A new education program harnesses the passion of youth in under-represented NSW communities to seek higher education goals.
Enquiring Minds, a Bridges to Higher Education initiative, is aimed at igniting the curiosity and interest in learning of primary school children from under-represented communities in higher education.
Enquiring Minds inspires students to think about where their passions and interests could take them in the future via a TV series, a fully interactive website with teacher curriculum support, and online games for children.
It features the experiences of 21 primary school students, aged between seven and 12, meeting inspirational university students and professionals who have successfully established a career by following their passions such as designing computer games, building bridges and working with animals. Alex Lehours, who is studying Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design, and PhD candidate and bat expert Leroy Gonsalves represent ACU in the venture that encourages children to broaden their own education horizons.
Professor Gail Whiteford, Chair of the Bridges to Higher Education initiative said, “To go on to higher education young people needed to be both academically prepared and have a well-developed sense of university as a real possibility. Research tells us that more than 40 per cent of undergraduate students first considered higher education when they were in primary school.
“Increasingly, efforts to improve educational outcomes are beginning in the early years of primary school, supporting schools with literacy and numeracy outcomes.”
“Enquiring Minds is designed to sit alongside these initiatives and through an enriched learning experience via an age-relevant TV series, web and curriculum-linked teacher resources, give students a real-life picture of how their academic skills, their passion and motivation could frame their future.
“Bridges to High Education initiatives continue through all years of high school.”
The outgoing Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, Chris Bowen MP, said Enquiring Minds would help inspire primary school children to think about where their passions and interests could take them in the future.
“The Bridges to Higher Education project—which Enquiring Minds is a part of— is a standout example of the kind of partnership and collaboration the Government’s Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) is designed to support,” Mr Bowen said.
“It brings together schools, universities and communities to engage parents and children to aspire to a future that includes higher education.”
Nicola Cull, Equity Pathways officer who looks after the Bridges to Higher Education initiative at ACU, and 2013 Young Australian of the Year Corey Payne – a star for the NRL football team the Bulldogs, and a mentor to children off the field – enjoyed the launch with the two captains of Villawood East Public School Captains, Narjas Mohammad and Zafir Ali. They are in the year six class who watched an episode of enquiring minds and road-tested the website at the launch.