The world needs creative, innovative and courageous young people who can connect, collaborate and act. We know that youth may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future. The time is now to let them share their dreams and design the future they want to see.
Medowie Christian School and Raymond Terrace Public School have been named Grand Champion Koalas in the 2019 Kreative Koalas – Design a Bright Future Challenge. Kreative Koalas is a ground-breaking project-based learning initiative from Picture You in Agriculture, which this year delivered the sustainability message and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals into fifteen primary schools from the Hunter Valley and Penrith Regions.
Young people may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future. Through Kreative Koalas we are giving them a voice in designing and creating that future. This year students have investigated local issues and worked with the community to give a voice to our Koalas and threatened species, our waterways and our farmers. The students have said ‘Together we can’
Medowie Christian School was awarded the Grand Champion Community Project for Change after collaboration with Hunter Local Land Services to raise the importance of healthy waterways for clean water and sanitation. The students developed six easy-to-follow methods for protecting waterways and made these into a pamphlet, which was distributed to the school community. The students also visited their local Gramhamstown Dam to examine the health of the water through temperature, turbidity, salinity and pH testing and presented their findings at a school assembly. Learn more about the winning project here and here
Students from Medowie Christian School with Chair of Hunter Local Land Services Lindy Hyam ( right) and teacher Martha Atkins ( left)
Raymond Terrace Public School was awarded Grand Champion Koala for their vibrantly decorated, life-sized fibreglass koala named Mitjigan Guula, which means girl koala in Worimi language. In collaboration with their Aboriginal Girl’s Group they incorporated indigenous designs on their artwork to look at the effects of climate change on koala populations. And, in what has unfortunately proved to be timely, the koala portrays how inaction on climate change can lead to devastating bushfires. The students have donated their prize money and their Koala to the Port Stephens Koala Hospital. See story here
Students from Raymond Terrace Public School with Costa Georgiadis
In other awards Penrith schools Ropes Crossing Public School and Colyton Public School were recognised for their artwork and community project for change respectively.
Four students were acknowledged as eco-warriors. These students were Zoe Bonifacio from Colyton Public School, Keeley Haywood from James Erskine Public School,Tayla Weeks from Medowie Christian School and Josie Hodges from Gresford Public School.
All schools received their awards at a ceremony held at Tocal Agricultural College on Thursday November 28, attended by sponsors and supporters and emceed by celebrity gardener Costa Georgiadis.
Photos from the awards day can be found here and a big shout out to our supporting partners empowering young people to solve tomorrows problems today
BESSIE THOMAS has been through nearly two years of dust storms and feed runs, yet every day she finds something good to say about the agriculture industry.
That is a measure of her positive spirit.
Bessie and her husband, Shannan, manage his family’s sheep property, Burragan, near Wilcannia in NSW’s far west.
The young couple and their daughter, Airlie, 3, are living through the thick of drought.
Bessie finds ways to be optimistic, not just for herself and her family.
But also to boost other farmers across the nation who are struggling through the same thing and to educate the wider public about the ongoing dry.
“I could get out of bed every day and share the hardships but, you know, the next day I probably wouldn’t want to get out of bed,” says Bessie, who shares the highs and lows of her life in the wool industry through a blog and Facebook page called Bessie at Burragan.
“By always focusing on the positive, it can bring a spark of joy to someone else on social media and maybe give them hope.”
Bessie is relatively new to the wool industry.
After growing up at Swan Hill and then the Sunshine Coast, she completed a degree in journalism and communication in Queensland.
After marrying Shannan, they jumped at the opportunity to manage Burragan.
“When we moved down it was a fantastic season,” Bessie says.
“The grass in the paddock was so high you could hardly see the road to find the house.”
The 28,000-hectare station is in a vastly different state today, running half the sheep it did back then.
Rain in April and again this month offered some reprieve, and they haven’t had to handfeed since May.
