerment through STEAM for Schools program

Leighann Ness Wilson reflects on one of The Cube’s STEAM for Schools programs ‘Prototyping towards an age friendly city: LittleBits’

A few weeks ago we met RoboDog: a robotic companion whose tail lights up and sends a signal for medical attention if it senses its owner is unwell.  We also met the founders of ICU productions who make bionic eyes for the visually impaired and heard a design pitch for a tech-enabled water collection system.

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These were just three responses to the question: How might we prototype for an Age Friendly City? This was posed to a group of year 5 students from the Sunshine Coast region during our STEAM for Schools workshop at The Cube.

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STEM Girl Power Camp at The Cube

The Cube and QUT’s Design Lab teamed up in March to host an exciting workshop program at QUT Gardens Point campus as part of the second annual STEM Girl Power Camp. The workshop coincided with annual World Science Festival (WSF) activities held in Brisbane.

Sixty regional high-achieving Year 10 girls and 10 teachers discovered the power of design in science, technology and enterprise innovation through workshops and presentations from STEAM leaders and experts in their field.

The STEM Girl Power Camp is an important initiative of Advancing education: An action plan for education in Queensland to address the lower participation rates of girls in STEM subjects and careers.

Program co-ordinators Natalie Wright (QUT Design Lab) and Jacina Leong (QUT The Cube) said they embraced the opportunity to provide such a diverse workshop program, revealing design’s critical role in STEM education. It also showcased the city campus and the varied opportunities available for regional girls to study at QUT.

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Putting the fun back into physics!

On Saturday 7 January, 4,200 visitors flocked to The Cube for an extra dose of physics fun to celebrate the opening of the Physics Observatory Summer Holiday Program.

We presented a range of Physics-inspired workshops including Hula Hooping by Vulcana Women’s Circus, live science shows by Street Science, a 3D flight simulator game facilitated by the QUT STEM for Schools team and Physics 101 workshops from QUT Physics Society. The live science shows by QUT Alumni Steve Liddell were a massive hit! Kids were amazed by Steve’s science experiments including exploding balloons with liquid nitrogen and a real hand-held fireball.

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Activities from Physics Observatory Holiday Program also ran throughout the day including Physics Wiz Treasure Hunt which allowed families to discover hidden elements of the Holiday Program. Kids were also awarded a ‘Physics Wiz’ sticker! Other activities included Ball Run, which encouraged kids to compare how far and fast balls can travel using tubes and everyday materials on a magnetic wall. Take to the Sky was another popular (paper plane making) activity, which got kids thinking about gravitational forces and how fast and far their planes could fly.

Holiday fun at The Cube

We also announced the winners of the ‘Life on Mars’ Competition. Kids were asked to draw what they imagined life on Mars might look like incorporating what they know about STEM. Banjo Seaniger (8 years) won an Xbox One and Runners up Shaun Gareth (13 years) and Mikayla Daley (12 years) won admission to one of The Cube’s 2017 holiday programs.

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Thanks for everyone who joined us for Physics Fun Day and for those who couldn’t make it Physics Observatory Holiday Program continues everyday 10am-4pm until Sunday 15 January. Check out this video for a taste of the program.

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3, 2, 1, LEGO … !

On Saturday 19 November, The Cube played host once again to FIRST® LEGO® League, welcoming 360 students and their team coaches, parents, teachers and peers to QUT’s Science and Engineering Centre. The energy and enthusiasm of the participants was palpable and just one of the reasons FIRST® LEGO® League is a highlight of the year, transforming the Science and Engineering Centre into a hive of activity!

This year’s challenge was based on the theme: ANIMAL ALLIES. Teams of up to 10 students researched, programmed, and prepared from August through November ‘to think of people and animals as allies in the quest to make life better for everyone’. The tournament involved:

  • 360 students 
  • 220 parents, teachers, grandparents, peers, siblings … 
  • 108 (2.5 minute) robot game rounds 
  • 52 staff and volunteers 
  • 41 team coaches
  • 36 teams from 22 locations (see team map below)
  • 36 robots 
  • 12 award recipients
  • 6 robot game tables
  • 4 practice tables
  • 4 concurrent activities (Robot Game, Robot Design, Project, Core Values)
  • 4 national qualifiers 
  • And many LEGO pieces! 

