A version of this article originally appeared in Education Today online on 18 July 2018, and is reproduced here with permission.
It’s a case of getting them while they’re young. Macquarie University’s Dr Egg Digital – which was previously an independent internationally-renowned, children’s theatre production company – has been working with the acclaimed Australian research centre the Garvan Institute of Medical Research to engage primary students in STEM-based subjects in ways that will sustain interest from primary school, through secondary education and uni.
With the support of a recently-awarded City of Sydney grant, Dr Egg Digital and Garvan have developed workshops to create puzzle prototypes for primary students to investigate, research, and explore the Science and Technology curriculum through a series of scientific adventure stories and games.
Students from City of Sydney OOSH afterschool care centres in Redfern and The Rocks, as well as Queenswood School will design puzzles and also enter the Garvan laboratories, learning directly from scientists about science inquiry and designing experiments, all relevant to the new National Science and Technology Curriculum, in place nationally from 2019.
“Research shows Aussie kids, especially girls, are not engaging and following through to university level with STEM subjects. We believe engaging students in kindergarten and primary school will help raise scientific awareness,” said Dr Catherine Fargher, producer and game script writer at Dr Egg Digital.
“We want to create a safe and imaginative place for children to learn.”
“The immersive story-world invites students to explore biology, chemistry, science inquiry themes, and ethics through the eyes of three inventive kid-heroes with special powers. Through the story-world, they navigate across problem-solving adventures, quests and games.”
“We have the ongoing support of Macquarie University via its Incubator Hub, as well as connections with the University’s Education Studies and Biological Science Departments, and innovation programs, providing business and commercialisation support, and allowing us to focus on developing the product.”
Currently the team includes creative director / writer Dr Catherine Fargher, science and game educators, Macquarie University HDR students Julia Featherstone, India Boynton, Ravin Naidoo and design team members Jennyfer Ong and game-developer Peter Liang, who is currently a UX designer for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). The team also receives business support from an Advisory Board, including education, technology and science specialists, along with the incubator hub director John Shi-Nash and Singapore Edutech Business specialist David Ng, currently CFO of Mirxes, a medtech company.
The Dr Egg Adventures story-world was based originally on Fargher's original theatrical script, part of a national and international theatre production Dr Egg and The Man with No Ear, featuring puppetry, new media and animation. The work premiered at the Sydney Opera House and was later re-staged in Chicago at Redmoon Theatre and toured Canada through 2010-2011. The theatre script, honed on these three remounts, went on to win the AWGIE award for scriptwriting in Children’s theatre in 2011.