Swinburne’s Knox Innovation, Opportunity and Sustainability Centre (KIOSC) has launched its Inspire Program as part of the Victorian Government’s investment to help raise rural students’ understanding and confidence in pursuing STEM related tertiary education.
The KIOSC Inspire Program gives rural students the opportunity to experience new and emerging technologies in their own environment through interactive STEM activities. It helps broaden career pathways available and enables them to make an informed decision on their future careers through career clubs and discovery sessions.
To help ignite interest in STEM among her students, Principal of Nathalia Secondary College, Helen Ginnivan, invited KIOSC to deliver the Drone and Robotics Program. Students were taught how to control drones and prototype programming codes, which she says created dialogue full of inquiry and problem solving.
‘The students really enjoyed the practical component flying the drones and managing the challenges they were set in a team.’
The experiences are designed to focus on concepts and issues relevant students in rural areas. Through technology, students explore innovative solutions to problems that will open their minds to exciting career possibilities.
The KIOSC Inspire Program is made up of three main educational experiences that can be selected:
- Smart Farms: exploring the use and benefits of technology in farming.
- Smart Communities: discovering how technology can connect people and communities.
- Smart Design and Manufacturing: Bringing entrepreneurial and enterprising ideas to life through 3D design and production.
In their own school environment, rural students can experience new and emerging technologies, encouraging and supporting them to broaden their career pathways
KIOSC Systems Coordinator, Brendan Kroon, is the equipment lead of the program and helps educators by managing and maintaining the relevant software. Mr Kroon enjoys travelling to rural schools and engaging with the students through delivering the program.
‘Technology is the core of the program. As we showcase the latest tech to the students and demonstrate how they can use it in their local communities, we teach them new vital skills (such as programming) that may be beneficial to them in the future.’
Mr Kroon says that though COVID-19 has limited KIOSC’s ability to travel to rural schools, they continue to engage students online and are excited to deliver the program in person as soon as they can.
‘The benefit of this is that the students get a hands-on experience that the schools are unable to provide. The teachers are also upskilled on how they can take this program further for the benefit of their students.’