In each newsletter, The Brainary features stories of excellence in STEM across Australia and New Zealand. This term, we thought you’d like to hear how rural communities and regional schools are empowering their students to engage with digital technologies. Using local grants and partnership programs and fuelled by passionate educators, rural Aussie schools can be innovators in STEM education!
At The Brainary, we’re passionate about providing access to STEM technology for all learners in even the most remote communities. Recently, Sam, equipped with some of our most innovative educational robots, embarked on an outback adventure to Cunnamulla Library in regional QLD, to host a series of robotics workshops for young learners.
Cunnamulla, located 780km west of Brisbane, home of Slim Dusty’s ubiquitous ‘Cunnamulla Fella’ and with a population of only 1140, isn’t where you’d expect to find tech-savvy country kids and a friendly robot working at the public library. But this tiny town is a fantastic example of remote Aussie educators making a huge digital impact: fostering skills, knowledge, and innovation amongst their young people with cutting-edge technology, robotics programs and STEM learning to rival even the most well-equipped of city schools.
Under the enthusiastic eye of Library Manager Tammy Hickey, Cunnamulla Library has been successfully incorporating The Brainary’s robots into their regular program for several years, including the NAO (nicknamed ‘Literator’ by library colleagues), an informative, multilingual robot who provides welcome and assistance to visitors of all ages and abilities.
Students from several local primary schools were introduced to basic coding and experimented with The Brainary’s MiRo robot. MiRo, a therapeutic dog-like robot with extensive sensory awareness, invites personal connection, active communication and provides a novel way of establishing an understanding of fundamental STEM concepts in primary-aged children. During the workshops, students were also interested in how MiRo robots could be programmed to respond to personal emergencies, identify falls or calm distress.
As many of Australia’s agricultural communities, like Cunnamulla, increasingly utilise technology and automation to improve productivity, fostering essential skills in STEM becomes equally as important for students in rural schools as their metropolitan counterparts. Accessible, engaging robots are an excellent educational tool to link theoretical knowledge to students’ real-life applications and enable abstract ideas or mathematical concepts to physically manifest. Across Australia, local council grants can further support schools to access these innovative and enjoyable workshops. Whether introducing rural kids to technologies used in agricultural production, making libraries more accessible, or equipping senior students with professional programming skills, each of The Brainary’s robotics sessions are tailored to the unique needs and goals of the group, and the diversity of our collection speaks to the many uses of robotics in education.