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Tuesday 12 October

Sophia McLean, Mossman High

Soils Ain't Dirt (Module 1)

A presentation on a successful depth study in EES focusing on sediments, soil and working scientifically skills for Year 11 students. The depth study incorporates the use of data loggers, GIS data, using databases and representation of data. It involves case studies of soil and beach sediments mostly from around Sydney with other samples from every state except WA. The depth study also incorporates the mining, trade and use by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of ochres and stone implements associated with ochres.

Sophia McLean has been a science teacher at Mosman High School since 2016 specialising in Earth and Environmental Science and Biology. Previously she led the Professional Learning for the Australian Academy of Science's world-leading program Primary Connections. She is an experienced science educator as well as being a developer and presenter of professional learning for teachers. She is a leader in science education in Australia and was the inaugural recipient of the Peter Doherty Award for Leadership in Science Education in QLD where she taught as a Head Teacher Science for 10 years. She has presented at numerous science teacher conferences around Australia, forums and staff development days. She is skilled in leading change within organisations and supporting colleagues to reach their potential as educators. She is a leader of innovative science teaching to suit the needs of her 21st Century learners. Utilising 1:1 laptops and the Google learning platform, her classes are innovative and data-driven to support the needs of her students. She is a leader of the Amgen Biotechnology Experience at her school and skilled in the use of PASCO data-loggers in the classroom. She is an early adopter of innovative practices and new technologies to support science teaching.

Wendy Cooper, Camden Haven High School

Progressing Stage 5 students into Earth and Environmental Science (Module 2)

Developing an interest in Earth and Environmental Science can be a daunting task especially in a school where it is not currently taught. By providing interesting and engaging ways of teaching the Plate Tectonics and the Environmental Science topics you can promote interest that eventuates in students choosing EES as one of their stage 6 courses. Exposing students to practical activities and experiences such as laboratory experiments, teaching aids and resources, videos, activities outside the laboratory, excursions into the local area, and inviting guest speakers can all promote interest.

It is also very important to share resources and activities with other teachers in the faculty that teach stage 5 that may not be so interested in these topics. This can develop interest and support to those teachers, which can promote and develop their interest. It also means all students in the cohort have the opportunity, to experience the same interesting and engaging material. Organising professional development opportunities for faculty members in the form of visits into the local areas to develop an understanding of their local geology and environment in the area can help.

We developed a first-hand research assessment task for year 9 in the form of an excursion into the local area. The students took a guided bus trip into the local area to observe and develop an understanding of their local geology and indigenous cultural perspective of the geology of the area. We also invited an Aboriginal Elder into the school to speak about their cultural perspective of the lands’ formation and management. All these experiences and opportunities resulted in EES running as a course in our school this year for the first time in over 12 years.

In stage 6, we further developed this interest with a depth study in Module 2 of the Port Macquarie Geotrail. This included an excursion to the Geotrail to explore first-hand, the features attributed to plate tectonics. Students also went to a local abandoned quarry where they were able to see excellent geological features and formations first-hand. These first-hand experiences have led to a deeper understanding of the concepts being taught in the classroom.

Wendy Cooper has been a science teacher since 2013. I changed careers from being an Environmental Scientist for over 20 years when my circumstances changed. I am passionate about science, especially environmental science with a newfound interest in geology and the formation of the earth. I have spent a lot of time in the field as an environmental scientist and as a result, believe taking students out of the classroom to experience the world around them is very important. I feel there are missed opportunities for students who don’t get these field opportunities especially those hands-on students who may not necessarily enjoy quantitative science but engage well in qualitative science. Experiencing hands-on science in the field, developing observational skills, and an inquiring mind about the world around them are very important.

