What colour is your key?

Today I witnessed the excitement of the 2015 HSC results being published. I had a keen interest this year as usual as a Learning Leader and teacher but also for the first time as a parent.

The combination of the HSC results today and the aggregated ATAR which will be published tomorrow will open up many exciting opportunities for the 2015 HSC students. It will provide the key to unlock these opportunities. The media will have a field day trying to tell us how successful these keys will be for students who have had to endure a stressful year of assessments culminating in a stressful examination period geared to deliver these keys to students who may have to endure further stress finding out if their key is the right colour to unlock their dreams.

Today and tomorrow is an exciting time for most as the reality of the outcome of their sustained discipline and effort will be realised by the number delivered for the combination of their key. I was totally caught up with this excitement today as I found out how well my colleagues and students fared once the HSC results were published. I congratulated the staff who report to me for some excellent results. I was proud of my students who also did really well. I spent a lot of the day chatting with one of my students who ranked third in the State in IPT and Business Studies. I am really proud of his achievement because I know how much effort he put into his studies. He wouldn’t have achieved this result based on my instruction alone but based on the independence and love for learning that I facilitated for him, he was inspired to do the hard work to make the fantastic result possible.

As much as these results are fantastic, they only provide a transitional key to unlock opportunities as one chapter closes and new chapters are opened. There are many other keys however that are overlooked as the media concentrates on the key with the HSC/ATAR number combination.

There are many students who will feel that they have not been good enough to get a decent key. They will face scrutiny in social circles and unfavourable comparisons based on how their number matches up to others. They may have to endure patronising comments which are probably meant to make the commenter feel better about themselves than show any real care for the person who they have humiliated.

What we need to consider at this time is that there are many keys to unlock dreams and that the HSC/ATAR number combination key is just one of them. It is indeed a very significant one and one that deserves to be celebrated for its excellence and hard work done to attain it. 

I spent another significant portion of today chatting with one of my best mate educator friends. We spoke about how to measure value and whether a school adds value to a student over the course of their high school years. If value is truly added to the life of a student then they should end up with many keys to assist them to unlock their dreams. I have been lucky enough to have worked in three different schools in Sydney’s Northern Beaches and North Shore that have added value to most of the students who attended but not necessarily the HSC/ATAR number value that gets great media attention.

Students who may not have the best number key delivered from their HSC/ATAR combination may have different key values related to less tangible skills in terms of measurement. Skills such as independence, creativity, confidence, leadership, voluntary service, community service, can-do attitude, have-a-go attitude, curiosity, tinkering, peer-to-peer relationships, relationships with authority, organisational ability, practical ability, common sense, teamwork. The Duke of Edinburgh award scheme is a fantastic program for all-rounders that provides a fantastic key for adolescents. The Queen Scout award provides a similar fantastic program through the Scouts. How about our fantastic youth volunteers at Surf Lifesaving, SES, RFS, cadets, youth groups, sports organisations (participants, coaches and referees). I’m sure I’ve missed lots of other examples of how our youth are creating many keys for themselves to unlock great opportunities to carve out their own dreams. 

One thing for sure is that there are many different colour keys for many different types of school leaving students. Over the next few days take a moment or two to appreciate the value of the person who has just finished their HSC. Think about the fact that the colour of their key may be different to the media-hyped HSC/ATAR key. The person who you meet will have finished six years of high school and is most likely a well-rounded young adult about to make their mark on the world. If we believe in them, regardless of the number of their most recently achieved key, then society will benefit from the well rounded skills that their school has encouraged them to develop through the guidance of the teachers who have nurtured them on their high school journey.

What colour is their key?

10 Major Technology Trends in Education

My IPT students reviewed the top ten trends in Education Technology from 2013 and used 3 votes to rate the most important trends from their perspective. The results can be viewed in the poll at the end of the blog post. #edTech

Information Processes and Technology

We have a first look at the results from the latest Speak Up survey, which polled hundreds of thousands of teachers, students, administrators, parents and community members about technology trends in education.

