Blackwood High School
In 2017, the school introduced its Scientific Studies program, which focuses on developing students’ general capabilities. One innovative project the school has run involves developing remote controlled vehicles called “Wombots” which survey the interior of wombat burrows. The program has consistently attracted an equal mix of boys and girls, owing to its engaging, hands-on approach to learning that authentically relates to the real-world. The success of this approach has led to the project being incorporated into other learning areas at the school. This year, the school has also rolled out a redesigned Year 9 science curriculum. Rather than teaching each science discipline as separate units, these units have been integrated using a central theme. An essential question relating to this theme is posed at the start of the unit, with the following learning sequence arranged as a narrative, connecting student learning through the unit and leading the students towards the final assessment task, where students work in groups to create and present a solution to the essential question. This new approach to teaching science has already improved student engagement and learning outcomes, with a statistically significant shift in average grades compared to the previous four years.