Bradbury Club going for gold at Sacred Heart College

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19 February 2021

What do former Australian ice skater and Olympic gold medallist Steven Bradbury OAM and a practical, problem-solving club at all-girls Sacred Heart College, Newtown, have in common?

The answer lies in both having an ambitious attitude, being committed to working hard, and understanding that being in the right place at the right time can lead to great success.

Sacred Heart’s ‘The Bradbury Club’ is a unique, collaborative group of students, staff, academics and industry professionals who tackle long-term, problem-solving projects that benefit the community.

In line with contemporary learning and the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM), students can elect to join The Bradbury Club either as a class subject in Year 8 or as an after-school activity open to other year levels.

The club is transdisciplinary, with subject areas never mentioned, and focuses completely on solving the problem at hand.

Sacred Heart principal Anna Negro says the goal of the club is to achieve tangible outcomes that benefit the community, while at the same time connecting students to industry professionals who use their skills to identify and create new knowledge that will in some way enhance opportunities for innovation, and hopefully contribute to solving real-world problems.

‘The club members identify projects and problems to solve as a group, and whatever is needed to be done to solve it will be done, regardless of discipline areas. Academics and industry professionals are also engaged at various times to provide expert mentorship and encourage a professional attitude.

‘The group works together as a club, much like a sporting team. Students ‘learn by doing’, giving them experience and practice at STEM-related skills and attributes that are highly valued in the workplace such as problem-solving, data analysis, resourcefulness and communication skills.

‘With research showing that girls are still under-represented in STEM-based subjects and career paths, we wanted to provide these additional opportunities for our girls to tap their interests, hone their skills and build confidence in their ability to pursue any career path they wish’, she said.

In 2021, around 30 Year 8 students are enrolled in the club as a class subject, and upwards of 50 students participate each Wednesday after school from 3.30–5.00 pm.

This year, the club is focused on several key projects including:

  • developing a ‘sensory room’ at the college as a place to help students remain calm and focused and support their wellbeing
  • developing a ‘classroom assistant’ alert solution to help students ask questions or seek assistance from their teachers without having to openly identify themselves or disturb the rest of the class
  • developing an ‘escape room’ as a challenge opportunity for students to interpret and follow clues, and work as a team to ‘escape’ the room within a time limit
  • designing and building a weather balloon
  • investigating the need for and potentially designing an insect hotel.

(2021 projects have more of an internal school focus than in the past due to the restrictions of COVID-19.)

The Bradbury Club was formed in 2016 and has achieved national recognition for past projects including the development of the Fact-Tastic app (available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store), and a Victoria-wide study that found property prices in streets with ‘silly’ names were about 20 per cent lower than properties in more ‘sensibly’ named roads.