Author Archives: BGS Library

  • -

Visitors from QUT experience BGS Emerging Technologies programs

Today we have had an opportunity to share Brisbane Grammar’s progress with Emerging Technologies with QUT Primary training teachers. The group of 40 students were keen to experience hands on, and see the boys enjoying new technologies, and had travelled from as far as Caboolture campus and overseas campuses to join us.

Tara Richmond, Acting HOD D&T and Debbie Hunter, Teaching and Learning Librarian met with the group before a Lunchbox Club session, and then the students were invited to join in the lunchtime meeting with the boys. The Year 7 and 8 boys were happy to share what they were doing, and explain what technologies they were using to get the job done.  Lecturer Dr Michelle Mukherjee, Lecturer in Digital Learning and Science Education and Co-ordinator of BEd. Primary Program, was pleased to be able to show her third year students the levels of engagement and enthusiasm generated by this style of learning.

Tara and Debbie conducted a professional conversation that targeted the challenges, comparisons and differences between the classroom curriculum and a Maker Space environment in implementing these intense activities.   We look forward to a follow up visit from a new group of trainee teachers to further showcase our activities.

  • -

Board Games and Pizza – an Irresistible Combination!

At the end of last term, the Library hosted the first Strategic Games Club board games and pizza evening of 2016. The proceedings began with a few games of Werewolf which, while not in the strictest sense a board game, is a club favourite and the perfect way to ramp up enthusiasm. Here are the rules – give it a try!

Next, the boys broke up into smaller groups to play a few hands of Munchkin, a wild and crazy card game that draws laughter and cries of dismay in equal amounts as players face off against each other and a variety of ridiculous monsters.

After a short break for pizza, a group of us decided to explore a game called Betrayal at the House on the Hill, while the rest decided to try Last Night on Earth. Both of these games pit player against player in novel ways, whether by haunting a character until they go crazy and attack fellow characters, or by one player taking the part of zombies whose goal is to rid the board “living” characters.

These evenings are always great fun and allow club members to play favourite games that we would not usually have the time to complete on Strategic Games Club afternoons, giving everyone time to wind down with friends after a long, tough term.

  • -

Our Best Readers Cup Ever!

Nerves were on edge, students were tense, parents were jittery, the excitement was palpable – and all due to five books!! What were the titles of these books holding all this power?

  • The adventures of stunt boy and his amazing wonder dog Blindfold – Lollie Barr
  • Fuzzy mud – Louis Sacher
  • The ratcatcher’s daughter – Pamela Rushby
  • Theophilus Grey and the Demon Thief – Cathy Jinks
  • Jandamarra – Mark Greenwood

Contestants had to read these books and try to memorise facts from them then, on the night, they were asked questions in each round from each book.

This year we had a record number of 24 teams from different schools competing in our Brisbane North 7/8 Readers Cup Competition. From early in the evening, the Learning Commons became more and more crowded, and once the parents moved into the back of the Forum, we were seriously challenged to find seats for them all!! But how good to think that all of these crowds were there because of reading!!


Organisation of the competition was also a team event, with TLs from each school supplying questions for each round and books to use as prizes, and taking on roles on the night such as judge, time-keeper, scorer, MC, etc. All in all, Readers Cup is a great way to bring schools together in an arena that’s not sport-related.

This year, Grumpy Cat also attended the competition for the first time ever. Maybe he was just too grumpy on the night, or maybe our boys were just having too much fun – whatever the reason, they didn’t manage to win! A big congratulations to the team from Murrumba State Secondary College who came first, followed by teams from Brisbane State High and Ferny Grove State High in second and third place. The team from Murrumba will now do this all again as they prepare for the State Finals to be held in September.











  • 0

How to Write a Professional Resume

At lunchtime today, 25 students attended a workshop in the eXchange to gain tips and insights on how to write a professional resume.  Many boys are now either ready to write a resume or ready to update their resume, so this information was very timely for them, with students commenting, “Your talk was really informative today and I found it really useful”, and “The session yesterday was excellent and it enlightened me a lot.”

This session covered two aspects – how to market yourself to the best advantage and how to design your resume so it looks professional – and was run by our Design and Tech Assistant, Ms Liane Barker-Martin. She has had extensive experience in the past designing marketing and promotional materials for companies and businesses, and the boys found her session both informative and valuable.

