Category Archives: Smart Science Initiative

An intelligent tutor in the classroom

Above: The Smart Science Initiative website with links to the four modules – Astrobiology, Climate Change, Medicine, and Nanotechnology

Grant: $1.64m (2013-2014) Australian Maths and Science Partnerships Program, Australian Government

Students in 21 schools across New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia tested our four intelligent tutor modules. All four modules are now open to high schools in Australia at no cost until October, 2017. The modules are aimed at Years 9 and 10.

The Smart Science Initiative was created by a partnership between the University of New South Wales, Flinders University, the University of Western Australia, Arizona State University, technology partner Smart Sparrow and high schools in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.

Funded by the Australian Maths and Science Partnerships Program it is delivering science research and associated mathematics to high school students via theĀ  intelligent personal tutoring system.

Every student with an Internet connection can learn about real, relevant Australian science, anytime, anywhere, and at their own pace, while their teacher will be able to monitor the progress of both individuals and groups of students.

The goals of the project are:

1. Build scientific literacy and skills in Australia

2. Promote choosing science beyond Year 10 to create an unbroken pathway to tertiary science studies

3. Develop new learning assets for today’s digitally-connected students, equally accessible to all students regardless of geographic isolation or socio-economic status

4. Provide new insights into how today’s students learn

This was achieved through the development of four rich, interactive and adaptive modules focused on Australian BIG science questions and delivered via a personalised learning platform. The modules are:

1. Space exploration: Are we alone in the universe?

2. Climate Change: Where does wild weather come from?

3. Medicine: The body in question – infectious diseases

4. Nanotechnology: The new frontiers – why very small is big


Above: An example of the look and feel of a module

The Smart Science Initiative was a team of more than 17 across four universities and a technology partner, and 21 high schools in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia. They are:

University of New South Wales: Dr Carol Oliver (Project Manager), A/Prof Julian Cox, Dr Louise Lutze-Mann, Dr Angela Maharaj, Prof Steve Sherwood, A/Prof Wan Ng, Dr Jennifer Fergusson.

Flinders University, South Australia: Prof Martin Westwell, Prof Joe Shapter, Diana Pham.

University of Western Australia: Nobel Laureate Prof Barry Marshall, Dr Allison Imrie, Timo Ernst.

Arizona State University: Prof Ariel Anbar, Dr Lev Horodsky.

Smart Sparrow: Dr Dror Ben-Niam, Jacqui Hayes, and a large team of technical specialists to visualise and build the smart modules.