Stellar school workshops aim to get more girls into the STEM career area

At an independent school southwest of Brisbane, a STEM workshop with hands-on missile experience was launched to stimulate student interest in science, technology, engineering and math.

Important points:

  • The Stellar Workshop program was started at the Hymba Yumba Independent School
  • The program aims to stimulate female students’ interest in STEM
  • Thirteen other schools in Ipswich, Brisbane and Logan will join the program before it goes nationally

The first of 14 Stellar workshops conducted by Richlands-based Australian company PFi Aerospace took place at the Hymba Yumba Independent School, an indigenous school in Springfield.

The Stellar STEM program is running at other schools in Ipswich, Logan and Brisbane this year before rolling out nationwide next year under a federal government grant.

At a spectacular start to the program, students were shown how a fully functional hybrid rocket engine works before being ignited on the school’s oval.

Practical experience

Megan Badger, general manager of PFi Aerospace, said the goal of the workshops is to be “a launch pad” for more female students to get involved in STEM.

Ms. Badger designed the Stellar program because she had difficulty getting into the STEM industry as an adult.

“I think it’s important that we turn women into STEM into girls who want to get into STEM. That’s why they know that just because they keep seeing boys doesn’t mean they can’t get into the industry,” she said.

Hymba Yumba Independent School Jarjums participating in the workshop. (

ABC Radio Brisbane: Antonia O’Flaherty

)

The program is presented by a group of women working in the STEM and consists of three parts: a question and answer panel, four special hands-on workshops for smaller groups of students, and the firing of the hybrid rocket engine.

Peter Foster, director of the Hymba Yumba Independent School, said the 12th grade preparation had around 140 female jarjums (students) and many would benefit from the program.

He said the students would attend various workshops, in a “real world and a practical setting that they actually learn the best from”.

Inspiring future STEM careers

Mr Foster said the program will be an integral part of the school’s curriculum and will be part of the school’s science and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) teaching “for years to come”.

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“All of our students, when they finish, earn or study, some of our students go to university, some are in crafts, but in science we want our Jarjums to enjoy science and have a desire to get involved.” in the [careers] that would be in science, “he said.

Ms. Badger said the program will initially focus on schools in socioeconomically depressed areas and girls to encourage greater representation of women in the STEM industry.

She said the rocket was designed for school use and made from items that students had already used in their classrooms.

“If even a student is looking for something they’re passionate about instead of settling for a job they’re supposed to do rather than something they really want to do, that makes all the difference,” she said .

“It enables us to reach”

Hymba Yumba STEAM coordinator Elizabeth Pynor said the experience was great for Jarjums.

“It’s so nice to see a smile on your face and none of them go away and say, ‘This is so silly,'” said Mrs. Pynor.

“They all get involved and say, ‘Yeah, I can say I built part of a rocket today.'”

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12th grade Jarjums Shaylana Campbell and Ziphoria Minniecon both found the experience “pretty cool” and were particularly impressed that women led the workshop.

“I thought it was pretty cool because we saw women presenting … I found it interesting because we could see women in science,” said Ziphoria.

“It enables us to achieve what people may not believe we can achieve as women,” Shaylana said.

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