STEMiverse 0021 - Lael Grant on the benefits of competitive educational robotics

October 15, 2017

Welcome to STEMiverse Podcast episode 21!

In this episode, Peter and Marcus talk with Lael Grant!

Lael is computer programming teacher at Barker College, based in the Sydney suburb of Hornsby, in Australia.

At the College, Lael is the team co-ordinator and part of the mentor team of the Barker Redbacks. The Redbacks have established themselves as one of the leading Robotics teams in Australia. When Lael is not planning the future of robotics and STEM education at Barker, he teaches programming as a part of the Computer Science faculty.

We interviewed Lael and two student members of the Redback team at the Barker College campus. The result is a two-part episode in which we discuss the importance of using robotics as a vehicle to develop multiple skillsets and attidutes in students.

In this first episode, Lael talks about Robotics education in Barker College, and the benefits of cooperative competition.

In the second episode, two student members of the Redbacks team (one current and one alumni) give us a student perspective of what team membership is like for them, and how it has helped them develop technical, personal and interpersonal skills. Saskia – a current member and one of the Team Captains is in Year 11. And Alastair is a team alumni and now studying Engineering.

I'll take one more minute in this introduction to give you some background on the Redbacks Robotics team.

The team grew from a small number of students in 2014 through to their successes in 2017. In 2017 the team competed in Australia and around the globe in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) and the VEX Robotics Competition (VRC). The team won the most Regionals of any team in FRC, and were finalists in their Division at Championships.


This is STEMiverse Podcast episode 21.


[00:00] Introduction - Introducing Lael Grant
[02:47] The Robotics Laboratory of Barker College in Hornsby, New South Wales
[04:08] Lael talks about his background and his role in STEM Education and Robotics in Barker College
[04:44] FRC, the First Robotics Competition founded by Dean Kamen
[07:27] Cultural differences influencing teaching Chinese students
[09:07] Communication between students and the language barrier
[10:11] What do students gain out of Competitive Robotics: More motivation to produce something excellent
[16:05] Robotics as a Team endeavour instead of just as a solo activity
[21:07] How large is the Barker Robotics team?
[22:56] How many students have gone through the Barker Robotics teams?
[23:43] Expanding the Barker Robotics team as a future goal
[24:19] Lael's teaching activities: Programming and Web Design
[25:03] The ICT Department is separate from the Technological and Applied Studies (TAS) Department in Barker College
[26:03] Integrated STEM course developed by Dr Scott Sleap
[26:44] How does the experience at Barker Robotics affect students going forward
[32:09] Stress during the Robotics Competition, its effect on students and how they deal with it
[36:14] The need for an inventory system
[37:38] How to get the students to do chores (keep a clean work space, do documentation etc.)
[39:58] Setup of the Training Program
[41:57] Advice for teachers that would like to start a similar robotics program: Begin with VEX Robotics
[44:39] MIT Zero Robotics
[46:33] How to organize a space in a school dedicated to Robotics
[48:00] Differences in engagement in Robotics between boys and girls: How do we provide opportunity for girls to be engaged?
[49:59] What does it cost to build a Robot? Sponsors and other funding sources: Aluminium Warehouse, Innovation First International, Inc.
[52:52] Bitrix24 Management Platform
[53:56] Australian Academic and Research Network (AARNET)
[54:17] Why sponsor Barker Robotics
[55:50] How NASA picks its engineers
[56:25] How to sponsor Barker Robotics
[56:54] Rapid Fire Questions
[56:58] Lael's Favourite Book: The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother, by James McBride
[58:03] Lael's Favourite Programming Language: Java
[58:37] Who has inspired Lael? Elon Musk
[01:00:38] Lael's Contact Information: Twitter: @BarkerRobotics, Email:




STEMiverse 0020 - Matt Richards: flipping learning environments with the Makerspace