Dr Nathan Daczko, Macquarie University

Heat, pressure and water: key controls on partial melting, magmatism and volcanism (Module 3)

We outline why (1) decompression and (2) addition of water both lead to partial melting of the Earth, and link these to (1) thermal plumes resulting in effusive mafic volcanic eruptions and (2) water released from subducted oceanic plates resulting in explosive felsic eruptions. We explore different types of volcanoes around the world in Google Earth to better understand the mafic and felsic rocks that form in different tectonic settings. We conduct a special investigation into the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland, where some of the eruption occurred 200 m beneath a glacier. Melt-water mixing increased the eruption's explosive power and the lava cooled quickly, which created a cloud of highly abrasive, glass-rich ash, disrupting air travel in the region.

Associate Professor Nathan Daczko is a metamorphic petrologist who combines field and laboratory studies to examine metamorphic processes. He addresses multiple scales, from microstructure to the evolution of large orogens. Inverting this information provides constraints on the geodynamic and metasomatic processes involved in the history of metamorphic rocks, and advances understanding of crustal evolution and geodynamics.

Richard Swain, Invasive Species Council

Feral horses in the Snowy Mountains – an interview with Richard Swain (Module 4)

We will have a yarn with Richard about the changes he has seen in the Snowy Mountains and, in particular, the damage caused by feral horses. We will look at different perspectives on feral horses and the damage they cause in vulnerable ecosystems. Participants are encouraged to come with questions.

Richard Swain grew up and lives in the Snowy Mountains with a connection to country. His father taught him the history of the Australian landscape, and his grandfather taught him how the Aboriginal people moved through and respected the country. As an ambassador for the Invasive Species Council, Richard helps raise the profile of the role Indigenous people have in caring for country, and protecting it from invasive species.

He completed his trade as a carpenter in 1989. He spent his younger years playing football and travelling Australia during a three year remote 4WD trip. After spending a year travelling overseas, Richard came back to his home in the Snowy Mountains shocked at the impact modern societies were having on the entire earth, and the lack of desire to live in harmonious balance with the planet.

He found a piece of country next to the cleanest river in the district to build his off-grid home and rear his children.

Richard works as an indigenous river guide, running his own ecotourism business in Kosciuszko National Park.

He has a long history of volunteering on local environmental and community projects and has first-hand understanding of the huge impact feral animals are having on Australia’s natural environment. Richard has also been instrumental in creating the Reclaim Kosci campaign, which aims to overturn legislation that protects destructive feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park.

Julie Mulholland & Bridget Murphy

ANSTO - Addressing working scientifically skills using real-world science (Multidisciplinary)

Teaching at a working science facility like ANSTO, we focus on the process of science, not just the facts that go with it. Teachers will hear from one of our scientists talking about how they use working scientifically skills as part of their job at ANSTO. We’ll then discuss our data set resources, developed specifically to engage students with real ANSTO scientific investigations and data. These resources guide students in deconstructing the investigation, processing and analysing the data and formulating the same conclusions as the scientists – all working scientifically skills.

Julie Mulholland is an Education Officer from Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). She is a highly experienced science educator, having over 30 years of experience teaching science, senior chemistry and senior physics in both TAFE and high schools, as well as 14 years as a Head Teacher Science. In 2013, she achieved a Minister’s award for excellence in teaching. Julie is instrumental in developing ANSTO’s data set resources for high school students.




Bridget Murphy has experience as a science researcher and science educator and is the Education Manager at the ANSTO Discovery Centre.



Wednesday 13 October

Gabriel Guy, Fort Street High School

Evolution and the Plate Tectonic Super Cycle (Module 5)

This workshop explores how the Plate Tectonic Super Cycle effects large scale evolution. We explore punctuated equilibrium, major extinction events, the evolution of major life forms linked to the Super Cycle, and the discoveries that provide the evidence.

Participants should leave the workshop with a greater appreciation and understanding regarding how the new environments created by the different stages of the Plate Tectonic Super Cycle provide new selection pressures for terrestrial and marine life, and the adaptations found by these populations struggling to respond to such challenges.

Gabriel Guy is the Earth and Environmental Science teacher at Fort Street High School. He is a passionate educator and science communicator. He has worked with STANSW, NESA, DET and other educational organisations over the past 5 years to network with other EES teachers and create resources for students and educators.

