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What can classrooms learn from museums

The way we visit museums has changed, right along with the way we deliver education. What cues can teachers take for their classrooms from the evolving museum landscape? Lots, especially when it comes to STEAM education, as some Australian teacher decently discovered.

On Saturday, November 11th, primary school principals and teachers from across Sydney worked together at the Museum of Applied Arts and Science - Power House to increase their knowledge of how to effectively implement STEAM in their classrooms.

Led by Debbie Evans principal at Bondi Beach Public School, the professional development event was hands-on and engaging. It modeled the practices required to ensure that students have the skills that they will need for their future.

Peter Mahoney from MAAS introduced the teachers to the world of games at the museum where they interacted with the MAAS Logic Machine: a collaborative, digital Rube Goldberg machine prototype. He shared the strategic goal of the museum, which is to establish exhibitions that engage visitors in activities that are creative. Just as educators are being asked to move from the practices of sage on the stage to become facilitators of learning so museums are moving from static exhibitions to interactive displays, where the visitors can participate in the ways they choose.

The teachers also had the opportunity to participate in hands-on sessions in the MAAS Labs. In one lab they learned about Ozobots, Makey Makey, LittleBits, Hummingbird robotics, and using drones. Edtechs’ Matt Peedall supported teachers to program a robot using a narrative where the robot was the participant. Teachers discussed the importance of the curriculum links in using digital technologies and integrating student learning across key learning areas.

In another lab, Alex Jackson from Thinkershield helped the teachers to build fast fun accessible, interactive devices with components that are controlled through coding - exciting!

Rachel Rothwell and Tanya Ljubic worked with the teachers to create Da-Vinci inspired Automata using reusable materials from Reverse-Garbage; another project with so much potential for the classroom.

Debbie Evans provided practical and fun strategies used at her school, to promote and develop deep Mathematical Thinking based on the results of authentic long-term results from Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

The Bondi Beach Splice Savers (BBPS students) demonstrated Visible Thinking using a learning strategy inspired by Dr Derek Muller's Veritasium Youtube channel. At BBPS, students learn by making invisible thinking visible using simple vox-pop style interview techniques.

Helen Lacey from SMART Technologies engaged teachers by illustrating all the STEAM activities that were possible via their SMART Boards and SMART Learning Suite software. Helen shared how using SMART Lab students can both develop and play games to illustrate their learning. She showed teachers how students could create art, digitize images, and make movies to share and communicate with the other students in the class. Using SMART amp workspaces, the students can share (on a massive digital canvas) all of their ideas, thoughts, and resources they've found around a topic.

At the end of the day, Sue Beveridge from SMART used 'Shout it Out' to ask the principals and teachers to share what they planned to do in their classrooms in the next week, or what they planned to do in 2018. The call to action was dramatic as teachers readily shared their immediate goals, and how they planned to work across the school and beyond.

This article was written by Sue Beveridge, SMART Marketing Specialist in Australia.

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