Category: Year 8 Science

3D Printing in Schools

Last Thursday 24th October 37 students from Hawkesdale College were at school at 6.00am, ready for a four hour coach trip to Quantum Victoria. Quantum is one of the specialist Science and Technology Schools in Victoria, “bringing the world of science and maths to life through games technology, augmented reality, project based learning, virtual reality, robotics and mechatronics.” Year 8 students had selected the 3D printing workshop, while the Year 9/10 elective students chose Game Development.

We had about three hours in total, which allowed for each student to create two designs – one in SketchUp on laptops and one in 123D Creature on iPads. Students were able to observe a 3D printer in action and handle some of the 3D printed objects that had been created. Their SketchUp designs (earphone holders) will be printed and posted, as that part can be more time consuming. There are a range of 3D printers on site, from a $50,000 version to a $500 version, and one being put together by Year 9 girls who come in from Charles LaTrobe High School at lunchtime, to build one using 3D printed parts!

So, what are the learning outcomes? Students were given the opportunity to “jump in” feet first, with virtually no instructions, using MacBook and Alienware computers. After stepping through a few introductory activities, they were given the task to create two “key holes” and design a holder for earplugs around them. All students, even our students with special needs (low literacy & numeracy, autism spectrum disorder and ADHD) achieved success, with students who finished early giving peer-to-peer support. Students saw that anything they could create in SketchUp could be 3D printed, but soon realized that long narrow pieces would be fragile. So, “design thinking” was important for the finished product.

Some examples of the uses of 3D printing were shared, as well as the prediction that most Australian households will own a 3D printer by 2030. Joel from Quantum explained that instead of having a warehouse of spare parts, Boeing have a database of 3D “blueprints” that enable any part to be 3D printed in titanium, on demand.  In Australia recently we heard about the racehorse who had his hooves scanned to create custom, 3D printed titanium horseshoes, which are stronger, lighter and fit better, to give him a distinct advantage on the track!

I like the medical uses – a man who had part of his skull 3D printed and the 3D printed ‘cast’ for broken limbs, that is waterproof, light and allows air and water to circulate, preventing the appendage from getting itchy and allowing the person to go swimming and have showers. There is a duck with an amputated leg that can walk again due to a 3D printed webbed foot and an American bald eagle with a 3D printed beak!

Some people believe that in future, we will no longer dash off to Bunnings to buy a specific tool or part, but get online and buy a plan to print one at home. What does this mean for our students? They may no longer get a job in retail as easily, but perhaps there will be employment for students who can design, create, reverse-engineer and visualize solutions.

Ballarat Grammar is preparing students for just that kind of future with their Year 8 Rocketry program, “To Houston…..and Beyond!”

International Energy Debate on Elluminate






These are ten of the twelve Voicethreads produced by students from five schools across three countries during the International Energy Challenge. Although we have had a few difficulties, including that we are never all at school at the same time, students have persisted to produce some excellent Voicethreads explaining the advantages of twelve different energy sources. On Thursday, we are going to run a town meeting on Elluminate, where representatives of each group defend their energy choice against other group reps.  As many of the participants will be using Elluminate for the first time, please read the following code of conduct carefully:

  1. Greet people with an appropriate introduction, showing respect at all times.
  2. Always use full English ie no IM or txt language. This is a professional site and translators cannot translate IM.
  3. Logon with an appropriate username that does not reveal your full identity. Keep that user name for the entire session (eg. Britt from Hawkesdale)
  4. No spamming eg zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
  5. Use appropriate language at all times – no swearing, slang, words of dubious nature or double meanings.
  6. No cyberbullying or put-downs etc
  7. Be sensitive to people from other cultures who may be present.
  8. Never reveal any personal information eg phone numbers, addressess etc
  9. Avoid using CAPS, as it means you are shouting!
  10. Share and use the whiteboard responsibly – don’t scribble or block out other people’s work.
  11. If in doubt, just don’t do it!

