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Future Ready Education Tour

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Vicki McCudden
Merewether High School – a School for Academically Gifted and Talented Students

In September of 2018 I embarked on a school tour with 40 Engineering, IT, Design and Technology and Science students aged from 15-17. The tour, to Canada and the USA, was organised by the amazing Caroline O’Brien from the Australian Education Travel Company.

The aim of the tour was to provide unique opportunities for students to learn from some of the most successful and purposeful innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses who are shaping, and reshaping our world.

Our Future Ready tour brought to life STEAM content by involving students in real world applications that take them beyond the classroom and into the realm of work and careers. Many careers of the future do not currently exist and traditional learning is changing. We wanted to open our student’s minds to possibilities of achieving success through following dreams.

During our two week tour we visited a number of Silicon Valley businesses including – Tesla, The Computer History Museum and The Tech Museum of Innovation. We were also fortunate to visit the guarded Google X facility where we spent time with one of the chief engineers of the Waymo driverless car.

In Los Angeles we took part in an exclusive tour of Elon Musk’s brainchild - Hyperloop Transportation Technologies - where we were able to view a model of the Hyperloop system and climb into one of the pods/capsules currently under development. This technology could revolutionise the way we travel distances in the future.

At the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena we witnessed a Mars Rover being built (a vehicle that will be used to explore the craters on Mars). In Seattle we visited the Boeing Factory to see the amazing 777’s being built up close and we were inspired by the projects being showcased at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The tour also introduced students to Tertiary Institutions in the US such as Stanford University, UCLA, Gnomon School of Visual Effects (think ‘Avatar’ in LA) and the progressive Miller Centre of Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University. The Miller Centre is the largest and most successful university-based social enterprise accelerator in the world.

Social entrepreneurship addresses the root problems of poverty through the power of business and innovation to provide sustainable economic and social impact. We met students who had developed projects and designed technologies that they were able to trial first hand in developing countries as part of the program. These students were already making a difference in the world and it was inspiring for our young students to see what is possible with an entrepreneurial mindset.

For the girls who attended this tour it became a bonding experience where new friendships were formed across Year groups through a mutual interest in technologies, creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation. These girls were exposed to ideas, innovations and careers that perhaps don’t yet exist in Australia. They were immersed in an unforgettable experience that brought them closer together and made them reassess their options for later secondary and tertiary studies and opened their eyes to a range of careers that they had not considered.

These “real life” experiences taught them the importance of personal qualities such as persistence, problem solving, passion and risk taking in future career paths. It reinforced the notion that to be a successful entrepreneur you need to think big about your goals and your future, take risks, learn from failure and get back up again. Most importantly be a doer, not a spectator, be confident and believe in yourself!

Vicki McCudden is the Head Teacher of Technology and Applied Studies
Merewether High School – a School for Academically Gifted and Talented Students

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