Community and Communication

The small country school welcome

With the start of Term 2, the Voyager team were on the road again visiting schools southeast of Armidale. These schools included Comboyne PS, Long Flat PS, Lansdowne PS and Stratford PS. A common characteristic of the schools we visited is that they are rural schools, away from major towns, fully based in their local community. As soon as the team rolled up at the schools we were embraced by staff and students and welcomed into their community.

One of the Voyager activities presented to most of the schools was The Sound Factor. The Sound Factor is a fun performance using theatre, comedy and audience participation to explore the physics of sound. The presenter takes on a variety of characters to engage the students with sound related concepts. The show is designed to allow a number of students to assist the presenter in the performance. The students and staff at the schools we visited recently fully participated in the show to assist with exploring the concepts of sound production and detection. In these schools the number of volunteers required was essentially the entire school population. With the active involvement of the whole school community, the communication of these concepts was shared by all. This would enhance the school’s memory of the visit and provide long term integration of the concepts into their continued investigation of the importance of science in their lives. This is also true for all the other activities facilitated by the Voyager team where the whole school community is fully immersed in the hands-on, exploratory investigations.

To me, community is a group of people who openly accept all members of the group, support them to experience the best of life and through difficult times and facilitate growth in life improving skills. This is achieved by open communication where everyone’s knowledge, opinions and ideas are fully listened to, valued and discussed to explore a common experience.

There were other aspects of the visits that made the Voyager team very much accepted into the school communities. At one of the schools when the Voyager Van got bogged on the school grounds the whole school assisted by pushing the van to enable it to move across the grass to the drive way to exit the school. This is a good example of full community involvement and assistance and appreciation of the Voyager team.

Another aspect of some of the rural schools that the Voyager team visit is they invite other nearby rural schools to join in the activities and it is great to see the interaction of the students as they form a ‘community’ for the day and the schools develop ongoing interactions.

The Voyager team very much appreciates and enjoys the open acceptance and communication of the school communities we visit.

– By Phil Spark, UNE Voyager member and astrophysicist