The end of the year, the emptiness of the tank

I don’t even know how to begin to describe this year. I feel that way at the end of every year, but this year has been more momentous than most.

I had year 10 students who couldn’t code at the start of the year, who came to me after the end of the year to say “I didn’t think I could do that! It was awesome!”

I had other year 10s who chose our “real world challenge” and worked with academics from the Monash Department of Physiology to create simulations of muscle activation, multiple sclerosis, and brownian motion and cell diffusion, just to name a few. They did extraordinary things, completely vindicating the leap of faith we took in offering the project.

I had year 11s who worked with Earthwatch and their Climatewatch program to create programs to verify, analyse, and visualise their data. I had other year 11s who worked with Neuroscientists to analyse and visualise some of their data.

Some of these real projects will receive a bit of polish and go on to be used by our partner organisations. Imagine doing a project in year 11 that gets used for actual scientific research!

I took 4 amazing year 10 students to SC15, a huge supercomputing conference in Austin, Texas. We met researchers and business people. Listened to talks. Recorded masses of footage of people talking about their amazing projects, and ended the week equal parts exhausted and exhilarated.

I had 5 students create the most awesome sensoring project, that won first prize in the senior category at the Victorian Young ICT Explorers competition, and went to the inaugural National Finals.

I designed and ran the Science Communication Challenge at the International Student Science Fair, held at my school in December. The communication challenge was a new event, unlike anything that had been run before, and the students did amazing things with it.

I’ve farewelled too many much loved and incredibly talented colleagues, applauded the graduation of some extraordinary year 12s, made friends, made contacts, started writing a textbook, started building a network of people interested in high school computer science curricula, taught, marked, written reports, and completely collapsed.

And that’s just work. And just the big stuff at work, come to that.

We don’t often do this – put our achievements and efforts down in a big list, but seeing it all lined up like that makes me realise it’s actually been a huge year.

Some days it all got a bit scary, a bit daunting, or oppressively overwhelming. And every time it did there’d be someone there pitching in, supporting me, and making it all possible. Former students. Current students. Workmates. Former workmates. Friends. Family. All of the above. Really, it’s my support networks that make everything I do possible.

Every time I stumbled, somebody was there to pick me up. Every time I felt like I couldn’t go on, somebody made it possible. At home. At work. Online. You know who you are, and wordy though I am, I can’t even begin to tell you properly how grateful I am. You’re all amazing, and knowing you’re around me means I can do it all again. Thank you.

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