Regional and rural STEM-enthusiastic students get a chance to compete with peers in an outside-the-box State first.
29 Nov 2019
Attending competitions, contests and championships can present some unique challenges to high school students from regional and rural areas – across academic, sporting and extra-curricular areas and interests. Often with vast distances to travel to attend and compete in special education events, these students face pressures that most metropolitan students rarely consider – higher costs, parent work restrictions to attend an interregional event, additional time away from the classroom. As the STEM Industry School Partnerships (SISP) program has increasingly proven, with every challenge comes an equally unique opportunity to bridge the gaps for distance-based science students.
“Participation in a competition platform against state peers is central to students’ forming their individual future senses of motivation, planning and success,” says SISP Program Leader, Dr Scott Sleap.
“Yet there are occasions where participating in and presenting their work for assessment against these peers can be limited, where factors outside a students’ control will affect their capacity to join in these events,” he said.
Rising to the challenge, Dr Sleap engaged three of his SISP Project Officers from the Hunter (Peggy Mangovski), Mid North Coast (Jeff Appleby) and Riverina (Ian Preston) to take up a world-first professional development opportunity. These three highly regarded regional secondary teachers have become the first teachers in the world to completed accreditation for training and implementation of the globally successful robotics education resource, Tetrix.
“Robotics engineering is an easy way to encourage school kids to be passionate about building things,” says Ms Mangovski.
“By becoming accredited to train and implement this learning toolkit in regional schools we are providing state-of-the-art education platforms as the benchmark for students to engage their interests in coding and robotics, and develop a project that is ready for showcase,” she said.
The Tetrix system has been adapted to be utilised by regional schools to design, develop and showcase engineered solutions with their interschool peers – but with a special difference.
“Tackling the challenges of distance, resource and access, the Tetrix toolkits are designed as a ‘Competition in a Box’ format where school groups unpack their kits, plan, design and produce their STEM-focused build project locally,” said Dr Sleap.
“No need to travel or miss class, but with full participation and opportunity to achieve.”
“The competition adjudicators then conduct a videoconference competition where students present their projects and they are judged just like a ‘regular’ competition process - as though we were all together in the same venue,” said Dr Sleap.
“The Competition in a Box format removes the barriers to education equity through simple and practical applications of technology and thinking outside the box,” he said.
The first Competition in a Box will run in Term Two of 2020 and the Tetrix-accredited teachers in the three regions are encouraging their colleagues to reach out and enable school participation in this world-first event.
For more details and media enquiries contact Dr Scott Sleap 0409366504
STEM Industry School Partnerships
c/o Cessnock High School