More than 140 Year 10 students from public and private schools including two “technology advanced” schools – Chatswood High and Northern Beaches Christian School, attended the event on April 6.
Leonore Carr, a computing teacher from Chatswood High School, says her students were totally blown away by the experience.
“So the initial bit is like a rock concert,” she recalls.
“So you go in and there’s big lights, there’s an introduction animation and you can just feel the sound.
“That in itself is quite overwhelming emotionally, so I think they got quite excited by that,” she says.
Students attended presentations from Glenn Gore, chief architect at Amazon Web Services, as well as Amazon clients from a variety of industries who spoke about how they’re using technology in the real world.
Schools then broke into groups to participate in a coding and problem-solving activity, collaborating to code an app using Amazon Alexa devices.
The afternoon culminated in a ‘shark tank’ style activity, where students presented their ideas to a panel, including Gore himself.
“I think they’d actually struggle to say what the highlight [was] because a lot of them didn’t realise how big the event was going to be and how hands-on it was going to be as well,” Carr says.
Students got a lot out of seeing real world applications of what they’re learning at school, she adds.
“So I know this one student in particular who really likes geography and she likes computing and one of the demonstrations was looking at the mapping of … power lines but to do with disaster relief in Queensland.
“So just to see how the software is used … I think that was quite exciting for her.” Carr says they also enjoyed the chance to work creatively, without worrying about assesment.
“So they really got to be creative, they could come up with a wacky idea or an idea that wasn’t already decided for them.”
Carr says she returned to school armed with great new resource ideas and case studies to use in her lessons.
“So one thing I’ve really tried to get into more is … micro controllers.
“So they presented a piece of hardware that was used as part of the demo on stage so I went home and bought one of them to try out, because you code it in Python which is the language that we teach already at school.”