Students wearing VR goggles

Bowen Basin Bright Minds

There’s no denying that the children of today are growing up in a world that is rapidly changing with technology. So ensuring that children can adapt to these changes is paramount.

Gone are the days where reading, writing, and arithmetic were the only priority. The skills and knowledge they acquire during their formative years will profoundly influence their ability to thrive in an increasingly digital landscape, which is why it’s so important that education plays a role in preparing them for the future.

From artificial intelligence to virtual reality, these technologies are not just tools, but are increasingly becoming integral parts of our daily lives-demanding a new set of education and problem-solving skills.

That’s where the Bowen Basin Bright Minds program comes in. Set up as a partnership between BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), Education Queensland, and 18 participating schools in the Bowen Basin, the initiative aims to make sure that students of today are fit for the jobs of tomorrow. The funding allows for professional development for teachers through to the purchase of specialised equipment for classrooms. Equipment like VR headsets, which for Blake, is one of the highlights of the program.

‘The most interesting technology for me is VRtechnology, because it brings graphics straight to your eyes and it makes you feel like you’re in a whole new world.’

And should Blake decide to pursue a career in mining, he’ll find himself ahead of the game, as BMA is already utilising VR in the FutureFit Academy, where trainees and apprentices go to develop the skills needed for a rewarding mining career.

The Bowen Basin Bright Minds program also sees Blake and over 7300 of his fellow students learning to fly drones, operate 3D printing software and hardware, as well as getting involved with robotics, amongst many other things.

With such a unique and exciting future ahead for the students, ensuring that industry and education keep up with each other is important. Especially as so many of the students will be looking for a career in their local area. Preparing the kids for local jobs of the future just makes sense. It’s also worth considering that by preparing them across all levels of STEM, they’re ready for jobs that may not even exist yet.

‘Our young people are the future of work in our communities, and to be successful, the youth of our communities need to be engaged in STEM curriculum areas (in particular automation and robotics) so they are better prepared and ‘future proofed’ when entering the workforce,’ says Rebecca Huggett, who coordinates the partnership.

As educators, parents, and society as a whole, it is our responsibility to provide the next generation with the resources and education to not only understand, but also harness the power of emerging technologies. The Bowen Basin Bright Minds program fosters curiosity and critical thinking, empowering students to navigate the future with confidence and creativity.