September 26, 2017

[00:00] Introduction - Introducing Matt Richards
[02:11] Matt talks about his background
[03:44] What prompted Matt to get into Education
[06:30] The first Makerspace in Port Macquarie, St Columba Anglican School
[11:22] The inspiring beginnings of the Maker Movement in the States
[13:54] What makes a Makerspace special in comparison to a classroom: A Makerspace supports "differentiated personalised learning"
[16:21] As a teacher, where should I begin in order to turn my classroom into a Makerspace or create a new Makerspace in a dedicated area of a school? - The Competency Framework of The Four Cs: Communication-Collaboration-Critical Thinking-Creativity
[19:40] How does the teacher assess the students in this model?
[21:28] In some countries there is a gap in the curriculum between what is expected and what we really need
[23:13] A Makerspace is an environment where the traditional roles can be flipped: "It's what YOU want to make of it"
[23:50] The Concept of Ako
[25:50] Activities at the Hinatore Learning Lab at New Zealand's National Museum:
[26:40] Museums, just like Libraries are transitioning to including interactive learning activities
[27:43] Caring about the Stories around the Objects
[28:59] A session of Pacific Explorers, one of the programs of the Hinatore Learning Lab
[32:11] Technology used: Tinkercad, Google Tilt Brush, Minecraft, Makey Makey Kits, Raspberry Pi Robots, 3D Printers & Scanners (Space Spider & iSense), SculptrVR (find more at
[34:31] Equity of access in Creativity: Alpha Artists in Wellington (
[35:05] Augmented Reality (AR): HoloLens
[38:47] Do we put too much Technology, especially Hi-Tech, into our kids' Education and lives? Are we replacing human teachers with CyberSpace?
[40:33] Buckminster Fuller: "It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary. War is obsolete. It is a matter of converting our high technology from WEAPONRY to LIVINGRY."
[41:15] Entering a Post-Scarcity era
[44:00] Digital Citizenship
[46:05] What is the Blockchain?
[49:36] Rapid Fire Questions
[49:52] What will be the bleeding edge in a year in Educational Technology?
[52:48] What learning toys would you stay clear off?
[54:18] Favourite Programming Languages and Productivity Tools: Google Tools, Slack, Trello, Feedmesh
[56:40] Matt's Blog, his Linkedin and Twitter profiles
[58:32] Advice to Educators just starting out: Be spontaneous


STEMiverse 0019 - Brian McNally: Thinking While Moving

September 18, 2017

Welcome to STEMiverse Podcast episode 19!

In this episode, Peter and Marcus talks with Brian McNally!

Brian is a veteran teacher with 23 years of experience.

Brian has moved from Outdoor Education to Primary Physical Education, Secondary Physical Education, IT, Maths and Science. Specialising in Gifted and Talented Education, Brian is now teaching stage 3 students, which is years 5 and 6, on the NSW Central Coast in Australia.

He is regularly presents seminars and training events to teachers in topics such as:
* Thinking while Moving in Mathematics
* Using IT in PE
* Mathematics

These are some of the topics that we will discuss in this podcast.

Brian’s passion is in encouraging students to make links between concepts taught in STEM subjects. By making learning relevant through Pop Culture, his students become actively engaged in their lessons through familiarity with themes common to their generation.

This is STEMiverse Podcast episode 19.



[00:00] Introduction - Introducing Brian McNally
[01:49] Brian talks about his background
[03:29] Outdoor Education
[05:52] Brian's transition from PE to IT
[06:29] How did Brian learn the IT subjects: Online training with the University
[06:51] How much time did Brian spend in PE before moving to IT?
[09:04] Cross-fertilization between PE and IT
[10:36] Example of cross-fertilization between different subjects
[15:39] Use what the kids are familiar and excited with to teach STEM
[19:33] TV Show ‘Letters and Numbers’ on SBS One
[22:29] Brian's current teaching subject: As a mainstream primary teacher, stage 3, years 5-6, and with a Rich Tasking group, applying Project Based Learning
[23:35] Purpose of the Rich Task group
[29:41] How Brian uses physical movement in STEM education: Thinking while Moving in Maths program, by Dr. Nick Riley, University of Newcastle
[32:13] Benefits of learning Maths while moving: engaging different learning styles
[32:53] Thinking while moving enhances memory or computational process as well?
[33:57] Learning while sedentary vs while moving
[35:04] Applied learning
[38:19] Resources: Videos & Representatives visiting schools
[40:59] Rapid Fire Questions
[41:17] Who has been the most influential in shaping the way you teach: Elaine Johnston, hockey coach
[44:27] Advice to Educators just starting out: Learn along with your students and teach how to learn
[47:03] Brian's Contact Information: Email:


STEMiverse 0018 - Naomi Young: STEM on Youtube

September 12, 2017

In this episode of STEMiverse Podcast, Peter and Marcus talks with Naomi Young!

Naomi Young, who is also known by her screen nick-name "Nay Nay", is a star of ABC Kids and the creator of the TV and YouTube Kids show Tinkertime. Her songs ‘Bubble Pop’, ‘Smash It Down, ‘I Have A Voice’ and ‘My Brother Ate My LEGO’ are Australian household favourites. You may also know Naomi for her work as the voice of ‘Hootabelle’ on Giggle and Hoot. Her TV credits also include Nickelodeon’s host of Nick Takes Over Your School and Sarvo’, The Wiggles (assistant choreographer, dancer), Playhouse Disney, Home and Away, All Saints and much more.

Naomi has been working in Children’s Television and Theatre for 15 years. She graduated with a BA Media & Cultural Studies and Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary English & Drama) both from Macquarie University. Her kids channel, Tinkertime is all about experimenting, pulling things apart and not being afraid to make mistakes. Nay Nay wants to encourage kids to get curious about STEAM (Science, Technology, Art, Engineering, Maths) and nurture a love of adventure and inventive thinking.

While in education, Naomi was Runner Up Most Outstanding New Teacher awarded by the NSW Teachers Guild in 2009. On top of her teaching load she co-founded The Project - Schools Industry Arts, an initiative that collaborated with schools and arts industry professionals to push the boundaries of arts education programs in schools. The team delivered NSW Institute of Teachers accredited professional development to hundreds of teachers.

After building her own companies, Naomi has become passionate about encouraging artists and educators to take an entrepreneurial approach to building brands and utilizing online mediums and has begun consulting small businesses and individuals.


Show notes

[00:00] Introduction - Introducing Naomi Young
[02:58] Greetings
[04:01] Naomi talks about her background, mentioning Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors, by Rachelle Doorley, the inspiration for Tinkertime
[07:18] Naomi's childhood and its link with her current activities: "The curiosity has to be alive."
[11:21] What could teachers have done to help Naomi stay focused in the learning of Science?
[14:18] Personalised learning
[15:46] Is the art of entertaining a skill teachers can learn? The Charisma Myth, by Olivia Fox Cabane
[17:47] Teaching as a performance vs communication & World's Teacher day
[20:36] What ninja skills does Naomi have that she can give to other teachers?
[24:29] “Find the joy in everything”
[25:21] When we walk into a classroom let’s not forget to make teaching fun
[26:25] Naomi's creative process
[29:40] Naomi's process for mental rest & recovery
[32:04] Musical instruments Naomi plays
[32:49] Working with other people and how Naomi got Tinkertime off the ground
[37:35] Why go to television in 2017?
[39:27] Quality content in current educational & children's television: The Storybots
[41:39] Benefits of getting your content on TV: Power, distribution, paid media and an already attentive audience
[42:44] Naomi's goals for her YouTube channel
[45:40] How would Naomi like teachers to use her channel and content?
[47:36] The model on how to use Naomi's content in the classroom
[48:39] Length of educational videos: The factor of audience engagement
[51:02] What kids engage with in Naomi's videos
[52:22] Naomi's plan for scaling her business
[55:10] Naomi's setup & equipment
[57:51] How Naomi learned to make and edit YouTube videos
[59:06] Creating video content as a new skill teachers should try to master
[01:00:40] How to maintain engagement in the age of binge watching
[01:02:20] Rapid Fire Questions
[01:02:24] Who has been the most influential in shaping the way you teach? The Pixar philosophy of story
[01:03:08] Is Programming a necessary skill for teachers or not?
[01:04:12] Parting Thoughts, Dos and Don'ts
[01:05:39] Naomi's Contact Information: YouTube channel, Website


STEMiverse 0017 - Dr Steve Brodie: Open Innovation

August 29, 2017

In this episode of STEMiverse Podcast, Peter talks with Dr Steve Brodie.

