New Australian STEM resources hub


ABC Splash is a source of high-quality digital educational content specifically developed for the Australian learning community.  This week they launched the Splash STEM Hub which addresses “Science, Technology, Education and Maths” learning for students in Years Prep/Foundation to Year 10.  The site contains experiments, teaching ideas, and interviews with scientists, engineers in partnership with organisations such as CSIRO, RiAus and the Australian National University.  It brings real world science and people working in science and technology fields into the classroom.

To celebrate the launch of the new STEM hub, ABC Splash is conducting a prize draw that you enter by simply subscribing to the new STEM newsletter.  Two great prizes for the winners are three sphero rolling robots, one prize for primary and one for secondary.  What a marvellous incentive to sign up to receive what is a great prize in itself – regular science education news and updates!

All ABC Splash resources are free to watch and play at home and in school and are guaranteed to spark discussion and promote curiosity. The Splash portal is a world-class education experience for Australian students, and is packed with thousands of videos, audio clips, games and interactive tools.  Teachers and teacher librarians are especially encouraged to sign up for the primary, secondary and now the STEM newsletters.  Promote them to your students and their families, they’ll love them.

CSI: The Experience Web Adventures

Any school studying forensic science will probably be interested in this site.

CSI web adventures

Funded by the US National Science Foundation in conjunction with other organisations, CSI: The Experience Web Adventures provides three adventures, one each for beginner, intermediate and advanced. Registration is free and players can either sign up or play as a guest with no login (this means you won’t be able to save your game to resume playing at a later date). CSI characters help guide you through the adventure and offer help when needed.

This could be a good site for language learners as adventures are available in German and Spanish as well as English.

There are a number of resources for educators for students at different levels, a family guide, as well as links and other activities. Please check the site out before using with students as the nature of crimes involved may not be appropriate for everyone.

Thanks to Richard Byrne from Free Technology for Teachers for supplying the evidence!

Little Big Planet @ McGuire College

Award winning teacher Adrian Camm has been using the Playstation 3 video game Little Big Planet with his classes at McGuire College as a learning tool. Adrian explains:

The aim of this particular project is to engage year 7 and 9 students in game-based learning using the Playstation 3’s multiplayer functionality and the game Little Big Planet. Not only to students have to communicate and collaborate to solve problems within the game, but it then allows for students to be level designers and developers. The game includes an accurate physics engine that allows for exploration of a host of physical and mathematical concepts such as force, momentum, gravity, drift, scale and radius, to name a few. This initiative covers many other VELS domains and includes scope for cross-curricular opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.


The project is only really just starting but we envision that students will initially participate in multiplayer game play and then will develop game levels that reinforce or perhaps even expose them to science, technology, engineering and mathematics concepts. Students will learn about scientific concepts by exploration, will be engaged in self-directed, non-linear learning and contribute to a vibrant community of Little Big Planet developers and enthusiasts. Other classroom content would encompass game design principles, game play, debriefing to talk about application of game design principles to current levels etc.

It is proposed that this method of teaching science concepts (having the student at the centre) will lead to improved learning outcomes as opposed to the traditional textbook approach. In addition to measuring changes in skill at level design and changes in knowledge of scientific concepts, the evaluation of the project will investigate attitudes and perceptions of using game-based learning in the classroom from a student, parent and teacher perspective.

Adrian is a true innovator and is passionate about using technology to help students attain their very best. Thanks Adrian for sharing this amazing project.

Environmental sites

There are several websites that focus on the environment that are useful for learning and teaching. The Victorian EPA (Environment Protection Authority) has an ecological footprint calculator and a greenhouse calculator, which students would find both interesting and shocking to use.

Greenhouse calc

Vic EPA Footprint

Meanwhile the US EPA Teaching Center has a collection of resources on:

  • Air – acid rain, indoor air pollution, ozone, radon
  • Climate Change
  • Conservation – energy, environmental stewardship, natural resources, pollution prevention
  • Ecosystems – ecology, endangered species, global warming, habitats, watersheds
  • Human Health – drinking water, fish advisories, indoor air, lead, ozone depletion, pesticides, radon, smog
  • Stewardship
  • Waste & Recycling – garbage, household, hazardous & solid waste, landfills, superfund cleanups, trash
  • Water– drinking water, ecosystems, lakes, oceans, rivers, water pollution, watersheds

And although obviously US orientated, there is plenty of material that is useful for Australian and other schools.

iBoard player

The iBoard player is a terrific interactive teaching resource. With resources for Prep to 2, there is lots of fun and learning to be had.