“We only wish we could share it around with everyone who missed out,” Bessie says.
Through the long dry, she has used her communication skills to raise awareness of the realities of drought.
Bessie is an Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion and the group’s volunteer communication creative team leader. The organisation works to close the gap between young people and food producers, and inspire pride in Australian agriculture.
“So, I have gone into schools and spoken to urban audiences about agriculture and growing food and fibre,” Bessie says. “The highlight of volunteering is connecting and collaborating with talented young people, who are considered inspirational leaders of the agricultural industry.”
Bessie Thomas puts her storytelling talent and optimism to use for the good of the agriculture industry.
For that — as well as raising awareness of the drought with a smile — she is a deserving winner of the Shine Award for Spirit.
In partnership with Career Harvest, Little Brick Pastoral and Celestino the competition encouraged students from Years 5 to 12 to envision their own career in agriculture, create a LEGO figurine and write a day-in-the-life profile.
Winners of the primary school section were Austin Ball from Trangie Central School and Matilda Sullivan of St Francis of Assis Primary School Wodonga.
Highly Commended in Years 7 to 10 was Hugh Burton
Winners of the Years 7 to 10 section were Hallee Tanzer of Saint Catherine’s Catholic College, Singleton and Madison Kleinschmidt of Finley High School.
Winner of the Senior School section was Sophia Hayden of Hurlstone Agricultural High School.
Linking their passions and talents to agriculture the students defined careers as diverse as stockyard architect and farm manager, to horse maternity nurse and international development officer.
“Research tells us that young people going from primary school to high school have closed their minds to 70% of the careers that are available in agriculture,” Aimee Snowden from Little Brick Pastoral said, “and our teachers are being asked to prepare students for the jobs of the future that haven’t been invented yet. It has never been more important for agriculture to have a presence in schools and to help open young people’s eyes to the huge array of exciting and innovative careers that our sector offers – jobs that are literally helping to feed and clothe the world.”
Competition winners wehre announced The Archibull Prize ceremony held at Sydney Olympic Park on Tuesday November 19.
We asked the teachers at Bellbird Public School why they wanted to participate in Kreative Koalas
As a staff our main motivation to participate in this opportunity was to provide authentic opportunities for students so they could recognise problems, design solutions and be part of making a positive impact upon their own and everyone else’s future.
We know that children are our future and it is our role as educators to
Each of the initiatives we have undertaken through this project have continued, we are still working on and improving applications to embed them in all our practices and more importantly into the lives of our community members.
What was their big idea
Bellbird Public School designed their Term 2 K-6 learning programs around a whole school theme of War on Waste. This underpinned and supported all of the initiatives we undertook as part of our participation in the Kreative Koalas Create a Brighter Future Program.
All classes discussed what they felt were the main issues impacting upon the people and environment surrounding Bellbird and three major directions emerged;
the need to reduce the amount of rubbish we as consumers were contributing to the environment
the need to be proactive in improving and sustaining the quality of our immediate environment (Black Creek)
our responsibility as a group to aid people less fortunate than ourselves by utilising existing resources
Once these three challenges were posed, classes and stages began planning ways they could contribute to solving them.
We conducted a whole school rubbish audit. We sorted and weighed the rubbish collected from all bins in our school. We were amazed at many things; how much paper ended up in the rubbish, the amount of packaging and the amount of food being wasted.
Classes and our school parliament had many discussions about a plan of action. We bought individual coloured bins to sort rubbish, paper recycling and plastic recycling. These were implemented in both eating areas and the teacher’s staffroom. We access the Return and Earn program with our appropriate containers.
Classrooms had recycling bins and small rubbish bins added. Recycling bins are emptied regularly by our Environment Ministers.
Stage 2 set up worm farms and collect food scraps daily from classrooms and eating areas. These worm farms fertilise our gardens.
