Ignite: an evening to remember

On 18 August – during National Science Week – the Old Melburnians War Memorial Hall was transformed for an evening. In case you were unable to make this event, here is a snapshot of some of the highlights.

Making their way towards Memorial Hall, guests caught their first glimpse of what the night had to offer, with a New World of Teaching and Learning Campaign projection in the quadrangle. As they entered the foyer, parents received their ‘All Access Pass’ – entry to the New World of Teaching and Learning.

Once inside the Hall, guests made their way through five interactive installations – each one representing a key learning space in the future Geoff Handbury Science and Technology Hub. Teachers from all three campuses and a range of disciplines - including Science and Design Technology – provided information on current initiatives, and the physical and educational features of the new facilities.

In his first public address to parents of all campuses about the Campaign, Headmaster Roy Kelley provided information about the global context and the School’s vision for Science and Technology.

Andrew Baylis, the Director of Learning and Research, and a Science teacher himself, also provided insight into the School’s innovative pedagogical approach.  

“Society and the workplace are asking for a set of skills beyond and above those taught in traditional school systems. Our new building is designed with these ideas in mind – openness, collaboration, opportunity - but above all, the very human need for an environment that values creativity, risk taking and real-world relevance,” says Andrew.

“For the learner, this means a shift in value and the need to find opportunities to gain the skills required. For the teacher and the School this is quite a challenge, as we cannot just replicate the current norms of the workplace in the classroom – these are children on a learning journey and we need to help scaffold the experience.”

Andrew uses lenses as metaphors for the different perspectives – including Science, Technology, Arts, History, Literature and Philosophy – that students must gain if they are to truly impact the world of the future. Every Melbourne Grammar School student must be able to look through these lenses and understand the power such perspectives bring.

“We need to demonstrate that we do indeed value the skills and perspectives in our assessments and celebration. We cannot just reward rote learning, recall or knowledge of rules. Our teaching needs to include the various lenses throughout the curriculum so that scientific-thinking is not isolated,” says Andrew.

The School is also looking for industry participation. “Imagine a table around which we gather teachers, students and industry – looking at real world problems and providing different perspectives for each member,” says Andrew.

During the evening, current parent and Chairman of Council, Michael Bartlett provided an update on the New World of Teaching and Learning Campaign. To fund the $34 million future Geoff Handbury Science and Technology Hub, the School has embarked on its most ambitious fundraising target - raising $15 million by December 2016. To date, 11.7 million has been raised towards this goal.

Michael drew on the success of previous campaigns as examples of the inspiring tradition and enduring connection of members of the School to philanthropy. Michael highlighted the Tomorrow’s Leaders Today Campaign, which exceeded its $10 million goal and raised $13.5 million towards the Nigel Peck Centre for Learning and Leadership, with 38 per cent contributed by current and past parents.

“The buildings and facilities at Grimwade, Wadhurst and the Senior School, remind us continuously that we, and most importantly our children, are benefitting today from the vision and philanthropy of previous generations,” says Michael.

Michael emphasised the need for every member of the School community – including parents – to contribute to the future of Science and Technology.

“It is our turn to continue that proud and generous tradition of philanthropy, and it is our turn to contribute to the academic well-being of current and future Melbourne Grammar School students,” says Michael.

Speaking with Josée Pinsonneault, Director of Development,  shortly after the event she expressed her gratitude toward those who have donated already, saying “I am thankful to the Old Melburnians, parents and everyone who has helped move the Campaign forward to date. With their help, the School can really create an inspiring environment for the future of Science and Technology education. As we build on this momentum, the support of everyone in our community will be critical as we raise an additional $3 million over the next three months.”