Secondary students and their teachers will have the opportunity to put smartphone technology through its paces in a series of workshops run by the national science and technology centre, Questacon.

The centre has struck a three-year technology partnership with Samsung that will see students learn design thinking with the aid of Samsung smartphones and tablets.

Design thinking is a “human-centred, prototype-driven process for innovation”, according to Forbes.

“Most people only use a fraction of the capability of the technology they’re holding in their hands because they simply don’t realise the power of these everyday tools,” Questacon’s director of science and learning Stuart Kohlhagen said.

Students that participate in a two-hour workshop can expect to use smartphones and tablets to “design, prototype, control and test model cars, rockets and bridges.”

In the true spirit of entrepreneurship, Kohlhagen hopes that in addition to doing great things with technology, students will also have the opportunity to learn about the role of “failure” in the innovation process.

“It will show students that, despite today’s emphasis on constant success; failure and applying the lessons learned is an important part of innovation,” he said.

So far, the Smart Skills workshops have been offered to 1300 Tasmanian students in 20 high schools, and to around the same number in NSW’s Illawarra and South Coast regions. Students and teachers in Victoria’s goldfields will be the next to benefit.

“Smart Skills has been developed with the Government’s agenda to boost the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in mind,” Kohlhagen said.

“It’s about building on the foundation skills to get students solving problems and thinking creatively to develop and refine their ideas.

“We want [secondary students] to think about continuing with study in science, maths, design, technology and engineering.”

Teachers at the same schools are also given the opportunity to participate in workshops geared towards incorporating technology into their teaching.

“Teachers can multiply the benefits of the learning opportunities because they will be able to take the concepts away to run their own programmes encouraging their current and future students to explore the properties of materials and technologies, and to apply this knowledge in new ways,” Kohlhagen said.

The Smart Skills workshops are part of a broader initiative of the same name that is funded by the Federal government and The Ian Potter Foundation.

The broader initiative also covers non-travelling projects, including a ‘maker’ project that covers “creative thinking in the development of ideas, using simple tools and materials, as well as advanced technology such as 3D printing, robotics and materials science.”

There’s also a series of regional and national ‘Invention Conventions’ which take “participants through the process of innovation to idea development, prototyping and identifying markets.”