Last month, over 80 South Australia students ‘got their science on’ and participated in the inaugural National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) STEM Explorers program, held in Adelaide.
Two Wells Primary School student, Tyler Simmonds, was amongst those Year 7 and 8 students who were invited to participate in the new program, which includes a week long camp focussed on exploring careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
NYSF’s CEO, Dr Damien Pearce, said student ambassadors from 40 South Australian schools were selected and that participation provided students with the opportunity to explore STEM outside of the classroom.
“The NYSF have been holding science camps for senior secondary school students for over 35 years,” Dr Pearce said.
“These camps inspire and engage students, so we have taken our successful model and developed the new STEM Explorer program, which is specifically for Year 7 and 8
The STEM Explorer program took students on an interactive adventure through South Australian educational institutions and organisations such as the new South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), Natural Resource Management Water Testing, South Australian Aquatic Sciences, the University of Adelaide and the Waite Institute, Flinders University and the University of South Australia.
“Students meet and engage with leading scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians and learn about their research and careers,” Dr Pearce said.
“We work to stimulate students’ interest in the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in high school and expand their understanding of employment opportunities in STEM-related industries”.
TWPS student, Tyler, said he chose to spend his school holidays at the STEM Explorer camp to learn about STEM in industry.
“I am really interested in astronomy and science and so I thought it could be really fun,” he said.
“On the camp they showed us all types of science, engineering, technology and maths activities and jobs we can do.
“This has made me want to get into STEM.
“I would like to study the science of space”.
NYSF STEM Explorer Ambassador Professor Tanya Monro says that programs like the STEM Explorer are needed nationally as there’s an identified need for more STEM graduates.
“The program also gives kids a chance to taste science outside the classroom and give them a personal experience of how exciting it can be,” Professor Monro explained.
“Employment in STEM is predicted to increase.
“We need to ensure we have the capacity to fill these roles and be at the forefront of innovation.”
The program, which is being piloted over the next three years is also the first phase of the Department for Education and Child Development’s (DECD) STEM Ambassadors project.
The STEM Ambassadors program aims to facilitate students offering views, ideas and specific feedback on what effective STEM learning and teaching looks like, and use this to inform DECD’s STEM strategy.
Both programs are supported by funding from the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) and Department for Education and Child Development (DECD).