Young minds converge for final STEM workshop in 2022

05 October 2022

More than 175 primary and secondary students from 60 schools across five Queensland regions converged on CQUniversity campuses over the recent holidays to engage in STEM.

The workshops were held at CQU campuses in Gladstone' Mackay' Bundaberg and Rockhampton' as well as the CQU delivery site in Noosa over two days during the spring break.

Event organiser and CQUniversity Deputy Director of Online Systems and Future Proofing' Pavle Jeric has run the workshops during every school holiday this year amassing 740 young minds over the four school breaks.

"This year we covered a variety of exciting and relevant topics'" Mr Jeric explained.

"We started the year by exploring the world of space and the wide range of activities beyond being an astronaut' that are integral to the space industry' and went into some detail into regional Queensland's potential to support that industry'" he said.

"During the April holidays' we took a wider look at different science and engineering careers' some old and some emerging - and what it takes to succeed in those."

In winter' participants explored the topic of heat and energy and in spring they looked at the construction and building industry side of science and engineering' and how automation is changing it.

"All of this was done with LEGO® models brought to life by motors' sensors and output devices which in turn brought related STEM concepts to life in a way that was engaging for our young students'" Mr Jeric said.

"In the latest iteration of our workshops' the youngest students built and motorised models such as LEGO® cement mixers while learning about gear and belt transmission' while older students built and coded large LEGO® cranes that they controlled to rotate and lift.

"The oldest students brought smarts into our homes by building and coding automatic garage gates and motion activated water taps."

Mr Jeric said the workshops also got parents engaged.

"They arrived early at pick up time to see what their children achieved' to learn about where these interests can take them and have a chat about which programs of study are available locally.

"These events illustrate the need to cultivate the STEM potential in our youngest students so that they do not fall victim to preconceptions and stereotypes that often lead them away from what can be rewarding pursuits."

Mr Jeric said Central Queensland had the only regional offering of this program which was usually confined to metropolitan areas.

"We have parents who will drive up to two hours to be near one of our campuses for a couple of days - Brisbane is the only other alternative'" Mr Jeric explained.

"A program of this nature also ideally caters to a significant proportion of neuroatypical children who shine in a curriculum designed for inclusivity and home-schooled children who can interact with their peers in activities that interest them.

"Finally' the Young Engineers program provides ideal work experience for CQUniversity students' many of whom are studying towards a degree in education' engineering' IT and/or sciences.

"Working on this program they take away transferrable skills including problem solving' stakeholder engagement' confidence and classroom skills.

"Some have moved on to work for a range of organisations and schools and reflected positively on their time with the program and how it helped in their career."