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DIgital technologies: A cross curricular approach

Kew High School


Kew High School school takes a cross curricular approach when implementing the Digital Technologies curriculum. Bernie McGrath explores how the curriculum was designed with a STEM model.


As part of its participation in the 2017-2018 DigiTech Start-ups Initiative from the Victorian Government Department of Education and Training, Kew High School received funds to spend on relevant classroom tools.

School Profile

Kew High School is a public high school in Kew, Victoria and has a student population of in excess of 1100 students from Years 7 to 12. Staff are committed to a whole school focus on learning and teaching, receptive to innovation and flexibility and provide students, and each other, with a depth of experience, expertise and enthusiasm.


Focus of the Grant Activity

We wanted to uplift our activities related to the delivery of the Digital Technologies curriculum through greater integration within and between Mathematics and Science. 

A number of Digital Technologies outcomes had a natural affinity with the learning programs we had already developed within Maths and Science. We found that a number of other outcomes would be a logical fit, with minimal adjustment. However there were outcomes that we identified as impractical to address within the cross curricular approach.


Opportunities in Mathematics

Within Mathematics, we explored meaningful opportunities to integrate Digital Technologies content into the existing program of work. When studying 2D Space, students were asked to follow and develop an algorithm to construct a puzzle from a collection of 2D Shapes. 

When studying transformations in the Cartesian Plane, students were required to implement and annotate the transformations in Scratch. When we investigate interpretation of graphs in Algebra students used EEG sensors to collect brain wave activity and then developed a storyline to match the resultant graphs. This also provided an ideal opportunity to discuss data quality and the efficacy of data collection techniques.  

In 2019 we hope to introduce a Smart City Investigation. We have started to build a small model city in our STEM Cell and plan to capture data from a number of houses including current, voltage and power source. We would also like to run some autonomous vehicles within the city. The initial construction has been a project for our Programming Club. This year we plan to have our Year 7 Mathematics students analyse the energy consumption within the model city and develop suggestions for future smart initiatives. In future years, we hope to allow students to alter the energy mix in the Smart City and analyse the impacts of their choices. 


Opportunities in Science

In Science, students analysed a nature reserve adjacent the school to identify and classify groundcover. They then analysed and visualised this data to infer properties of the current reserve and identify the likely path of a waterway that once ran through the reserve. 


Social Engineering Challenge

In addition to cross-curricular learning activities, the school ran withdrawal program. Part of the intention of this program was to help address the following content descriptions.

  • Evaluate how well student-developed solutions and existing information systems meet needs, are innovative and take account of future risks and sustainability.

  • Develop and modify programs with user interfaces involving branching, iteration and functions using a general-purpose programming language. 

A part of the activity students analysed the results of a USB dead drop run within the school and then developed social engineering lures to capture predefined information about another student. 

The dead drop involved distributing a number of USB drives around the school. The drives contained a file with an appealing name such as “VCE Results”. Each file was an office document with a macro that pinged a local network device with a custom ICMP Packet size to identify the specific drive. Most of the drives distributed were accessed in the school environment, some on multiple occasions. 


Year 10 Program

At Year 10 we offer two Digital Technologies electives, Robotics and Computer Programming. These address a number of Digital Technologies outcomes and aim to provide students with some of the skills required to be successful in VCE Computing. 


How the DigiTech Start-UpS Initiative Supported our Vision

The DigiTech Start-Ups Initiative allowed us to purchase a number of robotics kits to support delivery of our Year 10 electives to a growing number of students. The purchase of Raspberry Pi Sense Hat kits enabled the initial build of our Smart City environment. We were also able to purchase more portable storage that has enabled greater access to equipment for classes timetabled throughout the school campus. 


Future Directions

While we have formal assessment in place at Year 7 we plan to review the content and breadth, of this assessment, to ensure students have meaningful opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and skills across the three strands of the curriculum. As the curriculum is adopted in a more mature fashion across all schools, we expect that the skillset of students entering Year 7 will allow us to further challenge new students.

Our staff are passionate and engaged but a number of staff lack the confidence in supporting the delivery of the Digital Technologies curriculum. To address this we have provided additional internal professional development and implemented changes incrementally. We have also provided a number of self-paced lesson materials and videos, which are accessible to both students and teachers. 

We continue to look for practical ways to address the curriculum and to incorporate real-world learning experiences that span the STEM disciplines. 



Resources:

Years 7 to 10 Scope and Sequence (Kew High School, 2018)

Analysis of EEG Data: http://fuse.education.vic.gov.au/?2TDRNG

A Raspberry Pi based Programming Introduction: https://fuse.education.vic.gov.au/Resource/LandingPage?ObjectId=1a97cf69-5af2-48ef-8c9b-cd3cd5b79786


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