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One of the team coaches, Jackie Child, captured the spirit of the tournament experience in her article, Our FIRST LEGO League Journey.

Twelve awards were presented this year to the following teams:

Champions Award – iCode 22
Robot Performance – OLA Cybermonkeys
Robot Design (Mechanical Design) – Robros
Robot Design (Programming) – RobotIGGS
Robot Design (Strategy and Innovation) – Lego Central
Project (Research) – MGH Robots 2
Project (Innovation) – iCode New Dawn
Project (Presentation) – Sharks
Core Values (Gracious Professionalism) – Lasiorhinus krefftii Mark II
Core Values (Teamwork) – Hillbrook Team 1
Core Values (Inspiration) – Omega Dragons
Judge Award – Padua College 1 

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Those selected for the Nationals at Macquarie University, Sydney, on 10 December, are: 

  • iCode 22
  • iCode New Dawn
  • Padua College 2
  • OLA Cybermonkeys 

Congratulations again to all participating teams – until next year!

Jacina Leong and Elise Wilkinson – Co–Directors, FIRST LEGO League, and Public Programs, The Cube

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Public Programs: the year that has been …

Leighann Ness Wilson reflects on her role over the last six months, as The Cube’s first STEAM Education Officer.

My name is Leighann Ness Wilson and I’ve had the privilege of being The Cube’s very first STEAM Education Officer. With a Bachelor of Built Environment from QUT and over ten years’ experience in commercial Interior Design, it wasn’t until having my own children that I decided it was time to pursue my underlying goal to become an educator. My role at The Cube has allowed me to combine two of my passions: design and education. The practicums within my Graduate Diploma of Teaching and Learning, combined with my new role at QUT, have given me a profound sense of fulfilment. I find the combination of education and creativity both emotionally and professionally inspiring.

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The Physics Observatory (aka Physics Playroom 2.0)

The Cube team have been hard at work this year re-developing The Physics Playroom, one of The Cube’s first screen projects. This new iteration The Physics Observatory, is due to be released sometime in the next six months. In this series of blog posts The Cube’s Digital Interactive Designer, Simon Harrison, will share with us some of the teams’ learnings about physics.

When we decided to update this project to make it even more relevant to high school students, I stumbled upon some interesting facts and became fascinated by tales of physicists, great thinkers and even watchmakers of times gone by.

The original Physics Playroom featured an interesting rotating mechanical solar system. I discovered this device is called an orrery – a clockwork representation of the orbits of the planets that make our solar system. Using only cogs and gears it was possible to accurately simulate the motions of distant planetary bodies, incredibly this was achieved over 300 years ago!

 

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The orrery from the original Physics Playroom

The first orrery was created by a pair of very talented watchmakers from London called George Graham and Thomas Tompion, It was presented to Charles Boyle, 4th Earl of Orrery in 1704.

Our orrery has been lovingly crafted using the latest in 3D simulation software and up to the minute data from NASA, however, it looks almost identical to an Orrery from the past. I bet George and Thomas would love to come to The Cube and have a play with ours!

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The new orrery during construction

The new orrery features all the planets (including Pluto, we can’t let it go!) and a selection of planetary moons, all rotating around the sun. If the planets were to rotate at real-time speed, it would take 90,560 days for Pluto to make a single complete orbit, that is almost 250 years! So we have included a speed control to help accelerate and visualise the orbits.

As always we strive to lace our interactives with STEM related curriculum links and the orrery is no exception, our team of STEM teachers and researchers will be creating school workshops and programs linking the orrery to elements included in both the Science and Mathematics learning areas of the Australian National Curriculum. More details about school/holiday programs coming soon.

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The final orrery in the observatory

And next time we’ll discuss how we managed gravity and how much an elephant may weigh on the surface of the Sun.

