By Juliano Oliveira
Climate change, the ageing population, and food security are some of the challenges that school students around the country will be encouraged to solve alongside professionals who tackle these issues daily.
As part of the annual event, the project called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), run by CSIRO (Australia’s national science agency), will recruit students from more than 300 schools and connect them with real-life experiences.
“Science creates new industries, new jobs and shapes the minds and aspirations of our future leaders. We can’t think about science as something which is locked away in a lab; it connects and drives everything we touch and do”, said CSIRO’s Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley.
Since 2007, when the program began, 6,000 partnerships have been made through the initiative. An example of such cooperation is with the students from Dalkeith Primary School in Western Australia who are planning to contact extraterrestrial life as part of an activity through the STEM Professionals in Schools program.
“The students first learned how a computer works in a series of computer science unplugged activities, learned how to build a Piper computer using a Raspberry Pi microcontroller, were introduced to the basics of the computer programming language Python and are now recording and encrypting messages, including an audio and visual message, to send into space”, says Senior Research Fellow Kevin Vinsen.
One of the longest-running students-scientists partnerships takes place in Townsville Grammar School, where Dr Carolyn Moores, Head of the Faculty of Science and Professor Natkunam Ketheesan, a Biomedical Scientist with expertise in infection and immunity, have been working with year 10 students for over one decade.
To know more about the STEM program and its structures, access CSIRO’s website.