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Western Power partners with teachers to deliver STEM program to Goldfields and Wheatbelt kids

More than 200 students from seven Goldfields and Wheatbelt schools are exploring how to create their own electrical network through Circuit Breakers – a collaborative outreach program between Western Power and primary school teachers.

Now in its fourth year, Circuit Breakers immerses students in years 4 to 6 in STEM, teaching them how to create their own electrical network through Micro:bit computers.

The program has been hailed by local teachers as a great learning opportunity that’s encouraging the next generation to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Western Power Education Officer Kate Vyvyan said Circuit Breakers had grown in popularity every year with this year’s program changing to ensure a greater number of students and schools around WA were able to participate.

“Primary school teachers from the Goldfields jumped at the opportunity to be involved and we now have more than 200 students from Hannans Primary School, East and South Kalgoorlie Primary Schools, Merredin College, Southern Cross District High School, Tammin Primary School and Beacon Primary School involved,” she said.

“With this increase in student participation we have moved from just face-to-face meetings with Western Power mentors to virtual mentorship. This means teachers and students have greater access to our engineers and experts.

“This complements the work being done by the local teachers on the ground, who are the driving force behind the program, and supports them in addition to the resources we provide to facilitate the learning.”

Hannans Primary School science teacher Rachel Skellet said the program provided a fun, practical way for her students to learn more about where their own power came from.

“The students have loved doing Circuit Breakers. Out on the playground during recess and lunch they’ll say, ‘Miss Skellet are we doing Circuit Breakers this week?’” she said.

“I think it’s really important for the students to see where science, technology, engineering and mathematics takes place in the real world.”

“[Because of Circuit Breakers] my lower achieving students - so students probably on a ‘D’ - have moved up to a ‘B’. They were really engaged, especially in the coding process and when they got the light bulbs working - when their code was working - they just couldn’t believe it.

“It’s definitely made those lower achieving students come out of their shell and be confident that they can achieve in science.”

Merredin College teacher Sarah Postans said Circuit Breakers encouraged kids to think outside the box, encouraging them to explore careers in STEM that they may not previously have considered. 

“STEM is incredibly important, especially when you’re in a regional school, because a lot of our students need to be exposed to careers that they don’t necessarily see in our local area,” she said.

“For children these days, the careers they are going to go into perhaps haven’t been invented and might need to be innovated so they need those STEM skills: collaboration, innovation, creativity and problem solving, and that’s what I love about Circuit Breakers – it gives us this incredible launch pad.”   

Mentors from Western Power recently took advantage of WA’s relaxed COVID-19 restrictions to visit several of the participating regional schools. A Circuit Breakers roadshow departed Perth, dropping in at Tammin and Merredin Primary Schools for a visit, before continuing on to Kalgoorlie-Boulder. There they joined students on an excursion to the Merredin Solar Farm, Collgar Wind Farm and Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s new community battery.

Find out more about our Circuit Breakers STEM outreach program.