Monthly Archives: April 2016

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How to Make a Steampunk Hat

The Senior Library has been the venue for some great activities recently, all based around the steampunk genre. These included:

  • a steampunk display
  • steampunk hats made from gaffer tape
  • steampunk goggles
  • steampunk clocks made from recycled objects
  • steampunk hot air balloon science
  • a very funny steampunk tea-duel between teachers and students

Because we wanted to introduce a casual makerspace into the Senior Library, we decided the steampunk genre was a natural bridge between books and making. The heroes in steampunk books were always makers, always tinkering and creating as Victorian era science progressed with steam-powered machines, rather than with electronics and computer chips: hence the term “tinkerable technologies.”

Our first activity was to create a steampunk hat made from gaffer tape, hot glue and paint. While there are a lot of instructions on the internet for making steampunk hats, we decided that this was the one we would use: DIY Duct Tape Steampunk Top Hat.

Using another hat as a mold, gaffer tape was wrapped around the hat, sticky side out, and then back again, sticky side in. This was repeated with the crown and the brim, and then the two parts were taped together. Next, a hot glue gun was used to create lines and dots, the hats were painted and decorated. Gold paint was added to the glue dots, which resulted in these amazing hats looking very realistically like pieces of old leather riveted together by creative tinkerers.

Next on the agenda was a pair of steampunk goggles to go on the hat, made entirely from items sourced from Reverse Garbage.  (Instructions can be found here:  Similarly, the Year 7 & 8 boys were encouraged to create steampunk clocks from bits and pieces found at Reverse Garbage.

Those boys who participated had a great time, and one of the hats was even worn by the Tiffen Master at our student/teacher tea duel!

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Winners in the 2016 Library Photo Competition


The Annual Library Photo Competition in first term is always a good time to invite our boys to share their photos from the holiday season. This year, after 2015 being a year of global news that pulled us all closer together, the theme was HOME, with two categories: ‘In my Backyard’ and ‘Over the Fence’.

It proved to be a challenging theme! There were many conversations, and plenty of creative thinking from our entrants as they decided what really mattered close to home, or ‘In my Backyard’, and what could be deemed to be ‘Over the Fence’.

The display in the Lilley Centre grew slowly this year, and covered a diverse selection of material. Garden spiders and familiar creatures, favourite pets, food and places were all considered close to home, while in Over the Fence we saw far-reaching places of beauty and interest, both within the Australian landscape and beyond.

Congratulations go to the following students for their entries this year:

  • Mitchell A (Year12) was the Overall Winner for “Camping under the Milky Way”
  • Max S (Year 9) was Runner Up for In My Backyard with “Dry Storms”
  • Bill H (Year 10) was Over the Fence Winner for “New Zealand Landscape”
  • Richard M (Year 10) was Runner Up with “Morning Light”

We would like to thank all the staff and students who made this competition and display a success by contributing so willingly. Thanks also go to our Assistant Head of English, Mr Paul Kobez, for his expertise as our judge.

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How to Build Your Own PC

One of the first activities in The eXchange this term was a hands-on workshop, ‘How to Build Your Own PC,’ run by one of our Year 12 students. Using his own PC, which he had brought in to school, he stripped it down, then re-built it with the younger boys watching and assisting. As he did this, he explained what each component did, how each was connected, and how they could adjust their own computers to maximise performance.

Feedback from the younger boys was very positive:

  • ‘This afternoon really helped. We learnt how to build a PC and we also learnt what parts to use.”
  • “This was a fascinating experience as I have never had the opportunity to take apart and construct a computer.”
  • “It was very enjoyable and was explained very clearly.”

While 10 boys were able to attend the workshop, 18 more were on the waiting list, proving how popular this session was. We will definitely consider offering it again in the future.

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Tea Duelling in the Learning Commons

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The air was deathly still and an eerie silence fell across the Senior Library Learning Commons; only the faintest sounds of clinking munitions could be heard as weaponry was prepared… well, that’s what I would have been writing if this event had not proved itself to be one of the most highly anticipated, energized, exciting, noise manufacturing, crowd attending events we have seen!  The noise in the Learning Commons was an excited roar!  Who would have thought that dunking a biscuit into a cup of tea could excite so many students.  Hundreds of eager faces crowded through the doors to view their favourite  duelists battle it out in traditional Steampunk gentlemanly fashion.  Each duelist showed remarkable skill, or if not, were remarkably funny to watch as soggy biscuit landed on their laps.  The event was part of the many Steampunk activities run throughout the first term and was clearly the most popular, at least from a spectator point of view.

The duels were all carefully monitored and arbitrated by our own resident “Tiffen Master”, Mr Maloney and his team of deputies.  A big congratulations goes out to Mr Timms for winning against all challenging competitors and doing the teachers proud, and also an honorable mention to our runner-up from Year 10, Chris, who put up an amazing fight.  Expect big things from Chris in the future.  Crowd favourite Mr Venables was unfortunately defeated in the first round, but displayed excellent sportsmanship in the face of an unexpected early defeat.  Despite his loss, the fans all look forward to seeing Mr Venables next year at the 2nd Annual Tea Duel Competition.  Venables declined to comment on his early exit from the duels, but his charismatic smile said it all.  He will be back!

The only stain on otherwise perfect dueling session, other than the tea stains on the tablecloths and clothes, would be the disappointing cheating attempt undertaken by one particular contestant, a deputy principal who shall remain nameless.  Drinking the tea and not dunking the biscuit properly was a blatant disregard for the rules.  Luckily, nothing escaped the watchful eyes of the Tiffen Master and his deputies.  Thanks to them and the Library staff the duels were fair fun and very hilarious!

Take a look at the video and share in the fun:  


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The eXchange

An exciting new development for our Library this term is the launch of The eXchange, both a fluid space (LC309, the Forum, the Learning Commons) and a concept (an exchange of ideas, skills, thoughts, knowledge, concepts, designs and innovations). In this space we plan to run workshops, tutorials and demonstrations; encourage discussions, questioning and thinking big; and provide opportunities for playing, creating and innovating with maker space activities.

Cathy Collins, in her blog post STEM and the School Library: A Marriage that Makes Sense says, “School library programs are in a unique position to play a key role in STEM education and to serve as powerful hybrid spaces for STEM learning. The many hats that school librarians currently wear in schools, from information specialist to instructional partner and technology integrator/coach, position media specialists as natural allies and supporters of STEM education. Library media programs offer an ideal informal learning space for students to engage in STEM topics.”

Banners 1We have joined forces with our Dean of Teaching Development to use the space as a venue for promoting great teaching ideas in the Teacher eXchange; we are sharing the space with our Year 12 Academic Support team as they tutor other students; the Quadcopter Crew have been building a drone there; and recently a Year 12 student ran a workshop showing how to build your own PC. We are now looking forward to a parent, Brian Ruddle, talking about his company Impact Innovation Group, and later this week we are running a session on how to write a top-quality CV.  These are just the beginning, and we look forward to many great sharing and learning opportunities happening here.

Banners 2This week on LinkedIn  Jake Van Rensburg, CEO & Director at 6 Sigma Phoenix Trust, wrote, “Ultimately, children from each generation should keep their imaginations primed to create new ideas and to develop different ways to meet the changing world around them. Parents, teachers and adults in general should do their best not to limit children and their creativity. They should help as many children as possible to come up with big ideas and innovations that will meet the challenges of the future.”

Keep an eye on our Library homepage to find out about all the exciting activities scheduled for The eXchange.