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Dexcel, Waikato educators collaborate on resource

Dexcel and Waikato educators collaborate to create new school resource.

How do robots milk cows? For school students, answering such a question could be tricky, but a new web-based portal aims to make this task easier.

The Dexcel story will be launched on Wednesday March 22 at Innovation Park and then accessible on the New Zealand Biotechnology Learning Hub (www.biotechlearn.org.nz).

Designed to teach primary and secondary students about automatic milking, the Dexcel story features video-clips, interactive activities and teaching resources.

Project manager Cathy Buntting says this resource is an opportunity to think about technology in a new context. “Technology is a subject that is difficult to teach and this portal was designed to meet this need.”

Cathy adds that although this is a Waikato story it will be accessible to all New Zealand school students. “The Dexcel story takes something that students normally could not see and makes it visible to them, therefore giving them a new learning context.”

The web resource is the result of a joint effort between Dexcel and educators from Waikato University’s Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research and the Centre for Science and Technology Education Research.

On the portal, video footage shows how a laser locates parts of a cow’s udder, how computer-controlled gates guide cows, how cows behave and how they are trained. A computer-mediated interactive activity, complete with fun sound effects, allows students to direct cows.

Cathy says a local Waikato school has agreed to trial the new content, and she hopes other New Zealand schools will also utilise the resource. School community representatives, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Research, Science & Technology will attend the launch.

The New Zealand Biotechnology Learning Hub is a government initiative designed to make modern science and biotechnology more accessible to New Zealand’s school students and teachers. The Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research and the Centre for Science & Technology Education Research at the University of Waikato, in conjunction with CWA New Media in Wellington manage the Hub. The site was launched in March 2005 and currently receives over 1,500 unique visitors each month.

ENDS

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