One of the key take-aways for the boys was to understand better how to tell the story of themselves to a prospective employer in both the introduction section of their resume and in their cover letter.  According to Carmine Gallo, author of The Storyteller’s Secret:

“In the next 10 years the ability to tell your story persuasively will be decisive – the single greatest skill – in helping you accomplish your dreams. Since the next decade marks the greatest promise civilisation has ever known, the story you tell yourself and the story you share with others will unlock your potential and, quite possibly, change the world.” (2016, p.7)

Our boys are now better empowered to go away and work on telling their stories.

How to Write a Resume


  • -

Book Week – Australia: Story Country

Last week the Middle School celebrated Book Week, and it was very satisfying to see our school community coming together to enjoy events which promote reading and the enjoyment of literature.


On Wednesday night 90 boys and their parents attended  An Evening with….Will Kostakis  in the Lilley Centre. Passionate about writing from an early age, Will wrote stories all through high school, landing his first publishing contract at 17 years of age and proving that if you have a dream, it can come true. His presentation focused on drawing inspiration from his own life for his writing as well as providing many laughs as he shared stories of  beloved Greek grandmother and the confusion that can arise across generations, especially when there are language differences.

His writing tips for the boys:

  • Writing a story is like solving a problem – take your own real-life stories and ask ‘What if this had happened instead?’
  • To write real emotion, find out what your character’s biggest fear is and then make then confront it.

The Book Week Breakfast on Friday was a sell-out, with author Jack Heath sharing parts of his latest book with the audience as well as talking about his life as an author. His writing career also began in high school, and he is now a prolific author, having published     books in the past 18 months. Jack spoke most engagingly with all the Middle School boys in year level presentations later in the day, and his books have since walked off the shelves in the Middle and Centenary Libraries.

His writing tips for the boys:

  • Ideas and stories are all around us. Creativity and imagination thrive in boredom, therefore make sure you allow periods of shutting out information so you have nothing to do but think.
  • Don’t worry about writers block – just get in and start writing. The difference between a job and a hobby is that you get on and do the job even if you don’t have inspiration.

Amongst other activities during the week, the Amazing Race was a highlight for boys as they completed individual and group challenges, all related to the Book Week theme,  Australia: Story Country. These included The Real Thong (a thong throwing contest), Say What? (an Australian poetry challenge) and Bushranger Bash, where the boys had to dress like a bushranger and gallop around the oval on a hobby horse.

Overall, the week was a great success, reflecting and reinforcing the strong culture of reading that we have in the school.

  • -

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!

  • -

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.

  • -

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.

  • -

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.

  • -

Guns, Shootings and YA Novels

Last night, three of our library staff attended the book launch of Cameron Raynes’ YA novel, First Person Shooter, at Avid Reader Bookstore in West End.

First Person Shooter is told through the eyes of  Jayden, a teenager in a small, rural town who enjoys playing first person shooter games on his Xbox, but who is ostracised because of his stutter. His best friend’s mother has been in prison for the manslaughter of her abusive partner  but, six days before her release, her partner’s psychopathic son returns to the town. “Told in sections, each representing a day of the week, and then six months later, the book concerns itself with maleness, soldiering, guns, butchering, bullying, assaults and more that imbues the story with a strong sense of testosterone-filled action.” (BuzzWordsBooks)

At a time when America’s gun laws are polarising the nation, guns in the hands of teenagers is a topical issue. Two other thought-provoking books are also in our library: Pig Boy by J.C.Burke and Kill the Possum by James Moloney.

Pig Boy is the story of Damon, an overweight boy living in a small, rural town who also has been ostracised, but in this instance because of his weight. The day he is unfairly expelled from school, he witnesses a terrifying event in the bush, then makes a rash decision which changes his life. To survive, he gets his gun licence and takes a job with the local pig hunter, a loner like himself.  “There were moments reading Pig Boy that I could barely breathe, such was the tension. There were moments when I was put in mind of Robert Cormier, as the reading journey grew darker. There was never a moment when I wanted to put down this taut story about small town perceptions and prejudices…JC Burke is at her best writing challenging, thought-provoking novels for older readers.” (Slightly addicted to fiction weblog)

Kill the Possum deals with the awful consequences of a family torn apart by an abusive stepfather who never grew out of being a bully. Dylan befriends his girlfriend’s brother, Tim, and, in desperation, they decide to kill the stepfather before he completely destroys the family.

All three books are gritty and absorbing, dealing with issues that are very real for many teenagers. Yet in all of them, there is hope that things will change, and life will not always seem so overwhelming.