ARC Centre of Excellence in FLEET
A research lab tour allowing students to play with advanced materials, ponder global computing challenges and learn about renewable energy systems.
FLEET is part of the Commonwealth Government’s Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence research organisation and focuses on materials science and engineering and aims to develop a new generation of ultra-low energy electronics and devices. FLEET is recognised as a global leader in the development of limiting the financial and environmental cost of the continual growth of computing.
It is anticipated that the research FLEET is driving will place Australia at the forefront of new technology and establish a future workforce capable of pre-empting and responding to industry 4.0 needs.
Monash Tech School recognised that facilitating an opportunity for Year 8 Superpowers students to tour the FLEET facility, would build and contextualise students' understanding of the future of electronics, the challenges of continual computing advancements and the dilemma of how to accommodate the energy demand driven by the internet of things. These are complex conundrums and the challenge would be to ensure a tour of a world-class research lab would be engaging and accessible for students in Year 8.
The partnership with FLEET was established via the Monash Tech Schools staff network and came about as a result of dialogue about how we might best engage middle school students in a fun, collaborative and science-centric approach to learning, whilst providing context as to how research is embedded in industry development.
FLEET acknowledged that providing a targeted, student-focused industry tour as a way of inspiring students earlier in their learning journey, profiling new technologies and research developments and encouraging students to consider future pathways in science, technology and engineering, will allow students to make informed choices about future study and career pathways. It has provided FLEET with the opportunity to have regular access to students to test and refine new activities and it also gives them the chance to have multiple people run activities, whilst developing their presentation skills.
FLEET provides a face to face interactive tour of the New Horizons lab, allowing Year 8 students in the Superpowers program to play with advanced materials and learn about the role they play in renewable energy systems and sustainability. The Lab is based at Monash University Clayton campus and forms part of the Monash Education Precinct. Students visit FLEET on the first day of their Superpowers program at Monash Tech School.
Students have the opportunity to play with liquid metals, which are used to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to combat global warming. They also see superconductors in action over a magnetic field (also known as levitating materials). Lab staff demonstrate the research that is being done and provide a real-world context, allowing students an understanding of the importance of the partnership between university research and industry.
The partnership has provided Year 8 students with an insight into a global research facility on campus. Touring the Lab has provided students with a greater understanding of the problems generated by humans as we continue to develop massive data centres or server farms. Students bring back an increased understanding of energy efficiency and waste management challenges within the Information Technology sector, which allow them to contribute more deeply to their design thinking learning process.