Teachers marvel at the impact of the multiverse

What happens when science and humanities teachers connect over a photocopier? Kerrie O’Connor finds out.

Image: Multiple me: Penelope Church performs her original song Say Goodbye to Myself in Bulli High School’s Multiverse Challenge.

A chance conversation between a physics teacher and an English teacher at a photocopier has led to a competition they would love duplicated at other schools.

The concept of the multiverse is not alien to teenagers – it has been popularised in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and in films such as independent filmmaker A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once – but the Bulli High School teachers saw a transdisciplinary learning opportunity.

Science teacher Nik Brankovic and English teacher David Strange threw out a broad challenge to Year 7 and 8 students to enter the school’s inaugural Multiverse Challenge, held in Science Week 2022.

It caught the imagination of young astrophysicists and cooks alike.

Encouraged to “embrace their own strengths” and with the only rule a “futuristic” theme, more than 100 students entered everything from YouTube science seminars to original music and cakes.

Jack Rumery and Luke Towner collaborated on a video exploring the concept of the multiverse – and were delighted when Dr Karl shared it on Twitter.

Young singer songwriter Penelope Church penned the lines: “Say goodbye to myself, so many mees out there, do they have glasses, do they have brown hair?’

The guitarist’s YouTube video of Say Goodbye to Myself has more than 1000 views and she has performed on ABC Radio.

Concerns about the challenges ahead inspired Minna Lehmann-Kuit to write and perform the song “We Need to Make a Difference”.

Another student explored the concept of what it would take to support life on Mars in 2200 – and expressed it in cake form.

Mr Strange thinks the concept of the multiverse “captures the school experience, where you go from a science lab to a maths classroom, to an art room, but those worlds are collapsed and exist at the same time”.

The Extension One English teacher says Bulli High is strong in both the Arts and Science and he saw year seven and eight students “invigorated by science”.

For some, “the way to get into kids' minds about science and physics and higher-level ideas was through the arts,” he said.

Mr Brankovic wanted to “open the boundaries” and encourage critical thinking.

“The new way of education is being across many learning areas, and subject areas working together,” he said.

He hopes to “develop students as learners across multiple areas of science, English, maths … learners for the 21st century”.

Now they hope to extend the challenge to other age groups and schools and embrace the talents of students on the autism spectrum via video game coding projects.

On the agenda for 2023 is a night visit to Sandon Point to explore Western and Indigenous concepts of astronomy and helping young bakers take their talents to the marketplace via the school’s Business@Bulli program and mentoring.

As Wollongong City Council explores opportunities to become a UNESCO learning city, Bulli High School seems well placed to aim for the stars.

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