As the first in Australia to adopt Stile’s Double Helix Lessons from CSIRO, Year 5 and 6s have been thrust deep into the scientific world via virtual reality simulations, videos, animations and hands-on investigations.
Fully mapped to the Australian Curriculum, the futuristic online program takes children on a series of adventures with the relatable Double Helix characters to actually experience scientific concepts, not simply learn about them.
Deputy principal Paul Sharp says the decision to roll with the resource was an obvious one.
“I had a good look at the content, showed it to some of our teachers … We were just like ‘wow!’ Some of the stuff you could do, as teachers, we just thought we don’t have the technical expertise to do the interactives that they have, little things like that.
“It also aligned very well with the curriculum, it aligned with the scope and sequence for Year 5 and what we were planning to do anyway for Year 5, so we thought it was a great opportunity to take it up and have a go at it,” Sharp tells EducationHQ.
Opting to run with the ‘Earth & Space Sciences: Natural Disasters’ unit (27 lessons, 20 hours teaching time), the educator says the beauty of the iPad-based resource is that it can be easily tailored to meet kids’ individual abilities.
“It’s not just simply handed content … we’re looking at ways that we can also adjust the content and use the content to suit us with the curriculum links we’re making … and where our students are at, so that’s been a key point for us.”
Sharp will happily report that classroom teachers don’t need to be “technological experts” to modify the sequential program.
“All the back end of the technology is quite simple for the teacher to adjust, and they can hide parts for different kids, they can split their class into different groups depending on abilities and get them to cover different areas, which is quite important,” he says.
According to the Victorian educator, the Double Helix Lessons have brought a real, human-edge to students’ understanding of geological and meteorological hazards, essentially allowing each student to play a character in the “story of science”.
“It simulates a cyclone in the bedroom, and what would happen, and if there was a flood, what would happen…” Sharp says.
“Having the characters allows the kids to engage more with the story and the story of science.”