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As technology advances future employees will need to have more advanced STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths) skills to keep up with the demand. Similarly, learning SMAC  (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud) skills/platforms will make employees stand out in the future job market. Jobs of the future—Trash Engineers, Alternative Energy Consultants, Organ/Body Part Creator, Commercial Space Pilot—will involve serious knowledge creation and innovation. 

The St Peters Robotics Program has been around for over 10 years. During this time, the program has evolved from a lunch club into a program that is competing internationally. St Peters Robotics Coordinator, Meg Foley, has been involved with the program for six years and sees it as an integral part of learning and a place of safety and connection for children. 

“When I was given the opportunity to become coordinator I jumped at it because I can really see the benefit. It’s such an important way for the kids to feel connected,” she remarks. 

Not only do the students learn from teachers and mentors (some of whom are Old Scholars), they learn by doing. “Sometimes when parents come in to the classroom the students teach them. They also teach the teachers in workshops because they have a lot of knowledge and are keen to share it,” says Meg.

However, it’s not just the academics around robotics that is proving useful outside of the classroom. Collaboration, creative thinking, problem solving and communication are all skills naturally absorbed by the Robotics Program students. These soft skills are, “harder to build in a classroom setting so being able to explore these in a cocurricular activity helps us to develop these in a stronger and deeper way, in a real world context,” explains Meg.

With LEGO rolling out its own new robotics program, SPIKE Prime, and television shows like LEGO Masters hitting the airwaves earlier this year, the demand for hands-on learning is growing. In all these types of programs, the aim is to encourage students to use their natural creativity to engage with science and technology via building and coding. 

There is a certain kind of passion in the Robotics students you don’t see everywhere. Perhaps it’s because they’re excited to be there. Perhaps it’s because it’s all hands-on. Perhaps it’s because the program is so engaging, challenging and multidisciplinary. Whatever the reason, you can’t look past the students who come into the classroom and start building, talking, collaborating with other like-minded scholars – it’s hard to stop them.

The Robotics Program is flexible and operates all year round, unlike sporting seasons. Students are able to drop in during a lunchtime or after school depending on their busy schedules. “It’s an easy activity for kids to try out and see if they enjoy it,” says Meg. The Program also caters for students with varying skill levels and talents as well as being able to offer them autonomous or team-based scenarios. Being non-gender based and completely open-ended – come for fun or come to compete – the Robotics Program offers enjoyment for everyone.