Primary school students will continue designing submersibles, parachutes, water filters and bridges thanks to a recently extended partnership between Defence and Questacon.
CAPTION: Pilot Officer Georgia Wales leads Head of People Capability, Major General Wade Stothart through the air force virtual reality flight simulator during the Defence and Questacon partnership announcement. Story by Corporal Luke Bellman. All photos by Leading Aircraftwoman Annika Smit.
The Engineering Is Elementary program was extended this year, with Defence providing $18 million over five years to train more than 1500 teachers and encourage them to integrate STEM subjects into their teaching.
The program’s ultimate aim is to help educators plant the seed of curiosity and inspire students to consider careers in STEM fields.
Teachers participate in units focused on engineering disciplines that have been converted by Questacon into workshop activities.
Defence engineers participate in workshops, giving teachers real-world examples of applying the engineering design process to solve problems, either virtually or face-to-face.
CAPTION: Army soldier Sergeant Daniel Brooker walks a guest through a virtual reality display at the Defence Force Recruiting stand.
Flight Lieutenant Michael Schramm has participated in the virtual workshops and wants to showcase what gets students interested and engaged in STEM subjects
“Students are fascinated by unique technologies like rockets, phone-controlled drones or even just funny ways to change their voice online,” Flight Lieutenant Schramm said.
“Engineering isn’t that hard to understand – it’s about problem-solving and finding new ways to use technology to do it.
“If you think about a Lego set, you can do a lot with its pieces, but it’s an engineer who dreams up a specific design.”
The program is designed to increase STEM literacy and skills, providing educators with hands-on and simple methods to bring STEM into their classrooms.
Captain Nathan Pagulayan has attended the workshops as a STEM role model and said it was excellent to see all the motivation.
“People are a bit afraid of STEM – they think it’s too complex,” Captain Pagulayan said.
“But it’s not that scary, because it relates to so many aspects of life.
“These sorts of activities influence the next generation and instil confidence in individuals to get involved in STEM.”
Questacon supplies resource kits containing materials to the teachers after they participate in the workshops.
There are also a series of videos to complement the units and showcase real-life applications of engineering.
Lieutenant Commander Mark Karlovic of STEM Taskforce Recruiting and Attraction said there were a lot of opportunities for the training to be delivered to schools in remote locations.
“We want to get in front of young Australians to see what potential careers there could be for them, particularly in regional and remote areas,” Lieutenant Commander Karlovic said.
“We look at all ideas to improve the program and all opportunities to partner with tertiary institutes and TAFE programs.”