Selwyn House School will be entering an exciting new phase next year as it introduces a subject dear to the heart of many young futurists and would-be robot designers – Mechatronics. The course will bring together Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and a little bit of Art, to teach the students the basics of how robotic devices operate, and hopefully inspire them into a future career in technology.
The school’s principal, Dr Lyn Bird, sees the new subject as an important way of standing against the status quo. “Selwyn House is a girls’ school,” she said. “A lot of girls think that STEM subjects are only the domain of boys, and we want them to challenge that belief.” The goal of the programme is to teach the students a gradual progression of skills during their time at school, until they have enough knowledge to scratch-build their own gadget in Year 8. To help them on their way they will be supported by two dedicated robotics teachers in a well-appointed Technology Hub, known as ‘The Boiler House’, which comes complete with 3D printers, Lego robot kits, Apple TVs, workshop tools and other resources that facilitate a constructionist teaching philosophy. Constructionism is an increasingly popular educational theory where students do all their learning through a project they are building. “The primary benefit of this approach is that it answers the questions, “Why do we need to learn Maths and Science?” and “When are we going to use this in our lives?” said Dr Bird. “We want our students to see themselves as productive learners, who can make a difference to their community by applying their skills in the STEM subjects in an authentic, meaningful context. This learning is life-long. “Our school is an International Baccalaureate school, where learning is not put into silos, but is seen as transdisciplinary and reaching across all subjects. Mechatronics embodies this beautifully, because it mixes the creative with the scientific and shows our students that, just because they’re learning something in maths, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have anything to do with science or art.” The school has an envious reputation for innovation and future-focussed education, which has most recently seen it win regional, national and international accolades in Cantamaths, Robocup and Future Problem Solving, respectively.