The Auracle – Volume 3, August 2015


Vol. 3, August 2015

In this issue:

Aurora College

3B Smalls Road
Ryde NSW 2112

Phone: 02 9886 7560
Fax: 02 9886 7525

From the Principal’s desk

Dr Steve Goldfarb at the ATLAS experiment control room

From our ‘global village’: Dr Steven Goldfarb in the ATLAS experiment control room at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN)

The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” captures Aurora College’s philosophy towards the development of our students.

A successful partnership between parents, Aurora and the home school ensures that our students’ educational, social and emotional needs are catered for. Aurora is committed to building relationships which foster in our students and our partners, a strong sense of belonging to both schools.

When a student enrols with Aurora College they become a ‘dual citizen’ of two schools, and their respective communities. Citizenship, of course, comes with both rights and responsibilities for the individual. For example, a right of each student is that their curriculum is planned for and supported by both schools. A complementary responsibility is that each student makes the most of the educational opportunities available to them at both schools.

Personal learning plans (PLPs) document how each student will take responsibility for their learning and also reflect the commitment that each partner makes to the development of the student. PLPs identify a clear destination for the student in terms of goals for learning, pinpoint the potential obstacles that might impede the student attaining their goals, and list the necessary adjustments for students who have special needs. The process of developing PLPs for each of our students continues throughout this term and next.

Critical to the success of ‘the partnership’ is our ongoing work with the State Reference Group (SRG). On Friday 31 July, the Aurora College timetable template for 2016 was published on the partner school information page of our website ( The development of this and related support documents, was the culmination of several months of work with the SRG. The comprehensive process of consultation, development and review that was undertaken by Aurora and the SRG has produced a structure that will allow the college to work with our partner schools in providing the best possible curriculum for our students. I would again like to thank your parent representatives on the SRG, Genie McMullen and Andrew Strachan, for their ongoing commitment to this process.

The Masterclass program emphasises to our students the relevance and importance of a quality education in a wide range of human endeavours. A hallmark of our curriculum, the program also gives students real insights into the professional lives of people who are leaders in their chosen field. In preparation for a masterclass to be delivered online by CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) at our next residential school, I recently had the opportunity to connect with Dr Steven Goldfarb, a physicist working at the facility in Switzerland. In anticipation of the upcoming CERN masterclass, Dr Goldfarb recorded the following message for our students.

As a demonstration of the commitment that Aurora has to our partnership with parents, we are extending the concept of the masterclass to include opportunities for involvement by all parents. The first of these opportunities, presented by ReachOut, will provide strategies to help students to cope with stress. For full details, see the Deputy’s Report and Masterclass Report in this issue.

At various locations across the state, we have been working with the Department’s media team on the production of two promotional videos for Aurora College. My sincere thanks go to:

  • Conor and Darragh McMullen and family and the students and staff at Cobar High School (Principal, Sue Francisco and Aurora College Coordinator, Carolyn McMurtrie)
  • Ysabella Jolley and family and the students and staff at Great Lakes College Forster Campus (Principal, Jennifer Miggins and Aurora College Coordinator, Vanessa Pryor)
  • Julia Williams and family and the students and staff at Parkes High School (Principal, Sandra Parker and Aurora College Coordinator, Helen Vere)
  • Jenene McGrath (Principal, West Wyalong High School), Chris Higgins (New Gold Mines), Duncan Taylor (Isolated Childrens’ Parent’s Association of NSW), Steven Goldfarb (CERN), Rob Hollows (CSIRO) and Fiona Wood (Author)
  • the staff at Aurora, particularly Virginia Cluff (playing the part of Virginia Cluff) and Kate Thompson (playing the part of Kate Thompson).

We eagerly await the release of both videos!

Finally, welcome home to Kathy Klados and a big thank you to Kate Thompson and Christine Black for all their hard work in back-filling positions in the Aurora office this term.

Chris Robertson

Acting Principal

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Deputy’s report

Staff have been working hard, ensuring that students are engaged, through delivering lessons with interesting and relevant material that challenges student thinking.  All students are encouraged to use their microphone and webcam as part of normal lessons. In doing so, they will be building connections with classmates.

Masterclasses are an important part of student learning at Aurora College. A masterclass is a presentation by an expert on a particular subject. We would like to broaden the scope of this program by offering masterclasses to parents. These will most likely be offered via Adobe Connect. Please take two minutes to respond to three very quick questions about the best topics and times for delivery at

We look forward to engaging the Gifted Education Research, Resource Information Centre (GERRIC), based at University of New South Wales, to run the mini Certificate of Gifted Education in December, which is a two-day intensive professional learning course. The highly acclaimed course will enable staff to deepen their understanding and equip them with a range of strategies to cater for the varied needs of Aurora students.

