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Woodstock revisit retro technology

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Remember untangling chewed cassette tapes from your Sony Walkman? Or inserting Kodak film into your camera? This week Years 1 and 2 took a stroll down memory lane, using inquiry-based learning to investigate the evolution of technology.

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Technology has changed almost everything about the way we live. Modern technologies, smart phones and the internet mean tasks that once took us days, weeks or months now happen at the swipe of a screen. This week, Mrs Smith and Ms Christofa filled the piazza with an array of technological objects that harked back to a pre-digital world, a time before learners used digital tools to access, analyse and organise information.

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The objective was to encourage students to develop their skills of inquiry in order to further their knowledge and understanding about technology, its purpose, evolution and impact on our lives.

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Mrs Smith instructed students to move around the room and think carefully about each object. “Ask yourself lots of questions. What does it do? What does it feel like? Where does it come from? Does it make noise? How could you use it? What colours, sizes, shapes, patterns, words or parts can you see?”

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Mrs Smith also encouraged the girls to think critically about each object and to ask open-ended questions about them.

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Armed with clipboards, a sheet of paper divided into three columns - see, think and wonder – and bucket loads of curiosity, the students went from table to table, carefully examining each object and noting down their thoughts.

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It’s no secret that curiosity makes learning more exciting and enjoyable. And Woodstock was abuzz with excitement as students discovered retro game consoles, vintage cameras, typewriters, Sony Walkmans, radio alarm clocks, cassette tapes, rotary dial phones, vinyl records and a Morse code machine.

They were baffled by some of the tools of exploration used by Australia’s early European settlers.

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To children who’ve grown up with GPS systems in their parents’ phones and cars, it was fascinating to think about a time when a map of Australia didn’t exist and had to be plotted out by hand.

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The students couldn’t believe how much the telephone had changed either. It wasn’t that long ago when there was no instant messaging, no internet access and certainly no cameras! They were amazed by the weight of the old-fashioned circular dial phone and wondered if they’d perhaps been used in a hotel.

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It was also a revelation to reflect on how technology has changed the way we listen to music. Today, streaming services provide near limitless song choices to anyone, anywhere, at any time, but only a few decades ago, it was all about the large circular records and audio cassettes on display.

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Mrs Smith and Ms Christofa encouraged the students to ask lots of questions about technology, cultivating their curiosity and harnessing their drive to know, understand and engage in the world and its ideas. Without curiosity, Thomas Edison would never have invented the electric light bulb and Alexander Graham Bell would never have invented the telephone. And without Sir Timothy Berners-Lee's curious mind, the Internet may not exist as it does now.

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We wonder where Woodstock’s curiosity will lead them in the future. Watch this space!