STEAM Week 2018


Last week saw the inaugural launch of the Pulteney Grammar STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Week. In previous years, we have celebrated Science Week at this time. However, this year the Mathematics, Science and Digital Technologies Learning Areas worked together to create a program that integrated a range of learning experiences for our students. By the end of our planning, we had discovered that the Arts had also joined in on the act, as visiting authors and writing competitions complemented the plethora of activities on offer over the week.

Guest Lectures and Forums

The week commenced with a guest lecture for 190 students from Sam and Anna Hodge who both work at Rising Sun Pictures. Rising Sun Pictures operates on Pulteney Street and is Adelaide’s own little piece of Hollywood. This company creates special effects and animations for some of the world’s biggest motion pictures, including Thor Ragnarok and Logan just to name two! Anna, who is the Manager of Training and Education, spoke to the senior students about the training programs offered by the company, which lead directly to employment opportunities in Adelaide. Sam, who is the Senior Pipeline Technical Director and has won two Academy awards, spoke about the importance of developing problem-solving skills and not being afraid to fail. He said that most of the special effects he creates are developed out of many spectacular fails. It is the continual cycle of testing and improving that eventually leads to the amazing effects we take for granted on the big screen. It was a powerful message to all our budding scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.

Deborah Abela worked with all Prep students on the Wednesday of STEAM Week, bringing with her the Arts component of STEAM. Deborah is an acclaimed Australian author who has written many novels, including The Stupendous Spelling Bee, Meet Teresa and the Max Remy series. Scientific themes relating to climate change inspired Deborah to write two novels, Grimsdon and New City. A third novel in this series is due out in the near future. Year 5 students read Grimsdon as part of an integrated unit on factors affecting where humans choose to live. This made her visit an extra special treat, as both Year 5 and 6 students were very familiar with this novel. Deborah shared with our students her love of story-telling and her life as a professional writer.

A Girls in Tech Forum was also held on Wednesday for all Year 9 girls. The forum was made up of women from a wide range of businesses and government organisations. It was hosted by Beth Worrall, National Skills Program Lead from Microsoft, and the panelists included Hannah Bottos from PrimeQ, Ania Karzek from Department of Human Services, Judy Halliday from TechInSA and Sarah Mason from the Attorney General’s Department. These women shared their experiences of working in the Tech Industry. Their message was clear – the Tech Industry does not just employ programmers. They require people with many different skills sets and are actively looking to attract women to join their ranks. Currently the Tech workforce is male dominated, with women making up only 18% of the total workforce. The girls were given lots of opportunity to ask questions and seek advice about forging careers in this exciting new industry.

Classroom Activities

Kurrajong, Prep and 190 students were involved in a range of Science, Engineering and Technology-related activities over the week. These activities were led by specialist teachers throughout the school. Kurrajong students worked with Mrs. Emma Galdes and her Year 10 extension classes who put on a “Science Expo” for our youngest students. The goal was to demonstrate the practical application of science through engaging and interactive experiments. Students learned about electricity, kinetic energy, solids and liquids, and observed some chemical reactions. They built simple electric circuits, observed how solids can become liquids and experimented with forces using catapults. Year 2 students were also lucky enough to have a session with our newly purchased virtual reality (VR) set. VR enables students to go places and see things that they would normally only be able to read about or watch on video. The Year 2s went diving with sharks and walked with dinosaurs, taking learning to a whole new level.

Ms. Robyn Cox also prepared a range of STEAM-related challenges for Prep students to solve. Year 3s designed and built a structure which would take the longest time to fall from the first floor science wing veranda. The Years 4 and 5 designed and built a catapult structure which would enable their team to hurl or move a marshmallow and/or Jaffa the furthest distance. Meanwhile, the Year 6 groups designed and constructed a personal flotation device (PFD) for a medium-sized can. The design had some tight stipulations. Firstly, the can had a face on it, which needed to be kept clear of water for one minute (it takes 60 seconds for an adult and 20 seconds for a child to drown). Secondly, the PDF needed to be removable (people don’t go boating with their life jackets glued on!). All students were exposed to a wide range of creative and engineering skill sets as the groups discussed, planned, designed, built and tested their devices in order to solve the challenges they had been set. Prep students were also given the opportunity to work with the Little Bits electronic sets at lunchtime and constructed a range of simple machines, including an electronic clapper and feather duster.

Mrs. Doumanis’ Year 11 Chemistry class were lucky enough to have a visit from an Adelaide University academic. He presented the students with an intriguing topic entitled Pigs, Foam and Fishing, which was all about petroleum engineering and how much our lifestyles still rely on the oil and gas industry. Renewables are still not even close to matching our dependence on the petroleum industry. The title of the presentation alluded to the machinery, chemicals and processes involved in drilling for oil and gas. The students enjoyed hearing from the perspective of a practicing scientist and how science is being applied in the real world. The underlying message of the entire presentation was the importance of studying Maths and Science for future career pathways.