If students are experiencing any issues, their first port of call is to his/her Aurora College Coordinator in their school. For classwork, however, students are also encouraged to regularly communicate with their teachers if they are absent for an assessment, not understanding assessment guidelines or not understanding class work.

The next residential program will be held from Monday 19 October to Thursday 22 October and some exciting activities are being planned for all students. It will be held at Hurlstone Agricultural High School again. More details will be provided towards the end of term relating to transport, activities and payments. Students will be issued an Aurora College t-shirt free of charge at the residential. See From the engine room for details.

Kate Thompson

Relieving Deputy Principal

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Tip from a techie

Windows 10 Logo

Windows 10 is here!

I know a lot of you have been waiting, some more patiently than others, but the wait is finally over. Windows 10 was released on July 29th 2015, and for the next 12 months everyone who has a licensed copy of Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Phone can upgrade for free.

To help ensure the transition is as smooth as possible, I have installed Windows 10 on both the Elite X2 and the Pavilion X2 student devices for testing. I am happy to say that all my tests have shown the devices are 100% compatible with the new version of Windows. If you plan on upgrading your device, please make sure you have a complete backup beforehand (always a good suggestion!), just in case.

The testing I performed was limited to the device hardware and school-related software only. I can confirm that all sound, webcam, keyboard, wireless and other peripherals supplied to students with the devices are compatible with Windows 10. Likewise, Office365/Office 2013 and Adobe Connect have no issues with the new operating system.

When you do upgrade there are a few things you should check. For example, Windows 10 makes Edge the default browser, even if you previously used Chrome. For more information on things to check, you can check out this internet article:

Top 5 areas to update and customize after your Windows 10 upgrade

Please be aware that support for the HP BYOD devices is limited to hardware issues and school-related software only. I cannot provide support for games, Windows 10 voice features or anything else that doesn’t relate to your learning. I also cannot provide any data-recovery services. It is vital that you ensure you always have at least one complete backup of your work.

Hewlett Packard Options

The devices that Hewlett Packard donated to students this year come with a 1 year warranty. As with most warranties, it covers device faults only. Physical damage, such as screen breakages or damaged chargers, are not covered by warranty and will involve a cost to you to be fixed. In some cases you will be able to claim these costs against your home insurance (check with your insurance provider to see if you’re covered for this), but not always.

So what happens after the first year if the device stops working? If your warranty has run out, you will still have to pay. The good news is that you can purchase a CarePack. This is an extended warranty from Hewlett Packard that covers your device for longer. If you purchase a CarePack with Accidental Damage Cover, you’re also protected from fire, non-intentional liquid spills in or on the unit, drops, falls, collisions and electrical surges as well as damaged or broken LCD displays. For more information on the Accidental Damage Cover, you can check out this website: HP CarePack – Accidental Damage Protection

You can also purchase CarePacks from HP through the partner store they have set up for Aurora College. Visit the store by clicking the following link: HP Partner Store – Aurora College

Ben Hillsley

Learning Technologies Support Officer

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Connect locally, learn globally

Broken Hill Panoramic,,

Broken Hill Panoramic, John O’NeillCC BY-SA 3.0

Hi, my name is Lauren and I am in Year 8 at Willyama High School in Broken Hill.

Broken Hill is a small mining city, also known as the Silver City, with a population of just under 20,000 and is located all the way over near the South Australia border. It is more than a 12 hour drive from here to Sydney. Broken Hill is known for mining silver, lead and zinc and during World War 2 was home to all of Australia’s gold to keep it safe. Broken Hill is also where the world’s leading mining corporation BHP (Broken Hill Proprietary) was founded. As mining has slowed down recently, Broken Hill has turned to tourism and is now known as ‘The gateway to the outback’. Broken Hill is also home to many famous artists such as Pro Hart and Jack Absalom and is also home to ‘the living desert and sculpture symposium’, a collection of large stone sculptures created by artists from around the world. We also hosted the film ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’ at the Palace Hotel and the Mad Max films were filmed just out of Broken Hill at Silverton, only 20 minutes away.

Lauren at the Term 1 Residential Camp, 2015

Lauren on a cruise during the Christmas holidays, 2014

There are a lot of opportunities in Broken Hill for people to play sports so it is common for people here to play 2 or 3 sports at a time. Broken Hill’s most popular sport is AFL, followed by soccer, and throughout the years, many young football players have left Broken Hill to play for A league teams. You may know Taylor (Tex) Walker, the captain of the Adelaide Crows; he is a born and bred Broken Hill local and probably Broken Hill’s biggest sport star at the moment.

