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!
Soon after returning from Cunnamulla, Sam headed into regional Victoria to lead a robotics workshop alongside Sharon Kitt, Program Manager of IBM’s P-Tech project in Ballarat. The students were immersed in a hands-on experience utilising their programming skills to coordinate Fable, a modular robotic system.
As any teacher would know, young people are full of surprises – and this class was no different! We were impressed to see the students branch out to other areas of their curriculum, instigating perceptive discussions about human behaviour, ethics, empathy, and communication.
Developed in partnership with IBM, P-TECH is ‘an innovative school model connecting secondary schools, further education and businesses, integrating high school and further education coursework’. The Brainary is proud to partner with IBM in delivering these workshops to the next generation of STEM professionals, enabling them to see their work in coding and problem-solving come to life.
Assembled to resemble vehicles, the Fable robots were programmed by the students to operate in relation to colour, light, or motion, engaging in several scenarios reflecting contemporary industry research into self-driving vehicles. Adding further complexity was the introduction of Kubo, a starter robotic system in this instance designed to behave as a ‘pedestrian’ moving amongst the vehicles- challenging students to effectively program their Fables to detect and brake in time.
The inclusion of a pedestrian robot into the workshop led the students to consider the implications of STEM work and research on diverse areas of industry across the world, from city planning to public transport. In discussion with each other and Sam, students further reflected on the intersections of technology and the social world, human behaviour, and ethics. It was also promising that the students were full of ideas on how future technology could be made more human-friendly, accessible and useful.
By 2030, it’s estimated that there will be 1.2 million tech-related jobs in Australia, with 650,000 of these roles still to fill! So as many of these students return to Federation College for further study, or look to launch their careers in various areas of IT in 2023, we’re sure that the opportunity to understand technology in both a global and personal context through Fable and Kubo will have given them invaluable insight into the many professional pathways open to them in Ballarat and beyond.