As Elluminate has a whiteboard available, I would like each team leader to send a Powerpoint slide with an image and title of their energy source and the names of the students in their group to my gmail address. Please do this ASAP, at least 24 hours before the session. I will then send you an email link to the session. To check that you can access Elluminate and have all the correct software, go to:

You can access the session from 30 minutes prior to the session starting. Log in with your first name and school at the following link:

P.S. This session was recorded at:

Year 8 Energy Project










Image Source

This is a picture of the Nesjavellir Power Plant in Iceland, where geothermal energy is widely used. Why do you think geothermal power is more common there than in Australia? Mark Elliot, executive chariman of Hot Rock Ltd, has been in our district investigating the use of geothermal power at various properties in the Hawkesdale and Koroit districts. Peter Barnett, a geologist from Hot Rocks, will be presenting on Elluminate at 2.45pm (period6) on Wednesday, 1st December. Click on this link for the Elluminate session about Geothermal Energy.

If you are studying wind power, I can forward your questions to Jeff Trompf (Project Manager, Power Development, AGL, Macarthur Wind Farm) or Ben Purcell (Development Manager, Wind Prospect Pty Ltd, Penshurst Wind Farm).

If someone in your group has started a Voicethread, you need to send them your email address, so they can add you as an editor and contibutor. Please make sure you add my gmail address and any partner student’s email addresses to your Voicethreads too, so you will have people to add to your presentation. It is important that all teachers have the ability to edit each of the Voicethreads – so if you are an owner of one, please add their email addresses to the ‘share’ page at the end of each Voicethread. Here are the links to each of the Voicethreads that I have access to:

Biomass Voicethread

Coal Energy Voicethread

Geothermal Energy Voicethread

Hydroelectric Power Voicethread

Hydrogen Voicethread

Natural Gas Voicethread

Nuclear Power Voicethread

Oil Energy Voicethread

Solar Energy

Tidal Energy Voicethread

Wave Energy Voicethread

Wind Energy Voicethread

Energy Challenge: Turning Algae into Fuel


Image Source

Could tiny green plants be the answer to our fuel crisis? Melissa Toifl, CSIRO scientist, thinks they might be! Melissa has been working on a research project to find out how algae can be turned into fuel as a renewable energy resource. Algae could be grown at sewage treatment plants, using excess nutrients to promote algal growth. Melissa will be using Elluminate to present her session tomorrow morning, 9.00am EST (Australia). You can listen to the recording of Melissa’s session here: Introduction to Biofuels. This is her presentation on Slideshare:

View more presentations from Britt Gow.

Wind Energy – Willatook Wind Farm Open Day


Image Source

This Thursday, 11th November, the company developing the Willatook Wind Farm, “Wind Prospect” will be holding a public exhibition and open day at the Hawkesdale Hall, between 2.00pm and 8.00pm. This will be a great opportunity for Luke and Dylan to find out more about their International Energy Project and answer the qurestions on the student Wind Energy Wiki. I suggest you write down a list of the questions you would like to ask and take a microphone and voice recorder to record an interview with representatives from Wind Prospect.

Your questions should help you to answer the following: How is the energy produced from the source?
What technologies are used in the production of the energy?
Where is the energy produced?
What are the advantages for your energy source in the following categories: Availability, economically, environmentally, ethically, safety, and socially? (These should reflect the perspective of each country.)

MelissaToiflOn Friday, we will have Melissa Toifl,  use Elluminate to present a slideshow about Biomass Energy – specifically, using algae as fuel. Melissa is our Scientist in Schools mentor and works with the CSIRO. I am hoping that Michelle Iro, our student teacher will facilitate this session. It will be Sean and Harvey who have the responsibility of asking questions to assist with their Biomass Project.

If you know of any other energy experts who could assist with this project, please leave a comment below. The International Energy Challenge involves Year 6, 7 and 8 students from five schools in three countries collaborating to produce a Voicethread to ‘sell’ their type of energy source. In early December, representatives of each group will debate the merits of each energy type on Elluminate.

Top Ten Volcano sites


Image Source

To celebrate Earth Science week I have compiled a list of my top ten sites for learning about volcanoes:

  1. Volcano Live web cam List of links to 23 web cam sites at volcanoes around the world.
  2. How Volcanoes Work, sponsored by NASA
  3. Virtual Volcano Explorer from Discovery Channel
  4. Forces of Nature from National Geographic
  5. Interactive Volcanoes
  6. Volcano Project by Oregon State University
  7. Volcanoes On-line – an Oracle ThinQuest project – by students for students
  8. Global Volcanism Program by the Smithsonian Institute
  9. This Dynamic Planet by USGS – Science for a Changing World
  10. Volcanoes for Kids – images, different types, how they form and erupt.

