Here are a few of the inspirational people I met this year, in no particular order.
1. Dr. Tim Bell
I saw Tim at the Teaching Kids to Code conference at Future Schools back in March. He did a workshop about his website CS Unplugged. I knew of the website and the excellent resources before the workshop and I really love the resources so I was very excited to see him in action. The workshop was great and the activities we did were lots of fun. The way Tim described the activities and how they link to computer science was amazing and really gave me the inspiration to experiment with more of the activities in (and out) of the classroom.
2. Dr Jordan Nguyen
I also saw Jordan at a conference this year. The way he spoke about his life and how he is helping people through science and engineering was both moving and inspirational. “It’s time to think bout the world and how you will improve it”. His project to develop ‘smart’ wheelchairs is inspired and could really make a difference to people who need them. “I have a vision to help many more people make their own positive mark on the world”. Great article about Jordan from SMH here.
3. Professor Ian Chubb, Australia’s Chief Scientist
I saw professor Chubb at the AIS STEM Conference and his speech was eye-opening and inspiring! He really put STEM into perspective, the importance, need, global issues, local issues, our future, industry, education, he covered absolutely everything and did not hold back. He is clearly very passionate about STEM and firmly believes it holds the keys to our future survival on Earth. His strategic approach and more about STEM can be found here. “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia’s Future outlines what we need to do to build a stronger, more competitive Australia,” Professor Chubb said at Parliament House.
4. Abi Woldhuis
I saw Abi and the Teaching Kids to Code conference in March and I was impressed with what she said about managing coding clubs. I was already running a Scratch club when I saw Abi, but I learnt so much from her about how to grow the club and make it more of a meaningful experience. I learnt how the kids in the club need a strong identity, that they are not just their to code but they are explorers and pioneers on an amazing adventure. As a result of her talk I revamped my club including putting up more posters and giving the girls a fun, themed poster, so they appeared as an astronaut for example. Another thing I implemented was the Scratch licence. I series of activities to learn the basics of coding in Scratch and when a student completes them all they earn themselves a licence. My girls loved it!
5. Ewan McIntosh
Ewan’s keynote at the Adolescent Success conference in August on the Gold Coast was another eye-opening and inspirational experience for me. Ewan is the founder and CEO of NoTosh, an innovative lab for design thinking, strategy and learning. His presentation was cutting edge and the whole audience was transfixed on him and what he was saying. He used images and video brilliantly in his presentation, it was so creative and made me think of how I could do something similar in future presentations I would do. I particularly enjoyed the real-world applications of what he was saying. An example was school students using 3D printing technology to help design and make prosthetics. Another case was students creating children’s books for ill children in a hospital. There were many other examples and they really showed he we, teachers and students, can make a difference using technology to people in our communities.