Each Wednesday is Waste Free Wednesday. Through this we encourage all families to making both cost effective choices and environmentally sustainable choices about the foods that are purchased and provided for daily consumption at school. It was highly evident from our rubbish audit the high percentage of pre-packaged food that was filling lunchboxes. Our community were offered alternate ideas and suggestions such as buying in bulk and dividing into portion sizes in reusable containers and cooking more nutritious options.
Awareness amongst students and staff has increased greatly about the amount of unnecessary waste we as consumers perpetuate. As our theme exposed us to information and facts about the Great Southern Garbage Patch, landfill required for extraordinary amounts of discarded clothing, coffee cups, water bottles and a wide range of reusable items, we have made changes to reduce our impact as a school and community. We have reduced the amount of rubbish being brought to school in lunch boxes, better reused resources such as paper that was going into landfill, utilised snippets from our community’s home gardens to create new potted plants to decorate our school but most importantly we have all started making conscious decisions about how our consumer choices impact upon the environment.
Initiative 2 – Improve and sustain health of our local creek and surrounding environment (SDG 15.1 Life on Land)
With the support of Cessnock City Council, Hunter Water and Bug Blitz, Stage 2 have participated in ongoing water testing, bug detecting, plant and animal species identification, weed identification and rubbish removal. Through these educational and awareness building opportunities, students have learnt about how local mines impact upon our waterways and the responsibility they have as residents to maintain their local environment.
Students have claimed responsibility for this part of their environment. Small groups of volunteers spend their lunch play time over at the creek with a teacher ensuring that it is clean, clear of rubbish, and conducting testing that is recorded directly onto an app. and uploaded onto the net. Classes visit as whole groups to undertake more thorough data collection. Our General Assistant keeps the area directly adjacent to our school mown for easy access. It is an enjoyable place to be and a lunch time opportunity students line up to participate in. Pride in and group responsibility for the area have increased.
Initiative 3: To provide assistance to those in need through utilising existing resources
(SDG 12.3 Responsible Production & Consumption)
Kindergarten sort a local charity that they could support and found Hunter Hands of Hope. This service provides daily meals and other services to the homeless in our local area. Blanchies Café in Cessnock kindly donated their left over food items that our Kinder classes cooked up into hearty nutritious meals that were delivered to the drop in centre each week by Kinder students with their parents and teachers.
As a school we have participated in terracycling of dental hygiene items, plastic lids to be made into prosthetics and reading glasses to be distributed in third world countries.
This initiative was very well received by both the charity and the people who gratefully received these meals. Both the Kinder students and their parents benefitted from this opportunity to support those in our community who are in need of a helping hand. It too provided a waste reduction of valuable food from the business. Instilling the mindset that we can all help others has been a wonderful trait to nurture.
The collection of the other items was well supported and continues.
What Did they Notice Along the Way?
*All students K-6 have had the opportunity to be involved.
*Knowledge of environmental facts has increased.
*Desire to devise plans to take action for change have developed.
*Students have included their parents and family members in their learning journey.
*Everybody has made some impact upon positive choices for a sustainable environment both at school and home.
*All of the initiatives we have implemented continue to develop and enhance our students’ lives and those of our community.
In conjunction with Sydney Science Park we are launching our third “Imagine Your Dream Career in Agriculture” competition to coincide with National Agriculture Day on November 21. The competition encourages students in Years 5-12 to envisage their own career in STEM based agriculture.
Aimee Snowden from Little Brick Pastoral has created ten STEM agricultural photographs showcasing LEGO® minifigures to represent science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers. The careers are an agribusiness banker, an agriculture teacher, an agronomist, a biosecurity officer, an engineer, a geneticist, a GIS specialist, a mechanic, a scientist and a stock and station agent.
Students may choose one of Aimee’s characters on which to base their entry or alternatively may build and photograph their own LEGO® character. They are then asked to identify their interests and the subjects they excel at, research pathways they might take to achieve their agricultural career dream and to write a day-in-the-life story on their chosen career.
