Networks are about people. This project has been very successful in connecting scientists, mathematicians, statisticians and teacher education professionals, both within the project team and with external parties. The extent of collaboration within ORS has grown substantially over the project lifetime, both organically and through concerted and directed effort. This collaboration exists at many levels and in diverse forms: the project leadership team sought to bring together university and external partner scientists, mathematicians and educators, pre-service and in-service teachers, and representatives of the various stakeholder groups.
Collaboration between scientists, mathematicians and educators
Each of the universities has reported improved communication between disciplines through this project. The intermingling of people involved in scientific research with the teacher education professionals has led to curriculum changes and more interplay between departments, which will improve the teaching in the science faculties as well as influence teacher education to engage with real science.
Collaboration between scientists, mathematicians and educators is most clearly evident in module development, and is showcased in the module Modelling the Present—Predicting the Future. This module involved distinct contributions from mathematicians, scientists and educators, and featured real interdisciplinary problems and contexts.
Beyond the modules are many examples in which ORS project scientists have delivered (science) content to pre-service teachers during tutorials, laboratory sessions and customised workshops. As notable examples, ORS Research Fellow Dr Cormac Purcell designed and delivered hands-on workshops to 40 pre-service teachers and 26 in-service teachers, while Professor Helen Pask (ORS physics) educated pre-service teachers on the topic of light during a Science behind the Art workshop at the Macquarie Art Gallery. There have also been ongoing joint dissemination activities such as collaborative conference and seminar presentations and publications.
The strong links forged during the project will continue, and will enable sustainability strategies and outcomes to be communicated beyond the life of the ORS project.
Collaboration with industry organisations
ORS engaged three non-academic industry partner organisations, each of which made important contributions to the project:
- Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope made their remote telescope network available to pre-service teachers undertaking ORS modules.
- The Australian Astronomical Observatory provided videos and other materials that were incorporated into several modules. This allowed the ORS to capitalise on the work of Dr Amanda Bauer and colleagues, which resulted in authentic and engaging content. In addition, Dr Fred Watson and Mr Rob Hollow served on the ORS Reference Committee.
- CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science contributions included participation in workshops, critiquing of astronomy modules, and sharing of initiatives to support training of pre-service and in-service teachers.
Other organisations and agencies that have been involved in the project collectively span science, astronomy, the arts, museums, professional associations and government. From the outset, collaborative partnerships were seen as pivotal to the success of ORS, and indeed to the long-term prospects for ETMST. In particular the collaboration with the CSIRO provided access to certain resources, which would have not been possible without their input in the ORS module development and other activities.