1. I See You Module

    December 4, 2023 by Agnes, Chema, Kali, Koko, Luiza, Raya, Santi, Satya, Yana

    Driving Question:

    How can we use media to respectfully share Indigenous Australian Dreamtime stories and cultural knowledge while honoring Aboriginal rights and sensitivities?

    Module Summary:

    The module titled “I See You” challenged students to engage deeply with complex themes of power dynamics, equity, and oppression, examining their manifestations both in Australia and their respective cultural contexts. Emphasizing experiential learning, the module aims to cultivate an understanding of media’s multifaceted roles.

    A significant focus of the module was on respectfully sharing Indigenous Australian Dreamtime stories and cultural knowledge, while honoring Aboriginal rights and sensitivities. With over 500 distinct Aboriginal groups and a history spanning 60,000 years, Aboriginal culture’s profound connection to the land is central. The module included immersive experiences in Aboriginal communities, such as in North Queensland, where students explore fundamental questions about land and its significance.

    The culmination of these experiences often results in creative projects like films. For instance, “Dear Yabula” and “Lore of the Land” are films crafted by students. These works aim to convey the deep perspectives and wisdom of Aboriginal cultures, particularly their relationship with ancestral lands. Inspired by the songlines of various Aboriginal peoples, including the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung, Bunurong/Boon Wurrung, Gimuy-walubarra Yidi, and Dyirribarra Bagirbarr, the films are developed with permission and serve as respectful conduits for sharing Indigenous stories and knowledge. The module thus underscores the importance of media in fostering understanding and appreciation of Indigenous cultures while navigating ethical considerations and respecting cultural protocols.

  2. Snapshots of Nature’s Symphony

    by Keetah B.

    Driving Question:

    How can the art of analogue film photography serve as a powerful conservation tool, revealing the intricate interplay between plants and animals within vulnerable ecosystems?

    Module Summary:

    The module titled “Snapshots of Nature Symphony,” explored how analog film photography can serve as a powerful conservation tool by revealing the intricate interplay between plants and animals in vulnerable ecosystems. They began by explaining their use of pinhole cameras, which were made from cans and operated by capturing images through a small hole acting as a lens. These images, initially inverted, were then processed digitally to reveal their true colors.

    The students also learned from Doug Gimy, a renowned wildlife conservation photographer, who taught them how to create compelling stories using photographs. Additionally, they experimented with cyanotypes, a photographic process that involves creating images on fabric or paper using light-sensitive chemicals and natural elements like leaves and flowers, which were then developed in sunlight.

    A visit to the zoo provided them with insights into ongoing conservation efforts and allowed them to apply their film photography skills to capture images of wildlife. They also had the opportunity to visit a dark room, where they learned about the film development process, including techniques such as developing, stopping, enlarging, burning, and dodging.

    The module included a field trip to the Daintree Rainforest, where they engaged in field studies to analyze water quality and learned about local conservation initiatives. They also designed and printed conservation-themed t-shirts using a silk-screening process, which involved coating screens with emulsion and exposing them to create designs.

    For their final project, Keetah B. wanted to focus on the relationship between wildlife conservation and the dying cultures of the aboriginals while also celebrating the diversity and beauty of Australian nature. In the Daintree, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people are nowadays part of the wildlife conservation effort, but in the past, they had their land taken away from them by colonizers who destroyed their native land. Although these issues mainly occurred in the past, there are still cases of this today. A sacred birthing hole was taken away from the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people, and they are no longer allowed on the site. Not only that, but climate change and other environmental factors pose a huge risk to Australian wildlife conservation, and the Daintree is not exempt from this. Although it has been around for hundreds of millions of years, it can very quickly be destroyed by human actions.

    Keetah wanted to bring these themes together into one image by taking a piece of aboriginal culture, the boomerang, an object known for “coming back,” and placing it with the wildlife that is at risk, all while showing the beauty that is important to preserve.

  3. Over/Under: Air, Water & Physics 

    by Rianon T.

    Driving Question:

    How might we understand the relationship between physics and human performance in aerial and aquatic environments?