Entries will take the form of an infographic and a $2000 prize pool is on offer.
Picture You in Agriculture is a family thing and there are many people who support us and what we do. Two of the wonderful people who we consider part of our family are Greg Mills and Angela Colliver who work in partnership as FutureGen Education. On Wednesday, March 27 they were recognised for their innovative training programs in meat processing plants across New South Wales.
Greg Mills and Angela Colliver
Held at the Gold Coast, the MINTRAC National Training Conference celebrates those providing education and training services to meat processors. The 2019 Meat Industry Initiative Award was presented to Angela Colliver Consulting Services for the programs Greg and Angela have developed to introduce school teachers to the industry.
“The award is a recognition of what can be achieved when content is well matched to the curriculum and teachers are given access to industry facilities and industry experts,” Greg says.
The program involves engaging teachers in a suite of Technology Mandatory training days, which have been held at high schools, meat processors and training organisations including Canley Vale High School, James Ruse Agricultural High School, TEYS Australia, Gundagai Meat Processors, JBS Australia and RuralBiz Training.
Each training day was accredited by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) and attending teachers were accredited with six hours of professional learning. Plant tours were facilitated and these introduced teachers to a range of processing operations including biosecurity risks, ethical handling of animals, use of robotics and packaging.
The training initiative attracted 173 teachers who teach Technology Mandatory, Food Studies or Agricultural Studies in Years 7-8 in schools and their feedback has been very positive:
“I will be encouraging teachers I know to implement plant tours and these educational resources into their programs as our schools need to provide educational learning that is relevant to the employment opportunities for this region in the future”.
“As I was taken through the abattoirs this experience will improve the way in which I explain the processing in the Beef Product Study.”
“This was the most wonderful PD I’ve ever attended. I was able to bring resources home and implement them immediately into comprehensive programs provided by the course presenter on the day.”
The training initiative has been re-registered with NESA for 2019.
Check out Greg and Angela’s award winning Careers and School Resources here
In the second of our two-part series looking at cotton in the 2018 Archibull Prize here we profile six city high schools.
Granville South Creative and Performing Arts High School have leapt straight out of the box with an eye-catching pop-art interpretation of cotton with their Archie ‘The DIVA’ – a dedicated informed visionary activist.
The DIVA is a bold, loud and iconic social media personality who spreads the good word about cotton near and far, and her artwork screams pop-art.
The quote from famous Pop Artist Andy Warhol takes pride of place in our design and boldly introduces the artistic vision of the overall design: “I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art anyone could ever want to own”.
[Emma is] styled as cultural icon Rosie the Riveter, as a further nod to the power of advertising (women workers were widespread in the media as government posters, and commercial advertising was used extensively to encourage women to volunteer for wartime service in factories). Both Emma and Rosie are symbols for feminism and the economic power of women in industry.
How cool is The DIVA?
Another visual stand-out is ‘Bulltossi’ from Ku-ring-gai High School, which was also mentored by YFC Emma Ayliffe,
During their Archibull journey the Ku-ring-gai students were fascinated to learn what goes into making the clothes they wear and, while realising there is much complexity in the cotton industry, chose to take a minimalistic approach to their Archie.
The Archie uses a visual language of signs and symbols to convey the Australian story of cotton. We drew inspiration from Bitossi ceramics because of their use of colour, pattern and shape.
Our Archibull was heavily inspired by the Australian landscape, represented in the ochre colours chosen.
Colour was also a feature of ‘Ushi Bombacio’, the blue and white Archie from Mamre Anglican College.
The addition of the loom and the inclusion of our own school tartan to demonstrate the link between our cotton industry and our everyday lives makes our Archie unique.
After a visit from YFC James Kanaley the students also came to realise that while cotton is grown in Australia economics mean it is sent overseas to be processed.
