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Spaceward Bound Expedition: Australia 2009

photo of Nicole Burraston

Nicolette Burraston
The Armidale School
New South Wales

I began teaching in 2006 at Cowra High School in central western NSW. I was placed at Cowra as the result of a NSW Department of Education and Training scholarship and wanted to make the most of the opportunity they had granted me when they provided me with full time employment in my first year. I immersed myself in science education and made it my personal mission to raise the profile of science at the school and in the community.

In my first 2 years I facilitated more than 20 extra-curricular science-based activities and ensured that every student who participated in these activities received appropriate recognition. I had a Science Club at Cowra High, the Isotopes, who held demonstrations at the local show; taught local Primary School children how to do experiments and assist me in organising and running a National Science Week Community Challenge evening. The Science Club consisted of students from all age groups, learning and behavioural backgrounds, and their achievement was inspiring.

I worked on ways to engage students in my own classroom also. Animals have always been my passion, so I utilised them to engage students in a variety of programs and to teach the students to respect all animals. We had Eastern Long-Necked Turtles, yabbies and ‘fancy’ mice, who helped us to learn about genetics. I received Best National Achievement by a Beginning Teacher in the Australian Government Quality Schooling Awards and the Education Minister’s Medal of Distinction in 2008 for my work in engaging students in Science.

I have since moved onto TAS and with this new position come some incredible challenges. I am teaching a year 7 (SA year 8 equiv.) top set, gifted and talented enrichment group across 4 different KLA’s; I have them for HSIE, Math, Science and Design and Technology. I am now working towards developing cross-curricular programs for this group, such that their learning becomes more holistic. My background is in science, so my cross-curricular programs will be embedded in science-based areas, Earth and Environmental Sciences as well as Environmental Sustainability are the programs I am working on currently.

I am interested in working with the robotics team because it is such a fantastic opportunity. The Armidale School (TAS), where I work, does in fact have some robotics units, but I want to talk to the other educators and scientists on this expedition to ensure I utilise them in a way that will be most beneficial to my students.

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Editor: Linda Conrad
NASA Official: Liza Coe
Last Updated: April 2007
Teachers Contact: Liza Coe