Turning sunlight into savings
Kimberley Park State School on Brisbane's southside is turning sunlight into savings. In the process, students are learning about energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission.
The school is one of 15 trial schools in the Solar and Energy Efficiency Program for Queensland State Schools. Solar panels, smart meters, energy efficient lighting and computer monitoring systems were installed in these schools across the state.
Principal Ross Harvey says that since coming online as one of the 15 trial schools, the Kimberley Park State School has generated almost 3000 kilowatts of energy and saved more than 2.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
'Our students are learning that solar and energy efficiency is not just the realm of science and scientists. It affects every aspect of our lives,' he said.
'Students in all our classrooms can now analyse the energy output from the solar panels and monitor any reduction in energy use from their computers.'
Mr Harvey says that the students' investigations have involved literacy and communication skills, numeracy and problem solving, critical and creative thinking, networking skills, planning and organising activities, and technology use.
As part of the Solar and Energy Efficiency Program for Queensland Schools, a cutting-edge curriculum program has also been developed to help teachers and students learn more about solar and energy efficiency, and encourage sustainable behaviour.
The Department of Education and Training will progressively roll out the program to all Queensland state schools over the next three years.
College principal heads back to the future
It will be 'back to the future' for the principal of the new Brisbane Bayside State College, which will open in 2010 as part of the Queensland Government's State Schools of Tomorrow $150 million program for the Wynnum-Manly area.
The new college will replace Wynnum North State High, where current principal Noel Humphrys taught for a year in 1974-75 after moving to Queensland from Canada.
"I returned to Wynnum North as principal in 2003 and next year I'll relocate with other staff and students to the new college," Mr Humphrys said.
"The move will open up tremendous learning opportunities and the spacious new college won't be constrained by an older design. It will include large general and specialist multi-media classrooms, a performing arts centre, a multi-purpose sports activity centre and sporting fields.
"Students will study through three gateways of learning - Arts and Culture; Innovation, Technology and Enterprise; and Inquiry and Discovery."
The current Wynnum North State High School site will be redeveloped and will re-open as a primary school in 2011, involving the amalgamation of Lindum, Wynnum Central and Wynnum North State Schools and Moreton Bay Environmental Education Centre.
Genetic cloning for 21st century students
In 2006 Maroochydore State High School achieved a world first by cloning a gene in the classroom.
The breakthrough catapulted the school's science lessons into the 21st century and put the school at the forefront of biotechnology teaching in schools.
The school's 'Biotechnology Revolution' began in 2002 when, in order to find a solution to flagging student numbers in senior science, the school decided to embed this new contemporary science into the curriculum at all levels.
The school received a 2008 Showcase Award for Excellence in Schools for its innovation and forward-thinking.
School principal Boyd Jorgensen says the school's science faculty has become a leader in professional development, teacher expertise and curriculum development on the Sunshine Coast in the biotechnology arena.
"Our staff readily share their expertise with other schools and regularly provide local high schools with equipment, plant tissue, culture plants, culture solutions and access to staff. This helps them to establish their own units of work and experiments," he said.
"This expertise is also being shared nation-wide, with our biotechnology programs and techniques being distributed through the department's eLearning Branch."
Teacher and 2007 Peter Doherty Award recipient Gary Turner recently presented a paper on biotechnology at the annual conference of the National Science Teachers' Association of America - further recognition that Maroochydore High is a world leader in biotechnology education in the classroom.
R&J: * x-ed luvrs - Shakespeare goes online
It really was a case of old meets new when Year 10 English students from the Queensland Academy for Health Sciences started using forums, chats, blogs and even text messaging to analyse the language of Shakespeare.
Students overcame their initial fear of Shakespearean English by playfully rewriting the prologue to Romeo and Juliet either in the language of text-messaging or the vernacular of 'teen-speak'.
While students gave oral presentations about Romeo and Juliet, their colleagues posted comments about their performances online.
They also recorded their presentations as podcasts.
Teacher Rosalie Everest says the experience enhanced the students' knowledge, understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare in real and immediate ways.
"ICT (information and communication technology) has been integral to the development of students' skills in closely analysing extracts from the play and in communicating their observations and insights in both written and spoken modes."
Students found that communicating online with each other about class work broke down peer pressure, gave quieter students a 'voice' and encouraged in-depth reflection and dialogue.
Making ICT integral to learning is the key goal of the department's Smart Classrooms strategy. The strategy is about engaging the digital generation, improving individualised learning opportunities, sparking innovation in learning, enhancing teachers' digital literacy and getting the best from schools' ICT investment.
Scholarship program delivers specialist teachers
Art and English teacher Veronica Farina can now include Manual Arts in her areas of expertise after successfully completely a Graduate Certificate in Industry Technology and Design at Griffith University in 2008.
"I had thought about undertaking studies to further my skills in other subject areas a number of times," Mrs Farina said.
"When I found out about the scholarship I was eager to take advantage of the opportunity.
"Being able to teach ITD (Industry Technology and Design) this year has renewed my enthusiasm for my work.
"I've got more transfer options and more career paths that I can now follow."
The William Ross State High School teacher was one of 130 teachers who took the opportunity to develop or upgrade their skills in specialist teaching areas through the department's professional development scholarships.
The scholarship program is aimed at addressing the workforce need for short and long-term state school teachers in areas such as Special Education, Maths B and C, Industrial Technology and Design (Manual Arts), Senior Physics and Chemistry.
In 2008 the department worked collaboratively with Queensland universities to provide relevant external and online courses, and residential schools for the scholarship recipients.
Due to the success of the 2008 program, a scholarship program is in place again for the 2009 academic year in the areas of Industrial Technology and Design, Mathematics B and C, Chemistry and Physics.
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