Young Innovator Program

Nicola Flanagan

Oakleigh State School

The Oakleigh State School Young Innovator Program is an after-school program which utilises a myriad of connections to people, resources and ideas. Currently in its second round it involves more than 100 students attending a range of workshops run by parents, volunteers, teachers and industry experts.

Its origin is as interesting as its current form. In response to a community ‘think-tank’ to answer the question: “How might we provide opportunities to foster innovative thinking that utilise digital technologies?”, the Young Innovator Program has evolved as a result of community input and the use of design thinking to fine-tune these ideas. It is important to us that we maintain the evolving nature of the program with our vision being that eventually all of the groups and workshops are working towards the same task or innovation.

Oakleigh State School is extremely proud of its community links and consider that this project utilises these links but then extends them further to involve others who are essential to the authentic use of digital technologies to provide solutions in innovative ways. This includes experts in a range of areas and people who are able to stimulate discussion and ideas and to push our own boundaries on what may be possible.

Benefits are wide-ranging. Our students, of course, are gaining valuable skills and an outlook that will benefit them as they continue through their schooling and beyond. For our teachers, it is offering free on-site professional learning opportunities that will feed into their planning and teaching. Already, we have realised that our curriculum design will need to evolve as the students are presenting to us with skills and interests that will need to drive the options we make available to them. The program also offers an amazing opportunity to pre-service teachers to learn alongside school students and to develop the appropriate mindset for using digital technologies in powerful ways. For parents, the program offers a valuable insight into the value of the skill-set, tool-set and mind-set that is going to ‘future-proof’ their children. Additionally, the program removes the barriers between school and industry, welcoming experts in to support, inform and shape d iscussions and learning.

The Oakleigh State School Young Innovator Program is an excellent example of the value of connections in supporting our students to be ready for their future. These connections link people, resources and ideas to provide a possible model for transformation of our educational landscape.