Steve has over 20 years’ experience in research and development, commercialisation and open innovation within corporate research and development laboratories (multinational and SME) and University technology transfer offices. He is a creative intrapreneur with a proven ability to recognise innovation opportunities and to create and implement solutions to go after them.

A core theme throughout Steve's career has been innovation and, in particular, how individuals and organisations can collaborate to identify innovation opportunities, develop new ideas and innovate.

Currently, Steve is the Executive Manager, Innovation at CSIRO, Australia's premiere research organisation. ON is Australia's national science and technology accelerator specialising in assisting researchers from the fields of science and technology working on projects that have the potential to shape Australia's future.

In this interview, we discuss Open Collaborative and Wicked innovation, classroom-friendly ways to foster innovative thinking, Lady Bird science books, the continuoum between school student and a University career as a researcher, problem solving and much more.

This is STEMiverse Podcast episode 17.


Episode notes

[00:00] Introduction - Introducing Dr Steve Brodie
[02:06] Dr Steve talks about his background in Research and Development and as Executive Manager, Innovation at CSIRO
[05:26] Dr Steve's years in school as a student in England
[07:06] Ladybird Books
[09:16] The thread that connects the curiosity of a 10 year old to that of a scientist/engineer
[11:00] Innovators think like children
[11:55] Curiosity: Expressed through play in childhood vs structured problem-solving in adulthood
[13:44] When curiosity becomes useful
[15:42] Combinatorial Creativity
[20:47] Online Resources on Combinatorial Creativity: The Whack Pack & Edward de Bono's (inventor of the term "Lateral Thinking") approach with random words
[22:36] Dr Steve's role at UNSW
[24:38] The Innovation Sandpit
[28:51] The meaning of the term 'Open Innovation'
[31:48] Is Open Innovation particularly suited for solving problems where collaboration is a necessary part?
[33:07] A shift from Open Innovation to Collaborative Innovation
[33:48] Collaboration is in the heart of progress and prosperity and it's even more important now as we move forward and become more technologically advanced
[37:15] Are children at school learning about collaboration?
[38:17] Should we get kids to work on big problems?
[39:23] Collaborative Innovation at a very young age
[43:29] Predicting the important characteristics or skills of a 30 year old researcher 20 years from now: The observational side, engaging with people, being practical and getting things done
[46:07] Chinese research experiment: Quantum Internet
[46:36] Rapid Fire Questions
[46:42] Who has been the most influential in the way you think and work: Richard Feynman (YouTube Video: The Beauty of the Flower)
[48:36] Favourite books: Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character, by Richard Feynman
[49:56] Advice to Educators just starting out: The ability to give students time and freedom to think, reflect and be curious
[53:06] Dr Steve's Contact Information: Twitter: @InventorSteve


STEMiverse 0016 - Dr Karsten Schulz: Walking Supercomputers

August 21, 2017

In this episode of STEMiverse Podcast, Marcus and I talk with Karsten Schulz.

Karsten Schulz (PhD) is an engineer, computer scientist, and educator. He is leading the Digital Technologies Institute and is the designer of the B4 Modular Microprocessor for the classroom. Karsten has a background in the ICT industry, specifically in R&D. He has been involved in the Digital Technologies eduction space since 2008. Some of his previous activities include Young ICT Explorer and Bebras. Most recently, he designed and manufactured the B4 Modular Microprocessor, which students can experiment with in the classroom. Karsten is passionate about digital and biological systems, their similarities, and how things work deep inside.

This is STEMiverse Podcast episode 16.

