Thursday, 6 October 2016

Day 3: Kariya Junior high School

Trip report from Megan Hayes.

(See below for a collage of images taken during the visit.)

Today we visited Kariya Junior high School where we watched a very hands-on science inquiry lesson with the students. 

They were presented with the problem of identifying unidentified gases in three canisters. The students were totally engaged as they worked in small groups to come up with ways to test each gas then make statements about which gas was stored based on their findings. 

They were even asked to give themselves a rating related to their participation throughout the lesson. 

Fantastic self-reflection strategies on show!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Day 3: The Kariya Super Science School

Trip report from Megan Hayes.

(See below for a collage of images taken during the visit.)

Today we visited the Kariya Super Science High School. 

The students here are in Year 10, 11, 12 and produce a high-level science research project, which they present in Year 11 to the school community. They must present it again, in English, in Year 12. 

During our visit, Mr Brett McKay presented a cool inquiry science lesson all about air pressure. The students loved expanding a marshmallow to triple its size.  

We all received beautiful gifts from the Vice Principal, Mr Hirao Akiyoshi.

Editor's note: There will be more reports uploaded as they come in. Obviously they are having a busy time.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Announcing our 2016 Australian cohort

ASTA would like to congratulate Cos Longo, Megan Hayes and Brett McKay, who will be accompanying ASTA President Anne Disney and CEO Vic Dobos on the 2016 Exchange.

Cos Longo teaches students from Reception to Year 7 at Our Lady of Hope, Greenwith in South Australia. He is hoping that the exchange will enrich and equip him with new ways to engage, motivate and stimulate his students.  "I would come back with a different insight for the teaching of Science having seen this through the eyes of a new culture and pedagogy," he said.

Megan Hayes is a dedicated STEM teacher at Mudgeereba Creek State School in Queensland. Megan hopes the Exchange will allow for the creation of networks that will improve her own skills through the sharing of teaching and learning ideas from local and international teachers of Science. The skills she learns will then be used to create innovative programs for her students.

Brett McKay is the Head of the Department at Kirrawee High School in New South Wales.  Kirrawee High supports an annual student exchange with two Japanese schools and Brett believes the Exchange will allow him to better understand the techniques that Japanese students are used to in instruction and to develop our lessons to enhance their own exchange program. "Our students discuss on return from their exchange ideas that they have experienced in lessons in Japan. This exchange will enable me to have a better understanding of the techniques used in Japan and apply them with our students, so there is a better continuum of learning," he said.

You can follow Cos, Megan and Brett's experience on this blog or via the twitter hashtag #ASTAJapan

ASTA thanks AJF for support of 2016 Japanese Science Teachers Exchange

The Australian Science Teachers Association is delighted to announce that it was one of 48 beneficiaries of grants funded by the Australian Japan Foundation. The money will be used to support a small delegation of Australian teachers to travel to Japan to experience the culture, traditions and diversity within teaching practice between the two countries.
Known as the ASTA Science Teachers Exchange, this experience has been transformational for many of the participating teachers with the exchange bridging the cultural divide and helping teachers to grow in confidence and teaching efficacy.
The 2016 ASTA- Japan Science Teachers Exchange is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia-Japan Foundation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The trip will commence on 1 October and teachers will be blogging about their experience at

Monday, 5 October 2015

Day 6: World Smile Day - by Brian Schiller

Today is World Smile Day, a day devoted to smiles and kind acts throughout the world. Our experience during the ASTA Science Tour of Japan is that EVERY day in Japan is World Smile Day! The Japanese people have been SO welcoming!

We are inspired to continue the exchange of teaching ideas and their development and application after this wonderful experience ends.  My immediate plans are to stay in Japan for a while and improve my Japanese.

I am excited by the opportunity to help develop an on-line vehicle for Japanese and Aussie kids to share science experiences and plan investigations together, (coming next year).

I’m keen to develop Maiko Ikeuchi’s, Rysosuke Sugiyama’s and my Japanese science readers and continue our Japanese in Science program at Seacliff Primary.  Maybe I’ll take a long-term teaching exchange in Japan in the future.

Thanks Robyn, Vic, Sharra, Penny, ASTA, AJF and the Japanese team for a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Brian and Vic having a bit of fun in Tokyo

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Day 5: Robot Cabaret - by Sharra Martin

Our plans were disrupted this afternoon by a typhoon which meant we couldn’t go up the Tokyo Sky Tree as planned. We decided to replace that activity with some ‘professional learning’ at a robot cabaret we had heard rumours of. We figured this fitted in well with the science week theme for next year.  

The robot cabaret is a Japanese cabaret show at the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo’s Kabukicho red-light district. The one hour show features fun – and sometimes campy – performances full of flashing lights, taiko drums and techno music.
Robots on stage at the Robot Cabaret
After checking in and selecting a drink, we waited in the lounge until we were escorted to our seats for the evening's entertainment.

We watched in amazement as neon tanks came onstage to battle alongside Godzilla, robots, samurais and ninjas. Dancing girls in colourful outfits joined dinosaurs and pandas on stage against a backdrop of video screens. Flashing lights, accompanied by taiko drums and loud techno-style music, illuminated the performance of massive female robots – truly a spectacle that will stay with me for years to come!
Actors on stage with taiko drums that made for a colourful light display
Mothra attacking King Kong

This was a fantastic end to another amazing day and I can’t imagine how anyone could not enjoy themselves at this venue.

Day 5: Teaching the science of boomerangs to Omika Kita High School students - by Sharra Martin

After watching my colleagues delivered some amazing science lessons, it was finally my turn to teach a class of students. I approached this task with a few nerves as I had seen such great lessons from everyone else, and I was worried that mine would not run as smoothly or that the students would not be as engaged in the activities. Fortunately it all went well and it was an experience that I will never forget.

We arrived at Omiya Kita High School in Saitama  City and were greeted by an enthusiastic principal, Mrs Hosoda Mayumi.  Omiya Kita High School, located 40 minutes away from central Tokyo,  is one of four municipal high schools in Saitama City and sets itself apart from the others by being a Science School. This means that there is an additional science class that students can opt into, giving them the opportunity to further both their understanding and skills in science. Two students from the science class presented investigations that they had undertaken, and it was fabulous to see evidence of investigative skills emerging in these young people.

This school is the equivalent of a senior high school in Australia and teaches students from Year's 10 – 12.  The major difference that I noticed regarding their curriculum structure was that during Year 10 they only studied biology, as it was felt that they did not have the mathematical skills needed for
chemistry and physics until Year 11. There was considerable ICT in use within the classroom,
however, there is limited professional development provided for teachers to train up on how to
maximise ICT. ICT is mainly used as a replacement for a whiteboard or blackboard, rather than to add new aspects to learning and help develop deeper thinking skills.

The classes at Omika Kita High School usually have a class size of 20. This is unique, as we found that most other schools in Japan have a maximum class size of 40. I wondered how such large class sizes would impact students getting individual feedforward and support. If you consider that a standard lesson is approximately 50 minutes in length, by the time you have given instructions, started an activity, and taken into account pack-up and clean-up time you would be left with less than one minute to talk individually with each student.
Sharra interacting with Japanese students at Omika Kita High School
As the students had been taught in English in the past, it was decided that I would try and do my lesson without a translator. At first they were hesitant to interact but slowly they came around,  and started discussing ideas with each other and getting into the activity.  I incorporated literacy-based
activities such as concept stars to help me gain an understanding of their prior knowledge, as well as
giving context to the activity that they completed. My lesson, using boomerangs to explore the principles of lift, angular momentum and torque, was a success. By the end of the lesson there was a variety of different models and some very successful throws.