Daughter’s misfortune leads to grant win for mum

22 May 2018

Spending her holiday sitting beside a hospital bed in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany has turned into a month long European research tour for EAIT’s Dr Marie Boden.

Dr Boden found herself in a hospital room in January when her daughter, Hilda, was injured on a family skiing holiday.

She used the time to put the finishing touches on an application to the Ian Potter Foundation for a research and conference grant.

Some months later, Dr Boden, who leads the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering’s Schools Outreach Program, was told to start packing her bags.

She will visit research institutes in Munich, Vienna, Copenhagen and Malmö in June, before attending the 2018 Interaction Design and Children (IDC) conference in Trondheim, Norway.

“IDC is the top conference in my field and this grant means that I will be able to meet with researchers in my field, from all over the world,” Dr Boden said.

Dr Boden, whose research – and passion – focuses on designing technology to help teach difficult concepts to school-aged children, will be showing her D-Bugs to Europe. D-Bugs were developed together with UQ students and then turned into a research project.

Dr Marie Boden's D-Bugs will be travelling to Europe with her.

“Teaching computer programming is new to many teachers and I’m researching how technology can complement the teaching so it supports teachers and students,” Dr Boden said.

D-Bugs are cubes with instructions which are used by children to guide an ant through a maze. The 30cm square cubes have instructions for the ant. The process models the use of computer logic.

“Teachers loved D-Bugs when we visited their school. They said that the students began working together on solving problems without any adult supervision – a great learning environment.”

The Ian Potter Foundation was set up in 1964 as a philanthropic trust fund by Australian business leader Sir Ian Potter, who played a leading role in the growth of Australia’s manufacturing and mining industries after World War II.

The foundation has a broad remit to support excellence and innovation in a variety of community sectors.

Daughter Hilda won’t be travelling on this trip, but she has recovered from the torn anterior cruciate ligament that ensured her mother could find quality time to devote to the grant application.