Schools unite in robotic challenge

Schools unite in robotic challenge

John Townley, Jade Shedden (Team Captain), Tadhg Metcalf (Team Captain

Students from 13 local public schools will unite over robotics thanks to a grant secured by Southern River College teacher and robotics coach, John Townley.

The $75,000 Schools Plus grant each year for three years, has enabled the establishment of Gosnells Robotics Clubs, an area-wide educational partnership focusing on STEM learning, engagement, well-being and career aspiration through robotics.

Eleven primary schools and two secondary schools are included in the partnership with Southern River College and Thornlie Senior High School students taking on leadership roles to mentor and support their peers from Ashburton Drive, Gosnells, Huntingdale, Seaforth, Southern Grove, Wirrabirra, Yarralinka, South Thornlie, Forest Crescent, Yale and Thornlie primary schools.

The Gosnells Robotics Clubs project will play a pivotal role in enabling these students to participate in prestigious competitions such as First Lego League and First Robotics Competition, providing them with valuable real-world challenges.

“Competing in robotics competitions at State, National and International levels provides students with exciting multidisciplinary learning opportunities while building self-confidence and a strong a sense of belonging, in representing their own communities,” Mr Townley said.

To prepare students for these competitions, robotics workshops such as Robots In 3 Days (RI3D) will be organised, with support from Curtin University Outreach.

Additionally, teachers involved in the partnership will undergo workshops covering engineering, coding, competition logistics, design thinking, and STEM-related careers to further support students in their robotics endeavours.

Mr Townley, the driving force behind this initiative, emphasised the broader impact of robotics on students.

“As well as learning mechanical, electrical and software engineering, the students are learning the 21st century STEM skills of critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration,” he said.

“They also gain direct industry exposure and careers guidance.”

The Gosnells Robotics Clubs partnership also has a strong focus on well-being, with secondary students undertaking workshops to promote resilience and positive mental health choices, and primary students benefiting from workshops focused on positive social interactions.

In light of these benefits, Mr Townley is keen for the Gosnells Robotics Clubs Partnership to be sustainable and become embedded in schools.

“Having coordinated a similar project in Armadale some years ago I am hoping that the wellbeing and inclusion foci in the project will help create sustainable school cultures of STEM learning pathways through robotics,” he said.

“Seeing students develop essential life and work qualities in a multidisciplinary STEM learning environment is why I love to help students achieve their best in robotics.”