Teacher Gee Michalik says she hoped the program would build the girls’ teamwork, communication and problem solving skills, but admits that she wasn’t sure how it would go.
‘We were very surprised when we got full attendance over the three days,’ says Gee.
‘They were really engaged, they were motivated and they actually worked with students that they normally wouldn’t… because they were rewarded at each step, and they built their confidence through it.’
She credits the way the program has been run for the high levels of attendance.
‘They linked with a lot of the scientists here that talked to them about STEM careers that they had no idea actually existed before coming here,’ Gee says.
‘They had assumed all science jobs were in a lab where you’re doing experiments with chemicals, but the fact that they could use their hands and actually interact with technology really got them engaged in this whole idea of, “maybe my future is a lot bigger than I originally thought”,’ says Gee.
‘It’s something we really wanted the girls to be a part of, because there’s so many opportunities now for girls in STEM.’
Science comes alive
Helen Silvester, Head of Programs at Casey, says students are given a real-world problem to solve in an environment that is very different to a regular school.
‘They can do the theory, but it’s only when they get to apply it to a real life context that you see them come alive,’ Helen says.
‘When we give them the chance to apply it to a real-world problem, all of a sudden that theory becomes practical.’
Lanie, 15, says she was ‘blown away’ by what she saw at the Tech School. It opened up her eyes to the possibilities, including the chance to learn skills in 3D Computer-Aided Design.
‘The teachers here have taught me that what you do at school is relevant,’ Lanie says. ‘I think that was part of my problem. I thought, why would I use this in the future?’
‘I wake up now and I want to go to school. It’s completely changed.’
Victoria's new Tech Schools
‘Here at the Tech School, we can offer students and teachers access to equipment that schools just wouldn’t be able to have individually,’ Helen says. ‘We have the staff here with the skills and the time to be able to use it, so we have a chance to go beyond the normal classroom.’