There are many students who don’t get an opportunity to see why the content they are learning is important and, consequently, may not pursue further study in those fields; particularly STEM related fields. From my own experiences, much of my schooling consisted of the traditional whiteboard and textbook style of teaching where I learnt a lot of theories and concepts but never got to see them applied in practice. It wasn’t until very late in high school that I had the opportunity to see how some of what I was learning was relevant in the real world; and even then, it was very limited. This is why I believe it is very important to begin showing students how the ideas they are learning can be applied in real life and make a difference to the world around them. In doing this, I believe more and more students will be motivated to pursue further study in fields which are beneficial to their communities.
Monash Tech School provides an opportunity for students to step out of the conventional classroom and experience how various technologies, such as robotics, virtual reality, and 3D printing, can be used to create solutions to real-life problems in their local areas. Monash Tech School uses a design thinking approach in each of their three programs, Superhealth, Superpowers and Superhumans. They all provide students with context to many of the concepts they are already familiar with.
In my own experiences with the Superpowers program, students gained an in depth cross disciplinary understanding of various energy systems and learnt the growing importance of renewable energy in the modern world. Through different digital technologies students were encouraged to collaborate and create a learning experience based on their assigned renewable energy source; solar, wind, hydro or biofuel. Allowing students to do their own research helps them see how much more beneficial these types of renewable energy will be for the environment around us.
Modern digital technologies can have a profound effect on a student’s development if used in the right way. Incorporating these technologies in a meaningful way early in a student’s development will not only enhance their learning but also excite and motivate them to pursue these areas of study further. I wish I had the opportunity at an earlier age to see firsthand the many different career pathways that are possible for students who pursue STEM.