McCarthy blasts critics over science engagement


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Engaging science teaching means engaging learning
Engaging science teaching means engaging learning

Students from McCarthy Catholic College are using a rocket to blast their critics, who say they lag behind the world in science studies.


An international report said Australian students studying Science and Maths were sliding down the international rankings prompting criticism about teaching standards and the ability of students in Year 4 and Year 8.


However the Emu Plains-based students in Sydney’s west have brushed off the bagging in their own special way - by making and launching rockets that soar 100m.


As part of a science spectacular involving hundreds of students from neighbouring primary schools (Our Lady of the Way, Holy Family and St Finbars) they are launching rockets and learning about the solar system in an innovative way.


McCarthy high school students are also joining in and sharing their passion with the primary school students by facilitating in workshops.    


Assistant Principal Michelle Descamps said science teachers need to be engaged in what they are doing and finding exciting ways to pique the interests of students so they want to learn. This means it is essential for our teachers to collaborate and utilise the enormity of skill and experience among teachers, in professional learning community groups.


“Our students have told us they want their teachers really passionate about what they are teaching, and that’s what we are doing,” she said.


“It’s about practical and real-world application, and going beyond the borders of the classroom and working cross-curricula bringing inquiry and project-based learning to the table.


“Our students want to be critical thinkers, they want to be empowered as learners, and that’s what we aim to achieve in and outside the classroom.”


Mrs Descamps said the TIMSS (Trends in Maths and Science Studies) report and the following comments by politicians saying our science students were failing were hot topics in the classroom among teachers and students.


“Our students were outraged. It’s obvious these critics have not been in a classroom and have not seen the exciting learning that science students are engaged in and results they are achieving,” she said.

“We are developing lifelong skills that testing cannot measure. They are learning about collaborating, inquisitive and critical thinking, and problem solving and all these skills set them up for the workforce and future jobs.”


Catholic Education Diocese Parramatta Executive Director Greg Whitby said our science students are not failing.


Mr Whitby said the TIMSS scores were a narrow assessment of what is happening in Science and Maths in our schools.


“For our younger students in particular, science has to relate to the world as they see it. It has to be practical, interactive and integrated into other aspects of learning,” he said.  


“We need our students to engage in science projects that involve problem solving so they are best prepared for the jobs that have yet to be created.


“This kind of learning is difficult to measure through a single assessment instrument.”


McCarthy Catholic College is one of 12 P-TECH schools in Australia that partners local business providing opportunities for students to engage with the world of work and better understand the relevance of their learning to jobs and post-school pathways.


The STEM focused P-TECH styled pilot will test and adapt key elements of this innovative US approach to education-industry collaboration in the Australian context.  Engaging students in preparedness for the exciting opportunities existing and developing within industry, will be invaluable engagement for students in vital industry partnerships for the future.


Posted By CatholicEdParra at 6/12/2016 2:15:27 PM Comments(0)

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