Sandra Woodward participated in an immersive hands-on research experience with Dr Zhaojun Han in the manufacturing laboratories at Lindfield, NSW
Sandra is always looking for ways to make science relevant for her students. She is frequently asked "when am I ever going to need to know this?" Sandra is a firm believer that the learning needs to be real.
The project: Solid state energy storage devices
Sandra was placed on a small research project "solid-state energy storage devices" working with CSIRO's Manufacturing team. Solid-state energy storage differs to conventional lead-acid battery storage systems, by the electrolyte being solid rather than liquid such as lithium-ion batteries. They are rechargeable and charge quickly, lithium-ion batteries however have an increased flammability. Sandra's hands-on experience involved the production of vertical graphene and the integration of this material into super capacitors, for use in high performance batteries that are safer than lithium-ion. These batteries were then evaluated for their performance. Sandra's experience allowed her to learn about new materials and the rigorous testing process they go through.
Learning something new can sometimes be a little daunting. By stepping out of her comfort zone, Sandra was able to walk away with fresh ideas to inspire her students. Sandra learned about the storage devices of the future and gained new insights to take back into the classroom.
Her students investigated energy and technology innovations through an independent inquiry process, this encouraged students to build their interest and knowledge on the topic, which inspired the students to generate their own questions.
Sandra has been able to develop lessons that have more relevance for her students, enabling her to demonstrate the applications outside of the classroom for what they have learnt. Seeing how their study can be applied inspired the students to think about what is possible.
Throughout the project placement Sandra used the same scientific process techniques she teaches at school; this has provided a reason for the routine and scientific rigour practiced in class. Sandra aims to increase her students STEM literacy skills, interpreting graphs and data. The students can then make meaning from the data they have gathered.
Teacher developed resource
A range of STEM resources developed by our Teacher Researcher in Partnership Program alumni are available for free download. You can download Sandra's student inquiry based lesson at: Energy