Queensland's Citizen Science Hub

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Overview

The Queensland Science Network (QSN) is a collaboration of more than 20 not-for-profit societies based in Queensland, Australia. These societies include the Astronomical Association of Queensland, Birds Queensland, the Queensland Mycological Society, the Queensland Naturalists’ Club, The Royal Society of Queensland and the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland. QSN members are actively engaged with science through research, field work, publishing, advocacy, policy formulation and other strategic activities to further science.

The purpose of the QSN network is to:

  • foster collaboration among the community science sector
  • promote the value of science to Queenslanders, including school children and their families.

New senior Science syllabuses have been introduced by the authorities in 2019. Teachers are looking for research, datasets and resources that authentically fulfil the requirements of the subject matter and learning experiences they need to teach. Additionally, the new syllabuses mandate the teaching and assessment of practical activities including specific data analysis techniques. For instance, for Biology, there is a need to source ecological datasets that allow for the calculation of a diversity index: Simpson’s diversity index is mentioned specifically.

This guide is designed to assist member organisations prepare support resources for teachers and educators for Year 11 and 12. These resources will aim to:

  • engage teachers, students and their families with their natural environment and universe
  • enable students to develop their science inquiry skills e.g. observing, questioning, investigating research questions ethically, collecting and analysing data, evaluating results, and drawing critical, evidence-based conclusions, solving problems, effectively evaluating claims
  • provide access to ‘real-life’ data and research incorporating scientific concepts set in Queensland contexts
  • empower students to become evidence-based decision makers of the future
  • enhance student well-being through place-based experiential learning experiences
  • engender a sense of wonder in their world.

Promoting educational resources

The QSN Educational resources webpage is a portal to promote reports, field guides, articles, newsletters and curriculum resources, mainly generated by member societies. The resources could be stored on the QSN website or member groups’ websites. This portal will be promoted to the educational jurisdictions and affiliations e.g. Queensland Department of Education (DoE), Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC), Independent Schools Queensland, Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) and relevant teacher associations.

Audiences

While curriculum resources are written primarily for teachers, there are other potential users of these resources including pre-service teachers in universities, home-schoolers, STEM club facilitators, youth groups, conservation and catchment groups.

Types of resources

QSN member groups already have or could develop resources in a range of formats to support science, technology, engineering and technology (STEM) learning in schools. QSN resources can provide unique Queensland perspectives to build student (and teacher) understanding. Many member organisations have existing datasets that would be very useful for teachers in their current form or tweaked for classroom or field excursion use.

Existing resources could include:

  • field guides
  • ‘how to’ manuals
  • reports about interesting issues or phenomenon
  • academic papers with information that can be extracted for a non-specialist audience
  • datasets or research that exemplify interesting and scientific concepts relevant to the curriculum.

Although helpful, it is not essential that QSN member groups themselves produce school-specific resources. Schools could enhance their curriculum delivery and resources, even if they simply have access to the organisations’ data or information in an easily searchable way, preferably free of copyright fees.

Promoting curriculum resources to schools

As mentioned above, the educational jurisdictions can promote resources via their school networks. For instance, the Queensland Department of Education (DoE) promotes STEM educational resources and events through a range of methods. For State schools, the main promotional methods schools are the:

  • STEM and senior subject specific discussion lists
  • Bulletin Board that provides information on the DoE internal OnePortal website
  • fortnightly State Schools Update
  • regional STEM champion network who then share the information with their school networks.

Normally this is done using a short message of two or three sentences with a link to the organisation’s website. The DoE STEM team resist sending documents as attachments as these can overfill people’s inboxes. The DoE STEM team can be contacted by email.

The QSN will engage with the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority, Queensland Science Teachers’ Associations and the other educational jurisdictions to promote quality Queensland science resources into schools.

Curriculum resources

If QSN members are interested in developing curriculum resources specifically for classroom use, the resources need to substantially address the requirements of the relevant curriculum or learning guideline. Curriculum resources can include a:

  • stand-alone activity (theoretical or practical)
  • lesson plan with at least two sequential activities
  • lesson sequence: series of lessons to be taught consecutively
  • teacher guide: a themed set of lessons or activities that do not need to be taught in a specific order.

Education Services Australia (ESA) is the national not-for-profit company owned by the State, Territory and Australian Government education ministers that provides technology-based services for education. ESA staff advise that a range of curriculum resource models or formats will work for teachers. The key element is that the resources explicitly link to the Australian Curriculum. In addition, teachers will be attracted to a resource that delivers a learning experience that aligns with teaching and learning approaches e.g. student-centred and inquiry based.

Whether the resource is an extended unit or simply a short sequence of activities, aligning it to the curricular expectations of knowledge, concepts and skills strengthens the resource. Other formats also work. Videos, interactives or apps are popular, but the useability of these resources is always strengthened if they are accompanied by some form of teaching advice, again, aligned to the curriculum. To ignore that doesn’t mean a resource won’t get used, it just means it is less attractive to users who may not have a passion for the topic.

While staff in the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority and the State educational jurisdictions do not directly endorse curriculum resources developed by external providers, they may be able to quality-assure resources then promote them through their school networks.

Teacher input

To write effective classroom resources, an author requires input from a teacher experienced in teaching the subject area and year levels being targeted. A QSN member group may have suitably qualified members or be able to partner with interested schools. Full-time teachers typically do not have extra capacity to spend time developing resources themselves but may be interested in advising, planning and reviewing resources.

The following information provides QSN members with a starting point for developing draft curriculum resources which could then be reviewed and edited by teachers.

Navigating the curriculum

Senior Sciences Learning Areas1

The Year 11 and 12 (Senior) curriculum is provided by the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority. The QCAA is a statutory body of the Queensland Government and plays a critical role in the design, delivery and assessment of education in Queensland. The development and revision of senior sciences syllabuses and guidelines has been undertaken as part of the new Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE) system. Implementation of the new curriculum commenced with Year 11 students in 2019.

