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New tech gadgets inspire students to imagine future

2 Sep 2019

Electronic gadgets, coding and robotics are part of a USC program helping school students and teachers in the Gympie region develop skillsets in tune with the future digital age.
USC’s Make, Integrate, Explore (MIE) Lab program involves professional development courses for teachers and hands-on lab sessions for Year 6 primary school students.

On Tuesday pupils from Dagun, Amamoor and Kandanga State Schools will be immersed into science and technology at a full-day workshop at Mary Valley State College.

USC Associate Lecturer in Education Natalie McMaster said the event, in partnership with Gympie Regional Library, offered students the opportunity to learn electronics, robotics and computer programming and to venture into learning activities using augmented reality.

It follows a series of in-class science sessions run by USC’s Primary Education students and academics in regional schools over the past few weeks.

The key focus of the USC program is to provide primary school students with direct exposure to science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) experiences.

Ms McMaster said the concept ties gadgets to computational thinking based on the Australian school curriculum and was developed by USC’s Coordinator of Specialist and Information Technologies Peter Embleton.

Programable circuit boards, sensors and basic electronics allow students to explore the various elements of computational thinking, such as logical reasoning, algorithms and patterns.

“Engaging, hands-on technology – particularly electronics – is used to encourage all students to imagine themselves following future careers in STEAM,” Ms McMaster said.

"They learn how to 'integrate' by connecting to Wi-Fi and databases and how to use these skills and other technologies to solve real-world problems in their communities."

Teaching the teachers is also an important element of the program.

USC Education students, teachers and digital specialists from across Queensland recently attend professional development workshops at USC’s Sunshine Coast and Gympie campuses.

“The workshops covered ways to develop computational thinking skills and teach students about binary coding, electrical circuits, computer programming and design programs,” Ms McMaster said.

The initiative is funded by the Higher Education Participation and Partnership Program which aims to increase access and participation in higher education.

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