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SPECTRA Information for Teachers

What is the purpose of the SPECTRA Awards program?

SPECTRA aims to get students excited and interested in working at a series of science activities which:

  • are assessed by you, the teacher (or parent), taking into account your knowledge of what is a good standard for the student;
  • are well within the capability of average students;
  • encourage student initiative, either individually or as part of a group;
  • provide a tangible reward;
  • do not involve teachers in a lot of extra work!

Students carry out a range of practical and observational activities, research, experiments and projects. When the required number of activities has been completed to the satisfaction of the teacher the student is awarded a certificate and a badge. Activities are designed to ensure you and your students can use everyday items, and can be completed in the students own time, or in class time.

PLEASE NOTE: The program is ongoing with no given deadlines.

How does SPECTRA link to the Australian Curriculum  - Science?

SPECTRA has close links to the Australian Curriculum: Science with activities covering the three interrelated strands of Science as a Human Endeavour, Science Enquiry Skills and Science Understanding. The program is inquiry-based with the activities crossing learning areas identified as the seven general capabilities of the Australian Curriculum: Science: literacy, numeracy, information and communication technology (ICT) competence; critical and creative thinking; ethical behaviour, personal and social competence and intercultural understanding.

How does SPECTRA work?

Ideally, each school has a coordinator who is the contact person with the SPECTRA office and holds all the information you require.

  1. If you are requesting parents pay for, or subsidise, their child's participation in the program, distribute the Letter to Parents (available for download below) signed by you, and the SPECTRA Award topics flyer (available for download below), to relevant student/s or the class who are interested in the SPECTRA awards.
    The cost of each SPECTRA card is $9.00. This covers the cost of the topic card, the certificate and badge and all postage. Each student must have their own original topic card.

  2. Students select the SPECTRA award topic/s they are interested in (or you make a choice on their behalf). If relevant, the collected money for these is given to the Coordinator in your school who will order the topic cards on your behalf. Otherwise, fax or post an order form with the topic cards you require. You can forward payment with your order, either by credit card or cheque, or with instructions for direct deposit. ASTA will issue a tax invoice.

  3. Students will receive their topic cards and begin working on the activities of their choice.
    Junior SPECTRA topic cards
    have 5 activities. For a student to qualify for a certificate and badge they must complete 3 activities. One or two of the activities on each card have an 'Extra for whiz kids' component. These are small extensions for capable students but do not have to be completed.
    SPECTRA cards
    have between 8 and 15 activities, each worth between 1 and  4 stars, depending on the difficulty of the activity or the effort required by the student. Many activities also have bonus stars whereby students can do a further task/s to increase the stars earnt for a particular activity. For a student to qualify for a certificate and badge they must complete a total of (at least) 20 stars.
    As the students complete each activity to your satisfaction you sign your name next to the relevant activity.

  4. Once the required number of activities is completed you fill in the Award Application section on the reverse of each card. If applicable, the award applications are then given to the SPECTRA coordinator who will forward them as a group to the SPECTRA office for redemption. Only the original award application must be used as photocopies cannot be accepted.
    If some students do not want to cut their cards, the complete topic card/s be sent to the SPECTRA office. These will be date stamped and returned to the school with the badges and certificates.

  5.  A topic badge and certificate (personalised with the student's name and topic) for each award application will be posted to the school.

How much help should you give students?

The bulk of activities are designed so students can work independently, however some activities encourage students to seek help if needed. Activities that require help from an adult (in the Junior SPECTRA) and/or have low levels of perceived risk (in SPECTRA) are marked with a yellow triangle with an exclamation mark inside. Some of the senior cards begin with a caution message for students and teachers.

Students can do the activities in their own time or you may want them to use class time to work on them.

Students should be encouraged to choose activities most appropriate to their ability.

Letter to Parents Template
Letter to Parents Template
SPECTRA order form
SPECTRA order form