Connecting experts to create widespread opportunities

This project has been very successful in connecting scientists, mathematicians, statisticians and teacher education professionals, both within the project team and with external parties.

Dr Cormac PurcellCollaboration 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. The development, trialling and implementation of learning modules and programs has established especially extensive networks with schools, teachers, professional associations, government agencies and accrediting authorities.

Interdisciplinary relationships

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. This will improve the teaching in the science faculties, as well as influencing teacher education to engage with real science. The module 'Modelling the Present – Predicting the Future' involved particularly strong collaboration, with distinct contributions from mathematicians, scientists and educators addressing 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. For example, 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.

Collaboration with industry

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. Capitalising on the work of Dr Amanda Bauer and colleagues, ORS produced more engaging and authentic content
  • The AAO's Dr Fred Watson and Mr Rob Hollow served on the ORS Reference Committee
  • CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science participated in workshops, critiqued astronomy modules, and shared key resources and initiatives to support teacher training.

Other contributors span science, astronomy, the arts, museums, professional associations and government. From the outset, collaborative partnerships were seen as pivotal to the continuing success of ORS.