Ep. 33: Behind the scences at EduTECH 2022
Welcome to the Virtual Staffroom, a podcast made for teachers by teachers, and all with a dash of educational technology thrown in. My name is Joachim Cohen. Today, we've got an extra special edition in store for you. As you come on a behind the scenes tour of EduTECH 2022 in Melbourne with yours truly. Yes, this humongous educational technology conference is back, and the Virtual Staffroom were right there reporting for you.
But before we begin, I would like to acknowledge this podcast was recorded on the traditional land of the Kulin Nation, and pay my respects to the elders both past, present, and emerging. And also pay our respect to other traditional elders and other Indigenous people on whose country or through whose country this broadcast will travel. Now, put on your headphones, turn up the volume, and let's sit off on an adventure.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to this extra special live edition of the Virtual Staffroom podcast right from EduTECH 2022 in Melbourne. The team are down here, so excited to be exploring the latest in technology innovations, the latest in what we're seeing happening in classrooms from across the globe using educational technology. We're going to be reporting all the new innovations we see, the trends that we start to see appearing. Some of the stories that warm our hearts are over two inspirational episodes, one we're recording here live, and one that we'll record with our reflections later on. So, look forward to talking to you, talking to lots of people that we discover and hear from over these next few days, and curing some of that FOMO that you might have if you weren't able to get here this year.
All right. I'm going to head off. I'm on the expo floor. I'm going to be reporting back throughout the day. Hopefully, you'll hear some snippets, some excitement, and something that might inspire you to do something different in your classroom today, tomorrow, or sometime in the future.
So, [inaudible 00:02:12], I'm here now with the amazing Tara Storey, who is from the Science Gallery in the STEM Center of Excellence at the University of Melbourne. I'm staring at a food printer. It's currently printing some chocolate with some insect powder that you were saying is inside it, Tara, and making a chocolate. Can you tell me a little bit about what's going on here, but then also a little bit about the programs you do and the way you connect tech with food?
Yeah, brilliant. So what we're looking at is a 3D food printer. It's utilizing chocolate as it's filament, and we have batched up that chocolate to contain about 10% insect powder. What we're inviting people to do is take a try of some insect chocolates and really play around with that concept of what will make you eat an insect. Because for a lot of us in the Western diet, at least, it's a bit of an eek zone for a lot of people, even though they're eaten globally across Asia and South America especially.
I'm just inspired. I mean, it's amazing to think we get a lot of kids 3D printing already and using the same type of tech skills, but then applying it to a whole different discipline. Is that right?
Yeah. If you've started to work on 3D printing, we can look into how we can convert that into something edible. There's so many different ways you can utilize that. Here, it's being used to provide a bit more of an interesting push to get people to try insects, but the opportunities for food 3D printing in terms of health manufacturing, how we can 3D print things that allow us to encase hydration for people who don't want to drink as much water. There's so many things you can do with food 3D printing, which is quite cool. At Science Gallery, what we aim to do is really collide art and science into this big interdisciplinary mess, because that's what the world is. When we actually go out and work, we don't work in a stream that you might find in schools.
As I'm walking through to my next session at EduTECH 2022, it's becoming very apparent about the importance of industry connections in ensuring the authenticity and meaningfulness of some of the tech we use in classrooms. So, definitely something to consider. How can you leverage connections to our local businesses and industries, and then, how can you use technology to simulate what you're seeing these businesses do in real life? A really exciting opportunity. We've got to connect our students to the future and make the use of technology meaningful.
All right. Now, I'm here with the amazing Michelle Chan, a STEM educator at Casey Tech School. What we're seeing is a simulation of a manufacturing process and a logistical process with three robotic arms, a conveyor belt. It's unbelievable. Michelle, can you tell me about what I'm seeing here today?
All right. We're trying to mimic advanced manufacturing, a manufacturing line. We've got these robotic arms, which is students can easily move and find the coordinates. The first robot here, we are just putting something into a container, and then delivering it to the next robot. And then, the next robot picks it up, put it to another conveyor belt, which then delivers it to the last robot, which essentially packs it.
