Tech schools are opening up new pathways for students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
At Geelong Tech School, a group of students are putting the final touches on their hovercrafts, while others are flying theirs through an obstacle course. Both are addressing a design brief to create a futuristic mobility solution for city commuters.
In another room, students are working on their automated cardboard mini golf courses, coding the robotic motors and testing the lights and sensors.
Opening pathways through STEM
Oberon High School teacher and STEM leader Seven Vinton says coming to the Tech School has enabled their school to offer more enriching experiences for students.
'From a school perspective, we've got more to offer with the Tech School here. It's a dedicated high-tech space and students don't get that experience at school,' Seven says.
'I've brought Year 9 students here and it inspires them to know what's possible. They are more likely to pick up STEM subjects in later years as a result.'
Seven credits the high levels of student engagement to the 'real life' learning that Tech Schools offer.
'In a normal classroom, we get around 60 per cent engagement, but here we've got around 90 to 100 per cent all the time,' Seven says.
'When lunchtime comes, they don't even want to stop what they are doing to eat!'
Tech Schools and Schools working together
Geelong Tech School Director, Leanne Collins says Tech Schools have an important role to provide high quality STEM opportunities for young people.
'We give secondary schools access to expertise, industry connections and technology beyond the capacity of individual schools – that is our purpose,' Leanne says.
'It's well documented that a student's career opportunities are much broader if they stay with STEM subjects as long as possible.'
Leanne says they like to support teachers to ensure there are no barriers to coming to the Tech School.
'It's important that schools understand that we are here as a resource to complement what they are doing in the classroom,' Leanne says.
'When schools book in, teachers receive access to learning resources and lesson plans so they can see how each of the programs links to the curriculum delivered in their school.
'If we work with teachers to build their capacity, then the learning goes far beyond the walls of the Tech School.'
Samuel, a Year 8 Oberon High School student, says visiting Geelong Tech School was a great experience. It has also sparked his interest in potential careers.
'I used to want to be a pilot, but now I'm interested in engineering, design and coding,' Samuel says.
'It's really good to have the opportunity to come to the Tech School, learn new things and use different equipment that we don't have at school.'
Centres of STEM excellence
Victoria's 10 new
Tech Schools are centres of STEM excellence. They link secondary school students and industry to deliver innovative learning programs. These programs challenge students to solve problems in a real-world context, giving them the skills and knowledge they need to compete in the future global job market.