June 09, 2018
What would we need to consider if humans were to relocate to Mars? That's the question students from five schools came together to answer in a collaborative interschool project that began in March and concluded in late May.
 
Initiated by MLC during National Gifted Awareness Week, our seven students between Years 7-10 were joined by students from Strathcona, Siena, Scotch and Kingswood to form collaborative teams for their two-month project finishing in Term 2.
 
Teams were to produce a submission for the 'Mars Relocation Committee'. As part of the submission they had to produce a prototype of the city and a prototype of an app/tool that will assist the new residents on the planet. A number of ethical and practical issues were considered, including: selection of those who would relocate to Mars, design of the city, laws and governance, money and financial exchange, buildings and sustainability.
 
The largest challenge the students faced was that they had to complete their projects using only online communication, and only coming together in-person for the first time on presentation day!
 
Students used a number of tools to collaborate with, including Google docs, Adobe Connect, Slack and Google Hangouts.
 
In coming together for the first time in their teams, the students were “shy and reserved at first”, says Kate Lafferty, Learning Support teacher in MLC's Compass Centre. “However as the afternoon went on, the energy of the room increased. Once parents arrived and submissions were on display, there was excitement and a palpable buzz as they shared their proposals.”
 
The teams were also fortunate to have had three Swinburne PhD students join them via video link for their first session, and thereafter answer questions via email as the project progressed.
 
"The demand for enterprise skills in the work force is growing, as evidenced in the Foundation for Young Australians’ The New Basics report," says Kate. "These skills include digital literacy, teamwork and communication.  This project provided an authentic experience in which students had to apply these skills in order to fulfil the brief.
 
“I was impressed with the various ways in which the groups pulled their submissions together. The depth of their thinking and creativity was evident throughout.”
 
The project concluded on Friday in MLC’s Betty Jackson Hall with students from all schools coming together to showcase their creations to each other, their parents and staff! It was a great success, with plans for another similar project next year, and a smaller scale project in Semester 2 of 2018.
 

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