Cessnock West Public School student creates 'magpie helmet' as part of Children's University Newcastle challenge

FUN AND PRACTICAL: Cessnock West Public School student Jaimee Ward wearing the 'magpie helmet' she designed as part of a Children's University challenge.
FUN AND PRACTICAL: Cessnock West Public School student Jaimee Ward wearing the 'magpie helmet' she designed as part of a Children's University challenge.

Magpie season is now well underway in the Hunter region, and students at local schools have been encouraged to think creatively and design helmets to protect them from swooping birds.

The magpie helmet project was the Children’s University Newcastle program’s monthly challenge for September.

Cessnock West Public School Year 6 student Jaimee Ward said her helmet took a few days to complete and, having been swooped before, she is hoping that the crazy appearance of her helmet – which features pipe-cleaners and painted toilet rolls – will deter magpies from swooping her while she rides her bike.

The Children’s University Newcastle program is run in affiliation with the University of Newcastle and the Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education.

The program encourages students at 27 schools across the Hunter, Newcastle and the Central Coast (including 10 in the Cessnock area) to take part in extracurricular activities as part of the program that helps to develop lifelong learning skills.

Children’s University Newcastle learning and community partnership officer David Pearson said students are encouraged to take part in educational experiences outside of school, as the program places a strong emphasis on experience as an important learning tool.

Mr Pearson said studies show that children who take part in extracurricular activities tend to be less anxious about attending high school.

Students work towards different levels of goals and certificates by completing tasks outside of school and getting them checked off in a special passport.

Jaimee said being part of the program has encouraged her, and her family, to get involved in activities at learning destinations including the art gallery and museum.

Upon completion of 30 hours’ worth of tasks, students are then eligible to take part in a graduation ceremony at the University of Newcastle where they will get to wear a cap and gown, shake hands with the Vice Chancellor and receive their certificate.

There will be three nights of graduations in week four of term four, with more than 1000 students graduating this year (compared to 300 students in 2016, which was the program’s inaugural year).

Check out the photos from last year’s Children’s University Newcastle graduation here.

Have you been swooped by a magpie? If the location of the swooping isn’t in our map, fill out the form below for it to be included.

Ways to avoid magpie attacks include: 

  • Be tolerant and do not provoke magpies
  • Hold an umbrella above your head
  • Move confidently and quickly past nest sites
  • Wear a hat, ice-cream container, or helmet to protect your head and sunglasses
  • If riding a bike, dismount and move away quickly
  • Avoid nesting sites
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