By Bronte Howell:
Our activities program is designed to broaden students’ experience beyond the classroom and offer opportunities to extend and deepen their knowledge in a particular area of study or ignite a passion for a particular general interest.
Students and staff are thoroughly enjoying the many varied and interesting activities available in this comprehensive program.
This blog is an update of what they have been doing, which includes an introduction into electronics, learning a different technique to melt and form glass in the kiln, observing birds in their different habitats, exploring the new and fascinating technology of 3D printing, creating and eating fresh produce and partaking of different sporting challenges, to name a few.
Our goal in the “Introduction into Electronics” activity is to discover the magic that happens inside everyday objects such as phones, computers and other devices. Each week Karl von Möller, Director of “State of Electronics” inspires students to unlock these mysterious “black boxes”. Students have learned about both passive and active components to help us understand how they function. These include Resistors, Capacitors, Switches, Batteries, Diodes and LEDs, Transistors, and even Integrated Circuits such as the 555 timer chip. By understanding how they work, we can be creative in designing our own devices. Additionally, we have learnt how to solder and de-solder, understand electrical safety and procedures use a Breadboard for prototyping and make a more permanent circuit with Perf-board. This week they began exploring Microcontrollers by learning how to install and setup Arduino software. In the next few weeks they will be learning more about Arduino, exploring both hardware and software design.
INTRODUCTION TO GLASS KILN FORMING
The Glass activity has begun with a great amount of enthusiasm. Each week Emma Borland and Mark Ammermann from “Hand Made Glass” teach the students different techniques to melt and form glass in the kiln.
So far the group has demonstrated some really intuitive and imaginative results. In the first week the class made some pieces using PVA glue and powdered glass. It is similar to glue drawing with coloured sand and the group really loved exploring these materials. In the second week they included copper wire and organic materials such as leaves and soil fused in between the glass. Last week they began a two-part project where students are exploring melting glass over ceramics.
The aim of these projects is to develop a relevant understanding of the material so that the students can design and create a final artwork.
Rod Waterman takes the students on weekly visits to conservation reserves in the Melbourne urban precinct to observe birds in their different habitats.
In the first few weeks of their excursions they have been to a few local Kew parks, Banyule Flats Wetlands (twice) and the Fairfield Boathouse by the Yarra. At Banyule Flats the water in the lake is getting low, but the specialist waders, various ducks and a stunningly beautiful White Egret were on display and easy to see even with the naked eye. Waders included the black winged stilt and black fronted dotterels.
Black winged stilt (courtesy Birdlife Australia)
Next, their mini-busload of eleven extreme Preshil ornithologists surveyed the bird life of the Yarra near the Fairfield Boathouse. Plenty of pacific black ducks, dusky moorhens and various exotic brothers and sisters such as muscovy, peking and mallard Ducks. Our next destination is Kangaroo Ground to seek out the majestic wedge-tailed eagle.
Scott Phillips from Robots are coming runs two workshops in 3D printing at Preshil this year, and both groups have enjoyed exploring this new and fascinating technology. The beginner group has taken their first steps in CAD modelling using Tinkercad, designing a tree house model together, and has experimented with 3D body scanning. The advanced group, most of whom participated in the pilot program last year, have been learning organic 3D modelling and the use of measuring devices to ensure that their prints fit with other objects. Several students have nearly finished setting up their own crowd-funding website to raise funds for their 3D printer, which desperately needs a heated bed to prevent the prints delaminating. Very soon you will be able to donate to the cause and get exciting 3D printed rewards! You can also get along to one of his fortnightly evening workshops right here at Preshil.
In Thursday KG with John Collins they have been focusing on creating and eating fresh produce. They have brought the garden beds back to life and planted them out with crops for the late Autumn harvest as well as turned over the compost and prepared some beds for later in the year. In the kitchen they have kept their dishes to weekly themes. So far they have cooked up some food from Mexico, Thailand and Sichuan (China). They also made the most of a bountiful apple harvest by having an apple themed week. It has been going really well and the shared lunch on Thursday is a lovely way to enjoy the fruits of each others’ labour.
This term Beth Johnson has involved the students in a range of different sporting challenges. Due to the size of our Thursday group we also welcomed the kind assistance of Shede Olukhale from Kickstart training. Shede is an ex international athlete and fully qualified personal trainer. He played for the Kenyan national football team. This activity program has an emphasis on improving motor skills, mental and physical agility and getting students moving and improving general fitness. It also has a social benefit too, through encouraged team-work which helps build a healthy self esteem.
Tuesdays song writing elective with Musician Nick Lovell is going great guns. In this class, students are given the opportunity to tap into their creativity by writing songs as bands or as individuals. Thus far, the songs the students have been writing are really amazing. He has been so impressed by the way the song writers have collaborated and so admired their willingness to open themselves up to the process of song writing – it can be scary! In the final weeks of term students will be polishing up their songs in readiness for a recording session. Recording their songs offers great feed-back for them and also a chance to show off what they have produced.
Gillian Crothers began the activity by looking at the work of the Pop Artists, in particular, the work of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. After discussing the artists use of block colouring, heavy outlines and Benday dots, the students were asked to choose and image from popular culture that they could then ‘Popify’. They enlarged the images and used acrylic paint to create the bold finished works.
Next week will report back on our other activities below.