I play basketball in the under 16’s unisex grade, A grade and B grade; I also referee and I play for the Broken Hill representative team, the Broncos. I also play netball in the under 16’s grade and I coach junior players in the ‘net-set-go’ program. In both sports I have made it to higher levels of representation and am currently part of the South Australia Country state talent squad for basketball. In 2013 I was considered one of the top 10 basketballers in South Australia Country training camp and made the All Star team, and the Far West Academy squad for netball, which involved lots of traveling because Broken Hill is in the middle of nowhere. When not playing sport, I enjoy playing guitar and I can also play the flute.

My school, Willyama High School has about 600 students, my grade having around 110 kids. Willyama is the aboriginal word for Broken Hill and is one of 2 high schools in Broken Hill, the other being Broken Hill High School. Broken Hill is unique compared to everywhere else in NSW because we are on Central Standard Time as opposed to the rest of the state which is on Eastern Standard Time. This means that we are half an hour behind everyone else in Aurora and it makes it slightly difficult to get to the 9:00 am lessons on time.

I was part of xsel last year and the idea of being able to continue my selective online learning in Aurora was exciting for me. My Principal, Mr Shepherd, and my Aurora coordinator, Ms Millsteed, have made our Aurora experience much easier by modifying the whole school timetable to allow us maximum possible time in our Aurora learning blocks. They have also given the 6 of us our own conference room to attend learning blocks away from the other students at our school. We are all very grateful for this. I can’t wait to continue my learning in Aurora and I look forward to the many challenges to come.

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The ultimate bedroom

Year 7 recently completed an assignment called the ultimate bedroom.

Students had to design, furnish, paint and floor their dream bedroom. Students used online design programs to design their ultimate bedroom and had to provide a description of why the space they had created was the ultimate bedroom.

Students used skills relating to scale, measurement, area and financial mathematics to complete the task.

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In the mathematics classroom

Where will I use this in my life?

This is an often asked question of mathematics teachers, and in reply there have been some interesting answers, particularly to Year 11 students who are currently looking at the geometry of the parabola.

The iconic ‘Dish’, the Parkes Radio Telescope, came under scrutiny from students as they sought to determine the focal length and width of the parabolic surface.

Investigating Parabolas Y11

The Parkes Radio Telescope, with an overlaid parabola demonstrating the practical use of mathematics.
Image Copyright 2003, CSIRO


So too did some historic concrete structures on the east coast of England and Scotland. It took a while for students (and some staff) to understand what these big things could be used for.

Investigating Parabolas 2

Image Copyright 2015 Google


These concrete paraboloids were used as acoustic mirrors – an early warning system for England to prepare for German bombing raids in the early years of the Second World War. These were later replaced with RADAR, which also used parabolic reflectors.

Jay Quince

Head Teacher Mathematics

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Bright lights of Aurora

Congratulations to the following students:

Chloe Adler and Jessica Kitto of Year 11 (West Wyalong High School) received their Astra Awards at their home school assembly.

Darcy Hopkins  of Year 7 (Nowra High School) is participating in the 2015 NSW Premiers Debating Challenge and will be competing in the South Coast Regional Finals of the NSW Tournament of Minds competition. Darcy also participated in the Australiasian Problem Solving Mathematical Olympiads Paper 3 and the ICAS Mathematics competition.

Aiden Wallis of Year 7 (Nowra High School) participated in the Secondary Schools Chess Championships and was inducted as a member of the Year 7 SRC at Nowra High School. Aiden also participated in the Australiasian Problem Solving Mathematical Olympiads Paper 3 and the ICAS Mathematics competition

Ritesh Baral of Year 7 (Nowra High School) participated in the Australiasian Problem Solving Mathematical Olympiads Paper 3 and the ICAS Mathematics competition.

Rohan Cutting of Year 8 (Broken Hill High School) competed in the South Australia state short course swimming championships in Adelaide.

Summer-Rose Stingemore of Year 9 (Cobar High School) competed in the regional athletics carnival in Dubbo and attended the Morrambilla Music camp.

Ryan Anderson of Year 9 (Cobar High School) attended the Morrambilla Music camp.

Lachie Cooper and Hunter de Jong  of Year 7 (Eden Marine High School) attended the regional athletics carnival held in Canberra.

Alycia Trainor of Year 10 (Coolah High School) danced at the Opera House in the PULSE Showcase of Excellence in the Arts.