Episode notes

[00:00] Introduction - Introducing Dr Karsten Schulz
[01:32] Dr Karsten talks about his background in Electrical Engineering, moving to Australia from Germany and working in R&D for SAP
[05:54] What was the environment like in SAP R&D teams?
[07:27] Were the projects in SAP R&D secret & confidential like skunkworks?
[08:30] Partners of SAP, such as Universities and IDM
[08:52] Young ICT Explorers
[14:00] The social aspect that makes studying science and technology fun
[14:50] Other similar to ICT Explorers competitions around Australia: CREST, Lego competitions
[15:22] Dr Karsten's current occupation: the Digital Technologies Institute
[16:27] 'Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software' Book by Charles Petzold
[21:20] The B4 Modular Computer Processor
[24:28] Personal experience in learning informs teaching: Learning how to learn
[26:51] What triggered Dr Karsten's ups and downs in his performance as a student: Lack of foundation
[29:19] Use different areas of the brain by exposing students to multiple subjects
[29:47] How do you make computer science approachable to teachers?
[31:31] Children's response to working with building machines projects
[33:38] The lack of graphical user interface's effect on children
[34:29] Description of the B4 Processor
[35:54] Cyber security with the B4
[38:12] Awareness of security issues in technology
[38:48] B4 target age: 12 year olds - school year 7 and up
[39:39] Teacher's reception of B4 and a James May video about binary numbers
[41:21] The analogy of the gene as a code, the connection of digital technology with biology: "we are walking supercomputers with free will"
[43:03] The little molecular machines in our cells
[44:03] Information processing as the common element in both biology and technology
[45:25] Rapid Fire Questions
[45:36] Who has influenced you the most? Dr Karsten's year 10 math and physics teacher and Albert Einstein
[48:12] Favorite Programming Language: C and its variants such as Objective C, C++
[49:07] Apps you cannot live without: Wunderlist
[50:23] How should new Educators prepare for teaching STEM?
[51:40] Dr Karsten's contact information: email: Twitter: @kkschulz


STEMiverse 0015 - Pip Cleaves: Code Clubbing

August 14, 2017

In this episode of STEMiverse podcast, Marcus and I talk with Pip Cleaves.

Pip Cleaves is the National Education Manager for Code Club Australia, a not for profit organisation that has supported the development of over 18,000 clubs and 65,000 students to code every week. She also works as a Sessional Lecturer in the Education and Arts Faculty at The Australian Catholic University.

She has worked extensively within the education industry nationally and globally, and in education technology since 2005. She also runs a small business to provide professional learning to educators around technology.

In this discussion, Pip talks about STEM education, Code Club (where she is the National Education Manager), technology education support for teachers, schools and libraries, education volunteering, and much more.

This is STEMiverse podcast episode 15.

Episode notes

[00:00] Introduction - Introducing Pip Cleaves
[02:21] Pip talks about her background, as a Japanese Translator, Japanese Teacher, Head Teacher of Learning Innovation and as National Education Manager in Code Club
[09:23] Code Club: Subsidiary of the Raspberry Pi Foundation
[12:32] The basic criteria for becoming a volunteer in Code Club
[13:54] Programming Languages offered in Code Club (Scratch, HTML/CSS, Python, Raspberry Pi, Sonic Pi, Sense HAT) and how kids can become members
[16:11] How do HTML & Python relate to Scratch and examples of how students can apply them
[18:32] 11 year old graduates of Code Club are well versed in Programming: They gain Confidence, Problem Solving Skills and a base for further knowledge
[19:37] Loving bugs, celebrating failure and making things better
[20:34] Why is Programming important? Problems and Programming go together
[22:22] Raspberry Pi allows you to see how computers work from the inside
[25:42] Future life skills children develop from learning programming
[26:27] Code Club content mapped to years 3-6 of the new Digital Technologies Curriculum
[28:29] Kindergarten kids learning digital technology:
[31:07] Differences between now and the past century concerning learning skills and mapping success
[34:40] What would Pip do as a benevolent dictator of education?
[37:00] 60 students - 3 teachers: A hub of 60, a pod of 20 and a huddle of 3
[38:28] Organized chaos
[39:21] Project NEST at Kurri Kurri High School
[39:53] More schools joining the evolution and change of education
[40:57] How do schools manage to do that: “with fantastic leadership”
[41:53] Convincing the parents: emphasize the importance of future-focused learning
[42:34] 5-10 years in advance
[46:35] What about creative subjects?
[48:17] Pip's latest Project: Competition of projects at Moonhack
[52:18] Rapid Fire Questions
[52:24] Who has been the most influential in shaping the way you work: Dianne Marshall
[53:24] Favorite programming languages: Scratch
[55:01] Advice to new educators: Just do it and learn along with the students
[55:30] Professional Development Conferences and Workshops: EduTech, EduChange
[57:08] Pip's Contact Information: Code Club Website, Email:, Twitter: @pipcleaves


