Southern Cross University project shares innovation and sustainable design ideas with classroom teachers

Published 30 November 2006

Using podcasting and computer-aided design technologies, new ideas in teaching innovation and sustainability in design will be introduced to 10 primary and high schools in Coffs Harbour, Armidale, Banora Point and Menindee.

The project, run by Southern Cross University, has received $80,000 funding through the Australian School Innovation in Science, Technology and Mathematics (ASISTM) Project and a further $20,000 from the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre (DKCRC).

It is being led by Dr Kurt Seemann, who is also the national core project leader for Sustainable Settlements Research, based at Southern Cross University’s Coffs Harbour campus.

Dr Seemann said the project would link the research being done as part of the CRC in desert communities with what is being taught at primary and high school level in schools on the coast and in western NSW.

The project is focusing on the curriculum subject area of sustainable built environment and will involve podcasting and the introduction of computer-aided design (CAD) programs. It will use new teaching ideas in technacy and innovation taught in the Bachelor of Technology Education at Coffs Harbour.

“The Desert Knowledge research provides access to information about issues such as reducing energy needs and water consumption. That is important in the desert, but equally important on the coast,” Dr Seemann said.

“Teachers are hungry for fresh material to expand the syllabus content in the area of sustainable built environment and innovation. We will be able to provide them with material to integrate into their teaching.

“The project links together three key ideas. The first idea is rich content material and this will come from principles emerging from the CRC work.

“The second is the recognition and development of innovation in the classroom and this will come from the cutting edge degree in technology education at Coffs Harbour.

“The final idea, pulling the above together, is working with innovative teachers to create a whole new learning resource, using creative technologies to address technacy innovation and sustainability in the curriculum.

“We want to produce a teaching package that can be made available to all teachers, using the additional tools such as podcasting and CAD.”

Dr Seemann said students would be able to engage in 3D design of a shelter, using energy efficient principles, and then share their ideas and methods using podcasting.

“We have found we can introduce the three-dimensional computer-aided design into schools as early as Year 7 with great success and think there is room to take these new teaching methods to as early as Year 5. Schools are really wanting to experience that,” he said.

“This project is about how you teach these different technologies at different age levels. It will start next year and run through to June 2008.”

The schools involved in the project are: Banora Point High School; Bishop Druitt College, Coffs Harbour; Casino High School; Dorrigo Public School; Menindee Central School; New England Girls School, Armidale; O’Connor Catholic College, Armidale; Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Armidale; Sawtell Public School; and The Armidale School.

The project is being assisted by PhD candidate Ms Deborah Rockstroh, final year students and academics Angela Turner and Jason Newcombe of the Bachelor of Technology Education.

Photo: Dr Kurt Seemann.

Media contact: Brigid Veale Southern Cross University communications manager 02 66593006 or 0439 680 748.