In line with our commitment to develop 21st century career skills of our students, this year we launched our Year 8 subject named ‘Rise of the Machines’. This subject allows our girls to explore aspects of Artificial Intelligence, robotics and bioethics, and has a blend of Science, Mathematics and Digital Technologies curricula.
For their first major project, our girls embarked on a hands-on learning journey, with the objective of building a bionic hand controlled by wearable sensor technology. Our girls explored concepts of anatomy, prototype development and electronics, studying the biomechanics of the human hand to aid in building the model hand using Design Thinking principles.
“We had to learn everything about the hand to first understand how it works, before we could build it into the robot”
Annabelle, Year 8
Initially, students focused on understanding the anatomy of the human hand and exploring how and why hands have the functionality that they do. They then completed case studies to understand the use of biomimicry in society today, and future applications of biomimicry and robotics.
After exploring the relevance, importance and ethics of using Artificial Intelligence and robotics in society today, students designed, built and tested their own bionic hand. There were 3 major aspects to the building phase:
- Building a sensorised glove to control the bionic hand;
- Building a bionic hand, where movement was controlled by servo motors; and
- Wiring and coding the bionic hand to the sensor glove to control movement.
“I really wanted to get the hand to work – it was so satisfying”
Poppy, Year 8
Using self-reflection, students undertook a continuous improvement process to create a wonderful product and folio of learning to showcase their hard work. This unit was challenging for both students and teachers, but from all reports was rewarding, enjoyable and highly impactful in delivering content relevant to future careers in robotics.
At Melbourne Girls Grammar, we believe that it is of upmost importance to engage and promote careers in engineering, computer science and coding to our younger generation – especially to young women. Bridging the gender gap in STEM career fields starts with introducing young girls to STEM-rich learning experiences to showcase the amazing outcomes that are achievable in these fields. We hope that one day our girls will be future scientists, researchers, teachers, policy makers and leaders in these fields.