School Engagement Programs for Universities

Paul Mead
Paul Mead
06 Oct 2022

She Maps regularly works with universities that want a proven and engaging way to work with schools in their catchments.

Perhaps your university is looking for answers to the following questions:

  • How do we find a solution to engage with schools in STEM, but we appreciate that we don’t have the resources to develop a program ourselves?
  • How can we ensure the program is aligned to the Australian Curriculum yet we are not curriculum mapping experts?
  • How can we reduce the risks and put in place a tried-and-true program that will benefit schools and enable deeper engagement rather than just one engagement activity?
  • We’ve identified that new technologies such as drones are being used in schools to enhance learning, and think this is a great way to engage students, but don’t know where to start.

School Engagement Programs for Universities with She Maps

The origin story of She Maps is that it came out of a university engagement program with Associate Prof. Karen Joyce, at James Cook University. Karen designed and developed the program to engage with local Cairns schools to encourage more girls to consider STEM subjects at school and tertiary study options at JCU.

Since 2017, the She Maps programs have been taught by universities around Australia and the USA, including Duke University, Maryland University in the USA, the University of Tasmania, Central Queensland University, and the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia.


Our partner universities join our Certified Education Partner program and receive Certified Instructor training for those who will be running the school engagement programs, and support to implement the program as part of their engagement activities. Schools that the university works with are also able to access the She Maps online teaching resources to ensure that the engagement does not become a ‘one-hit wonder’!

We understand that university funding cycles are often cyclical and rely on grants to fund certain programs, so we are flexible in our approach to meet your needs. 


Examples of university – school outreach programs that work

Let’s look at how we have worked with the University of the Sunshine Coast and Central Queensland University to develop their drone engagement programs.

The University of the Sunshine Coast

Our partnership with USC goes back to 2019 when Natalie McMaster, Associate Lecturer in Education, approached us to help provide their education students with some additional Digital Technologies skills. We ran a professional development experience for a group of university students. 

Natalie saw the potential for the program and, in 2021, received a National Careers Institute Partnerships Grant to run a larger engagement program with schools across the USC catchment in central and southeast Queensland. 

She Maps supported this project in the following ways with the USC team:

  • Delivery of microdrone equipment packs for the project Instructors.
  • Conducting train-the-trainer programs to a number of USC staff members, through our Certified Instructor training program.
  • Providing free access to our She Maps Membership portal for the schools that USC is engaging with.
  • Providing ongoing technical support for the duration of the project.
natalie mcmaster university of sunshine coast

Natalie McMaster 

Lecturer, Education I School of Education and Tertiary Access

University of Sunshine Coast

Natalie McMaster is an Associate Lecturer in Education coordinating and teaching HPE and Technologies courses in the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education, Bachelor of Primary Education and Masters of Education programs at the University of the Sunshine Coast. She is also a current PhD student with the University of Queensland’s School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences.


Central Queensland University

Central Queensland University has several campuses from Far North Queensland to Central Queensland. Our partnership started in 2020 with running a teacher PD at the Cairns campus of CQU, and in 2021 at the Gladstone CQU Campus.

In 2021 we also ran a Certified Instructor Program for staff and CQU Connect students (those students who act as school engagement ambassadors) at the Gladstone and Bundaberg campuses.

In 2022, Dr. Michelle Vanderburg, Head of Course – Master of Teaching (Primary), has used the She Maps program to engage schools in her local area, and leveraged the She Maps Lighthouse Schools program for one of these schools to get even more support through an industry funded program. This has also resulted in the development of a unit of work being developed collaboratively between She Maps and the local school, with CQU support, to provide more teaching resources for schools.

Funding for this program with CQU has come from a number of faculties and a community grant that She Maps helped to gain.

dr. michelle avila vanderburg central queensland university bundaberg, queensland

Michelle Vanderburg

Senior Lecturer (School of Education and the Arts)

Central Queensland University: Bundaberg, Queensland

Dr. Michelle Avila Vanderburg has a PhD in Language and Literacy.  She has experience teaching in primary, secondary, and tertiary education settings.  Her research background includes looking at inquiry methods, literacy coaching, teaching effective literacy practices to teachers and Prep-12 students.


How She Maps can help Universities

If you can see that our program is the right fit for your university, there are probably a few more questions you will have:

  • How do I fund this? We understand university funding, and we understand that the majority of school engagement programs are provided free of charge to schools by universities. We will work with you to firstly understand the scope of the project you would like to implement, and then work with you on options for funding. We are well adept at grant writing, and can support you with writing a grant for internal or external grant programs.
  • What equipment will I need? We can work through this all with you as part of the needs analysis. We have supported universities to purchase and set up all the equipment they need to be successful.
  • Who should I train? We have trained over 60 people to become Certified Instructors, so we know the type of person that will be a rock star instructor. We can work with you to find those right people within your university, and even help with the selection process.
  • How do I engage with schools on this program? One of the best things about our program is that we have been doing this for years and worked with hundreds of schools. We know all the questions they will ask, and all the information they need at every step of the journey. We can help you with all of this to truly make this program an out of the box solution. 
  • I haven’t flown a drone before, can I do this? Yes, because the program is not actually about the drone! It is about the learning, the engagement, and the problem solving. The drone is just the tool we use to capture attention. We guarantee you that even those who have not flown a drone before, will be quite comfortable with teaching with microdrones by the end of the Certified Instructor training.

She Maps can help you with funding applications, the purchase of equipment, training, and supporting your university to get your program up and running. To arrange a time to speak with the She Maps team, click here.

About She Maps.

She Maps is Australia’s leading expert in drone and geospatial education. 

She Maps assist schools with the purchasing of drones, school-industry created drone and geospatial teaching resources and highly supportive teacher professional development.

You’re in Safe Hands!
She Maps is a CASA approved commercial operator to fly microdrones indoors with students and teachers. CASA holds commercial operators, to a higher standard than recreational users and educators. This means that She Maps has been assessed by CASA as having rigorous training and risk mitigation procedures in place.

Ready to buy drones for your school? We are an authorised DJI reseller in Australia

Want some help?

Schedule a call with one of our team members to get some personalised recommendations.
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    Flying High with Drones at Your School!

    Learn the 6 Steps to Launching a Successful Drone and Geospatial Program at your School

    What’s covered:
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    • Matching your school requirements to the best program
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