Students from Dalkeith Primary School in Western Australia are taking part in a groundbreaking science project which aims to make contact with extraterrestrial life while learning essential skills from STEAM experts.
Working closely with senior research fellow Kevin Vinsen from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) and artist Loren Kronemeyer, the Year 5 and 6 students from the school’s STEM enrichment program are learning how to build their own computer and code in Python, while learning about astronomy in preparation for their project.
“[Kevin]’s sort of come in and he’s started doing things like whole-school talks with the students about what data astronomy is, and what radio waves are, and he talked quite generally about the solar system,” Tamara Doig, deputy principal of Dalkeith Primary School, explains. The students learned coding through an unorthodox approach. “[Kevin] got the kids to role play the different components of a computer,” Doig elaborates.
“…this year, Loren came on board with Kevin, and we started to develop, with myself as well, a project that could kind of fuse everything that Kevin’s been doing with computer programming, with art.” The children learned about the golden record beamed out on the NASA Voyager Mission in 1977, which consisted of a collection of images and sounds representing life on Earth. “[Loren and Kevin have been] talking to them, really getting a lot of critical thinking involved about looking at those images that were sent out,” Doig says.
Kronemeyer and Vinsen, along with the school’s senior science specialist, led the conversation, before getting students to choose three images and three audio files representing themselves to send into space.