Tech school students ahead of the game
When the COVID-19 pandemic started to take hold earlier this year, students from Casey Tech School (CTS) in Victoria were already well versed in many of the issues presented and had some thoughts on how to deal with them.
In 2019 the school partnered with St John of God Hospital and Chisolm Insitute to run the Peparing for a Pandemic project as part of its Enterprise Program, which requires students to solve major problems impacting community or industry. The focus on finding solutions to complex real-world issues gives students the skills and knowledge required to compete in the future global job market.
Around 150 students across years 9 and 10 from CTS partner schools (Alkira Secondary College, Kambrya Secondary College, Nossal High School and St Peter’s College) participated in a three-day program.
CTS Interim Director Helen Silvester said students followed a design cycle approach to explore problems and opportunities of a pandemic, imagining possibilities before choosing an option and developing a creative prototype to exhibit on day three of the program.
Presented solutions included disinfectant created using household supplies including vinegar and lemon, which could be produced in the event of supply chain collapse. The process included testing on E. coli bacteria to determine efficacy.
Other presented solutions included the creation of face masks, redesign of public transport seating to minimise infection and using robots as cleaners.
Silvester said students learned a great deal, having been initially surprised at how much society could be challenged during a pandemic.
“The program has a lot of cross-curricular aspects — considering the social, ethical and economic impacts of major crises and, in this case, a pandemic.
“It boosted students’ critical thinking, which is so important when utilising their creativity when solving a problem,” she said.
The Enterprise Program runs every year at CTS, located at the Berwick campus of Chisholm Institute. Through remote and flexible learning, students are now looking at innovation and smart cities in collaboration with work being carried out by Casey City Council.
The Victorian Department of Education and Training said the driving force at tech schools is the use of innovative, leading-edge technology and discovery to give students the skills they will need to flourish in the global economy. The STEM focus employed delivers a learning program that challenges students to solve real-world problems and prepare them for work.
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