Winter light workshops at Federation Square
This winter, Melbourne’s Federation Square plays host to a light-based festival Light In Winter that brings together artists, designers and multicultural communities to explore their ideas of light, enlightenment and hope across the Square.

The Throw a Light workshop is the education component to the festival. It comprises a guided tour of the Light in Winter artworks followed by an onsite workshop in which students make magnetized lights (throwies). A surface of Fed Square will host an interactive public light-based mural artwork which workshop participants will actively enlighten using their handmade magnetic lights. Over three weeks this public artwork will gradually become activated as up to 4000 lights are added.

A LED ‘throwie’ is a small LED attached to a coin battery and a rare earth magnet, used for the purpose of creating non-destructive graffiti and light displays.

The Throw a Light workshop is a boutique event limited to three weeks on site. Students have the opportunity to be part of highly visible and memorable public art installation at Fed Square.

The subject areas are: art and design, science and technology and civics and citizenship. There are workshops for primary years three to six and secondary Years 7 to 12. Cost per student is $6.50.

For information and bookings contact Cameron Stevens email cameron.stevens@fedsquare.com tel (03) 9655 1910 or 0413 267 252  or visit www.feded.com.au

History and Geography competitions
If you are looking for a stimulating online activity to extend your classes you may consider either the Asia Wise Competition or The Great Race. Both provide an opportunity for teachers to integrate IT into their classroom with packages that complement a range of important skills including researching, analysing, interpreting and using atlases. 

The Asia Wise Competition challenges students to research information about the history and geography of Asia. Because it can be done in normal lesson time it doesn’t require any interruptions to the school timetable.

The Great Race is designed to help teachers implement a regular, ongoing current events and general knowledge programme. It provides a weekly set of questions, marks them and provides feedback to both students and teachers. It is ideally suited as a homework activity that takes about half an hour each week and runs for 15 weeks.

Both programmes use the internet, so feedback is provided immediately at the end of each week and students can see how they are ranked against other students from schools in their state and from all over the country. 

The Great Race is a new online resource provided by The Giant Classroom. There are great prizes and the Australasian winner in the grand final will receive a laptop computer.

Full information on both competitions can be found at www.GiantClassroom.com.au or call (03) 6231 6885

Laptop stand prevents sore necks
Neil Pierson of Sydney’s Ergonomic Rescue claims laptop computers are not designed for humans but rather convenience. He warns schools that: “The idea of attaching a computer screen to a keyboard and making it portable sounds ideal, yet it has taken ergonomics back to the 1970s.”

With many children spending between nine and 19 per cent of their time using a computer, reports are indicating an increase in neck pain or discomfort. Children’s bones are still being formed until they are 18 or 19 years old and poor posture in childhood can have long-term consequences.

Though many schools have addressed the need for ergonomic backpacks, most school children spend more time on a computer than they do carrying their bags.

Ergonomic Rescue’s solution is a simple, adjustable metal laptop stand that costs less than $A40.00 for the most popular model. By plugging in an external keyboard and mouse, the power and convenience of the laptop is retained, while the user can adjust the screen height to suit his or her height.

Visit www.ergonomicrescue.com.au or call (02) 9452 6554

Skydeck 88 has new education resource
Melbourne’s Eureka Skydeck 88 has launched a new Education with Altitude online resource for teachers planning a day trip to the city’s CBD. Since its inception in May 2007, more than 1 million visitors, including over 75,000 schoolchildren, have visited.

Skydeck Educator, Abbey Dusink, said: “Eureka Skydeck takes education outside the classroom and offers unique learning opportunities for students and teachers of all ages. Students are able to explore Melbourne from a different perspective and there is always something new to learn and discover.”

Ms Dusink says that the new website has all the necessary information for visiting the highest classroom in the southern hemisphere, with online resources for students and teachers which cover the Victorian curriculum. Teachers can also sign up to the online subscription to receive all the latest information.
Visit www.eurekaskydeck.com.au

Sony widescreen installation projector
The new Sony model VPL-FW41 achieves an outstanding light output of 4,500 ANSI lumens for dynamic, large-screen presentations. This output level means that users can experience pictures from the VPL-FW41 even when some ambient light is present.

The VPL-FW41 also counts LAN capabilities as part of its feature set. By connecting it to a network, users can control and monitor the projector’s status as well as conduct high-speed transfer of computer images. Additionally, when the projector is installed on a LAN, presentations can be projected from any PC on that network. Switching from presenter to presenter is as easy as clicking a mouse.

The projector is available from Sony AV dealers.

Four new projectors from Sanyo
Sanyo has launched four ultra portable projectors for office and educational use. The series includes the world’s first projector with a ‘Simple Wireless Setting’, which offers an automatic wireless LAN connection via USB to make it extremely easy to set up.

With the PLC-XU355 projector’s ‘Simple Wireless Setting’, all users have to do is plug the provided USB WiFi stick into a computer and, with minimal fuss, set up the wireless LAN connection. This allows any user to easily start projection without installing any complicated programmes.

The PLC-WXU300 features a wide range 1.6x optical zoom lens to allow flexible placement, and true wide XGA Resolution 1280 x 800 which is compatible with wide screen laptops.

The base models PLC-XU355 and PLC-WXU300 feature high output 7 watt built-in speakers that deliver sufficient volume for the projectors to be used in training rooms and classrooms, without the use of additional audio equipment.

Recommended retail prices are: LAN model PLC-XU355 $2,999.00; widescreen model PLC-WXU300 $2,499.00; base models PLC-XU350 $2,299.00 and PLC-XU300 $2,099.00.
The projectors are available from Sanyo resellers.

Online assessment tool for NAPLAN
Smeebu is a new online assessment tool for schools preparing for NAPLAN. The website is user friendly, does not require a student log in and provides an instantaneous result after a test has been completed. Smeebu currently provides practice tests covering numeracy, spelling, grammar and punctuation [for Year 3 and Year 5]. The designers of Smeebu are working with assessment authorities and have plans to roll out further functionality and more assessment resources.

Modular buildings ideal for stimulus package projects
Ausco Modular is geared up to begin rolling out the school and community infrastructure elements of the federal Government’s $42 billion economic stimulus package.

The company currently has a fleet of high-quality learning environments and administration buildings complete and ready to be installed into schools, and the capacity to ramp up production much faster than traditional building companies.

Ausco Modular CEO Paul Bailey said schools were in a unique position to spend their new funding and immediately help the Australian economy. “There’s been a lot of commentary about how long it will take for the benefits of the infrastructure package to roll through the economy,” Mr Bailey said. “Off-site construction is the answer to this problem.”

In the last three months, Ausco has installed close to 80 new classrooms and other school buildings across all states. The company was responsible for the state-wide roll-out of high-quality prep year classrooms for the Queensland Government in 2005–2007.

“We build spaces and environments which inspire our kids to learn. We work with schools to ensure their classroom requirements are incorporated in building design.”

“The funding available to schools will go further if they invest in modular buildings while the school – and the Australian economy – enjoys the benefits of quick construction,” Mr Bailey said.

Call 13 62 11 or visit www.ausco.com.au