    Module Summary:

    The module Over/Under: Air, Water & Physics explored the relationship between physics and human performance in aerial and aquatic environments. Their project involved taking trapeze classes for five weeks, where they learned and practiced various tricks, reflecting on the physics involved in their movements. They focused on understanding forces, pendulums, and the transformation of kinetic and potential energy.

    Midway through the term, they participated in a workshop in Cairns, where they learned additional aerial arts and tight roping, and completed a water safety diving course. This course included pool training in breath-holding techniques, streamlining, and basic swimming skills, which they later applied in a lake, encountering real-world aquatic conditions, such as swimming with a crocodile. They also visited the Great Barrier Reef, where they swam with turtles and saw sharks.

    The educational components of their module emphasized the physics of trapeze, such as gravitational, centripetal, and air resistance forces, as well as pendulum motion and energy transformation. In diving, they focused on swimming strength, equalizing pressure, rescue techniques, and efficient breathing.

    Rianon T.’s final product is a physical scrapbook titled “A Physicist’s Guide to Trapezing and Free Diving!”. This scrapbook serves as an educational and informative overview of the physics involved in trapezing and free diving. Throughout the module, she focused on developing the 21st-century skill of adaptability and managing complexity. This was exemplified through various activities, including trapezing, creating physics experiments, building a car, launching a baking soda rocket, experimenting with pendulums, learning to free dive, and adapting to new challenges constantly.

    She found this module particularly engaging and enjoyable, especially the trapezing aspect. The open-ended nature of the summative assessment allowed her to creatively interpret your learning, resulting in a fulfilling and engaging final product.

  4. Treat Yourself

    by Yana P.

    Driving Question:

    How can I design a wellness app that effectively promotes healthy lifestyle choices for individuals of all ages and fitness levels?

    Project Summary:

    ana P., from India and Zambia, decided to undertake her year-long mastery project to create a wellness app designed to promote healthy lifestyle choices suitable for individuals of all ages and fitness levels, which she called “Treat Yourself”

    Yana’s passion for baking and yoga, which have been consistent interests in her life despite other fleeting hobbies, inspired her to create this app. As she grew older and became busier with school and travel, she found herself spending less time on these activities. Through this project, Yana aims to reconnect with her passions, master them, and share them with others via her app.

    The primary goal of her project is to design a functioning wellness app that features healthy recipes and mindfulness activities. Currently halfway through the project, Yana has developed a prototype of the app using a low-code online platform. She prepared for the content creation by completing several online courses, including certifications in nutrition, vegan and gluten-free baking, and yoga teaching.

    Yana provides a brief demonstration of the app, showcasing its blog section where users can read about her experiences, such as meditating in Bosnia or trying a digital detox. Another feature of the app is yoga videos, which was a new and somewhat embarrassing experience for her as she transitioned from teaching live classes to filming and narrating them. Additionally, the app includes various recipes contributed by Yana and fellow TGs students, like gluten-free cupcakes, protein balls, and yogurt bowls.

    Looking ahead, Yana plans to consider publishing and the associated rights after graduating from TGS. She intends to create more content, develop additional prototypes, and release the app for feedback.

  5. Animal Minds

    December 3, 2023 by Shangrila X.

    Driving Question:

    How can I collect and analyze behavioral data to inform if species can survive and thrive in an artificial environment?

    Project Summary:

    Shangrila X, a Grade 10 student from TGs, undertook her first personal project around the topic of animal psychology and behavior. Initially inspired by Australia’s wildlife, she adjusted her project to study animals at the Melbourne Zoo, due to the lack of accessible wildlife in the urban area where she was studying.

    Shangrila’s project was motivated by a childhood memory of seeing a gorilla in distress at a zoo, which made her want to better understand and improve animal well-being in captivity. She utilized ethograms, which are tools for categorizing and defining animal behaviors, to observe and record the actions of zoo animals. Her primary subjects were a Silverback Western lowland gorilla named Otana and Asian elephants.