  • By Chris Riedel
  • 02/03/14

According to the latest data, video for homework is on the rise; mobile computing is “beyond the tipping point”; and most kids don’t use traditional computers to connect to the Internet at home. Those are just three of the major trends revealed in the 2013 Speak Up Survey from Project Tomorrow, which CEO Julie Evans revealed at the FETC 2014 conference last week.

The 2013 results represent more than 400,000 surveys from 9,000 schools and 2,700 districts across the country. Respondents included 325,279 students, 32,151 teachers and librarians, 39,986 parents, 4,530 district administrators and, new to this year’s survey, 1,346 community members.
Read more at http://thejournal.com/Articles/2014/02/03/10-Major-Technology-Trends-in-Education.aspx?Page=1#PP5O1HjxVA3tPLYf.99

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NBCS on Channel TEN news, eye Witness report

Channel TEN visited NBCS recently to report on the open, student-centred, collaborative PBL learning. Their report went to air on TV this evening in their eye Witness news section. Here is the news report:
NBCS on Channel TEN News – eye Witness 19-2-2014

Butterfly Struggles – An inspirational life lesson

I prepared this presentation for NBCS devotions on 12th February 2014. It is an inspirational life lesson drawn from the struggles that butterfly goes through during its metamorphosis:

Download the presentation: Butterfly Stuggles – an inspirational life lesson and enjoy.

RoboCup 2013 Adventures

Team R2-D2 had a successful 2012, taking their Robotics IST elective major project in Robot Soccer all the way to the Australian Open where they finished 3rd thereby qualifying for the World Robot Olympiad (WRO 2013) in Jakarta in November. The team committed to use their lunchtimes to redesign their robots and to improve the coding for the Artificial intelligence needed in order to competitive on the world stage. They also committed to using the NSW and National competitions to test their redesign and code.

The first test came at the NSW competition at UNSW in August which proved to be very successful as NBCS retained their NSW title first won in 2012.

NBCS retain the NSW title. Quentin & Cody Lovett, Niall Powers, Lachlan Stone and Rachel Coster as referee. Aaron Watson was missing from the photo.

NBCS retain the NSW title. Quentin & Cody Lovett, Niall Powers, Lachlan Stone and Rachel Coster as referee. Aaron Watson was missing from the photo.

Next up in September at the start of the school holidays was the Australian Open held at the University of Queensland in St Lucia, Brisbane. The team had to compete without Cody Lovett (the brains behind the AI coding) who was participating on a GO mission trip with NBCS in Cambodia. Cody’s younger brother Quentin stepped up to the mark to maintain a consistency of excellence in coding, analysis and problem solving provided by the Lovett family.

Team R2-D2 at UQ (University of Queensland) for the 2013 Australian Open in September. From left Quentin Lovett, Aaron Watson, Lachlan Stone Liam Dunphy (teacher/coach), Rachel Coster (referee) and Niall Powers.

Team R2-D2 at UQ (University of Queensland) for the 2013 Australian Open in September. From left Quentin Lovett, Aaron Watson, Lachlan Stone Liam Dunphy (teacher/coach), Rachel Coster (referee) and Niall Powers.

The constantly improving design and code proved very successful. In the lead up to Brisbane, the team used NBCS Showcase evening to demonstrate their success by allowing keen challengers to remotely control a robot against  the AI programmed robots. The final score over the evening was very close indeed with human remotely controlled robots just about scoring more goals than the AI robots. At the competition Team R2-D2 won all their games in the qualifying rounds including a keenly contested game with RoboCraft from Trinity College Collac from Victoria who also travelled to Jakarta as part of the Australian team.

R2-D2 taking on their Australian colleagues RoboCraft from TCC in Victoria. R2-D2 came from 2 goals down to win by 3.

R2-D2 taking on their Australian colleagues RoboCraft from TCC in Victoria.R2-D2 came from 2 goals down to win by 3.

