Paraburdoo Primary School – IWA Small Grant Recipient 2021

Paraburdoo Primary School used the funding to open a new hands-on learning space. We were fortunate enough to have a great room - with hard floors and water supply - that wasn't being utilised. It was decided that, in line with several of our programs and classes, that a 'workshop' would be handy for everything from D&T lessons, right through to building sets and props for drama. Furthermore, it could be used as a large utilitarian space for when it gets too hot outside for hands-on incursions and demonstrations.

The Inspiring Western Australia Small Grant that we received was crucial to setting up this space and making it workable and useful. The grant was spent on tools, for building projects, and consumables to build them out of. It was used for marketing materials such as banners and magnets to let everyone know it was there and when we were opening. (The magnets, by way of advertising and invitations, were a HUGE success and rapidly became a little STEM project in their own right!)

The COMM (Creative, Open Minds & Muscles) Centre - named by a student - was an instant success. we moved most of our D&T resources in, creating the ‘Tech corner’. There is a wet area, three collaborative learning tales, a design area with drafting tables, and an entire wall devoted to skills with hand tools. We managed to fill a bookshelf with some of the older reference material from the library (the books that never need to be updated), which gave the kids a great starting point for research (ie; look it up in a book, so you at least know where to start with Google, and have a rough idea of the accuracy of online content).

The room has become invaluable, not just for D&T, but also as an inside area where the kids can run their science experiments without fear of mess (invaluable for making and checking the 'grotty bags').

It rapidly became an area that students wanted to be in. After the first couple of weeks, when offered the choice of computers or building something during rewards time, we could nearly have thrown away the computers. It has become an excellent incentive for less-engaged students, and it is wonderful, to this old man, to hear kids say 'Nah, Sir, I don't want a IPad; can we go to the COMM Centre?' (verbatim!)

Members of the local community, the Yinhwangka people, have expressed interest in running cultural lessons out of the COMM Centre (unfortunately COVID and some sorry business meant that couldn't happen, yet). Representatives from YAC (Yinhawangka Aboriginal Corporation) have looked the room over, and at the end of last year, were hoping to begin a junior ranger program from there in 2022. The room fit all the requirements; space, display areas on the wall and plenty of places they could get dirty, without it being an issue for carpet and such. This has allowed the COMM Centre to become an excellent bridge between the school and the local communities, builidng and strengthening our relationships.

The local Men's Shed has expressed interest in running some workshops for the students, to increase public engagement. For the students to be able to take advantage of this, ordinarily it would have taken a full excursion, transport, paperwork, etc. With the COMM Centre workshop ready to go, all they need to do is arrange a time and trundle up to the school.

It has been a great source of pride for the school. The room was there, as were a lot of the resources. It needed a direction and a financial 'kick in the pants', Inspiring Western Australia helped, a lot, with both. Students arriving from other schools have stood in the doorway in wide-eyed wonderment and visiting teachers with bare faced jealousy. The standard of our hands on projects took a leap towards the stars, too, and went from cardboard box dioramas, to (at this stage) simple machinery... Deadly!

This grant created a workspace for the kids that will open their minds. Open them to STEAM, the possibilities of what they can create, and to the wonder that they can build their dreams with their hands.