STEMiverse 0014 - Professor John Fischetti: Transformational Teaching

August 1, 2017

In this episode of STEMiverse, Marcus and Peter talk with Professor John Fischetti.

Professor Fischetti is Head of School of Education School in the University of Newcastle.

Over the past 30 years John has worked to revamp classroom practices, school structures and board policies around the new era we are in, that he calls “the collaborative, global innovation age”.

In the past, John has served as a Dean in the US, a Professor and teacher.

Working inside school reform, revamping teacher education and rethinking leadership preparation over the past thirty years, Professor John Fischetti brings a divergent set of experiences to The University of Newcastle.

In this hour long, gem-packed discussion, John talks about

* equity vs equality in education,
* flipped schools,
* refugee education in Miami,
* personalised education,
* intellectual inspiration,
* student engagement,
* how to equip our children with the intellectual tools they need to reach the moon and beyond,
* how the role of teachers has already changed,
* and much much more.

This is STEMiverse episode 14.


Show notes

[00:00] Introduction - Introducing John Fischetti
[01:55] John's current occupation as Dean of Education at the University of Newcastle
[03:32] Equity vs Equality
[04:24] John talks about his background: Starting his career at the Haitian refugee center in Miami, FL
[05:33] Bringing Education to those who need it
[07:01] What drew John to become a teacher
[09:23] What influenced John to teach refugees: Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA)
[10:50] John's experience during his early days as a teacher
[20:57] How do you achieve Education-for-All, technically and politically?
[24:37] Towards a personalised version of Education
[26:20] How to achieve the mass customization of education within the current system
[27:12] "Start with where kids are passionate"
[33:36] Big Picture Australia & Big Picture US Schools: An alternative model to schooling
[35:18] How does a student become part of a Big Picture School
[38:12] The role of the teacher in a Big Picture School
[41:55] Advice for teachers on how to be better prepared for what's coming: Transformational Teaching [Link to YouTube video]
[46:51] What's more important for teachers and students? Being skilled or innovative?
[50:53] Programming and Coding: The New Literacies
[52:27] Computers more like humans and humans more like computers
[54:40] How students of Big Picture Schools gain entry to Universities: Portfolio entry
[57:52] Portfolio entry 10 years from now
[01:00:34] The whole educational system has to change
[01:02:00] John's Contact Information: Email: Twitter: @fischettij


STEMiverse 0013 - Meridith Ebbs: Project-based learning

July 25, 2017

In this episode of STEMiverse Podcast, Peter talks with Meridith Ebbs.

Unfortunately Marcus was unable to join us as he was stranded at an airport during this interview.

Meridith is a teacher with 23 years of experience in K-10 and adult education. She is interested in integrating STEM into classrooms and she is now also working as the NSW Project Officer for the CSER program with the University of Adelaide. She speaks regularly at conferences on Digital Technologies and evolving pedagogies so teachers can future proof the skills of students.

This is STEMiverse episode 13.

