The Educational Publishing Awards are committed to rewarding excellence and innovation in the publishing industry at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. We have put together a series of interviews with the publishers, editors and authors involved in the creation and development of educational resources.
Today we caught up with Jennifer Griggs from CSIRO Publishing to talk about Double Helix Lessons, a shortlisted entry for the 2017 EPAA Student Resource award.
Jennifer, for those who don’t know you, could you start by telling us a bit about yourself and about this shortlisted entry?
I am the Senior Marketing Manager at CSIRO Publishing responsible for the breadth of our products, from scholarly journals to our children’s books program.
Our newest product Double Helix Lessons from CSIRO represents an extension of our kid’s magazine Double Helix https://doublehelix.csiro.au/. Double Helix Lessons is a suite of fun, interactive digital lessons covering Years 5 and 6 science.
Students are taken on science adventures with the Double Helix characters – Rocky, Skye and their pet Chameleon Kevin – as they discover the wonders of science in the world around them. As they progress through the units, students interact with a combination of simulations, videos, animations, augmented reality and hands-on investigations. Learning is then reinforced as students apply their knowledge to real-world situations and even meet some CSIRO scientists.
What was your motivation for developing this resource, Double Helix Lessons?
Fostering a love of science early in life will build the number of students we keep in STEM education, and result in more career scientists. This is good for Australia, Australian science and CSIRO.
Through the Double Helix brand CSIRO has been engaging kids in science for over 30 years. Double Helix Lessons draws kids into a new interactive digital learning environment and aims to change their perception of what science is and where it can take them. We want to be part of that journey and provide tools along the way. We also want kids to see science as fun, fascinating and solving real problems in the world. So, even if it is not their career choice, they have an increased appreciation of what science contributes to their lives.
What challenges do you think teachers face and how can Double Helix Lessons solve those challenges?
I’m sure there are countless challenges that teachers face, one of them being time. Double Helix Lessons is classroom ready and covers the entire curriculum for grades 5 and 6. It can be edited to arrange the lessons to be appropriate for the needs of each class and extra content can be easily added. There is also a teacher’s module enabling online assessment and feedback to students.
Another challenge for primary school teachers is that many of them are not experts in science, so this resource enables them to teach to the curriculum without having to research topics that are new to them or where they lack experience. The diversity of content formats also means the teacher can match lessons to the way students like to learn. If they are not strong readers they can switch on the audio and listen to the text, watch the videos or focus on the activities. This will keep students engaged for longer and increase the likely retention of the information. It is also a lot more interesting for the teachers!
Is there anyone you would like to acknowledge and thank for making this product the success it is?
Double Helix Lessons has been developed in partnership with Stile Education and our Editorial Advisory Board of teachers and education specialists. Their expertise and knowledge has been crucial to the success of this initiative, and we are very grateful for the opportunity to work with them. Stile’s mission is to improve scientific literacy among young people around the world – that is, their ability to engage, reflect and think critically about how the world works. This is a natural match for what we are also trying to achieve. The Stile platform provided the structure we needed to host the content for our lessons and provided the tools for teachers to manage classroom workflow, assessment and feedback. We could then work together on the creative side with talented writers, animators and teachers to design the content.
Good luck and all the best, CSIRO Publishing!
The Educational Publishing Awards are held at The Pavilion, Arts Centre Melbourne on Wednesday, 20 September 2017.
Keep up with the latest EPAA news @EPAs_Aus or join the conversation #EPAA17.