Townsville teens inspired at Santos Science Experience

27 September 2021

Grade 9 and 10 students got hands-on in the world of Science' Technology' Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at the recent Santos Science Experience (21-23 September).

More than a dozen students from Townsville' Atherton and Collinsville completed three days of STEM activities focused on medical waste and waste management.

These included workshops and information sessions that focused on expanding students' knowledge in the problem area before engaging with people in the field to understand how professionals are tackling these problems.

Event organiser Dr Cara Wilson said this year's science experience challenged students to think about medicine from an environmental perspective.

"Medicine embodies all aspects of STEM and is a great theme to educate students about various STEM career pathways that they might not have considered'" she explained.

"By exposing schooled-aged kids to STEM and giving them opportunities to explore its concepts' they will hopefully develop a passion for it and pursue a job in a related field."

She explained that the Townsville event was part of a wider STEM program at CQUniversity.

"It's about putting STEM in a local context by utilising our unique industry partnerships for the benefit of the communities we serve."

On the final day' students worked in teams to develop a pitch to the big problem in front of a panel of judges including Luke McCarthy from Energy Queensland who are an event donor.

Energy Queensland challenged the students to think about the increase in the production of medical waste due to COVID-19 and the avenue for businesses to turn their waste into products such as energy.

"At Energy Queensland' we are committed to providing STEM career pathways in regional areas'" Luke said.

"The Santos Science Experience was a great opportunity to see the next generation of STEM."

The judging panel also consisted of representatives from Queensland Health Nadine Pyne and Cheryl Oats' Sandra Richards from QPLAS and CQU nursing lecturer Natalie Browning.

Year 9 student Amy Jacobson said she was inspired to start a career in STEM and appreciated the opportunity to see the different facets of the industry.

"I have always had an interest in technology' but it was great to see what STEM was like in a university environment'" she explained.

"I enjoyed being surrounded by like-minded peers and made some new friends in the process."

Aspiring engineer Chelsea Bath agreed and said getting hands-on with technology was a highlight for her.

"It was fun to play around with the Virtual Reality (VR) systems and see things we wouldn't usually have a chance to experience.

"As this year had a medical theme' the VR showed us simulations of different nursing and paramedic situations and a 3D look at human anatomy."