Overall, these activities allowed our students to be completely immersed in STEAM-related pursuits. They were all highly engaged, and much fun was had by all.

Robots Take Over PGS

Year 6 and 7 students were fortunate to have a visit from the NAO robot from Brainary. NAO is a humanoid robot and students were exposed to how robotics technology is changing the way we work and live. Students learned how to write simple programs for NAO that enabled him to communicate, move and even accurately recognise faces. It was great see all students highly engaged with the session and asking some fantastic questions about the future of robotics technology.

Over the course of this year, Year 9 students have been working on creating their own robots. Students completing the Innovations and Enterprise subject designed and 3D printed the robot shells, while students in Tap and App designed and built the electronics for these bots. These robots were then able to battle each other in a fully enclosed arena constructed by Mr. Johnston and Mr. Soltes (our student teacher). Some lucky Prep and Kurrajong students were able to put the robots through their paces during two STEAM Week lunchtime sessions. The robots were also presented at the Middle School assembly. Students were delighted by the event as they battled to push robots out of the playing field and through the trap doors.

Year 5 students have also been engaged in working with robots remotely through the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. These students have been working with museum educators to answer the big question: does life exist on Mars? In order to answer this question, students have learned about the types of evidence that might suggest life, such as rock formations. They have attempted to identify these formations on the surface of the museum’s Mars yard and then learned to drive robots to help collect photographic evidence to test their theories. The students will spend the next few weeks preparing for their final mission later in the term where they will actually drive the robots around the Mars yard in the Powerhouse Museum.


There were a range of competitions held over the course of STEAM week. Several classes were involved in the Bragg writing task where they were asked to write an essay relating to Technology and Tomorrow. Year 4 students entered in the Premier’s Reading Challenge STEM competition where they needed to design a new piece of technology related to a book from the reading challenge. The students used Fire by Jackie French as a source of inspiration and designed contraptions to help survive and fight bushfires. We are awaiting the results of both these competitions.

An in-house algorithm challenge was also held in the Middle and Senior schools during STEAM Week. Mr. Ranieri set a challenge each morning in the daily bulletin and students rushed to get their solutions in, with the winners taking home a special treat. So successful was the competition that we have decided to continue it into week 5, so watch the daily bulletin for your next problem to solve.

MASA (Mathematical Association of South Australia) Quiz Night

MASA held their annual quiz night on Wednesday 15th August. Each year, approximately 10 schools, both city and country, host several other schools for a series of mathematical and general knowledge questions. This year, Pulteney sent teams to Urrbrae Agricultural High School to compete against schools such as Immanuel College, Seymour College and Glenunga International High School. We entered teams in both the Senior Division (Years 11 & 12) and the Junior Division (Year 10 and below). As in all quiz nights, while the competition is keen, the object is to have fun, and our students certainly enjoyed themselves.

All our teams acquitted themselves well in both the maths and general knowledge sections, placing well overall. In particular, Pulteney won the general knowledge section in both the Senior and Junior Divisions. Congratulations to our winning teams!

LEGO League 2018

This week we also formally announced the Lego League team for 2018. The theme for this year’s challenge is “Into Orbit”. This cross-age team will design and build a robot and then program the robot to complete a series of challenges on a game board. They will also need to complete a research project into long haul space travel and demonstrate the core values of the competition: gracious professionalism and coopertition. The team for this year is Lachlan Perry, Max Lehman, Niah Kilgariff-Johnson, Philip Tan, Julian Grobelski, Charlie Delin, Lucy Wilson, Owen White, Mark Xu and Diesel Kereru. We wish them lots of luck as they embark on this exciting challenge.

STEAM Week concluded with the Middle School assembly, where students heard a short presentation from Dan Hassan and Jake Price (who have recently returned from the STEM Mista program) and watched the Year 9 robots battle in the arena. It certainly was a very busy week but incredibly worthwhile. Overall, we learned the power of problem-solving and the importance of persistence. Most importantly, we had lots of fun learning! We are already looking forward to presenting STEAM Week 2.0 in 2019 with many more exciting activities and initiatives. Thanks must go to all the staff and students who worked together to make the week so successful.

STEAM Week was brought to you by the STEAM Team – Emma Galdes, Georgie Buenfeld, Jarrod Johnson, Joanna Doumanis, Mark Webber, Robyn Cox, Sharon Pearce and Tom Ranieri.