Janine Kitson

Shapes at Play and Reshape!

By Silvia Borando

Walkers Books, 2016

These two picture books about geometry are terrific resources for teaching two-dimensional space. Shapes at Play tells the story about how some triangles, squares and circles get together to create interesting objects. The story finishes with an invitation to play again — but this time with some rather more complicated shapes: quadrilaterals and pentagons.

Shapes, Reshape take a slightly different angle with prediction games. The young reader is asked to guess what surprisingly wonderful wildlife can be created when arrays of squares and rectangles are reshaped into different patterns. These child-centred books inspire children to play and lose themselves in the imaginative power of shapes.

Einstein: An Illustrated Biography

By Corinne Maier and Anne Simon. Nobrow, London, 2016

This excellent cartoon biography provides fascinating insights into Albert Einstein’s life as a child, young student, family man and scientist. The book explains his scientific theories as well as his complex personality. Despite his enormous contribution to science and peace he was an abysmally inadequate husband and father.

Einstein lived through tumultuous times growing up with the introduction of electricity and the industrial transformation of Germany in the 1890s. Then in the 1930s, facing increasing persecution over his Jewish faith, he escaped Germany to migrate to America. There, in the 1950s in the midst of the Cold War, he becomes a peace activist lamenting that it was his scientific discoveries that laid the foundation for the building of the atomic bomb and the nuclear age. He spent the final years of his life campaigning as a peace activist. Despite Einstein’s brilliance as a scientist he acknowledged that prejudice was far harder to resolve than any scientific problem.

The book is a wonderful introduction to the science, modern history and the profound changes that occurred during the 20th century — many of their dangerous consequences are still with us today.

Janine Kitson is a Federation Life Member.

Repaying My Debt: A Conservationist’s Tale

By Geoff Mosley, envirobook, 2017

Dr Geoff Mosley’s memoir is a history of the modern Australian environmental movement. He has played a key role in almost all the major environmental campaigns in the country since emigrating here in 1960.

Geoff Mosley was born during the Great Depression and spent his formative years roaming the rural and wild countryside in the Peaks District in the northern Midlands of England — where England’s first national park was established in 1951.

His carefree childhood was poor by today’s standards but profoundly rich in natural beauty. As a boy he would roam the wild moors and collect bilberries and wild foods to supplement the family’s fresh vegetables that grew in their backyard and the village community gardens. The family’s small house had no electricity and most of the cooking was done on an open coal-fed fire. His parents’ major recreation was rambling — going for long walks across the countryside. Living simply, surrounded by abundant natural beauty was not uncommon for many people before the 1960s brought the age of modernity, convenience, consumerism, plastic, affluence and mega-sized cities with extreme wealth co-existing alongside beggars and homeless people living on the streets.

Mosley was the Australian Conservation Foundation’s executive director from 1973-1986, campaigning to save many of Australia’s iconic places — Lake Pedder (unsuccessfully flooded in 1972), the Franklin River and the Great Barrier Reef.

He worked tirelessly to ensure that many of these places are today listed as World Heritage. In 2000, he was involved in the successful campaign to list the Greater Blue Mountains National Parks as World Heritage. He remains active, calling for Antarctica, the Australian Alps and the Royal National Park to be World Heritage-listed, at a time when politicians are unwinding critical measures of environmental protection. He speaks out against the neoliberal mantra of “jobs and growth” on a finite planet and instead calls for a “steady state economy” that priorities Nature’s protection. His memoir is a timely reminder that we all have a responsibility to repay our debt to Nature.

All books are all available from Federation’s library

Classroom Activities

Shapes at Play Shapes, Reshape!

Mathematics K-10 Syllabus, Volume 1, Mathematics K-6:
Early Stage 1, Measurement and Geometry, Two-Dimensional Space, page 63-64
Stage 1, Measurement and Geometry, Two-Dimensional Space 1, page 112-113

Small group/pair discussion:

  1. Which shapes do you like?
  2. Which things can you make with squares, circles and triangles?
  3. What shapes can you see in the classroom?

Suggestions for learning activities:

  1. Use ideas from the book to make your own objects.
  2. Turn the story into a puppet story about shapes.
  3. Play the game with the Pentagon and the Quadrilaterals.

Einstein, An Illustrated Biography

History K-10 Syllabus, Volume 2, History Years 7-10: Stage 5, School-Developed topic Developments in twentieth and twenty-first technology, page 114

Science K-10 Syllabus, Volume 2, Science Years 7-10: Stage 5, Chemical World, page 67

Small group/pair discussion:

  1. What did you know about Albert Einstein?
  2. What didn’t you know about Einstein?
  3. What do you like about the man? What don’t you like about him?

Suggestions for learning activities:

  1. Make a time line of Einstein’s life.
  2. Draw a mind map of Einstein of the things that were important to him.
  3. Write Einstein’s school report card from the point of view of two teachers who had different views about him as a student.

Repaying My Debt, A Conservationist’s Tale

History K-10 Syllabus, Volume 2, History Years 7-10: Stage 5, Depth Study 5: The Globalising World, Topic 5b: The environment movement (1960s-present), page 84

Modern History Stage 6 Syllabus, Year 11, A7: The Rise of the Environment Movement, page 39

Small group/pair discussion:

  1. What do you know about the history of the modern Australian environment movement?
  2. What places in Australia are World Heritage Listed?
  3. What places need to be World Heritage Listed?

Suggestions for learning activities

  1. Write a time line of Geoff Mosley’s life.
  2. Act out an interview with him, launching his book.
  3. Research the ‘Steady State’ economy and write an essay about the pros and cons of a ‘Growth’ economy.