Show notes

[00:00] Introduction - Introducing Meredith Ebbs
[01:39] Meredith talks about her background in Physical Geography, Geomorphology, Biology and Genetics, her Diploma of Education in Primary School Teaching, her work as a Computer Trainer and more
[05:30] A comparison of teaching styles between University and Microsoft courses
[06:50] When Meredith decided to become a teacher
[07:44] Meredith's experience in teaching during the early years
[09:41] Integrated teaching
[14:03] Thematic teaching during the 90s
[15:21] Capturing the students' attention
[15:52] Using thematic teaching with older students: Project-based learning
[18:10] Universities need to reevaluate how they assess students
[20:36] What are we preparing students for?
[22:31] Portfolio-based entry at the University of Newcastle
[24:01] Example of a special education support student who created a remote control for a lawn mower
[25:24] Careers in terms of job clusters and transferable skills
[26:11] Flexibility in the educational system
[26:41] Meredith's current work at the University of Adelaide
[29:33] Teaching Teachers about Computational Thinking MOOC
[31:35] What makes computational thinking so important
[33:09] The new literacy standard
[34:22] Is Australia heading the right way and if so is it fast enough?
[36:04] The implications of technology and the social issues that need to be discussed
[36:36] Are new-coming teachers ready for the job required of them?
[37:15] Advice for a new teacher on how to upskill: MOOCs, mentors, the internet and social media
[40:04] The ways Meredith uses Twitter in the context of her work in education
[41:52] Using Twitter as a notebook and storifying twitter chats
[43:07] Using Pinterest
[44:03] Rapid Fire Questions
[44:21] Who has been the most influential in shaping the way you teach: Ada Lovelace
[45:10] Ada Lovelace (the first computer programmer) & Grace Hopper (inventor of COBOL)
[47:36] Apps you cannot leave without: Social Media
[49:35] Professional Development Conferences and Workshops: TeachMeet Sydney & Meetups
[51:59] Favorite Books: 'Hello Ruby' and Andrea Beaty's Books
[51:59] Meredith's Contact Information: CSER Digital Technologies Education


STEMiverse 0012 - Nicola O’Brien: Code Rangers

July 12, 2017

In this episode of STEMiverse, Marcus and I talk with Nicola O'Brien.

Nicola is the founder of Code Rangers, a company based in Sydney that teachers children how to code, develop games, and apps. Nicola's created Code Rangers after a long career in corporate Law and Finance. She is particularly pationate about programming and understands the importance of technology literacy as a basic prerequisite for our children's digital future.

Let's listen to Nicola as she describes her teaching philosophy as she applies it in Code Rangers.

Show notes

[00:00] Introduction - Introducing Nicola O'Brien
[01:38] Nicola talks about her background and her company Code Rangers
[02:40] Nicola's professional journey: From acquiring Law and Accounting degrees, to becoming a finance lawyer, a financial analyst, to learning Visual Basic and exploring coding, as well as her father's influence as a computer scientist
[04:52] What triggered Nicola's change from Law to Education
[06:08] Nicola as a child
[07:39] Nicola's teaching experience before starting Code Rangers
[08:31] The influence having children had on Nicola
[10:08] Why Coding was Nicola's subject of choice
[11:10] The leap from Ethics lessons to teaching Coding
[13:34] What outcomes parents are looking for and what their expectations are
[15:27] Nicola's teaching tools: Scratch and Makey Makey for younger kids, Python for older ones
[15:53] Scratch
[17:43] Tab vs 3 Spaces
[18:18] Web development using Thimble by Mozilla
[18:59] Micro:bit
[21:11] Combining scripted lessons with student exploration
[22:17] How students deal with challenges: Troubleshooting
[24:45] Code Rangers' Schedule
[25:58] If you had unlimited budget how would you design an ideal educational system: PD for teachers
[29:13] How to get kids interested in technology
[31:47] Character qualities for technology teachers: Being observant, empathetic and encouraging
[33:50] Code Rangers' company size
[34:37] Rapid Fire Questions
[34:50] Who has been the most influential in shaping the way you teach: Seymour Pappert
[35:03] Apps you cannot leave without: Zapier
[36:38] Professional Development Conferences and Workshops: Networking, Twitter chat: #aussieED @aussieEDchat, @edchatNZ, #whatisschool
[40:00] Parting Thoughts, Dos and Don'ts
[40:38] Nicola's Contact Info: Code Rangers' Website