Encouraging learning beyond class

Bright sparks: Waratah West Public School students show off their lava lamps in test tubes at the Children’s University Newcastle Passport Day. HUNTER students have been urged to think of learning as a passport to the world.
Nanjing Night Net

More than 1000 students from 24 schools are participating in the burgeoning Children’s University Newcastle program, which encourages children between the ages of seven and 14 to participatein educational activities beyond the school curriculum.

Students are given passports, which are stamped every time they complete a validated activity with a registered organisationeither before or after school, during lunch or in the holidays. Thiscould include playing sport or an instrument, joining a dance group or drama class or visiting art galleries, museums and libraries.

Waratah West Public teacher Jane Chapman said the school hadfully subsidised the $10 fee forall 38 students from years three to six to participate.

“We were one of the inaugural schools last year and it opened up a world of future learning,” Ms Chapman said.

“They were really excited at having their passports stamped and it showed them that learning is not just isolated to school and does not have to be something done only between 9am and 3pm. Opportunities for valuable lessons happen everywhere and can include things you already do anyway.

“The link to the University of Newcastle [UON]is important in helping them see it as an option for everybody.”

Five UON students from different study areas visited the school on Thursday and took the students through five activities in two hours.

The activitieswere basedon origami, advertising, first aid, making a lava lampin a test tube and sound-activated robots.

Students who reach 30 hours of activities attend a graduation ceremony at the UON Great Hall in full academic dress in October.

The program has almost tripled in size from last year, when UON was one of only three universities in Australia offering the venture and recruited 300students from nine schools.

UON is also working withAllambi Care, Premier Youthworks, Settlement Services International, Wandiyali and Wesley Mission this year to offer the program to students in care.