Having travelled a long road with the help of the Country Education ProjectÕs and a Federal government project, three clusters of schools are making their way to Maryborough for the first time.

In 2005, three clusters of small schools in separate regions of Victoria received funding through the ASISTM project (or Australian Schools Innovation in Science, Technology and Maths) Ð a Federal Government program to develop a program based on the RACV Energy Breakthrough model.Learn more about ASISTM

Across Australia, over 500 different initiatives are funded to the tune of $33.7 million over seven years. The Country Education Project has been working with the Victorian clusters to enable them to hold innovations days and small pushcart rallies in their local areas.

The three clusters were named Alpine (inc. Myrtleford SC, Marian College, St MaryÕs School, Porepunkah, Bright P-12, Harrietville PS and Wandiligong PS),

Corryong (inc. Khacoban Public School, Sacred Heart Ð Corryong, Corryong College and Walwa PS); and

Maffra (inc. Airly PS, Boisdale School, Briagalong PS, Dargo PS, Heyfield PS, Stratford PS, St MaryÕs School in Mafra and Mafra PS)

You’ll see a host of these schools entered in the Energy Breakthrough this year across a range of categories.

Here we hear from Barb Mason, cluster co-ordinator for the Alpine group:

So Barb, whatÕs how does it all work?

BM: ÒAs part of our Innovations and Excellence project the Alpine

Cluster has endeavored to create an experience across all ages. We have

provided Professional Development for teachers to encourage the risk

taking and learning required to develop this program in their school.

WhatÕs been created?

BM: We have 2 hybrid bikes currently being constructed by yr 9 &

10 students, a Moving Water model in Yr 7 and Crafty Design models from

the Primary schools (both Innovations in Technology).

How have you decided who will travel to Maryborough?

BM: WeÕve held a local Crafty Design competition and have

selected the top three designs. We had 28 models working toward these

final places and those talented students are really excited about the


Where has the ASISTM Project helped?

BM: The support from the ASISTM project has enabled additional

involvement from outside agencies which motivates the students and takes

some pressure from the teaching staff. These experiences brings the real

world directly to the rural schools and the support has been fantastic.

Any Sponsorship?

BM: Each of the local school teams have organized their own

sponsorship. Usually from the service clubs; Rotary and Lions. They have

also had tremendous support from the local community and the SRC in the


What aspect of the Breakthrough model have you found most difficult so


BM: The hardest part was winning the initial involvement and the

commitment to complete the challenge. The development and support

schools needed was larger than expected however it was a change from

their usual plans. Once the local event was over the second semester has

been more focused on a few teams.

What have been the rewards?

BM: The rewards are many. Students were interested in learning!

They applied their knowledge and developed collaborative team skills.

Many parents were engrossed in the challenge and became involved and

competitive themselves. The teachers were forced to try different

learning and teaching approaches and they grew professionally. Their

rapport with the students also blossomed. It was quite exhausting to

attempt this challenge in a 6 week block but we made it and look forward

to the next challenge.

What have you done differently this year as opposed to last year?

BM: In 2005, we only had 1 hybrid bike that entered the

competition from the area. This year, through the ASISTM Project, we

have crossed all age groups and a variety of events. This has also

depended on the interest of teacher and students at each school.

Your aims for 2006?

BM: 2006 our aim was to get to Maryborough and produce a booklet

of teaching material to support the school program.

In 2007 we would like to see the project to be included in the

rotational whole school curriculum planner.

Who knows what will happen after they experience the positive energy at

Maryborough and the visual stimulus to launch into pushcarts!

For more information on the

ASISTM Project,

contact Barb on 03 57551166 or Phil Brown at the

Country Education Project

To share your school’s preparation for the RACV Energy Breakthrough – send a short article and photo to Nigel Preston