Often we do not even recognise the link between our own agricultural industry and the cotton products (such as our own school uniforms) we use every day. The flags from various countries to which we export or from which we buy products demonstrates the effect of globalisation on agriculture and the textiles industry.
Also being mentored by YFC James Kanaley Airds High School was one of a number who took to their Archie with a saw to produce a cut-out in the stomach, and this was a feature of ‘Queen of Cotton’.
The terrariums [in the cut-out] in the middle of our AHS Queen of Cotton are symbolic of the innovations of planting that require less watering. These terrariums demonstrate that through new initiatives and ideas we can save water, providing opportunities for further crops to be grown.
As a dominant theme the Aird High School students wanted to express their varied multicultural and socio-economic backgrounds in relation to the Australia cotton industry.
Overall, our Archibull, Queen of Cotton, is unique as she represents the ideological and sociological viewpoints of our student population, our Airds Community, wider NSW and Australia’s great and powerful agrarian nation and its relationship to the cotton industry.
Queen of Cotton identifies with our student population and is inclusive of our ‘Indigenous Heritage’, our ‘Pacifica’ identities and the overall sense of Australian identity in us all. Concurrent with our representation of our wider school community, we have used the bracelets of colourful beads on the horns to provide an opportunity to identify with our oriental and refugee students.
Real-life cotton bushes, glow-in-the-dark paint and interconnected wires made for an intriguing Archie from Irrawang High School who created ‘Synthia’ with the help of YFC Casey Onus.
Man-made fibres are portrayed on one side of Synthia, in contrast to the natural fibre of cotton on the other, with the head showing the contrasting issues of both.
The head is a visual of how the cotton industry is being taken over by synthetic materials. It shows the on-going battle between natural and man-made. Wrapped around the left horn is fine cotton thread and wrapped around the right horn is black nylon thread. This nylon continues on twisting and inter-twining through the synthetic side of Synthia, almost like its getting tangled in all of the destruction that manufacturing this material is causing.
And be careful around Synthia – she has secrets:
Hidden amongst the polyester shirt however, is a Nerf gun. The idea behind it is that the gun can be used as an interactive piece by the audience to shoot “yellow pellets” at the pests and diseases in areas that have a “target” to do your part to get rid of them!
The last of the secondary schools to study cotton was Dakabin State High School from Brisbane who created ‘Cottonbull’ with support from YFC Sharna Holman, who works for the cotton industry in Queensland
Like Irrawang the students were not afraid to tackle difficult subjects, in this case the closure of farms in the Menindee area due to water issues.
Our Cottonbull captures the story about the end to cotton farming in the town of Menindee. The design was inspired by an ABC news story written by Declan Gooch on the 20th of May 2018, (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018- 05-20/menindee-last-cotton-harvest/9779014). The article brings attention the issue of water shortage in the region and the effects this has had on the agriculture and tourism industry. The solution to this issue is a plan for the government to buy back the water allocation and stop water running from Lake Menindee to Lake Cawndilla.
Our Cottonbull is unique because it brings attention the issue of water shortage, loss of tourism and agriculture. We have selected imagery directly relating to the news article, allowing the story to be interpreted clearly. The artwork has educated our students on farming issues in Australia, stages of cotton production as well as facts about the cotton industry.
But wait there is more. Tomorrow we bring you our Cattle and Sheep and Grains Archies and next week we will launch the People’s Choice and you can support the schools and pick your favourite Archie
in 2017 the people’s choice blog post was a social media phenomenon. 185,000 people across the globe visited the blog post 65,000 people voted in the poll.
A massive twelve schools studied cotton for the Archibull Prize and in Part 1 of our Cotton Showcase here we profile the colour and creativeness of primary school entrants and rural and regional schools.
First up are the Year 6 students from Raymond Terrace Public School who created ‘Cotton-eye Josie’ who is rockin’ the dreadlock look.
The school looked at the sustainability of the cotton industry by exploring topics such as climate change, biosecurity, healthy communities and food security, and they were also wowed with the use of technology as shown to them by YFC Casey Onus.
