Limitless opportunities for learning on display at Regional Day Out

On November 15, the SA Chapter once again welcomed members and visitors from across the region to a packed RDO program centred in the green heart of Adelaide.  

Having held previous successful Day Out events in 2016 and 2018   in the same parklands precinct, this year’s RDO was able to celebrate the arrival in the neighbourhood of Adelaide’s first vertical school, the Adelaide Botanic High School.

Focused on the theme of “Balance in Learning- Technology, Well Being, and Environment”, the day got off to a great start with a heartfelt welcome to country in language from young Kaurna man Isaac Hannam. The Minister for Education, the Hon. John Gardner MP shared his obvious passion for quality in learning environments which “create spaces that enable future pathways to be manifest to students” in his opening speech.

Three keynote speakers explored different aspects of the theme, in a conference setting that also enabled the 150 delegates to enjoy a view over interactive learning in action at the Adelaide Zoo.

Adelaide Botanic High’s principal Alistair Brown took the audience through the journey of establishing the school and its first year in operation with Year 8 and 9 students in 2019. The school, which was overall winner of the 2019 SA/NT Chapter awards, includes a multitude of features unknown in other SA high schools including learning pods each accommodating at least two teachers and class groups, extensive learning commons space for self-directed un-timetabled learning. Its curriculum is based on four connected learning areas namely, STEM, Global Perspectives, Lifestyle Choices and The Arts, with a studio program that enables a day a week to be focused on elective areas of deep inquiry. 20% of learning activity takes place outside the school in the surrounding university and cultural precinct. Many delegates took the opportunity to experience the school in action later in the day for a site visit.

The second keynote was Dr Sarah Baker who coordinates the Department for Education’s cross sector Advanced Technology Program. This is aimed at halting the decline in STEM engagement, through giving students and teachers hands-on experience of advanced manufacturing and defence related industries. Responding to the maxims “You can’t be what you can’t see” and “You can’t bestow what you don’t know”, Sarah showcased hands-on learning experiences in diverse areas ranging from safety checking of show rides, and drone-based weed eradication to virtual reality precision welding and day long Mars Mission simulations.

After a morning break which included the opportunity for delegates to get up close to some of the smaller animals in the zoo, the third keynote, environmental scientist and explorer Tim Jarvis AM took the audience way out of their comfort zone.  Focussed mainly on Tim’s experience leading expeditions in the Antarctic, Tim used his 2013 re-enactment of Shackleton’s ill-fated 1913 mission, to illustrate collaboration, interdependence and resilience in action in extreme circumstances. A world away from today’s technology and information-saturated urban environments, Tim’s journeying to the most remote and inhospitable corners of the globe brought home the realities of climate change. Equally importantly, he demonstrated that true leadership, detailed planning, persistence and collaborative skills must be essential parts of our response to this.

Following the three keynotes, entertaining and irreverent MC Amanda Blair led a panel discussion that drew out the speakers’ thoughts on how the school experience can prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of the messy real world.

After the lunch break delegates departed for a selection of city-based site visits to the newly opened Adelaide Botanic High, CBC Centre for Innovation and Learning, and Uni SA’s Pridham Hall, and the onsite learning programs at Adelaide Botanic Gardens and Adelaide Zoo.

The day concluded with drinks at the Zoo and the Regional AGM.

Article and  images - Andrew Gehling, SA Chapter

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This page last updated: Monday 25 November 2019