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Masterclass program

Since the last edition of The Auracle, we have had two more exciting Masterclass connections.

On 16 July, we linked with author Fiona Wood in Melbourne. Fiona has written television scripts for the last ten years on shows ranging from MDA and The Secret Life of Us, to Home and Away and NeighboursAs an author, Fiona has won the Older Readers category of the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards with her book Wildlife.

We were privileged to have Fiona host a masterclass and engage with our students. She provided personal insights and inspiration to Aurora’s budding authors. Student comments acknowledged “the value of the advice and her (Ms Wood) tips on how to deepen understanding”. The ongoing success of our Masterclass program was reflected in comments such as “I like how she answered all of my questions and I liked how she gave me confidence to write a book of my own”.

On 23 July we were taken to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), a private research university in America, where we met up with Elijah Stanger-Jones. Elijah is a current HSC student from NSW who applied for and was offered the opportunity to attend a 6 week secondment to study and assist in the “analysis of dynamics of free floating Manipulators for kinematic control”, which is also the subject of his thesis.

Elijah works with Synchronised Position Hold Engage Re-orient Experimental Satellites (SPHERES), which in the future will be used on international space stations. This masterclass was unique as our ‘master’ was not only very young, but also a local from Dubbo. The students found his class inspirational. Feedback from one student said ”I enjoyed everything about this class, it was really inspiring and motivating to see someone who is younger achieving as highly as Elijah has and it makes me want to try much harder”.

Our congratulations go to Elijah for his academic work and we thank him for his willingness to share his experience with us. We look forward to future masterclasses with Elijah, to hear more about his work and to learn from his experiences. View this masterclass by clicking on the link:

The Masterclass program is not only a unique opportunity to interact across Year groups, but also to interact with experts in real time, and despite their geographical distance from us. We have two more masterclasses scheduled for August. One is with the NSW State Library which will introduce students to the availability of e-resources from the State Library. The other masterclass is on 19 August, when we will participate in the “Careers in Science video conference series” hosted by Macquarie University and the LEAP-links (Learning, Education, Aspiration, Participation) program.

Stay tuned as we continue to expand partnerships with business, scientific cultural and tertiary education institutions and meet more people who are leaders in their chosen field.

Masterclass for Parents

One in four young Australians are experiencing a mental health difficulty. But there’s an even bigger problem: 70% of those who need help don’t get it. That’s 525,000 people. You probably know one of them. They might feel like they don’t have anyone to talk to about what they’re going through. Maybe they don’t know where to go, or they don’t even realise that they need help.

After friends and family, the internet is the first place young people turn to for information and support. That’s where comes in. This organisation works alongside young people to deliver tools and support that address youth mental health and reduce youth suicide. is a safe space for young people to learn about what they can do to get through tough times, and for many, a chance to help others through their tough times.

This is the first masterclass opportunity to be offered to our parents. The focus of the presentation is Year 12 – managing stress and anxiety. The presenters are Jackie McIver (National Program Manager, ReachOut Schools), Maryanne Vorreiter (Principals Australia Institute and the MindMatters initiative) and Isabella Merrilees-White (ReachOut Youth Ambassador). This free webinar will discuss how parents/carers, teachers and wellbeing staff can support students through the stressful exam period.

To register, click the following link:

There are a number of ways parents and teachers can support wellbeing and mental fitness within the school community, including:

  • encouraging students to seek help if they feel they are not coping
  • setting aside time to do short activities that promote mindfulness
  • focusing on the personal strengths of the student
  • talking about mental health and wellbeing with students. (This has the effect of reducing the stigma around mental health difficulties and gives students permission to talk about their state of mental health without fear of being judged.)

By incorporating some of these actions into everyday life, teachers and parents can help encourage mental fitness in students and prevent serious mental health issues. produces the following fact sheets:

What is mindfulness

Self talk and self awareness

Relaxation training

Where to get help

What is mental health?

Christine Black

R/Head Teacher Secondary Studies

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Mentoring program

Mentoring is a key feature of the Aurora College curriculum and is currently in the ‘pilot’ stage.

We have received a number of applications from students who wish to participate in the program. This term we will complete our first training program with mentors.

Further information will be available later this term.

Christine Black

R/Head Teacher Secondary Studies

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Spotlight on … Ms Christine Black

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Library report

Book Week begins on 24 August and the theme this year is “Books Light up My Life”. This resonates very strongly with the Aurora College motto: “Igniting new ways of learning”.

With the advent of Book Week, it is with pleasure that a number of students will receive either a book of their choice or an iTunes voucher. The winning students have shown the spirit of learning by using our online library and have been notified about their prizes.

