Mentor Group


The Canberra Model Railway Club Incorporated conducts a weekly Mentor Group with students from the school in a joint program with supportive adults to help develop the student’s personal and social capabilities as well as building their self-confidence and self-reliance while building a working model railway layout. The Mentor Group was formed on 24 November 2011 and sessions are conducted each Friday as an integral part of the School’s Enrich program. Sessions include planning and design; construction; operation and advanced electrical programming. So far, the group has built a number of layouts and has displayed them at the annual Canberra Model Railway Expo and at the Malkara School Train Show.

In 2019, the group completed Iron Rock Pass, which went on to win a scenery award at Expo. That layout is in storage, although it was resurrected for students to display at Expo 2021 as their new project could not be displayed because of CoVid-19 restrictions.

Students operating trains on Iron Rock Pass at Expo 2021

The current project is a diorama spread over two modules, capable of matching with our existing fiddle yard to give the group flexibility of operations, and potentially, exhibitions. The emphasis with this project is the use of micro-controllers (Arduinos) to control lighting, points, and other scenery items. A football stadium has been constructed (AFL, of course), an overhead roadway with operating cars (Magnorail), as well as the usual scenery items. The students chose the name “Techtopia” to reflect the technical aspects of the construction.

The partly-completed Techtopia was displayed at Expo 2021

The Covid pandemic caused major delays in progress with the mentor group, but the program is now back in operation with students working in small teams with the mentors.

The football ground moves towards completion. Note the essential social distancing of the crowd! The mirror at the back gives a wonderful illusion of depth. The “trench” will be modified to blend in to make a complete oval.

We are aiming for completion and operational running by the end of the 2021 school year.

The Aims of the Mentor Program

When the program was initiated in 2011 the aims behind it were to:

  • Provide students in the program with the opportunity to relate well to older people with real-life experience.
  • Build student self-confidence and self-reliance.
  • Develop student teamwork and team achievement in a structured program.
  • Develop skills in the use of tools and techniques that they may not otherwise experience, using model railways as a means of achieving this.
  • Introduce students to applications of computing and electronic technologies and to build both experience and confidence in their use.
  • Encourage, in those students interested, an involvement in model railways as a life-long hobby and recreation.
  • Provide an opportunity for the team to showcase and publicise their achievements at one or more Model Railway exhibitions or Expos during the time of their involvement in the program.

This page was last updated on 22 Jul 2021