Community School Excels in the Global Classroom

Some Starfish with the Scientriffic Prizes

Byron Community School students celebrate their international success.
Photo Lisa Engeman

If ever there was a group of children destined to produce a Nobel Prize winner it is Adrian Bruce’s Year 3/4 class
at Byron Community School. In less than a year this group of under twelves has managed to win two science-based
competitions, one of them against an international field of entrants.

The first was the Global Virtual Classroom Project run by the Give Something Back International Foundation,
where the Byron students teamed up online with a class from Valencia in Spain and one from Mississippi in the
United States to produce a website displaying ‘plays’ that portrayed scientific principles.

Competing against 13 other teams of three schools each from around the world, the project was chosen for first
prize in May by an esteemed group of judges, amongst them Dr Gary Godfrey, a research physicist at the Stanford
Linear Accelerator and Alan Giles the CEO of the worldwide HMV Group.

Mmmm, actually it is the now :) For their efforts the school won $US1,000 ($US3,000 was split between the three schools in the winning team) which they used to
buy a couple of sets of Lego Technic for the classroom, not to mention international recognition in the educational field and a valuable valuable cultural exchange and friendship between the students across three continents.

The next prize this same class won was awarded by kids’ science magazine Scientrific. The children had to design
a postcard of the planet Mars and because theirs was chosen as the best out of all the entries, it will appear in
the next issue of the magazine in August. The school also won a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, science books and t-shirts.
Teacher Adrian Bruce said the competitions have been a great learning tool for both him and his students. ‘In the first project we used chatting software so the kids would be talking to the Americans or Spanish kids in real time, they emailed each other and it built a nice camaraderie between the kids, they were always really keen to read the emails and they still keep in contact. We’re intending to keep working together,’ he said.

‘The second contest was a creative way of teaching about Mars and using new software, we learnt how to source
mostly free software. As a teacher I don’t know landscape generating software so we would load it and learn it
together, co-learning is the buzzword now in education. The students value us as lifelong learners, the teacher isn’t
the fountain of knowledge, they are always learning, too.’

Mr Bruce has been a teacher for 14 years and has a website, www.adrianbruce.com, where he offers free
lessons using games to help make learning more accessible and fun. His website gets 25,000 downloads every
month and many of the users are from countries like Sudan and Ghana where teaching materials are scarce.

To view the kids’ winning website check http://gvc03c32.virtualclassroom.org and for other schools wanting to
enter the next global classroom visit www.gsbi.org/gvc/. Registration opened on May 15 and teams are
announced on September 24.

The Byron Community School and the Starfish class would like to thank The Echo reporter Patrizia Reimer for her kind words about our class projects in this article.

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