Maybe you know of another great site to learn about volcanoes? Just add it to the comment section below.

Earth Science Week – Hong Kong Geopark

Elly and volcano

Today we had an exciting opportunity to link up with Ng Young C. Y., a Hong Kong national who is a driving force behind the establishment of the Hong Kong Geopark. He is an expeerienced presenter, member of and advisor to  numerous committees and boards of management for conservation of geologically significant areas. Young had lots of information about the difficulties establishing a geopark in a metropoliton area, wonderful images of the park and it’s significant features and ways they market the geopark using appropriately named dishes of food (such as the tempura prawn volcano!).

Students learnt about the igneous rocks that we passed around, drew a labelled cross-section of a volcano and were able to ask questions about the geology of the park. We also look forward to tomorrow’s presentation by Ian Lewis about caves, sink holes, fossils, volcanoes and bats. Ian is an ex-teacher, geologist and member of the Kanawinka Global Geopark committee. He was born on the side of a volcano, loves caves and diving and will be sharing lots of his photos and knowledge about all things volcanic!

Friday 15th October


Image Source

On Friday I will be attending the “21st Century Learners in Rural Communities” seminar in Melbourne, so you will have some work to go on with. Go to the Interactives Rock Cycle site and work through the activities:

  1. Types of Rocks
  2. How Rocks Change and
  3. Rock Cycle Diagram
  4. Test Your Skills (15 Questions)

When you have completed the test, take a screen shot of your results or save the assessment result page that comes up at the end and send it to me at my gmail address. I am still waiting for the Google doc worksheet  (“Plates of the Earth”) from all except four students. This needs to be sent to my email too.

If you finish the test questions, go to FUSE and copy the Learning Resource Package ID number into the Search box: WMCL9X

These are the Kanawinka Global Geopark resources for you to explore. Try “Rock Back in Time“; “Down to Earth – Paleotraveller” and “Shaping the Land“. If computers and/or the internet is unavailable you will complete work from the textbook – read “Weathering and Erosion” and answer the review questions.

 You could also go to the Volcano Web Cam site and check out some volcanoes in real time. Choose ten different volcano cams and find their location on a map of the world. Create your own Volcano Google map, showing the longitude and latitude of each site. Which of these are in the “Pacific Ring of Fire“?

The Tramline Virtual Volcano Field Trip helps you to answer the following questions:

  1. How are volcanoes formed?
  2. How can they create islands?
  3. What kind of destruction can they cause?
  4. How do volcanoes affect our environment?
  5. Where in the earth can you find active volcanoes?
  6. Are there volcanoes on other planets?
  7. What are the different types of volcanoes?

Year 8 Earth Science and Energy


Image Source

This remarkable picture is an aerial photograph of the Manam volcano in Papua New Guinea. It shows the lava flows and ash plume of an active volcano. This week we have learnt about the structure of the earth, continental drift and tectonic plates. We know the difference between convergent, divergent and plates that slide past each other. What is the difference between magma and lava? When are small crystals formed in rocks? What are the differences between igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks? What are three pieces of evidence that suggest that the earth is broken up into separate continental plates that are slowly moving? What does a world map showing the location of earthquakes and volcanoes demonstrate? Where are the main fold mountains around the world? What happens in deep ocean trenches that explains why rocks further from the trench are older than those closer to the trench?

Next week is Earth Science Week and we will be having a special guest to speak to us about the Kanawinka Geopark, volcanoes, caves and bats. Ian Lewis, an ex-teacher and limestone and groundwater geologist, will be speaking to us from his home in Mt Gambier using Elluminate. You might even like to submit a video for next year’s “Geologi” short film competition. Kanawinka Geopark (“Land of Tomorrow”) is the world’s 57th Global Geopark and Hawkesdale is right in the middle of this region. (Download a map here).

For FUSE Learning Resource Package, type in the Learning Resource ID code WMCL9X.

Mr Distel has asked that students complete an on-line survey about the ultranet. Please go to this link: