The following article was included in the DET Schools Bulletin regarding the first event held by Monash Tech School.
We would like to thank all of those attendees to the event.
First steps at Monash Tech School
'Ow. This is so frustrating!' exclaimed Will, a Year 7 student at Wellington Secondary College, as he bent down to reach into a box on the floor. To be fair, his job was made harder by a restrictive back and neck brace – worn to emulate the flexibility trouble an elderly person might have trying to plug a phone charger in a wall socket.
The exercise was part of the first learning program developed at the Monash Tech School. Local students, teachers, researchers and industry reps converged at the Tech School's newly fitted out temporary home at Federation Training in Chadstone to take part in a design sprint last Tuesday evening.
They were given a project: to make life easier for people with mobility issues. Simple tasks such as popping on a pair of socks or squeezing toothpaste onto a toothbrush are made harder as people age. And before program participants flexed their creative muscles and came up with solutions, participants first had to experience the problems, said Monash Tech School director Ashley Van Krieken. 'It's a part of the design thinking process – to fully understand the problem you're trying to solve.'
The Monash Tech School – which will officially open in Term 3 – is one of 10 Tech Schools to be rolled out across Victoria. Unlike traditional technical schools, the new Tech Schools are shared hightech hubs that offer innovative programs, which might last a few days at a time, to students enrolled in partner secondary schools.
These programs are linked to the Victorian curriculum and what the students are learning at school. They're developed in line with industry areas forecast for greatest local growth. This means they're relevant to students and allows them to hone science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills needed for future jobs – from problem solving and creative thinking to using the latest technology such as virtual reality and 3D printers.
This also has huge benefits for industry, said David Clarke, Vice President – Chinese Operations, of biotechnology company Anatomics. 'We need workers who are across all these disciplines – medicine, computer science, engineering – with critical thinking skills. It's what attracts us to the Tech School. It will foster this mindset.'
After two hours, design sprint participants presented their ideas. They ranged from a new sock design that could be put on with drawstrings, a hollow toothbrush that let the user squeeze toothpaste from the base with one hand and a solarpowered phone charger that did away with wall sockets altogether.
And after just a taste of the Monash Tech School programs, Will says he'll definitely consider a STEMfocused career.
All 10 Tech Schools – a $128 million commitment by the Victorian Government to make Victoria the Education State – will be offering learning programs to students by mid2018. The Yarra Ranges Tech School was the first to open its doors to students in April 2017.