“Ada Lovelace is credited as being the world’s first computer programmer – and that was back in the 1800s … today, many of the pioneers in the drone industry are women.” Sally French, founder of The Drone Girl and social media editor at the Wall Street Journal.
At the World Business Forum last week, Shara Evans, globally regarded as one of the leading female futurists, presented a fascinating summary of technologies that will shape human futures. The hottest technology right now is drone technology, particularly the prospect of air taxis being commercially operational in major cities within 5 years. Before being tempted to see this as wishful future-gazing, enter the bold New Zealand government. Just over a week ago, New Zealand regulators approved plans for Zephyr Airworks, a subsidiary of Larry Page’s (Google co-founder) company Kitty Hawk, to develop and test the futuristic air taxi known as Cora. Trialling the flying unmanned taxi service will reportedly take six years, with operations based around the city of Christchurch. Lianne Dalziel, Christchurch mayor, commented on the initiative that the aircraft represents the evolution of the transport eco system by responding to the global challenge of traffic and congestion, as well as being a sustainably powered form of transport.
Goldman Sachs Research has forecast a US$100 billion global market opportunity for drones, driven by growing demand from the commercial and civil government sectors. They also forecast that Australia’s drone spending will be an estimated US$3.1 billion between 2017 and 2021. There are opportunities to use drones to address issues that are at the forefront of civic concerns such as traffic congestion, community safety, environmental sustainability and servicing ageing resident populations. And this is a new technology that many female entrepreneurs are leading its commercial application.
Victoria has two female CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) certified drone pilots – but when our girls graduate from their Drone Pilot Program, offered through our Student Enterprise Program, there will be eight. It was our vision to offer students the opportunity to get seriously involved with this emerging technology, to be some of those pioneering women by being highly skilled girls looking to the future with expansive possibilities. To that end, we are introducing drone technology into our STEM learning for Years 3 and 4 girls. In Term 4 they will undertake a 4 week Drone Program called The Queen Bee Flying Program. By implementing the program, students will be exposed to problem based learning across a range of different disciplines. Drones will be used to teach electronics and computer programming whilst developing skills such as computational thinking and curiosity. Our students will be required to predict, plan, analyse and evaluate their way through a short course which will conclude with their own drone license.
Our students will live in a world of accelerating integration of technology with human activities. We are ensuring that our girls see themselves as capable of harnessing technology for their purpose, confident users of digital interfaces, and empowered to lead in future machine-human endeavours. Our 125th Celebration of Music, held at the Melbourne Recital Centre, was a feast of music-making, uplifting and absorbing in its range and expression. Over 500 members of our wider community enjoyed items presented by current and past students, including for the first time girls from Morris Hall. Our 125th student theme of sisterhood was on fabulous display all through the evening. The beaming smiles of our youngest girls as they sang and played alongside their big sisters was heart warming and very special.
The 2018 Annual Giving campaign will help to support our School and the educational experience of both current and future students of Melbourne Girls Grammar. As part of our 125th Anniversary this year, our community goal is to establish a new academic means-tested scholarship, to provide opportunities for students who would not ordinarily have the means to attend our School. Join our community for Giving Day on Wednesday 6 June where for just 24 hours, our aim is to raise $420,000 for our 125th Anniversary Scholarship. Every dollar donated on this day will be quadrupled.
Finally, I am thrilled to share the news that we are finalists for the Australian Education Awards 2018 for the following:
• School Principal of the Year – Non-government (Catherine Misson)
• Education Rising Star of the Year (Ashanie Perera)
• Best Student Wellbeing Program
• Best Professional Learning Program
I would like to thank our school community and team of dedicated educators for their contribution to this significant achievement.