Questacon Smart Skills tours Tasmania

 teacher measures vibration in a shaking structure made of cardboard with a smart phone.

The first tour of the new Questacon Smart Skills national programme took place during March, with the team travelling to Tasmania. During the two week tour, the Smart Skills presenters delivered hands-on workshops in high schools across Tasmania.

Delivered as part of the Questacon Smart Skills Initiative, funded by the Australian Government and The Ian Potter Foundation, Smart Skills is designed to create an awareness of technology, engineering and design thinking by immersing students in ideas, technology and creative problem solving, using interactive and challenging STEM-themed workshops.

The workshops focus on imparting a process of innovative design thinking, and on equipping students with the confidence to test and refine ideas through hands-on digital and practical prototyping.

In these free, two-hour workshops, students use digital apps to explore concepts of strength in materials and shapes in bridges, and then undertake a construction challenge to build a landing platform using simple materials.

Around 1290 students from more than 20 schools participated in the Tasmanian tour, including schools from the Burnie, Launceston and Hobart areas. Feedback gathered from students suggested they enjoyed the Smart Skills workshops and appreciated the opportunity to take part in the programme.

The Questacon Smart Skills programme also offers free Teacher Workshops to those schools hosting in-school workshops for their students. These workshops introduce hands-on design thinking activities to teachers, to help them co-facilitate the in-school workshops and also highlight how they can incorporate digital technology into hands-on activities in the classroom.

Activities included building structures such as a landing platform and a ‘shake platform’ using everyday materials that can be purchased from a supermarket or hardware store and testing their structures using weights and a measurement app on a smart phone.

Sixteen teachers attended two Teacher Workshops in Hobart during the Tasmanian tour, with feedback suggesting that participants were very keen to incorporate hands-on activities and digital technology into their classroom practice.

Questacon Smart Skills and the Teacher Workshops are supported by Technology Partner Samsung Electronics Australia.

The programme also offers students additional opportunities to build on their experiences from the Smart Skills workshops by signing up for the upcoming Questacon Invention Convention. The Invention Convention will be held from 14–16 April in Hobart, and will give selected students a deeper look into the processes of innovation through to idea development, prototyping and identifying markets. Local businesspeople and entrepreneurs are also involved in the experience as mentors for the students.  The Invention Convention is delivered with the support of IP Australia.