But what the students do is they are given a design challenge of having a particular product that they need to get from one end to another using a conveyor belt, because the conveyor belt represents quality assurance or [inaudible 00:05:33] or whatever. It doesn't matter. But then throughout the day, what they do is they need to learn how to pick and place things. Also, how the robots will talk to each other through the use of sensors and the-
Yeah. I mean, I'm seeing cameras here, Michelle. It's like robots have got eyes in this particular thing. They don't start operating until they can see an object that they need to work with. That's amazing. I can see so much iteration as well because the students try things out, it doesn't work, and then, they try to fix it up and add modifications.
Yup. We love mistakes because that's the way they learn most powerfully. If they do things for the first time, then there's no more challenge, but there's plenty of room for mistakes and these robots are robust enough for them to do that. We give them plenty of time to do it. We always say that it's okay. What are you going to do next? If you make a mistake, if the robots crash, who cares? Let's try and do it again, see what happens next time.
That's amazing. Thank you so much. I mean, what inspirational, exciting work for students to do in digital technologies and designer technology. It's unbelievable. Congratulations, and thank you so much for talking with us.
Thank you very much.
Well, I'm down here at the Asus stand and it is looking extremely green, which I think is really exciting because it's pointing towards a trend that I am starting to see here at EduTECH 2022. That's all about sustainability, and how we're starting to see devices made from recycled materials. That packaging is decreasing in a really huge way, and that companies are thinking also about repairability and upgradability. So, you don't need to throw away these devices after one or two years. They're really going to last and be able to go into the future. Even going as far as looking at power management, which is really exciting because the energy that these devices use also has an impact on our environment. Rather inspirational, I think it's a trend that we are going to see. And when you're selecting your next device, maybe you need to think about exactly how much power it's using and also how much recycle content is going into that device.
I just wanted to let you know about a couple of exciting little innovations that I've happened to come across today. One of those is around the idea of portable charging. I know with everyone having so many more devices and power points sit close to the wall. There are some great developments in mobile charging to be able to keep students' devices going on-the-go anywhere. In addition to that, I've also come across a waterproof MLD case. Yes, that's right. A waterproof MLD case so that you can leave your MLD outside. What will they come up with next?
[inaudible 00:08:13], I am passing the DJI stand, Yes, DJI Education, where we're starting to see how they're using drone technology in the classroom to teach things like computational thinking, of course coding, but also looking at a lot of mathematical concepts when we're talking about putting a drone into a location within the 3D space, so using the X, Y and Z axes, as well as going across the curriculum and solving problems in all matters of areas. It really is mind blowing. We all know DJI as a drone operator, but remember, there's cameras inside lots of those drones. We also see them with robotics that have unbelievable camera technology on them that also deploy AI within them so that they can recognize different objects, react to different scenarios and situations, and, of course, all coded with the power of computational thinking and student ideas.
Now, I'm here on the expo floor again. EduTECH 2022 is not just about all the tech tools. It's also about finding out exciting ways to use technology in the classroom in a meaningful way. Today, I'm joined by Alice Motion from the University of Sydney, as well as Michelle Neil from the Australian Citizen Science Association that's hosted at the University of Sydney. Talk to us about some amazing ways that Citizen Science provides an opportunity to use tech in a meaningful way. Alice, tell us about some of your programs.
Okay. I will do. I'd love to. Some of the programs that we run at the University of Sydney, we have one that's actually sponsored by the New South Wales Department of Education. It's the Learning by Doing project. In that project, we're trying to work out how to better support teachers, educators, to align Citizen Science projects with the curriculum so that they can become the way that we teach science in schools, because we really believe that by doing science, students can have a much more positive experience. They feel more engaged, they're actually contributing to real research, and it shifts them away from the textbook or experiments where we know the answer. That's the great thing about Citizen Science.
There are many programs, many apps that are out there, many uses of technology for bringing Citizen Science to your classroom within an Australian context. There's things like FrogID. There's various bioblitzes. There's programs like iNaturalist where you can log your sightings of insects, trees, plants, all sorts of natural phenomena. And if you want to find out more about which Citizen Science projects you could potentially bring to your classroom, especially those with a tech focus if that's your interest, if you head to the Australian Citizen Science Association website, have a look at the Project Finder. You can have a look and just see the abundance of possibilities out there and see whether you might want to try some of those things out.
