The program will introduce children to an industry which is facing an increasing skills shortage
Students in Western Australia's Pilbara region are using a popular toy to help equip them with skills to pursue careers in the mining industry.
It's a program being welcomed by the industry which is facing an increasing skills shortage.
The Principal of Newman Senior High Milanna Heberle says teachers are using Lego robotics to educate students about the mining industry's automated processes and the role robotics will play in the future as part of its mining alliance program.
"The alliance program is a specialist program with the Department of Education and what we have done is used that program to engage the students in coming to the school and looking at the applications that Lego robotics have to the mining industry," she said.
"What we were looking for was something that would be engaging for students that we could then apply into a mining environment."
The course involves participants building and programming their own robots to replicate mining equipment.
"What we are looking at is programming, systems, how science is applied to robots," Ms Heberle said.
"So the students have a look at things like levers, they look at torque, these are all fairly high end scientific concepts, but using the Lego, which I think every student has had a play with at some stage during their childhood."
Student Alyssa Kay says she was excited by what the Lego robots could do.
"One of the robots they demonstrated they sort of scanned one of the Sudoku games and it had a pen and it actually wrote down the equation," she said.
"When I was younger I played with Lego.
"It's definitely improving my learning ability and the experience is different."
Student Duncan Ncube says having played with Lego in the past has been helpful.
"I use to play with loads of Lego, which really helps," he said.
"For now we are building the basic thing, it won't have all the sensors and other stuff, right now we are going to make it move, then sooner or later we will add the sensors to it."
He says the course is a lot different to what he would normally be doing in the classroom.
"It's really fun, I think more people should go into it because you get to build stuff with your friends too," he said.
But it's not all fun and games, the finished products will have to navigate through a simulated mine site.
"What we are talking about is trying to replicate the concept of a mine where they have to be able to separate different rock, or balls, from the products that aren't used, then pick them up and shift them across to what would be like the trains," Ms Heberle said.
The Chamber of Minerals and Energy's Manager of People Strategies Bruce Campbell-Fraser welcomes the program.
He says anything that increases interest in jobs like engineering and computer programming is valuable to the industry as it faces an expected shortfall of skilled workers in the future.
"We're chasing a very highly skilled workforce," he said.
"We have a shortage of engineers and geologists and metallurgists for example, those sort of key technology and science based careers, so anything the education sector do to assist, that's why I think we'd be welcoming this program."
Mr Campbell-Fraser says companies are increasingly embracing new technologies and innovation and this type of education program is helping prepare students for the industry.
"We are seeing tremendous growth, our workforce has doubled in the past 10 years but it's a changing workforce as well and the skills sets are changing.
"We are now seeing remote operations in circumstances where, for example the Rio Tinto operations centre is based in Perth, but they're responsible for crushing and loading facilities occurring in the Pilbara many thousands of kilometres away."
Ms Heberle says the main goal of the school's mining alliance program is to provide students with a broad understanding of the mining sector.
"So if that is their post-schooling goal, they're in a really good position to apply for apprenticeships, to apply to university," she said.
"If we are able to translate students from school into the mining industry then we are well and truly doing our job."