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Teaching students to tackle the tech of tomorrow

3-minute read

Discover how Innovate with nbn® Grants Program winner Bitlink is helping prepare Australia’s school children for the technological challenges of the future.

At nbn, our purpose is to help lift the digital capability of Australia by connecting homes and businesses across the nation and providing access to the positive social and economic benefits enabled by access to a secure digital backbone.

We are invested in creating equal opportunity for the more than 17 million people who access services over the nbn network every day and enabling communities, schools, families, and businesses nationwide to take part in the digital economy.

We know broadband connectivity can help improve health and lifestyle outcomes through enabling access to remote healthcare providers, online social networks and educational opportunities.

And it's the potential of the nbn network to help prepare Australia’s school children for the technological challenges of the future that was recognised by technology education company, Bitlink.

A bit about Bitlink

Directors James Riggall and Troy Merritt believe that every child in Australia should have the opportunity to learn how to be a creator of technology, not simply a consumer.

Based in Launceston, Tasmania (Stony Creek Country), the startup’s Internet of Things (IoT) kit is designed to help them do just that.

The innovative education solution, supported by online videos and internet interactivity, is designed to open the eyes of primary school students to the possibilities of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers by allowing them to get hands-on with technology in the classroom in a fun and engaging way. 

The IoT kit contains a swag of tech bits and pieces, such as plug-in sensors and flashing lights, that allow students to create projects that show how technology works.

“It's a sandbox that teachers can really use to be creative in the classroom,” says James.

Bitlink’s commitment to education and innovation was recently acknowledged by the judging panel of the Innovate with nbn Grants Program, which recognised Bitlink as winner of the Education category as well as overall Champion. 

Innovate with nbn Grants Program

The Innovate with nbn Grants Program aims to encourage businesses from regional or remote areas with their technology-led ideas, with the aim of facilitating and supporting further growth.

Run in partnership with the Regional Australia Institute, the Innovate with nbn Grants Program is part of nbn’s commitment to lift the digital capability of people and business in regional Australia.

Run for the second consecutive year, innovative businesses enabled by the nbn network were awarded grants of $10,000 across seven categories: Agriculture, Arts, Education, Health, Indigenous Business, Tourism, and Women in Regional Business, with the overall Innovate with nbn Champion awarded an additional $25,000 grant to help support their bright idea.

Gavin Williams, Chief Development Officer – Regional and Remote at nbn, recently travelled to Bitlink headquarters on the island state to present the team with its Innovate with nbn awards. 

Gavin Williams, Chief Development Officer – Regional and Remote at nbn (left) and James Riggall, Director at Bitlink (right)

“At nbn, we've got a clear purpose to lift digital capability and I think Bitlink shares a lot of that purpose,” says Gavin.

“The judges were really impressed with Bitlink’s vision and focus around lifting the digital capability in the STEM sector, by working with schools to the benefit of both pupils and teachers in a model that's really scalable and has the opportunity to benefit kids right across the country.”

James says the Bitlink team was thrilled to win the Innovate with nbn Grants Program Education category, let alone be named overall Champion.

“We were so delighted and so excited about what that means for the business because it's really important to us to get our kits out to regional Australia and this would enable us to do that.”

Inspiration through isolation

Gavin also accompanied the Bitlink team on a trip to remote Flinders Island off the north-east coast of Tasmania to see them practise what they preach in a classroom of grades three and four students at the local school.

Joshua Moore, Flinders Island District High School Principal, says with three out of every four new jobs emphasising STEM skills, learning about technology in the classroom is becoming increasingly important – particularly at geographically isolated places like Flinders Island.

“The feedback from teachers has been amazing, and the engagement that we see from students in the classroom has been really fantastic,” says James.

That’s why nbn continues to work hard to help people across Australia be empowered with the opportunities made possible by broadband in their daily lives, health, connectivity and livelihoods.

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