The Senior Learning Areas are separated into two curriculum types – General and Applied subjects. General subjects contribute to the award of a QCE and may contribute to the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). General subjects are suited to students who are interested in pursuing pathways beyond secondary schooling i.e. tertiary studies, vocational education and training and work. General subjects also involve external assessment. Applied subjects also contribute to the award of a QCE and are suited to students primarily interested in pathways that lead to vocational education and training or work.

The General and Applied subjects within Senior Sciences are:

General
Agricultural Science
Biology
Chemistry Science in Practice
Earth & Environmental Science
Marine
Physics
Psychology
Applied
Agricultural Practices
Aquatic Practices
Science in Practice
 

The content, skills and assessment required for each subject are specified in individual General Senior Sciences syllabuses. In each of the senior Science subjects, students will develop:

  • an understanding of a core body of discipline knowledge
  • aspects of the skills used by scientists to develop new knowledge, as well as the opportunity to refine these skills through practical activities
  • the ability to coordinate their understandings of the knowledge and skills associated with the discipline to refine experiments, verify known scientific relationships, explain phenomena with justification and evaluate claims by finding evidence to support or refute the claims.

Each senior Science subject consists of four units. The subject matter, learning experiences and assessment increase in complexity from Units 1 and 2 to Units 3 and 4. The subject matter is organised as topics within each unit. Specific topic and unit objectives are contextualised for the subject matter and requirements of the unit.

In addition to the subject matter, three skill sets underpin senior syllabuses and are essential for defining the distinctive nature of subjects:

  • literacy
  • numeracy
  • 21st century skills.

Each Queensland senior Science subject includes the appreciation of Science as a Human Endeavour which provides the ‘real-world’ context for the science the students learn. This provides students with the opportunity to develop an appreciation for the nature and development of science, and its use and influence on society. Whilst not assessable, the development of this understanding should be provided in learning experiences where possible. Note that this sub-strand is not assessed but is expected to be embedded in classroom activities where possible.

The Senior Sciences Syllabus Summary provides an overview of all senior Sciences subject matter topics and subtopics. The comprehensive syllabus details for each senior Sciences subject can be accessed at the Queensland Curriculum & Assessment Authority website.

For the specified mandatory practical (and suggested) tasks that students should be taught for each senior subject and year level, refer to Senior Sciences Mandatory Suggested Practicals. The suggested practicals identify additional opportunities for developing student inquiry skills and may be used as a starting point for a student experiment.

Additionally each senior Science syllabus articulates four core assessment tasks required to provide judgment to the level of student learning:

  1. Data Test.
  2. Student Experiment.
  3. Research Investigation.
  4. External Examination.

With the exception of the External Examination, teachers are responsible for the development of the assessment items for each unit. For more detail, refer to Senior Sciences Overview Assessment Tasks which explains the specific requirement and format for each assessment task.

Educational resource development

As mentioned above, QSN Resources webpage offers a useful portal to promote curriculum support resources for teachers and educators as well as promoting member groups’ reports, field guides, articles and newsletters. Appendix A provides a template that captures key information in a simple layout.

Curriculum resources for Year 11 and 12 Senior Sciences could include:

  • reports about interesting issues or phenomenon
  • datasets or research that exemplify interesting and scientific concepts relevant to the curriculum
  • interactive or hands-on activities (aligned to mandatory or suggested practicals).

Authors should identify the relevant:

  • Senior Sciences subject area/s
  • Unit number, topic and sub-topic subject matter
  • Relevant paper/article – Title and summary paragraph
  • Assessment task supported
  • Links to mandatory or suggested practical problem (if applicable)
  • Applicable tasks or questions for relevant assessment item.

QCAA has provided a range of sample assessment instruments. The sample assessment instruments can be accessed directly via the hyperlinked senior science subject and unit.

Data Test

Student Experiment

Research Investigation

Agricultural Science

Agricultural Science

Agricultural Science

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Biology

Biology

Biology

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Chemistry

Chemistry

Chemistry

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Unit 1 & 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Unit 1 & 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Earth & Environmental Science

Earth & Environmental Science

Earth & Environmental Science

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Marine Science

Marine Science

Marine Science

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Physics

Physics

Physics

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Psychology

Psychology

Psychology

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Copyright licensing your resources

Many organisations are keen to develop education resources to promote community understanding about their fields of interest. However, a lack of understanding about the impact of copyright policies may mean that some organisations inadvertently publish curriculum resources under copyright licences that can cost the educational jurisdictions of the schools that use those resources. The Australian education sector pays over $700 million a year in copyright fees. Some of this money is paid to organisations who think that their resources are ‘free for educational use’ or to intermediaries.

For more information, refer to Open Educational Resources which explains that Creative Commons licences are the preferred copyright licences to ensure that your educational resources are free for educational use. There is a range of Creative Commons licences that enable authors to specify the terms of use.

Syllabus Coordinator

The Royal Society of Queensland 9 October 2019

Appendix A Sample Format

Title

The title of the resource should be short, descriptive and give the user a sense of what the resource does.

Senior Subject:

Unit: Number and Title

Topic: Topic name and sub topic (if applicable)

Reference / Article Title / Dataset: Include reference/s

Abstract: Brief description of article

Assessment instrument: Data Test Student Experiment Research Investigation

(Circle as applicable)

Links to mandatory or suggested practical: (if applicable) Insert full practical title as listed in Senior Sciences Mandatory Suggested Practicals handout.

Details of tasks / questions: (for relevant assessment instrument) Refer to Queensland Curriculum & Assessment sample assessment formats provided in table above

end

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