I just love it. That is absolutely fantastic. I really love the way you're saying it's about not just for students, but it's really for everybody to engage with science. That's something you are really passionate about too, Michelle.
Yes, I am. We've actually had quite a few schools come to us over the years and say, "Hey, look, we've got this problem at our school, how can we fix it?" The problems have been everything from good old crows stealing lunch out of the lunch boxes, to ibices stealing, throwing rubbish around the school. So, we've helped them do things like organize camera traps, for example, from their local university or high school. If they're a primary school, we then put them on together with the local Bunnings or something similar, and then also their local Men's Shed and said to them, "Okay, kids, now you need to draw what you would think would stop these things from actually getting in your bin or pulling out these things out of your lunchbox." We will make the best ones and we will trial them and see what happens.
There's heaps of learning opportunities out there. There's plenty of steam in there, not just STEM. I do love the art element as well. Basically, the world's your oyster. You can have a look at our Project Finder, citizenscience.org.au. But do make sure that you hit the refine button and make sure you can even search by what's in your local area. Or if you're making your own Citizen Science project, it is free to put your Citizen Science project on our Project Finder.
I just love that. I love the fact that you don't just have to do what's actually already there, you can solve a problem in your local community. Unbelievable.
There's three different types of Citizen Science. There's top down. Top down is when the scientists ask the question, and that's things like FrogID going... What exactly do we want to look at here? We're looking at frogs in the local area. Then, there's another one that is also about looking at co-created projects where the scientist has the problem or the citizens has the problem and they come together to solve that problem. Then, there's other ones as well that is citizen led. Now, these ones could be anything from, like I said before, these magpies or crows or something and pulling this stuff out. That's a citizen-led project. Perhaps then, we hook you up with a local researcher who's also doing work about that. So, there's plenty of opportunities out there. Really, it's a rabbit hole. Once you get into Citizen Science, you never get out.
I love it. I think the band's telling us it's time to wrap it up, but that was amazing. Thank you so much, Michelle, and thank you so much, Alice. That was fantastic.
You may be wondering, well, what does a EduTECH 2022 say about the types of skills and dispositions that our students may need to develop? Look, after just stepping out of one of the panel discussions, which was all about the essential skill requirements for business and industry, it's becoming apparent that we really need our teachers and students to level up just a little bit their knowledge of technology to go beyond basic ICT, to really be focusing in on that computational thinking and coding. Because technology is evading and invading every single aspect and part of our world, which is so exciting and presents so many opportunities. But also means that really to go a long way in the world, our students need to understand the power of technology and what it can do. The way to do that is to get under the hood to really understand how to code, what code does, to be able to work in these new and emerging industries, like working in the cloud, working with AI and analytics.
Wow. How was it for you? Did you learn something new? Did it give you something to think about? I hope so. I hope you enjoyed our first ever on-location podcast. Hopefully, the start of even more to come. Now, have you all had your fill of EduTECH? No? I thought not. Well, luckily enough, we have two episodes in our EduTECH series. Make sure you tune into episode 32 where Linda and I are joined by a couple of special T4L guests as we unpack and reflect on our EduTECH experiences.
This podcast has been produced by the masterful Jacob Drew, with the assistance and supreme coordination of many more awesome members of the T4L team. Stay awesome, stay innovative, everyone, and don't forget the power of sharing. Share this podcast, share your takeaways from EduTECH, share the awesome work you are doing in your classroom, and let's make ed tech magic together.
Just a little note, please be aware that all views expressed by the podcast presenters, that's us, are our personal opinions and not representative of the New South Wales Department of Education. Discussions aren't endorsements of third party products, services, or events. Please note that as much as we sound like it, we are not experts in legalese, tech speak or anything in between. We are just passionate people keen to boost technology for learning in the classroom and to help build the skills in your students and for you to solve the problems of tomorrow. Do your due diligence, read further, and if we've got something wrong, let us know. We too are always learning and always improving.