Based within Macquarie University’s Widening Participation Team, Bridges to Higher Education have implemented numerous school programs and support material to help raise vocational awareness as well as engage and motivate students to consider and desire a tertiary education after leaving school.
Thanks to Commonwealth funding gained in 2011 under the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program, the Bridges to Higher Education initiative is the result of an unprecedented partnership with five NSW Universities, including University of Sydney, University of Western Sydney, University of Technology Sydney, Australian Catholic University, and Macquarie University.
Bridges to Higher Education have also been partnering with other peak professional bodies, including us at Macquarie ICT Innovations Centre, to develop and deliver their school programs. One example is the Bridges Connect – Robotics in Schools Program, which began in 2013, and included Teacher Professional Learning opportunities in Sydney and in rural NSW, as well as learning and enrichment lessons with students via an online connected virtual classroom.
MacICT’s Program Coordinator and lead robotics facilitator, John Burfoot, together with Bridges to Higher Education Program Coordinator, Caroline Taouk, have worked closely with select teachers and their students to create a hands-on and engaging learning environment, which not only fosters problem solving and perseverance, but offers an insight to a rewarding vocation in robotics, including programming and engineering.
“It’s given [students] the opportunity to explore possibilities outside their world to work with technology and 21st Century capacity building. It’s given teachers a chance to explore new opportunities in their professional learning.” Janeen Silcock, Principal, Kyogle High School.
All teacher workshops were either conducted at MacICT’s training facility or off-site in regional and rural schools across NSW. Ninety minute introductory lessons for students were facilitated by Mr Burfoot using one of the virtual classrooms at MacICT. Bridges also provided schools with the necessary hardware, including a class set of LEGO NXT and EV3 robots for use over a school Term.
Mrs Taouk and her team at Bridges to Higher Education undertook the huge logistics of sorting, packing and couriering the different cases of LEGO robots and support material across the State to each participating school, as well as ensuring that teachers had the support they needed over the loan period.
Below is a short video showing the highlights of a Bridges Connect – Robotics in Schools teacher professional learning workshop conducted at Kyogle High School; just one of the many schools across NSW that has set its sights to increase Yr 12 completion rates and university enrolments.
For more information visit the Bridges to Higher Education website.