Western Australia’s Chamber of Minerals and Energy has launched an inaugural education program intended to spark children’s interest in automation technologies.

To celebrate the launch, Manjimup Primary School students participated in a promotional video for the Chamber of Minerals and Energy Western Australia’s (CMEWA) new Digital Technologies Program.

The school is the first of a number across the state’s South West to adopt the program into its curriculum from the start of Term 4.

Backed by local mining companies and co-designed by curriculum and sector subject matter experts, the program aligns pre-primary to Year 10 digital technology curriculum requirements with real-world scenarios.

Using a mix of online and offline activities, students learn to code and navigate robots from simple instructions to detailed coded pathways.

Focusing on automation and data science, the challenges provide primary school and high school students important skills for now, and in the future.

More than 1500 students across 22 schools in the Pilbara have participated in the program since its launch in 2020.

The initiative was developed as a response to an opportunity identified by CME and the Pilbara Collaboration signatories to increase student awareness and interest in digital technology career paths.

Importantly it is also intended to support teachers to deliver real world digital technology content.

While digital technology has a presence in the tertiary sector, the digital technologies learning area in schools was only introduced into the Australian Curriculum as a new subject in 2015. It became a mandatory subject in 2017.

The subject is expected to be taught in the classroom for one hour per week.

The success of the program in the North West has seen the program expand to the South West, with Talison Lithium, Albemarle, South32, Tronox and Monadelphous investing in kits and training for 17 primary schools and seven high schools.

That number is expected to grow with further support anticipated from other mining companies in the region.

Manjimup Primary School Year 6 teacher, Emma Davidson, said the school and its students were proud to be at the forefront of the project’s expansion into the South West.

“It is an exciting opportunity for our students and staff,” Ms Davidson said.

“Preparing and upskilling our students for future opportunities is a focus not only at Manjimup Primary but throughout our network. Students love it, they are so engaged with technology and it is great for them to have and make real-world connections.”

Talison Lithium is backing the program’s rollout across 15 South West schools over four years, including Manjimup Primary.

Talison Lithium General Manager of Operations, Craig Dawson, said Talison already had an established relationship with schools in the Warren Blackwood Education District and was committed to providing support and resources in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“This Digital Technologies Program is curriculum linked and provides opportunities for our local students to gain skills for the future starting in pre-primary and continuing through to their senior school years,” said Mr Dawson.

“When the opportunity arose to be a part of this exciting new program through our collaboration with other mining companies in the South West we were pleased to contribute.”

CME Digital Technologies Project Coordinator, Asta Morton, said she was excited by the program’s extension to the South West.

“As the Warren-Blackwood region transitions from native forestry, I am excited for the young people in the region to develop skills to help achieve success in a diversifying local economy,” she said.

“Integration of automation and data sciences in process and decision-making is being embraced by a variety of sectors across the globe, not just in mining and energy but also agriculture, manufacturing, health care, including education.

“Preparing WA students to be comfortable working with, and alongside, innovating technologies will be essential in their future.”

Feature Image: Manjimup Primary School students participating in a promotional video for CMEWA’s new Digital Technologies Program. Photo: CMEWA.


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