Continuing the Book Week celebrations, I invite all students to email me ( a photo of themselves reading their favourite book. Pictures will be displayed in the Library’s Adobe Connect room.

Premiers’ Reading Challenge

Students who have participated in Premiers’ Reading Challenge will need to have their online entries validated by their home school’s P.R.C Coordinator on or before 21 August.

Issues or questions

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any issues in relation to logging on to the Wheelers Platform (within our OLIVER library). To view a brief presentation on how to use OLIVER, click on:

What’s new?

Our list of new titles can be viewed by clicking on the following link:

Enjoy Book Week!

Belinda Doyle

Teacher Librarian

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A message from our technology sponsor, Microsoft

MS Sponsor Message

Microsoft is providing Office 365 to every NSW public school student free of charge. With Office 365, your child will now have access to the latest version of Word, for writing; Excel, for spreadsheets; PowerPoint, for presentations; OneNote, for organisation and note taking; and much more.

  • Install on up to 5 compatible PCs and Macs, plus 5 tablets (including iPad!)
  • Use with OneDrive for automatic device syncing
  • Gain valuable skills on the world’s most popular productivity software
  • Office subscription lasts for as long as your child is a student here and the program continues

Instruct your child to follow these simple steps to get Office:

For PC and Mac:

  1. Visit
  2. Click through to sign in with school-provided credentials & download
  3. On the installation page select your language and click install

For iOS and Android:

  1. Download from your app store
  2. Sign in with your school credentials for full editing capability

Your child will need their school email account to sign in. If you have trouble installing Office, this guide may resolve your issue:

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A message from our technology sponsor, Hewlett-Packard

HP-ShopHewlett-Packard has developed their NSW Education store for students, parents, staff members and families to purchase devices like the Elite X2 (pictured left) at special prices.

  • Intel® Core™ Processor M-5Y71 (4 MB cache, 2 cores)
  • Windows 8.1 Pro 64
  • Intel® HD Graphics
  • 11.6″ diagonal FHD BrightView IPS eDP ultra-slim LED-backlit touch screen
  • 256 GB M.2 SE SSD, 8 GB 1600 MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM

Be sure to check out the store at 


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From the engine room

Aurora College is supplying each student with one free t-shirt which will be issued at the October Residential Camp (18 to 22 October). Order forms (available here) were emailed to parents at the end of July.


In order to issue the correct size to your child we have provided a sizing chart. You may purchase additional t-shirts at a cost of $26 per shirt.

Orders must be returned to Aurora College either by email or Australia Post by 4 September 2015. If you require assistance with the order please contact the Administration Office.

Denise Deaves

School Administrative Manager

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What’s Uni Like?

What’s Uni Like? is a free massive open online course (MOOC) developed to foster aspiration in young people who would not traditionally consider university as a post-school option, with the ultimate goal of encouraging and broadening participation in Australia’s higher education sector. What’s Uni Like? has been in development for the past 18 months and is now available for registration.

The course is aimed at those from 14-22 years of age and addresses the key areas of academic writing and reading, student expectations, digital literacy and online learning skills. What’s Uni Like? is accessible, engaging and self-paced. The course includes video, animation, quizzes, reading and writing exercises and an online forum where participants can discuss what they are learning and exchange ideas.

At completion, the students will have attained an awareness of:

  • the various pathways into university
  • the knowledge and confidence to successfully transition and participate in university life
  • academic skills required for successful study and a greater understanding of the opportunities higher education offers.

The project was developed by Charles Sturt University and funded by the Federal government through its Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP). What’s Uni Like? was created to help increase participation in tertiary education by students from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds from any location in Australia.

How is it offered?

The course is delivered online, can be started anytime and is self-paced. The entire course takes approximately 12 hours to finish. Students complete 3 modules:

  • Uni – is it for me?
  • Uni – what should I expect?
  • Uni – what academic skills will I need?

At the end of each module they are awarded a certificate of completion that details the skills and learning outcomes they have acquired. Students, TAFE and other institutions are able to establish a private cohort or closed groups within What’s Uni Like?, and can monitor use and rewards for completion.

Who is it for?

What’s Uni Like? is being offered to all Australian university aspiration programs,  higher education providers and secondary school students. The resource is informed by current research and best practice.  It is aimed in particular at students from regional and remote areas and those of low socio-economic backgrounds.

To register go to:

For further information please contact:

Kim McClintock

Charles Sturt University

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Aurora College; 3b Smalls Road, Ryde, NSW 2112
Phone: 02 9886 7560; Fax: 02 9886 7525; Email:
Website:; Facebook:


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