Life in Lockdown

By Dr Kirsti Abbott, Program Leader, UNE Discovery

Learning Lockdown during a global pandemic – what does it look like for some Armidale kids?

From 25th March through COVID-19 lockdown in Australia (the first one!), I was home with my two children, partner and two dogs (multiple house plants, vege garden, compost critters, backyard birds….you get the picture). My kids, in Year 4 and Year 8, had different schooling experiences, and one of the things that most intrigued me was what other kids were doing at home during this time! I really wanted to know what they enjoyed, what they didn’t enjoy, what they looked forward to when school resumed, and more. On their zoom meetings, students, parents and teachers did lots of troubleshooting, working through technical challenges and marvelling at the various types of headphones and ear devices. They also did quite a lot of listening to teachers, answering questions and trying to work out what this online learning caper was all about.

So one day I intervened in one of my son’s class zoom meetings. I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to know what they were doing! And I got some wonderful responses. Below are some of the answers I got to the question “what have you enjoyed about being at home?”

“I like walking our dog every day.”

“I love bouncing on the trampoline.”

“I go hunting rabbits with my Dad. I really like that.”

“I like going to the netball courts to ride my bike. I also like playing roblox.”

“I like riding my motor bike in the paddocks.”

“I like playing mathletics online with my friends.”

“We have dogs, ferrets, cats and horses. I like playing with them, and my sisters too.”

“I do a daily LEGO Challenge, which I really enjoy.”

“I like being home with my family. I walk the dog with them.”

What I found so interesting about these answers, and the kinds of activities the kids enjoyed, was the rich learning experiences to be found in every single one. Trampolines – imagine learning about force, bounce, material science, aerodynamics and double bouncing by having fun in your backyard! Bikes – conjure up wheel making challenges, and discovering velocity, acceleration and balance. Dogs – companion animal science is all about a history with nature; create new pet creatures and play with them in new ways! LEGO – the sky is the limit. Daily challenges with a class can propel creativity and confidence in construction to new heights. Maths – it’s all around us; patterns on our bodies and in nature. The counting challenges are endless!

So next time you’re home, possibly thinking about what new Netflix episode you might watch, seek inspiration from some of Armidale’s primary school students. Go get some science, technology, engineering, arts and maths (STEAM) into your day!