Engineers, software developers, coders and business leaders, tasked with solving real world problems using design thinking, communication, creativity, and other transformative skills.
Having just opened and situated in the outer Melbourne suburb of Lilydale, YRTS is the first of 10 tech schools being built statewide.
Aimed at Year 8, 9 and 10 students, the school invites teachers and kids from 20 local partnership schools to use their unrivalled facilities.
Equipped with a robotics room, 3D printing lab, makerspace, simulation room and virtual reality room with 52 Oculus Rift headsets, possibly the largest collection in Australia, there’s a lot to tinker with at YRTS.
But the school is much more than a sum of its impressive facilities, it’s a culture of innovation, collaboration and authentic learning.
“It’s not a visit to Scienceworks,” Danny Tay, the school’s director, is keen to point out.
“Students come to us to work.”
In fact, before students can even enter the building, they’re required to apply for a work permit on the YRTS website, covering off OH&S and preparing them for a real world learning experience.
“So when they come to us, they’re always working in what we call a design team, we let them know as soon as they come in, that they’re here as workers, they’re not students anymore,” learning designer Elissa Mckenzie says.
“We try to treat them as workers, we try to give them the same sort of rights that a worker has.”
Students work on design briefs, attempting to meet client needs while keeping all stakeholder groups satisfied.
One of the projects in the robotics room, for example, challenges students to program a robot to dance and entertain kids in a hospital ward.
Another activity in the ‘curved wall simulation room’, involves students as designers, investors and community groups, pitching ideas and collaborating on a shared outcome.
And if they can’t all reach an agreement, they don’t lose marks.
“Have they failed? No, because they’ve understood reality,” Tay says.
The walls of each room are covered in a material which acts as a whiteboard, so students can scribble their thoughts and ideas wherever they please.
This is echoed in the tech department’s collaborative office space, as Tay says, “you’ve got to live the vibe you’re trying to create” .
The school is also proudly ‘paperless’, “I can’t afford paper,” Tay exclaims.
Michael Waddell, technology teacher at nearby Lilydale Heights College has been bringing his Year 8s to YRTS to learn programming and robotics.
He scores the school “10 out of 10” for student engagement.
“I think they really like the idea that they’re being treated as adults, or at least, with respect at that level.”
“They’ve got this idea of freedom, it’s a full day project, it’s not in sections.
“And so, out in the workforce they’ll be working full days, everyday, on projects and this is what they’re doing here.”