Metro Tunnel HQ
All abilities STEM Industry Immersion sessions for Specialist School partners delivered in collaboration with RPV’s Metro Tunnel HQ.
Rail Projects Victoria (RPV) and Monash Tech School (MTS) have been building a partnership based on collaboration and co-design for some time. Previously, RPV, Holmesglen Institute’s Centre for Energy and MTS delivered an Industry Immersion event based on Victoria’s Big Build projects at Metro Tunnel HQ.
RPV has also supported MTS’s Career Launchpad World Changers.
MTS has 3 Specialist partner schools, each with a teaching team keen to expand students’ experience with STEM activities. Students have multiple disabilities and complex needs. Learning levels range from Level A to foundation VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning). Previously, all three schools have enjoyed an MTS incursion.
The MTS STEAM modules have been widely utilised in classrooms, and a number of these modules focus on transport and rail topics. The STEAM Creator Card Deck consists of colour-coded cards that represent:
- Priority Industries Sectors
- Victorian Curriculum
- Design Thinking
- Student Profiles
- Assistive Interventions, and
- Testing cards.
As the partnership between RPV and MTS deepened, a greater understanding of mutual KPIs, values and staff capacity was developed.
It became apparent that RPV’s Metro Tunnels HQ was the ideal partner to approach for a unique Industry Immersion collaboration. Metro Tunnel HQ is an Award-winning and interactive visitor information centre in the Melbourne CBD.
Metro Tunnel HQ had some experience as they had previously hosted Specialist Schools as part of their community education program. They were unsure what elements of their education program may have needed modification. However, they were keen and open to supporting the goal.
Collaboration commenced in March.
The Monash Tech School Community of Practice facilitator discussed each school’s requirements for a custom-designed industry program. Each school determined their own learning goals, including:
- Travelling to and from Metro Tunnel HQ
- Completion of tasks in a small team environment
- Asking questions in a public forum
- Following instructions from external facilitators
A risk assessment was submitted by each school, which guided Metro Tunnel HQ’s set up of the environment on their day.
Initially, a concern was the transport options available. With one immersion, the school opted to use its own bus to transport students. Other schools opted to incorporate life skills as part of the program offering and used the public transport system to commute to and from Metro Tunnel HQ.
There were also some wonderings about how the students would cope with disruption and distractions to their established learning structures and routines.
It was also unknown how students would find the tech activities themselves. Students may have used technology at home, but in a busy public environment, using new concepts and learning from external educators, there was a degree of uncertainty.
Schools were encouraged to fast-track curriculum development by using the card deck as a collaborative tool. As part of the Immersion pre-learning, schools used the Transport industries module to commence discussion and build momentum.
As we progressed with planning, some concerns were easily solved. For example, one school had hyper-sensitive students to visual and auditory stimulants. Metro Tunnel HQ closed doors to the public for a limited amount of time to prevent the public from entering. Some screens were turned off, sound was reduced and the lighting was dimmed.
Co-designing the program ensured there was an opportunity to modify the activities to support students participation. Schools were consulted and minor tweaks were made to ensure every student’s individual needs were accommodated.
We used Google Docs to share updates and track each other’s input in live time. This minimised the need to meet online.
The 2.5 hour immersion was structured but also allowed for students to have time to return to activities they had particularly enjoyed. Existing Metro Tunnel HQ student experience programs were modified for 2 of the 3 schools that participated.
STEM-focused activities included Virtual Reality goggles, Augmented Reality colouring sheets, Signalling Secrets, and using colour coding to direct tiny robots (Ozobots).
Following a morning snack break, students learned about the purpose and progress of the Metro Tunnel and participated in a Q&A session with Metro Tunnel HQ staff. Students asked numerous thoughtful questions and enjoyed watching the tunnel progress on the big screens.
Students received a showbag and a career pin as part of their experience.
A co-branded digital badge was also created, to capture the foundation skills students were exposed to as part of their STEM activities. The digital badge is an important first step for those students, who have pathway and employment aspirations. It also provides a sense of achievement and demonstrates students' first steps in industry investigation.
The Industry Immersions were a delightful experience. The students were engaged, well mannered and deeply connected to their learning experience.
The students were well-engaged, and, with support, they easily completed the pre-planned activities. HQ and MTS Educators extended the timeframe of the Ozobots activities, which allowed students free time to experiment with technology.
Metro Tunnel HQ staff provided exceptional support, and students enjoyed a fully immersive STEM experience.