Hello everyone and welcome to the 2011 school year! It's been a slightly longer-than-planned gap between updates, but not due to a lack of things happening, as you'll see below. Instead, we took extra time over the school holidays to get ready for what's going to be a very, very big year!
BACK ONLINE: phew - those who briefly saw this page when it was first posted may have wondered where we suddenly went to. The below announcement of Neil's involvement with the Bookend program generated an enormous wave of interest around the globe, which proved too much for our web server and the page crashed, taking the whole website with it. It's great to see such interest and we're now happily back online!
New Patron - Neil Gaiman
We are exceptionally pleased to announce that Bookend has a new patron: international bestselling author Neil Gaiman!
Neil is listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top ten living post-modern writers, and is a prolific creator of works of prose, poetry, film, journalism, comics, song lyrics, and drama. His impressive body of work includes Coraline, Mirrormask, Neverwhere, Stardust, Sandman, Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), and he is one of the writers of the 2011 series of Doctor Who. Neil’s work has won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula and Bram Stoker. Most recently, Neil has been awarded the 2009 Newbery Medal (for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children) and the 2010 Carnegie Medal in Literature (for outstanding works for children and young adult readers in the UK).
Neil first visited Tasmania in 1998 and this sparked an ongoing fascination for him with the State's unique animals and ecology. As a result, Bookend had been talking with Neil about our work, and when he came to perform in Tasmania as part of the 2011 MONA FOMA festival, we took the opportunity to give him – and his wife and fellow performer Amanda Palmer – a closer look at what we’re doing.
Neil joins our other wonderful patrons to provide his expertise and help to spread the Bookend message further. Two projects of immediate interest to Neil were the Envirothon (which he and Amanda launch in the video clip below), and Interactive Bonorong – which is also announced in this update.
Welcome to Neil! And if you’re reading this because you’ve come here from Neil’s blog or twitter feed welcome to you too. If you want a snapshot view of who we are and what we do – click here.
We announced the pilot Envirothon competition in our last update, and now it is officially underway. Thanks are due to our project partners: the Tasmanian EPA Division and UTAS SET. Thanks also to the environmental professionals volunteering their time to act as judges and mentors for the participating schools.
Six teams have been selected from the applications received, increased from the five originally planned to provide two teams from each of the three main regions of the State. These teams are: Rosny College, Launceston Church Grammer, Don College, Calvin Christian School, Scotch Oakburn College, and Hellyer College. They will be competing not only to win the pilot Envirothon in Tasmania, but - subject to team performance and viewer/sponsor interest - also to travel to North America to participate in the sister competition where over 500,000 students are involved this year!
In future updates we will bring you information on each of these teams and how their preparations are going. We also hope that other schools will watch closely to pick up tips on competing in future years.
Expedition Class big news for 2011
The big news doesn’t stop there. Our interactive adventure learning program Expedition Class takes its work into a whole new sphere in 2011.
In prior years, primary school students have followed adventures live online as Andrew has paddled the length of the Australian continent, explored the coast and wild interior of Papua New Guinea, travelled 15,000km by foot and bike across Australia, and sought the fabled Tasmanian Tiger (see the below photos of Andrew and cameraman Cheyne Benjamin in PNG last). This year, Andrew will be spending a month testing his survival skills as he is marooned on a tropical island, again with classes talking to him directly on the ground and following a special curriculum attached to the adventure.
But that’s not all. In partnership with the Department of Education, we are expanding the Expedition Class concept to develop an expedition program that secondary school students can themselves be a part of! Four pilot schools have been selected to participate in this program across the state. Students from each of these have the opportunity to join Andrew for learning experiences in some of the most spectacular wilderness on the planet, and to share these experiences with you online. More information can be found on the Expedition Class page.
Bonorong Interactive - Phase 0.1
People who have been following our work will know that we have very close links to the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary and the tremendous work that they do in the management and rehabilitation of injured and orphaned wildlife. We have been compiling footage and stories in cooperation with Bonorong for some time, and we are currently developing an interactive webpage of the Sanctuary to display this work online.
Proudly supported by IT development company ICS, we want YOU to be a part of the development of this online resource. At the moment, we’re starting with a next-to-blank page, and we have different options of what to put into it and how to do it. So come to Phase 0.1 of the site and help us decide where you want us to start. Over coming months, see how the site takes shape as your suggestions keep rolling in!
Cathy Henkel, another highly talented Bookend patron, is offering a once in a lifetime opportunity for anyone aged 18-35 who wants to head into the jungles of Indonesia to help orang-utans.
In prior Bookend events, we have showcased the plight these fantastic animals and potential ways of helping them through Cathy’s documentary The Burning Season. We held the Australian premiere of the documentary hot on its heels from its international premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, we partnered Screen Tasmania to provide Tasmanian film-makers with the opportunity to discuss the making of the film with Cathy, and we’ve toured an exhibition of orang-utan images around Tasmania.
But all of the above involved watching events unfold. Now you can be a part of them instead! Do you want to head to the forests? Do you want to work with orang-utans? Do you want to be part of a new, cutting-edge, 3D cinema film documenting this real-life action event? You’d be mad not to!
See here for more details. Don’t leave it too long - you have until the 18th of March to apply!
Contributor profile - Adriaan Van Huissteden
Starting with this update, we’re going to showcase some of the unsung work that people are doing behind the scenes to help Bookend and students following us around the globe.
Communicating our work is greatly enhanced by the photos and footage that we are able to provide to schools and teachers. Much of this is captured through our ongoing media projects, but we also have significant archives of donated images by people who put a lot of care and passion into their own photography.
We are currently building a gallery to showcase this work, and one of our contributors is Adriaan Van Huissteden.
Adriaan is based in Tasmania, and has a particular passion for boats and underwater photography. His profile has been added to the ongoing development of our gallery page, and more extensive collections of his work can be seen at his site at www.vizbiz.com.au.
Adriaan comments that he tries to capture images of things that most people will otherwise never see. This has been extremely helpful to Bookend, and has drawn awards recognizing the quality of Adriaan’s work. You can see more in Adriaan’s profile.
Other recent events
As usual, Bookend staff, students and contributors have maintained an ongoing program of public and school events.
Andrew Hughes presented the results of the 2010 Expedition Class program in a public talk in Hobart (December), Alastair presented at various schools as well as the UTAS SET 2011 Science Experience in Launceston (December-January), and Niall presented to the UTAS Exceptional Leadership course on Learning Beyond the Classroom (February).
Niall and Alastair have also been undertaking more consulting work to replenish Bookend funds.
This doesn't look much like work...
...but that's more like it!
Our scholarship students have also been busy. Among them, Lisa Cawthen maintained her series of fascinating bat talks and walks, Priya Kitchener has been in India (a report to follow soon), and Loren Atkins has started her work with a legal firm in Melbourne.
That’s it for now, but we welcome your comments, suggestions or – better still – your help if you want to be involved, whether directly, online or spreading the message in your area.
You can also find "Bookend" on Facebook and "BookendTrust" on Twitter, so add us today.
Best wishes to all our readers, especially those struck by recent natural disasters in Australia and New Zealand.
This update is only a semi-regular summary of BOOKEND's activities. For more regular updates, see our Expedition Class page (daily updates during expedition periods), the Lynchpin page, and for the most frequently updated information "BookendTrust" (no space) on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. An additional Facebook group is also available for those wanting to help in more detail.