Mackay State High School students will learn high-tech digital skills and open up future career opportunities, as part of a new school program supported by Google.

Students will receive hands-on training in the classroom with a range of different digital technologies through the new program which has been made possible by a $33,000 donation from Google. The program will benefit 150 students to begin with, before being expanded to more students at Mackay State High.

Students will also undertake workshops run by STEM Punks, a Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education provider, while teachers will benefit from professional development training in technology, including the use of tools like robotics and software.

Sherrill Nixon, Schools Plus’ Director of Donor Relations, and Marie Efstathiou, Google’s Engineering Programs Manager, launched the new program at Mackay State High School this month.

“Google is committed to helping Australia build a stronger digital future and an essential part of that is ensuring students have access to technology and the skills to use it,” said Ms Efstathiou.

“With this new program, students will learn future-focused skills that will help them discover new interests and unlock career opportunities.

“Through our Digital Future Initiative, Google plans to invest $1 billion over five years in Australian partnerships, research and infrastructure as we work to support Australia’s goal of becoming a leading digital economy.”

Google’s donation was made through Schools Plus, a not-for-profit that exists to help close the education gap caused by disadvantage. “Devastatingly, students in regional and rural locations are around 1.5 years behind metro students in STEM-related subjects. That’s why we’re so passionate about working with supporters like Google to give students learning opportunities that will make a real difference to their future,” said Ms Nixon.

“This project will not only equip students and their teachers with much-needed skills, but it may well spark newfound passions and produce Australia’s future coders and engineers right here at Mackay State High.”

Principal Felicity Roberts welcomed the support of Google and Schools Plus. Ms Roberts said: “We are excited at the new opportunities this will enable for our students and staff. The learnings taken from the pilot year in 2022 will see more students engage in similar digital and STEM opportunities in the future, as this will remain a priority for Mackay State High School. STEM education and the skills it develops – like creativity, problem solving and teamwork – are so critical to our students’ futures.”

“Through Google’s partnership with Schools Plus over the last four years, we have been able to support 12 schools, and almost 2,000 students and 500 teachers. With Schools Plus, we’ve funded similar STEM school projects in Tasmania, Perth, Adelaide and Sydney,” Ms Efstathiou said.