Team R2-D2 were the 3rd highest ranked team going into the knock-out rounds where they faced Trinity Titans (also from Trinity College Collac) who were reigning Australian champions and also part of the Australian team travelling to Jakarta. In an epic game where the lead constantly changed, Team R2-D2 were leading by 2 with just under a minute to go. Somehow the Australian champions scored 2 quick goals to leave it looking like ending up as a draw until they scored the winner as the final whistle blew. Trinity Titans went on to beat the Korean champions in the final with a Golden goal. They have become very good friends with Team R2-D2 as part of the Australian team.

Finally in November, the team flew to Jakarta to represent Australia at the World Robot Olympiad. From left: Jacquie Watson, Lachlan Stone, Cody Lovett, Quentin Lovett, Liam Dunphy, Aaron Watson, Michelle Stone and Peter Lovett. Rachel and Lilly Coster were on an earlier flight.Departing Sydney

From left: Cody and Quentin Lovett, Rachel Coster, Aaron Watson, Lachlan Stone and Liam Dunphy

From left: Cody and Quentin Lovett, Rachel Coster, Aaron Watson, Lachlan Stone and Liam Dunphy as the team embark on their WRO adventures at the EcoVention Centre, Jakarta.

The opening ceremony included some traditional Javanese music and dance.

The opening ceremony included some traditional Javanese music and dance.

Cody, Aaron & Lachlan in the heat of the competition.

Cody, Aaron & Lachlan in the heat of the competition.

They overcame the challenges set by teams from the Ukraine and the Phillipines to set up a qualifying round showdown with Malaysia. Unfortunately they lost this close game 5-3 to finish 2nd in their qualifying group and miss out on final 16 the knock-out rounds. It was the only game they lost at WRO and only the 2nd game they lost in the entire 2013 calendar year. Malaysia went on to win the World Cup final beating the fancied Russian team by 3 goals in the final.

Team R2-D2 against Malaysia

Team R2-D2 against Malaysia

The World Cup final had an wonderful atmosphere with fans chanting for their teams. Malaysia deservedly won the game by three goals.

World GEN II Robot Soccer final between Malaysia and Russia

World GEN II Robot Soccer final between Malaysia and Russia

The Fireworks and Laser show at Fantastique for the closing ceremony.

The Fireworks and Laser show at Fantastique for the closing ceremony.

Great international friendships were made along the way which we hope to renew at WRO 2014 in Moscow. The team’s 3rd place ranking at the Australian Open in Brisbane provided the qualification route to Moscow. Team R2-D2 reckon they can improve further for next year and maybe get a world top 10 ranking. Who knows what will happen but it would be really nice to meet these nice friends again…
Rachel & Lilly Coster with Saif the sheik from UAE and Liam Dunphy

Rachel & Lilly Coster with Saif the sheik from UAE and Liam Dunphy

Friends from Thailand

Friends from Thailand

Rachel, Ukrainian friends, Liam and Saif from UAE

Rachel, Ukrainian friends, Liam and Saif from UAE

Congratulations to Team R2-D2 for a fabulous 2013. The lunchtimes were well worth it!

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 10 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Game Training Roadshow




GameTraining Roadshow

GameTraining Roadshow

Last Friday (30th November, 2012), 146 students from NBCS attended a Game Training Roadshow hosted by Jeff Ayling @GameTrainingAU

Students from Year 4 all the way up to Year 12 enthusiastically watched Jeff explain how to create a commercial quality 3D game from scratch. There was something to be learned by everyone whether they were an absolute beginner with no experience right up to seasoned Pro gamers looking for inspiration with the wealth of resources available.

Jeff explained how to use the Unity 3D platform to easily make games. The only limitation being the imagination of the developer making the game. As Jeff mentioned, “Who would have thought that firing birds at pigs would be an idea that would work?”. Students left the roadshow keen to explore their entrepreneurial skills by creating Software Development teams that would explore ways to make game games that could be available for purchase through app stores like iTunes.

