Among them is Ricky Sinclair, Head of ICT Curriculum and Innovation at Good Shepherd Lutheran College, whose passion for digital technology extends far beyond the classroom into an extensive range of clubs and extracurricular activities.
Over his three years at the college Sinclair has shaped the digital technology curriculum, with students involved in everything from 3D printing to app development and robotics.
“To me it means that we’ve sort of helped the community to aspire to become better at technology,” he says. Students get their feet wet early.
“We’ve even 3D printed with the Preps, which was quite empowering for them,” he says, “Some of them created snowmen, others created miniature houses, space rockets … a really beautiful butterfly which was probably the nicest one, little robots, things like that.”
By the end of Year 12 students have learnt nine programming languages.
Sinclair says developing students’ logical thinking process is essential for laying the groundwork for learning additional languages.
“We can tailor-make the program all the way through, so by the time they get to Year 6 or even Year 5 they have those basic skills, they already know how to logically think, they already know how a computer works, how a robot works … and then we just take it to the next level.
“Senior students get to create their own virtual reality video game with C# and Emotive Insight, a brain activity tracking app which runs off students EEGs – with movements of virtual objects controlled by students’ brain activity.
Student engagement has taken off, with a 60/40 ratio of boys to girls – a fact Sinclair is “stoked” about, as a keen advocate for gender balance in STEM.
“Some of the things we’ve done is to let them have these small successes, and then let it build up,” he explains.
“We would watch virtual, realtime presentations of women in the IT industry who were talking about their roles and how they’ve come to be the heads of these companies.”
Off campus, Sinclair is involved in the FIRST LEGO League, an international competition where students create and program robots made from Lego blocks.
In 2015 his students won the FIRST Tech Challenge, sending them to the US to compete before a stadium of 60,000 onlookers. “It was quite empowering for them,” Sinclair says proudly.