Monthly Archives: September 2008

Learning through discovery at the Melbourne Museum

The Discovery Centre within Museum Victoria makes research interesting and hands-on. A young person can wander in and spend a few hours without realising that it’s been a learning experience. Let’s say you came in and browsed some of the 2,000 plus natural or cultural objects available – not just on display in cabinets and drawers, but also available to touch and examine – then you’d be able to delve into a little research in a number of ways; you could:

have a close look at these objects under magnifiers or video microscopes;
use the reference library of books, journals, education kits, DVDs or videos;
browse through the extensive collection of online resources on public computers;
and you could always ask a staff member for help.

When I visited the Discovery Centre as a student of teacher librarianship, the staff were eager to help, but not eager to supply a quick and easy answer – they encouraged students to find information and answers for themselves, pointing out resources available and suggesting ways of searching. The research process becomes a challenging discovery task, well supported by the excellent variety of materials and resources. It’s great to find research modelled in such an enjoyable way.

The Discovery Centre’s website is user-friendly, and offers an ‘Ask the experts’ section. If you have something you want identified, or you need help with a research project, you can email the museum’s information experts, either with a general request, or an identification request. Every week, there is a ‘question of the week’ published on the website.

I think this is a valuable resource for primary and middle years students. It’s great to take research out of the classroom, and into such a dynamic and resource-rich environment.

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Welcome to my new home!

Hello whoever made it to here. Welcome to my new home. Brave new world  lives here now. Please change the link to this blog.

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Coveting covers

The Book Cover Appreciation gallery is for hardcore bookcover lovers. You can get into really heavy discussion about the details of the book cover. Clicking on the cover takes you to the comment page. The blog is updated several times a week.

Here’s an example of a comment about an Animal Farm book cover:
Although I have often conflicted about Shepard’s work and his source materials which could be debated as dubious. The propaganda style works especially since these are anti-socialist/communist novels. The Obey logo I find quite funny on the covers, how many designers have the balls or be allowed to put there personal logo on a book cover, the mark of an iconoclast

Can you get passionate about a book cover?

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Collaborative project – Harvest of Endurance scroll

Human potential and creativity never cease to amaze me. Today I came across an online version of a work of art in the form of a 50-metre-long scroll representing two centuries of Chinese people in Australia. Harvest of Endurance is a painting in the traditional gong bi style depicting the story of hardship and resourcefulness of the Chinese in the history of Australia. Taking a little over 12 months to complete, the scroll is made up of 18 elaborately painted panels. It was purchased by the National Museum of Australia in 1992.

Appreciating the actual scroll is one thing, but just as impressive in its own way is the accompanying interactive website produced by the National Museum of Australia. You can explore the scroll from right to left along a timeline from 1788 to 1988 by clicking on stages which are described as eg. Australian gold rush; the rise of merchants, etc. In selecting a period, a scene forms in front of your eyes, first as an outline, then graudally as a complete coloured picture. Clicking on red arrows outlines an object or person, and provides you with a brief explanation or definition. There is a detailed audio-visual explanation of how to read the scroll, including how colour and form create the story, and an explanation of how the scroll was created from the point of view of the artist and the researcher.

The presentation of historical facts in artistic form, coupled with an interactive, multi-layered online representation, is a clever way to facilitate learning through exploration. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to create a similar project for students where each would have a choice whether to contribute as either a researcher, artist, technical expert or other. In particular, I like the way you can select parts of the picture for explanation or background, and I think that would be a great way for students to present their newly found facts.

The collaboration between the people of Australia and China in the form of the Australia-China Friendship Society aimed to promote friendship and understanding between the two countries and their cultures. It would be interesting to connect Australian students with students from another country, perhaps through blogs, in order to create a final product requiring collaboration and fostering friendship and mutual understanding. That would be an authentic and meaningful project.

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Filed under art, Education, research, technology

We’re still here

Or are we in a parallel universe?

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Twitter Twitter Twirl

I’m having a go. I’m still signing up for everything I don’t know about. That is, I know it exists; I just don’t know how it works. Today I decided that I’d been signed up to Twitter long enough without doing anything about it. It was time to try a tweet (I think). Since twittering revolves around people, I thought I’d get me some (sic). I had a couple of people – literally – in my Twitterverse; I needed more. Many, many more. Like all the other Twitterers. It felt strange – browsing through people’s bios on other Twitterers’ sites. A bit like stealing friends. I followed anyone I’d ever heard of and those with whom I shared interests in education. Funny thing is that a few people were following Barack Obama, so I thought I’d give him a go too. Meanwhile, I need to practise what to say. Seems there’s a twitter language and grammar. Terse, obviously. And an intimacy that is expressed through digs and smart comments, I noticed. But how do I begin to use this tone with people I don’t even know? And just my luck, as soon as I master the twittering, the rest will all fly off and join a new social network with its own foreign language and customs.

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“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow”

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I played tourist last weekend. Grabbed the no-frills digital camera and my legs, and went in search of the treasures of Melbourne in early Spring. I grew up in Melbourne, and frequented the city centre regularly as a child. My grandmother, a school principal and biology teacher (Russia) turned factory-worker, sewed toilet bags and shower caps for a Jewish factory in Little Collins Street, and I used to go in with her, sometimes to be shown around to her work colleagues so they could tell me I had beautiful skin (nobody tells me that now), or to deposit her wares and have lunch. These are the memories I cherish – of the mysterious worlds within buildings, old, cage-like elevators, dark passages and illuminated cafes in arcades. Thankfully, much of old Melbourne remains to this day. I love the details and little surprises around the city.

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