[Linux-aus] IWS-Hackathon report

Mike Imelfort michael.imelfort at gmail.com
Sat Dec 9 00:41:29 AEDT 2017

Hello everyone,

I’d like to report back to LA about the IWS Hackathon we held in the first
week of November. The event was held a few weeks ago, but as we’re all so
heavily involved in many activities within our children’s school (and one
of us is a teacher there) we’ve not had the time to let you all know about
how the weekend went. Well, school’s out in QLD today, so there are no more
excuses. Let’s get started.

-- What we set out to do

Our goal was to kickstart an open, freely available toolkit for the IWS
that would include teacher instruction, connections to the Australian
Curriculum, assessment and extension opportunities.

We planned to have small teams of three or four teachers working together
to create one or more lesson plans that use the IWS, include links to the
Australian Curriculum and fit with a theme of work that students would
typically work with throughout the year (e.g. the water cycle).

-- The event (what we did)

After a somewhat rocky start to the event (we had a higher than expected
number of no shows) we managed to pull together a schedule that was really
quite productive and fun. We changed from being a competition to being a
workshop and we enlisted our remaining two judges who work in the STEM
sphere to join in as participants.

Our participants included representatives from 5 schools, including Tully
State School in North Queensland, and a representative from Griffith
University. As it was no longer a competition we decided to give away an
IWS to each of the participating schools (We budgeted to give away eight,
so we have enough $$ to give away three more).

We had two teachers map out an entire semester's worth of work around the
IWS and two more develop lesson plans suitable for learning about and
constructing individual components of the system. Clearly, there's still a
lot of work left to do but we’ve had confirmation that one of the
participants, a teacher from Mudgeeraba State School who planned a
semester's worth of work got sign off from her peers and so we should
expect to see a large influx of workable lesson plans come in from there.

We're pleased with the outcome and we feel that getting 5 schools on board
after our first event is a good effort.

-- What we learned

Importantly, we need to understand why we had more no-shows than we
expected. And we need to work out how to avoid that in the future. On a
more positive note, we learned that teachers are interested in using the
IWS for more applications that we had originally envisioned. One great
example of this was a teacher who wants to teach straight up biology and
use the IWS to enable students to accurately dose plants with fixed amounts
of nutrients during temporal experiments. We had pretty much only been
looking at the IWS from a very typical STEM perspective; coding,
electronics, etc. so we were delighted to have this whole new realm of
possibilities open up.

We were not entirely sure how our attempts to hack together a hackathon
would work, and I think now we have some proof that the concept has legs.
We learned a lot about working in this space during the planning and over
the weekend that we'll be sure to use as we prepare future events. We’d
like to thank LA for their financial and other support.

-- What’s next

We’re going to concentrate on finalising delivery of the IWS’s we’ve
promised to give away in preparation for the next school year and thanks to
LA we even have the resources to make a few more IWS’s which we hope to get
into some more local and regional schools. We’re looking to organise at
least two more similar events next year and we’re going to start planning
for that after the Holiday break.

Once again, I’d like to thank LA for their support and I hope everyone has
a safe holiday,

Mike and the IWS Hackathon team.
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