    During her observations, Shangrila noted a significant amount of inactivity in Otana, which she initially found concerning but later attributed to a possible midday rest period. She also observed stereotypic behaviors in the elephants, which are indicators of poor welfare in captive animals. The elephants often gathered at the edge of their enclosure, suggesting they were seeking interaction and stimulation.

    Shangrila found that her data was insufficient for drawing scientific conclusions but emphasized the importance of public interest and involvement in animal welfare. She suggested that zoos have improved over time but acknowledged that they can never fully replicate the natural environment for animals. She proposed the use of technology, such as VR, to provide educational experiences about wildlife, potentially improving both public knowledge and animal care practices in zoos.

    Overall, Shangrila’s project highlighted the complexity of animal psychology, the limitations of zoos, and the potential for technology to enhance education and animal welfare. She concluded with a hopeful outlook, believing that increased awareness and involvement can lead to a better future for zoo animals.

  6. Search & Rescue

    by Keetah B.

    Driving Question: How can I improve my diving skills through the SSI Stress and Rescue Course and apply them to the artistic practice of jewelry making to create jewelry inspired by the ocean?

    Project Summary:

    Keetah’s project “Search and Rescue,” creatively combines her passion for rescue diving and jewelry making. Her journey began with her first diving experience, which was life-changing despite initial struggles with focus and awareness. This inspired her project goal: to improve her diving skills through the SSI Stress and Rescue course and apply these skills to create ocean-inspired jewelry.

    The first part of her project involved taking the stress and rescue course to enhance her diving abilities, specifically focusing on identifying and managing stress in underwater and above-water situations. This included completing an online course with extensive note-taking, pool diving sessions to reinforce basic skills, and an open water dive where she successfully applied her new skills in real-world scenarios, demonstrating improved awareness and ability to assist others.

    The second part of her project combined her newfound diving skills with jewelry making, inspired by a conversation with her instructor about underwater treasure hunting. She decided to create jewelry from materials found in the ocean, using a wire wrapping technique that suited her aesthetic vision. After some trial and error with materials, Keetah crafted her final pieces using sea glass, seashells, and other natural elements, completing a project that symbolized her love for the ocean and her growth as a diver.

  7. Aboriginal Art

    by Maya G.

    Driving Question:

    How can I showcase my understanding of aboriginal culture through my own original aboriginal inspired art piece?

    Project Summary:

    With a deep admiration for Aboriginal art and a passion for creating art herself, Maya G. undertook a personal project on the topic of Aboriginal art, exploring the fine line between appreciation and appropriation.

    Maya’s project was driven by the question of how she could showcase her understanding of Aboriginal culture through her own Aboriginal-inspired artwork. Despite reaching out to various museums, artists, organizations, and communities, she received no responses or insights from them. This lack of external input underscored the importance of recognizing two critical points: first, that her art was not truly hers but the work of Aboriginal people and their culture; and second, that her artwork was not for profit but solely for her own educational purposes.

    To create her piece, Maya engaged in several steps. She visited museums and cultural sites in Melbourne to understand how Aboriginal people create and talk about their art. She then focused on three main components: storytelling, symbols, and outlines and drafts. For storytelling, she chose to depict her family history, which was personal and meaningful to her. In terms of symbols, she researched and incorporated various Aboriginal symbols used to represent maps, dreamtimes, and real places. She then created multiple drafts to accurately represent her family’s history, ensuring the final product was both colorful and meaningful.

    Maya’s final artwork depicted her family lineage, with generations represented and significant symbols integrated to show the passage of time and the presence of her ancestors. She included the Sun and Moon to symbolize the passage of time and stars to represent deceased family members watching over her. Despite the personal significance of the piece, Maya concluded that it should not be considered Aboriginal art because she is not an Aboriginal artist. She emphasized that non-Aboriginal creations labeled as Aboriginal art undermine the authenticity and cultural heritage of true Aboriginal art.

    To symbolize her understanding and respect for Aboriginal culture, Maya ultimately chose to destroy her artwork. This act was a statement against the appropriation of Aboriginal art by non-Aboriginal artists, reinforcing the importance of preserving the authenticity and cultural integrity of Aboriginal art.

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