Mr Fabian Byers, St Scholastica's College

Hitting a moving target: Where I'm at with M6 (Module 6)

In the session Fabian will share some of the resources, models and class activities put together to program, teach and assess M6 Hazards.

Fabian Byers trained at USyd in biology and Marine Science, and UNSW in history and philosophy of Science. I'm a member of FATS (Frog and Tadpole Study Group) and the Riversleigh Society. Interests include waves and macro photography. I've taught EES at St Scholastica's Glebe since 2000, and marked HSC Bio and EES from time to time.


Julie Mulholland & Bridget Murphy

ANSTO - Graphing real data from Antarctic ice cores to teach climate change (Module 7)

ANSTO are the experts when it comes to science at the atomic scale. Our scientists use naturally occurring radioisotopes to monitor changes in the environment over long time scales. As one example of this research, Dr Andrew Smith uses ice cores from the Antarctic to determine changes in temperature and greenhouse gas concentrations.

In this workshop, teachers will learn about our data set and accompanying worksheet that helps students examine and graph 800,000 years of greenhouse gas concentrations. This resource provides activities to address syllabus content for EES Module 7, working scientifically skills, as well as general capabilities including literacy, numeracy, ICT skills and critical and creative thinking.

Julie Mulholland is an Education Officer from Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). She is a highly experienced science educator, having over 30 years of experience teaching science, senior chemistry and senior physics in both TAFE and high schools, as well as 14 years as a Head Teacher Science. In 2013, she achieved a Minister’s award for excellence in teaching. Julie is instrumental in developing ANSTO’s data set resources for high school students.



Bridget Murphy has experience as a science researcher and science educator and is the Education Manager at the ANSTO Discovery Centre.



Dr James Tibbett & Dr Chengguo Zhang
Vantage Interactive/ UNSW

A virtual reality journey into the impacts of mining and land rehabilitation options (Module 8)

Society needs raw materials. It is well understood that the resource extraction resulting from this demand has impacts on the environment. However, it is less well known that these operations have the opportunity to add value to the usability of the land, and in some cases improve the quality of the vegetation.

This workshop discusses a virtual reality (VR) and web-based experience that has been developed to allow classes to explore a variety of leading resource extraction operations to observe vegetation assessment, indigenous consultation, and rehabilitation. Various rehabilitation examples are presented as well as alternative uses for the land post extraction, such as landfill and pumped hydroelectric power generation.

The workshop will also discuss the technology behind 360-degree cameras and how further virtual showcases like this can be created to enhance the learning experience.

Dr James Tibbett is a mining engineering graduate from the University of New South Wales (UNSW). He spent time across 4 mining operations as a student and became passionate about solving some of the industry's challenges. This led to his PhD studies investigating rock mass response for large underground copper mines which he applied virtual reality (VR) technology to visualise the Big Data. After this application he decided to focus on VR technology and became the VR development manager for the School of Mining Engineering at UNSW. He has since left the university to become a Director of VR development agency (Vantage Interactive) and to co-found a technology start-up (SeePilot) where he focuses most of his time as the CEO.


Dr Chengguo Zhang is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Minerals and Energy Resources Engineering at UNSW Sydney. He received his B.E. in Mining Engineering from China University of Mining and Technology in 2010 and Ph.D. in Mining Engineering from UNSW Sydney in 2015. Dr Zhang works in the discipline of mining engineering, particularly in mine geomechanics research throughout his career, aiming to improve safety and sustainability in mines by conducting fundamental and applied research. Specifically, his research interest focuses on the critical areas in the mining industry, such as dynamic rock mass failures, the interaction of mining and groundwater, and mine data analysis and visualisation. His recently research focuses on integrating data analysis and visualisation technologies into the assessment of rock mass behaviour and management of geotechnical risks in deep mining environments, with more emphasis on the hard rock mines. His research leads to novel and unique solutions that previously have limited understanding and directly applies and translates to industry practices.


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