(The students) were intrigued with the technology shared, which forms the 21st century tools Ms Onus uses to perform her work as an agronomist…namely the drones. This gave students the idea of depicting the cotton fields from the perspective of an agronomist drone ie: a ‘bird’s eye view’.
When researching climate change the school looked at ways to reduce its carbon footprint:
We had been sent a pack of Archibull resources in the post, including multiple copies of posters. Students re-used and re-purposed these posters by cutting them into sections and using the creative technique of ‘decoupage’ to cover the torso of our ‘Archie’ calf.
As part of their Archibull journey the students raised over $1000 for drought relief through the Buy a Bale campaign. Well done Raymond Terrace!
The next primary school looking at cotton was the Parramatta Public School who created ‘Moona Lisa’ to tell the true story of the cotton industry through headlines and comics.
Based on our Skype Chat with Emma (YFC Emma Ayliffe) we discovered the biggest challenges the cotton industry face were society’s view and misconceptions about the cotton industry. Students wanted to tell the story through headlines and comic strips. Our aim was to tell the “true” story of the cotton industry to inform society of the best practices that take place.
Our Moona Lisa is unique in that students drew on their strengths as cartoonists and engaged in deep learning using comics as a form of medium to illustrate and tell the “true” story. This was a complex technique that students mastered while learning about visual literacy and creative storytelling through images and humour.
The last of the primary schools studying cotton with their Archibull Prize was Miller Public School that was assisted by YFC Laura Bennett to create ‘Moostapha Cotton’.
The left side of our Archie shows the farming of cotton through a model. The model has what a cotton farm looks like throughout each season. We’ve even included a tractor that’s harvesting the crop. We also have a map of where cotton is grown around Australia and have three lady beetles to represent the cotton industries efforts to protect the crop using environmentally friendly farming methods.
Our Archie’s right side shows the cotton production cycle. We thought the best way to show this was to use the infographic from Cotton Australia as it was a simple and effective way to show the entire journey of cotton.
Moostapha’s face was left as that of a cow to show that cottonseed can also be used as animal feed.
Three regional schools from Wagga, Tamworth and Muswellbrook took a good look at the Australian cotton industry and each came up with an individual way to express their findings. Oxley High School from Tamworth needed only to step outside their own back door to find inspiration in the cotton fields of the Liverpool Plains and this became the focus of their Archie named ‘Jean’.
YFCs Casey Onus helped the students on their jean journey, which grew from the amazing fact that one bale of cotton can make 36 pairs of jeans!
10 pairs of blue jeans are used to create the big sky country (on our Archie). One side of our cow is the starry night sky using Vincent Van Gogh’s painting “Starry Night”. The other side is the big sky country on the Liverpool plains cotton growing region. The udders are a representation of the dams that are used to pump water onto the large cotton crops, which we have used black pipe and attached it to the cows teats as if it was drawing water from an underground bore and producing what we have above on our fields.
Kildare Catholic College from Wagga went with a minimalist, but striking, interpretation of the cotton industry with their blue and white Archie named ‘Roberta’.
The Year 10 visual art class were visited by YFC James Kanaley and came to realise the importance of water to the cotton industry. This became the focus for Roberta.
We have learned just how valuable water is to cotton farmers and know that every drop counts. We wanted to show the cotton plants being immersed by the body of water to show that it is a necessity for growth.
Our Archie is unique as it shows a variety of skills, whilst being graphic and simplistic. We aimed to engage the audiences by juxtaposing the bull with the colour blue (a visual representation of water). This makes the bull stand out in a crowd!
The two very different stylistic sides help convey both a realistic and more graphic depiction of cotton plants being immersed in a body of water.
Still in rural NSW and it was the students of Muswellbrook High School who partnered with YFC Casey Onus to create their Archie named ‘Cotton Eye Joe’.
