On Tuesday 26 November Fiona Poulton and I went along to the History Teachers Association of Victoria's (HTAV) Kids Conference 2013. The Kids Conference was the brainchild of Jo Clyne from HTAV and Stephen Spain from Australian Catholic University and was first held last year. This year's conference was twice as big as last year, with primary and secondary school students presenting in two separate sessions.
All the presenters were school students; the youngest just 7 years old. Digital history was the topic of exploration and the projects the students demonstrated were truly inspiring (and alarmingly sophisticated to us consulting historians!).
Some standout presentations were those from the students of North Melbourne Primary School who undertook Culture Victoria's History in Place project, combining their Italian language skills with investigations into stories of migration from Italian/Australian families. My favourite story is this one by grade 5/6 students Tommaso, Charlie, Robbie, Vincent and Dominic.
Another outstanding example of combining historical research with creativity and new technology was this stop-motion animation by Anita from Camberwell Girls' Grammar School. Truly amazing!
The students from St Monica's Primary School in Footscray also impressed us with their programming skills, having made computer games to better illustrate their understanding of early Australian explorers.
All in all, it was a fantastic day and we walked away very impressed with not only the standard of historical understanding but the incredibly creative and technically challenging ways in which these students had interpreted and presented history.
The theme of the day certainly was that technology makes history fun. And while we at Way Back When are excited by history presented in any format, we know that the best way to communicate history is to make it enjoyable. So a huge congratulations to the teachers and students who participated and keep up the good work (just make sure it's not too good, so we're not out of a job!).