Reimagining storage to create furniture for learning

The recent success of the year 9 and 10 IST students at the State and National RoboCup competitions was given significant help from the work of the NBCS Support Services team and in particular Ben Pridmore who created a custom-built Robot Soccer table for the students to practice with. This table has been popular with visiting educators on tours of the school.

RoboCup Table

Demonstration game of Robot Soccer for touring party

The table is no longer in use in 2012 but will be needed once the 2013 school year starts as the the students will need to prepare for the 2013 World Robotics Olympiad in Jakarta next November. In the meantime, the sheer size and weight of the table posed problems for its secure storage. Various mobile solutions were not very practical. The TAS team at NBCS however came up with a creative solution whereby the the table would remain in the Design Studio of the Greenway Centre but would have three panels of removable table tops to cover it. These table top panels have now been completed by Ben and the Support Services team. Each panel has a different surface on each side allowing for a flexible combination of cutting surfaces, whiteboard surfaces and the novelty retro blackboard surfaces.

Robot Soccer table with table tops designed for flexible learning

Robot Soccer table with table tops designed for flexible learning

The table is very popular with students as they reuse a learning space that had become redundant due to the scale of the Robot Soccer table. The table is also very popular with touring educators. Because of its popularity it is hoped that a sponsorship scheme may be set up to allow advertising on the table walls. All the proceeds would go to the various NBCS Mission projects in operation around the world. If you would like to offer a sponsorship, please contact Liam Dunphy at NBCS.

NBCS students qualify to represent Australia in the World Robotics Olympiad

Year 9 NBCS students with Team YDK were crowned RCJA (RoboCup Junior Australia) NSW Junior Robot Soccer Champions in August at UNSW and qualified automatically to enter the Australian Open. Year 10 students were also encouraged to enter the National competition due to the high levels of Artificial Intelligence programmed into their Botteroos robots.

The RCJA Australian Open took place from September 21-23 at the ANU (Australian National University) in Canberra. The NBCS students (and robots) were well supported by family members who applauded their efforts over the week-end.

Here is a short video of highlights of the RCJA Australian Open, at the ANU in Canberra from 21-23 September, 2012. The video was produced and edited by NBCS Year 9 student, Simon Worthington.

Here are official video highlights of the Australian Open from RoboCup Junior Australia

Team YDK (NSW champions) started the Saturday qualifiers with 2 wins but narrowly lost their 3rd game 4-3 and missed out on a favourable draw in the finals on Sunday. In the Round of 16 game, they scored all the goals in a closely contested 5-3 loss and so their wonderful adventure ended. Team YDK students were: Ellis Abrahams, Matt Evangelidis, Tim Mason, Ben von Stebut, Louis Wagstaff.

The Botteroos rebranded their image to become Team R2D2. They had a tough start against the Dream Team from Trinity College Collac, Victoria but bounced back to beat the Queensland champions 5-0 in their 2nd game. They won their final game on Saturday to qualify for the knock-out finals on Sunday. Just like Team YDK, Team R2D2 scored all the goals in a 5-3 Round of 16 game but fortunately they scored less own goals to progress to the Quarter-finals where they beat a Victorian team 10-4. The semi-final was a rematch of their first game against The Dream Team but despite losing, they showed significant improvement since that first game which was very encouraging. The real bonus from finishing as a semi-finalist was announced during the awards ceremony when they were officially invited to participate in the World Robotics Olympiad as one of Australia’s representatives in Jakarta next November. The Team R2D2 students are: Aaron Watson (Year 9), Cody Lovett, Niall Powers and Lachlan Stone (Year 10). Daniel Clarke (year 10) was also in the team but was unable to travel to Canberra due to Pride of Australia commitments.


Team R2D2 & Team YDK with Mr Liam Dunphy

View the full post to get more details and see more photos on the Robotics page for the Australian Open.

#tmHills teachMeet Presentation – Scary TAS LAMing and SCILing at NBCS


Here is the Presentation I made for the #tmHill teachMeet at Cumberland High School today (Friday 26th October, 2012)