The Robotics Club at St Margaret’s is a lunch-time gathering of students across Years 7 to 12 interested in learning about and working with robots.
The club, moderated by IT teacher Mr Chris Forster, offers a collaborative, student-led approach to engage students in coding and robotics.
“It’s really about giving the girls the freedom to engage and explore while still providing guidance and support as required.
“The aim of the club is to inspire inquisitive and creative thinkers and to develop the girls’ coding skills. The girls are incredibly enthusiastic,” said Mr Forster.
At present, students are learning to program a micro:bit – a handheld, programmable micro-computer that can be used for many creations, from robots to musical instruments.
Working collaboratively in pairs, the girls program their micro:bit using an app in their web browser to follow a set of instructions.
Year 8 students Sophia Connor and Kyle Yeo have learnt how to instruct their micro:bit to display a flashing LED love heart and also play music.
“The micro:bit is interesting because it has so many features to command, like playing music and the visual displays; you can do a lot with them.
“It’s really exciting seeing your programming come to life,” Sophia said.
Sophia enjoys studying science, technology and maths and says Robotics Club is giving her a headstart on coding, a skill that will no doubt have a role to play in her future.
In fact, in an April 2015 report by PwC, it was indicated 75 per cent of Australia’s fastest-growing occupations required STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills.
Mr Forster said the Robotics Club is about more than teaching the students how to code.
“It’s providing deep learning opportunities with a focus on problem solving, innovation, collaboration, creative and computational thinking – 21st century skills and attributes identified as necessary for the future workforce.
“It’s an engaging and enjoyable way to teach students the basics of coding and gives the girls the opportunity to gain confidence in a new skill,” said Mr Forster.
Aside from the micro:bits, St Margaret’s has an impressive collection of different types of robots for students to engage with including spheros, programmable robotic balls, and LEGO robots which students can learn to build, program and operate.