Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Google hosts Shepparton workshop

Goulburn Valley students had a rare opportunity yesterday.

ESTELLE GRIEPINK April 3, 2014 6:23am

Tinkering with technology: Mooroopna Secondary College pair Zane Howell-Sanders, 12, Zayne Gilbert, 11, at yesterday's Google robotics workshop in Shepparton.

A dream job at the famed Google headquarters is a little more attainable for a group of Goulburn Valley Indigenous students.

This is after they were offered the rare chance to meet with representatives from the tech giant.

Rumbalara Football Netball Club and Google Australia hosted a robotics workshop in Shepparton yesterday to encourage students to think about careers in science, technology, engineering and maths. The University of Melbourne and its Shepparton Academy of Sport, Health and Education facilitated the pilot program.

The students from Wanganui Park Secondary College, Mooroopna Secondary College, Shepparton High School and Notre Dame College’s McAuley Champagnat Programme were given the materials to build their own robots from scratch.

The aspiring tech whizzes programmed the robots themselves and took them for a spin through a series of mazes.

Notre Dame College McAuley Champagnat Programme participant Will Newling said he was surprised at his own abilities.

‘‘I didn’t think I’d be able to program,’’ Will, 15, said.

‘‘It’s so cool that Google has come here, it’s awesome.’’

Fellow participant Tyrone Wandin said working with the robots had opened his eyes to different career options.

‘‘I want to do something with football, but somewhere down the track I might do something with science and computers,’’ Tyrone, 16, said.

‘‘It’s been really fun today, making them turn left and right, I’ve enjoyed it.’’

Rumbalara Football Netball Club president Paul Briggs described the workshop as ‘‘an introductory handshake with Google.’’

‘‘We’re looking at the capacity to take it beyond the club, out into the mainstream education pathways in the Goulburn Valley area,’’ Mr Briggs said.

‘‘It’s really exciting to have the conversation about young Aboriginal people considering opportunities in engineering and robotics at such an early age.’’

Google engineering community and outreach manager Sally-Ann Williams said the tech giant wanted to raise awareness about the importance of digital skills.

‘‘We know that every single career in the future is going to have a computer science basis to it, be it music, art, radio, anything, there’s just a real demand for digital skills,’’ Ms Williams said. ‘‘We wanted to come up to Shepparton and help build some programs with the local community so we can get these kids excited and thinking about what their careers can be in this space.’’

ASHE manager Leonie Dwyer said she was pleased to see the students enjoying themselves while learning about technology.

‘‘To have a connection to Google is just awesome — and the kids are feeling inspired and really proud of themselves,’’ Ms Dwyer said.

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