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Robotics in the classroom: looking at curriculum links and FIRST® LEGO® League

Last week, The Cube hosted Robotics in the classroom, a professional development workshop for educators, facilitated by Peter Kellett. Peter provided a hands-on look at how LEGO Education EV3 robotics can be used in the curriculum, with a focus on FIRST® LEGO® League and other FIRST® programs.

As an educator in the field of classroom ICT, Peter discussed unit development, structure and assessment techniques using his robotics program at Grace Lutheran College as a case study. Read more

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Off the Shelf: Reimagining libraries with Watson Road State School students

Earlier this year, The Cube’s public program team undertook the Off The Shelf program, part one of which involved engaging with students from Watson Road State School in a series of workshops centred around the idea of the changing role of libraries as social and educational hubs. Students engaged with these ideas through hands-on STEAM activities using littleBits as prototyping tools.

Watson Road State School Principal Cathy Forbes shares her experience of the project:

Cathy: The littleBits project at Watson Road State School has provided students with the opportunity to work collaboratively and think differently. The open-ended nature of the task meant that students felt confident to try out new ideas, knowing that there were no right or wrong answers.

Students were given a challenge: to design a library of the future. They saw this as a real-life and authentic task, which encouraged self-directed learning and the application of knowledge and learning by experience.

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This project stepped way from traditional classroom learning and introduced 21st century problem solving skills to students in an engaging way. Students were motivated and enthusiastic about their participation in the challenge.

The cross-curricular connections in the project are very strong. Students were required to collect data and research, and were asked to apply the information to plan their prototypes and conceptualise their design. The design-and-make nature of the project, as well as links to science and engineering, met requirements in the key learning area of technology, in which students use design thinking and technologies to generate and produce designed solutions for authentic needs and opportunities.

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Students were encouraged to collaboratively apply their knowledge and practical skills and processes when using technologies to create innovative solutions that meet current and future needs. The practical nature of the project engaged students in critical and creative thinking, including understanding interrelationships in systems when solving complex problems. A systematic approach to experimentation, problem solving, prototyping and evaluation instilled the value of planning and reviewing processes to realise ideas.

Links to English were reinforced with students interpreting descriptions and research. They were required to read and give instructions, generate and explore ideas with others, write design briefs and specifications, and participate in group discussions. Students communicated their ideas and proposals to an audience. By learning the literacy of technologies, students understand that language varies according to context and they increase their ability to use language flexibly.

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Technologies vocabulary is often technical and includes specific terms for concepts, processes and production. Students learn to understand that much technological information is presented in the form of drawings, diagrams, flow charts, models, tables and graphs. They also learn the importance of listening, talking and discussing in technologies processes, especially in articulating, questioning and evaluating ideas.

The project provided students with an opportunity that they would not ordinarily have had. QUT and Brisbane City Council Library staff facilitated self-directed learning whilst providing expert guidance to students and staff. The project was a wonderful success.

Image Credit: Kate O’Sullivan

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Creative Lab: Capturing a day of teaching and learning

On 2 May 2015, The Cube hosted Creative Lab, a two-day professional development program designed to connect educators, curriculum writers and academics to STEAM learning experiences through hands-on workshops.

Conceived by the Queensland Museum in partnership with QUT The Cube, the program provided a platform to further the institutions’ commitment to creative, innovative ways of learning and teaching.

For day two of Creative Lab, The Cube delivered four workshops developed and facilitated by The Cube’s public programs team, pre-service teachers, alumni and current students from the Faculty of Education, Creative Industries and Science and Engineering Faculties, games industry veteran Matt Ditton, and digital media artist/curator Lubi Thomas. Each workshop provided an opportunity to experience different technologies through a STEAM learning framework.

Creative Lab aimed to spark inspiration, conversation and an understanding about the value of STEAM, how it can be implemented within the classroom and how cultural and tertiary institutions can support this growing momentum. For a snapshot of Creative Lab Day 2 at The Cube, watch our video of the day below:

Creative Lab (STEM to STEAM: 21st Century Learning) from CubePP on Vimeo.

Image and video by Kate O’Sullivan.