Education coordinator, Gina Harvey, showing a student a diagram of water flow

Generation Hydro - Helping STEM the decline

30 November 2018



At Hydro Tasmania we love STEM subjects. Actually we don’t just love them, we need them. The study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are the very principles which allow us to be Australia’s largest producer of clean, reliable energy. 

Modern society is becoming more and more reliant on technology which means the demand for STEM professionals is increasing too. Unfortunately this is not being translated into numbers of students taking up STEM subjects. So we’ve developed an education program, Generation Hydro, which allows teachers to harness the resources of Hydro Tasmania to get their students excited about STEM. 

How can we help?

Our education program provides relevance. 

Hydro Tasmania engineer in high vis sitting at a table with two primary school boys building a model wind turbineWe’ve all heard students say something along the lines of “why do they teach us this? When will I ever use this outside of school?” We have engineers, analysts and scientists who use the basics taught in the classroom in their work every day. From learning about how water flows to doing complicated maths equations we aim to demonstrate how they fit into the real world.

By showing students how we use those skills to produce energy we can put their study in context and open them up to the idea that it could be a career for them. 

Our Education Coordinator Gina Harvey said it was a rewarding experience to see the look on a student’s face when they were finally able to see how the classroom theory applies to a real life situation.

“That’s the goal. When I can see that they get it, that they’re seeing a reason for all the hard work they’re doing in the classroom, I do get a sense of pride in my work,” she said.

The program is designed to support the Tasmanian Education Department’s Learners First Strategy which aims to develop successful, skilled and innovative Tasmanians. It also adds value to the My Education career and life planning strategy, linking education with a student’s future employment options. All of our teaching resources have been independently assessed by a Curriculum Consultant.

We can come to you

One of the major components of the program is our in-class talks. Gina or a member of the team will spend some time in the classroom taking students through physical activities and a PowerPoint presentation to introduce new concepts and spark curiosity.

These free services are easy to organise and are often followed up with an excursion to a working power station (see below). We love seeing the “ooh ahhh” moments when they see the theory at work in real life. They are available to all Tasmanian schools from grades 2 to 9 with topics that are relevant to the year and align with the Australian Curriculum.

A group of students standing around a model generator“Teacher feedback has been very positive with comments like ‘the activity really reinforced our energy or water lessons’,” Gina said. 

“Students really enjoy the activities where they get free time to use a range of critical thinking, communication and problem solving skills. It’s evident that are enjoying themselves from the buzz of chatter and ideas being shared.

“Teachers will often request a power station tour after the class talk, as they see great value in connecting students with what is in their backyard.”

Students are surprised that Tasmania is punching above its weight with the percentage of energy we produce from renewables. When compared with mainland Australia, you can see they’re impressed.

Showcasing STEM careers

Sometimes it can make all the difference if students have a chance to meet an engineer, a scientist, a digital expert, a power station operator or an apprentice. 

We like to provide students with an opportunity to understand what a typical day might be like in these occupations and expose them to STEM career options.

Our purpose built display will pop up at career expos all around the state to help students identify their strengths and passions and link them to the many varied career opportunities at Hydro Tasmania.

But this experience is not limited to career expos. We can take the display to community events or arrange class visits or you could have a look at our skills checklist online to see how your strengths and interests align with STEM careers.

Visit a power station

We operate 30 power stations and more than 50 major dams across Tasmania. By visiting one of our stations we provide a unique experience to learn how energy is produced and to appreciate the civil, mechanical and electrical feats of Hydro Tasmania over the past 100 years. 

Students in high vis inside a power station looking at a turbineThe production crew from the power station will lead the class through and explain how it works work and what the staff members do to keep it running. 

These tours have been developed in alignment with the Australian Curriculum and are a great way for teachers to connect student’s class room theory with a real world situation. 

The power stations are fully operating work sites and are not open to the public for self-guided tours. We recommend booking at least two months in advance.

Other cool stuff

We have a range of teaching resources and other cool stuff to download on our education website. You’ll find lesson plans that range from The Power of Nature to how we help baby eels climb dam walls.

We value the contribution teachers make every day to help our students understand the world around them and our program is designed to allow teachers to select what will work best for their students and their school.

The education outreach program, Generation Hydro, will continue to evolve with a focus on the development of secondary STEM resources in 2019 and more activities added to the primary school program.  

Learn more about our education program.

 


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