Using a wide range of cotton products, including crotchet items, dyed cotton, cotton buds, cotton fabric and a cotton mop, Cotton Eye Joe showcases the process of growing cotton and the variety of products it makes.
During the design process, each student had to design and propose how they would decorate the bull. As a group we took the best elements from each student’s proposal and incorporated them into one whole design.
The Muswellbrook Archie drew on the following design elements:
Black and white stripes: represent the rows of cotton crops
Sunset with farmer silhouettes: to show how hard and long farmers work everyday
Cotton Picker centred in the design: to showcase the machinery used and to emphasise the role that machinery and technology play in the cotton industry
Hot pink paint: a link to the cotton dyeing process; highlighting that cotton can be more than white.
Cotton reels: we wanted to use an everyday cotton item and transform them into an artwork. The cotton reels construct the word cotton but also look like a piece of machinery (inspiration from the Gin).
Australian sunset: we used a silhouette of Australia to link both sides of the bull, but to also showcase the Australian Cotton Industry
Watch this space for Part 2 of our Cotton Showcase
Art4Agriculture’s annual National Ag Day Careers Competition is taking a LEGO theme this year and here we catch up with LEGO’s Australian Teacher of the Year Jess Schofield to find out how LEGO and project based learning (PBL) are promoting STEM careers.
QUT Bachelor of Education (Secondary) graduate Jessica Schofield was awarded LEGO Education’s Australian Teacher of the Year 2018. Photo source
Jess teaches maths, robotics and technology at Injune State School in central Queensland. With only 80 students the school is miniscule by international standards but this does not deter Jess from taking her students on an annual LEGO-inspired robotic journey. For her efforts in working with students in 2017s Robot Olympics Jess was recently named as the LEGO Australian Teacher of the Year and travelled to Boston USA to talk about her work as a STEM teacher.
Jess attended the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) at a time when STEM was the buzz word and, while studying, worked for three and a half years training local teachers in the Brisbane area to use robotics and technology in the classroom. Her first permanent job was at Injune, where she has now been for three years, and her experience helped convince parents that LEGO was for more than just the playroom. “Each year there is a global robotics competition with a regional tournament held in Brisbane. QUT contacted me and said they were willing to offer sponsorship if I would like to bring a team down, and when I put that to the parents they were pretty keen to give it a go,” she says.
“The kids have little LEGO robotics challenges where they have to program their robots and they also have to do a research project and present that,” Jess says of the robotics competition, which has many similarities to The Archibull Prize with both being a prime example of PBL in schools. “From a teachers point of view PBL is a little bit terrifying,” Jess says. “In ordinary teaching you have a set assessment piece and a set curriculum to teach to, you know exactly where your kids are starting and where you want them to end up at. PBL is daunting because you start a ten week unit with some vague idea of what you want the kids to produce at the end but exactly what you cover in that ten weeks is totally up to the kids.”
She also sees PBL as a way to engage students who are not traditionally academically inclined. “PBL interlinks subjects together without the kids realising,” she says. “For instance if their robot is going too fast they need to work out how to half the speed. They might be studying ratios or fractions in class and struggling to put it on pen and paper and yet they do the same application without realising because they can see the immediate results or the immediate impact of those calculations.”
Injune lies in an agricultural area and in their first year of the robotics competition the students drew from their backgrounds.
“The kids came up with this really crazy idea of training horses to be like guide-dogs so people with vision impairment or age could still go out mustering,” Jess says, but although many of the students can envisage themselves working on the family property at the conclusion of school Jess says they would not think of this as a career. “I am looking forward to engaging the students in the (Art4Agriculture) careers competition to help them explore beyond what they currently know or are involved in.”
Exploring options and pathways is the aim of the Art4Agriculture 2018 National Ag Day Careers Competition and by combining LEGO and PBL it is hoped a new generation will consider agriculture as not just a job but as a fulfilling and rewarding career.