Smart Skills trials

A student building a model car with a crumple zone

Several Canberra secondary schools have given very valuable feedback after recent intensive trials for the new national Questacon Smart Skills programme, currently being developed.

This free programme will tour interactive technology workshops to secondary schools, with a focus on regional areas of Australia. The programme aims to raise awareness of technology, engineering and design thinking amongst young people.

Programme trials were conducted in six local schools over two weeks, with 322 year 7–10 students and 14 teachers participating. Survey feedback was gathered from both students and teachers

Three different workshop themes were explored as part of the trials—each workshop sets students a design challenge to solve, and gives the students an opportunity to build with their hands using materials such as wood, plastic, card and tape. They also have the chance to explore the use of tablets and smart phones as digital prototyping tools.

Highlights of the workshops included students creating landing platforms for a remote-controlled quadcopter, and designing their own rockets to see how changes in shape affect trajectory and distance.

The Questacon Smart Skills workshops aim to immerse students in ideas, technology and creative problem solving.  The workshops focus on imparting the processes of innovative design thinking and equipping students with the confidence to test and refine a raft of ideas through hands-on digital and practical prototyping. The workshops also highlight the value of persistence, building on failures and trying a variety of ideas.

In the same way students tested and refined their ideas during each workshop, the Questacon Smart Skills team are using the feedback gathered during the trials to refine the programme offerings prior to the first tour, which will travel to Tasmania in March 2015.