When the Bendigo Tech School opens in mid-2018 it will not only be the specialist STEM teachers providing the lessons, but the building itself.
“Because it’s about science, technology, engineering and maths we wanted to use the building as what we call the third teacher,” project leader John Geary said.
“When the building’s finished you’ll actually see that part of the structural parts of the building are actually exposed and visible, so when students walk through they can actually think about why something is constructed like it is and get some understanding of the different parts and how the building fits together.”
And some of the students studying at the new multimillion-dollar facility will even have had a hand in the building’s construction, playing a role in the completion of the centre’s external learning space.
“One of the things we hope to do over the next 12 months with that is that we’ll set some students across Bendigo a design and construction challenge and we’re hoping they’ll actually build the furniture and also create some art work that will go out there,” Mr Geary said.
“They’ll be the people that are actually working through a design, undertaking the construction, prototyping that work and we certainly see that as really an opportunity to feature the students work by the time we get operational in 12 months time.”
Mr Geary said once the new school was completed, the specialised study spaces students would have access to would help facilitate the process from idea to end product.
“It’s basically any equipment that students can use to bring an idea to be able to get it to prototyping and really what we’re trying to do is provide that equipment and technology that allows them to develop a product,” he said.
And Mr Geary said the location, just outside La Trobe University’s Bendigo campus, was no coincidence.
“It’s important that the tech school building is actually incorporated into the engineering building at La Trobe and the fact that it’s in such close proximity to the science building at La Trobe,” he said.
“It means the learning they are doing at the tech school is connected to learning that will take place once they finish high school and begin moving on to TAFE or begin moving on to university.”
Bendigo industry to inspire students
The state government is promising Bendigo’s new tech school will have a local industry focus – and that includes elements of the building itself.
Regional project leader John Geary said some of the facility’s high-tech learning spaces would incorporate features designed and built in Bendigo.
“One of the features there is that there’ll be a floor that can be raised up and that can create seating for students and a briefing area but then it can be lowered down and just create flat floor space that we can use flexibly for students to meet and collaborate,” he said.
“[That] will be manufactured by the Australian Turntable Company, which we see as one of the shining lights of manufacturing in Bendigo, so in terms of linking industry with education we see that as a great opportunity to be able to do that. We see that as a real feature and something our students will look at and be able to ask questions of in terms of how was that made and the fact it was made in Bendigo.”