Resources include:

  • Numeracy
  • Literacy
  • New Literacy (Texts)
  • Science
  • History
  • Geography
  • ICT
  • Religion

A day in the country
A day in the country

This year 1 example above comes with the following information from the website:

Ask pupils to position the characters and construct sentences about their position or movement.
Using the whole scene, you could challenge pupils to make a wider range of statements than those given… “the bird is flying above the girl”, “the owl is on top of the big bear’s head.”
Ask pupils to position the characters and construct sentences about their position or movement. Using the whole scene, you could challenge pupils to make a wider range of statements than those given… “the bird is flying above the girl”, “the owl is on top of the big bear’s head.”
The iBoard player looks like a useful tool for learning for younger students.

World’s biggest earthquakes since 1900 – interactive map

The CNN World website has developed a terrific resource for students researching earthquakes. Showing both the biggest and most deadly earthquakes since 1900, each map has captions for each area showing date, place, magnitude and death toll.

Biggest earthquakes

Biggest earthquakes

Deadliest quakes

Deadliest quakes

Earthquakes are presented by ranking.  A very good resource to begin researching the world’s earthquakes. Thanks again to Richard Byrne from Free Technology for Teachers for informing me about this top tool!

Periodic Table: elements and their real-world applications

This resource contains all of the Periodic Table of Elements, but what is really fantastic is that it includes their real world applications.


Knowing that, for example, Iridium is used to develop cancer treatment, hypodermic needles, helicopter spark plugs and fountain pen nibs brings the element alive with meaning.

periodic table

An excellent resource for Science teachers. Thanks to Greg Garner for passing this link on.

Science Museum

The UK’s Science Museum has some excellent online resources for teaching and learning.

Science museum

Covering ages from 3-16 (via Foundation and Key Stages 1-4) there is a variety of resources such as:

  • Foundation and Key Stage 1 (ages 3-7): sounds, bubbles and force
  • Key Stage 2 (7-11): electricity, forces and motion, light, materials and sound
  • Key Stage 3 (11-14): electricity and magnetism, energy transfer, light and materials
  • Key Stage 4 (14-16): how science works, electricity and magnetism and materials.

Each area of study includes:

  • Educational objectives
  • Key student learning
  • Materials needed
  • Practicalities
  • Open ended investigations
  • Extension work
  • Links to everyday life

Educators can also subscribe to the ‘Educators’ e-news‘ for updates. This site is highly recommended.


Gliffy is a very cool drawing and drafting tool.  Free access and ease of use will appeal to many users including teachers and students.


With the ability to create:

  • floor plans
  • diagrams
  • flowcharts and
  • technical drawings

there are many possibilities for educational use as well as personal use. Visual Communication students may find it useful to create floor plans and technical drawings while Humanities, Science, Maths and English could take advantage of the flowcharts and diagrams for planning and mindmapping.

Gliffy offers a library with a large range of shapes and items. Once completed, drawings can be exported jpeg and png and files can be shared or published to the internet.

Library staff planning a new or updated library could use the floor plans and anyone designing or building a new home may find the floor plans worth while.

Gliffy has free and premium accounts. The academic account is free.

Visual calendar

The very creative Mandy Barrow (@mbarrow), who is an ICT Consultant, Teacher, Cub Leader and creator and web manager of the excellent Woodlands Junior School (UK) website has devised a visual calendar for 2010. Mandy has agreed to share her calendar with readers of Bright Ideas.


Mainly useful for Primary aged students, there are many days and links that are applicable to Australia. The calendar would be ideal for a brief early morning IWB session a few times a week as it is sure to launch discussions and activities on many different topics.

Mandy has also developed many other first-rate pages such as:

British History

World History


Houses & Homes

History of London

Florence Nightingale

Kings & Queens

Battle of Trafagar

Guy Fawkes

Bayeaux Tapestry

History Timeline

Literacy Zone

Maths Zone

Science Zone

Putting together pages like these is an extremely time consuming task and a big thank you to Mandy for sharing them.