Cessnock West Public School holds 'space museum' as part of Futures Learning

Aliens, astronauts and Area 51 were among the subjects presented at Cessnock West Public School’s space museum on Friday.

The space museum was held as part of the school’s project-based learning approach, which encourages students to research, collaborate and present their conclusions to a real audience.

Project-based learning was launched at the school in term two when students took part in NBN News’ Junior Journos segment, reporting on a piece of ‘space junk’ that had landed in the school grounds.

The Stage 3 students then worked in small groups to research the overarching question “What is out there?”, with each group focusing on a different question or topic.

Three months of hard work went on display to the public at the space museum on Friday, when the community was invited to the school hall to view the space museum for a gold coin donation.

Visitors entered via a ‘galaxy in a cave’ and stepped into a spectacular display of projects, using technology such as green screen filming and QR codes.

Lara Boyd and Amelia Johnston made a miniature version of a Mars Rover that was controlled by an iPad (see the video below).

Cloe Kidd and Asia McDuff teamed up for a project about Area 51. The girls said they were fascinated by the mysterious conspiracy theories they had learned.

Emily Gilmour, Riley Walters and Ella Beard worked on a project that addressed the question “Can we really live on Mars?”.

Emily said they concluded that life on Mars would be possible, as long as there were buildings that could withstand the temperature and air pressure, amongst other factors – but it should only be a “back-up plan”.

Project-based learning fits into the Futures Learning framework, which is designed to give students skills for the 21st century.

Cessnock West Public School’s Futures Learning teacher Patricia Harcombe said the new approach has had an enormous impact on students’ learning.

“We’ve seen an increase in school attendance and behaviour in classes has improved dramatically because the children are more engaged,” she said.

Stage 2 students have been studying endangered species as part of their project-based learning activities, and will hold an expo in the school hall on Monday.

Check out Cessnock West’s appearance on NBN Junior Journos below.

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