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    Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

    Cooktown teacher off to New York thanks to QLD Gov design fellowship

    Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

    Tuesday, February 13, 2018

    Cooktown teacher off to New York thanks to QLD Gov design fellowship

    Cooktown State School ICT teacher Herman Rijken has been awarded this year’s prestigious Queensland-Cooper Hewitt Fellowship.

    Science Minister Leeanne Enoch said the annual Queensland Government funded Queensland-Cooper Hewitt Fellowship presented the opportunity of a lifetime to local teachers – a chance to travel to New York to gain knowledge and experience at the world-famous Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.

    “Herman is an outstanding teacher, with a strong track record and commitment to using design in the classroom to make education both fun and challenging for children,” Ms Enoch said.

    “In recognition of his work teaching children ICT, robotics and design, Herman was named Far North Queensland Teacher of the Year in 2017 by Education Queensland, and he was also the State Library of Queensland’s Design Minds regional ambassador 2015-16.

    “Herman’s dedication to education extends well beyond the classroom. Last year, he led students from his Cooktown State School Robotics Club to the RoboGames 2017 in the United States.

    “Equally amazing, he drove a fundraising campaign to pay for 10 members to travel to the US for the games, where they were placed as high as fourth in the competition.

    “I congratulated Herman on receiving this fellowship via Skype hookup this afternoon,” she said.

    “This is a wonderful opportunity for him to take his fantastic work even further, and I look forward to seeing the results that come from this experience.”

    Mr Rijken will spend eight weeks at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, travelling in May.

    In addition to learning more about education design, and bringing that knowledge back to his own classroom in Cooktown, he hopes to run design workshops for other schools in Far North Queensland, including Bloomfield River, Rossville, Laura and Lakeland state schools.

    “Having spent the last 11 years working in regional Queensland, I’m very passionate about teaching children in remote communities about digital technologies,” Mr Rijken said.

    “It’s very important that we provide children living in remote areas with the same opportunities as students from more metropolitan parts of Queensland. I believe that no one should be disadvantaged solely based on where they are born or where a family chooses to live.

    “I’d also like to provide the region with opportunities to engage with the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum through multi-day design camps, based on a model the museum has been using successfully in the United States.”

    Mr Rijken said design underpinned all subjects relating to technology.

    “Design thinking provides an alternative model to traditional ways of learning by challenging students to find multiple solutions to complex problems,” he said.

    “It teaches the skills of inquiry, ideation and implementation – all key components of the scientific method. It also incorporates group work, with students driving their own learning and investigation as they attempt to develop a solution to a specific problem.”

    The Cooper Hewitt Design Museum is renowned for its education design, often working very closely with schools across the United States.

    The Queensland Government-funded Queensland-Cooper Hewitt Fellowship, along with the Queensland Smithsonian Fellowship for Queensland researchers, has been running since 2000.

    The fellowships give Queensland researchers and educators the chance to spend time in the United States working at the Smithsonian Institution’s museums and research centres.

    MEDIA: Ben Doyle 0437 859 987