Design and technology lecturer Simon O’Mallon says this weekend’s Maryborough RACV Energy Breakthrough will once again inspire tomorrow’s teachers.
Simon and fellow education lecturer Peter Cox will take ten of their students to Maryborough to help judge some of the 6000-plus competitors set to take to Princes Park in their human powered vehicles.
The breakthrough challenges student teams to design and build a vehicle, present its sustainability credentials and take part in a 24-hour relay, among other events.
“Every teaching student who has taken part in it says they can’t wait to bring this into a school when they become a teacher,” Simon says. “It’s a clear model for 21st century teaching.”
It’s also a model for the brilliant ideas the next generation will bring to solving the world’s unfolding energy crisis.
“People look to this event to move forward into solar vehicles and alternative energy,” Simon says. “It’s overwhelmingly obvious that school students can’t wait to be involved at every level in sustainable research and development.”
Simon has been a part of the Energy Breakthrough development committee for over eight years. He says in that time the vehicles have continued to get more sophisticated; they’re lighter, more reliable, and more schools are building them from scratch rather than buying in components.
“It’s a clear indication that the click-and-drag thinking of using up resources has been completely left behind by these young people, who want to be involved in sustainable practice and sustainable thinking,” he says.
“There’s no doubt that a deep understanding of climate change and energy efficiency is embedded in the youth. They know climate change is happening and that they’re going to inherit the problem and they really are keen to make a difference.
“Our role at the university is to provide teachers with the same mindset that these children already have.”
He says the event’s values are clearly aligned with the push to integrate STEAM into all levels education. That’s science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, and it’s in full view in Maryborough this Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.