Sparks for the Future of education

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The 2016 Spark! Festival saw over 6000 attendees at 100 events across 57 venues and 15 tracks including the Education track led by UTS in the form of a one-day conference; Futures.edu.

Futures.edu’s mission is to advocate for entrepreneurial programs that start at kindergarten continuing across all levels of primary and secondary schooling through to tertiary education and beyond which includes experienced entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurial education underpins the culture of innovation nations like Israel, where STEM-based activities are introduced as young as three years old, where parents see entrepreneurship as a career, where universities foster impact and commercial outcomes, and where the government supports all this in a strategic and holistic way.

At futures.edu.au Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor said, “Skills capabilities and opening up government as a platform for innovation is essential for Australia’s future.

In addition to the need for the Australian educational system to provide more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and STEAM content, attention also needs to be given to cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset and encouraging students to pursue the entrepreneurial path.
If we are to compete successfully and globally, we have to embrace that culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. And we need, most importantly, to ensure that our children have the skills for the jobs of the future. That skills side – that capability side – I know is absolutely essential if we are to create the entrepreneurial, innovative economy that we need to succeed in the 21st century. Connections between facilitators, mentors and entrepreneurs are an important part of skills building, and partnerships between universities, industry and government can help facilitate those connections, he said. Government will never be a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship itself. Opening up government – government as a platform on which people can do great things, create great businesses – is a great opportunity.”

NSW Minister for Regional Development, Skills and Small Business John Barilaro told the conference we need to build our future today.

“The future is now. It’s the decisions that we make today, the things that we actually put in place today. The skill sets and the tools that we learn today will actually design the future that we live in, work in and play in.”

He emphasised the importance of STEAM education – adding arts to the mix of science, technology, engineering and maths. “Passion and creativity will drive entrepreneurship” he said.

In a panel discussion about entrepreneurial education in the primary, secondary and tertiary space, the Executive Director of Public Schools NSW, Murat Dizdar, and principals from schools explored the need for entrepreneurship and creativity to be part of the national curriculum.

The one-day conference included discussions about the role of technology and entrepreneurship in education, the state of play around the world, a think tank on fostering a home-grown entrepreneurial culture and workshops for 800 high school students from south-west and western Sydney who came together to learn about creative entrepreneurship and the future of technology. As well as experimenting with robots, virtual reality and drones, students will get the chance to code their own iPhone app and print 3D objects.

“We were very excited to get the students in here for the STEAM Pop-up space and show them what’s happening in the startup space and what’s possible,” co-leader of the Spark! Festival education track and UTS Business Practice Manager Stephen Rutter said.

“These events are about opening up minds to new possibilities,” Data61 (CSIRO)’s Ribit Director and education track co-leader Liz Jakubowski says.

The STEAM Pop Up space was supported by Data61 (CSIRO), Everything IoT, the Powerhouse Museum, UTS and Spark Festival major sponsors Jobs for NSW and City of Sydney.

Image: UTS
Last updated December 12, 2016

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