Life’s a ball for elephants

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28 June 2019

Year 11 students from St Columba’s College, Essendon, returned to Melbourne Zoo to talk to teachers about the cognitive toy they designed for elephants.

As part of their work in 2018 for the Year 10 PBL (Project Based Learning) program, Milly, Veronique, Amelia and Kiara were invited back to Melbourne Zoo to present at the Empathy, Ethics and Animals Teacher Professional Learning Conference. Milly reports on the thrill of presenting their work, the pride in creating a toy to support elephants, and the challenge of pronouncing ‘truncated icosahedron’ in front of 200 teachers.

Last week, our group from the 2018 PBL program attended a teachers’ conference at the Melbourne Zoo to speak about the cognitive toy we designed as part of the PBL week. It was an honour and a privilege to share our hard work with over 200 teachers, though we initially thought it would be a much smaller group.

We were very nervous before speaking, but we soon eased into it when we started to explain the program that we participated in and all of the fun we had building our cognitive toy ball for the elephants. This was not the first time we presented our work, including presenting at Catholic Education Melbourne’s STEM MAD (Making a Difference) Showcase, where we won an award for our work.

The audience was very entertained with our presentation and laughed many times as we pronounced the name of our 32-sided shape (the truncated icosahedron) and made a few jokes. We were asked a couple of questions at the end and it felt very easy for us to answer as we knew exactly what we were talking about. We were then congratulated for our previous achievements and received some gifts for our efforts.

As a group we were very satisfied with all the hard work we put in and glad that a lot of good came out of it. When we took part in the Year 10 PBL task, we had no idea of the achievements and success we would accomplish by making a toy for an elephant, but by working together and using the feedback and help from our teachers and the school, we produced a well-structured and enticing presentation which has been enjoyed by the audience. It has also assisted us in building our confidence and presentation skills.

Milly Haynes (Year 11) and Melissa D’Amico (STEM Curriculum Leader), St Columba’s College, Essendon. The 2019 STEM MAD (Making a Difference) Showcase will take place on Thursday 10 October at the Catholic Leadership Centre.