Science needs to be passionate affair for children
July 20, 2012: A program to inspire schoolchildren across Australia to study the sciences and engineering will take its first steps in Townsville at James Cook University.
The launch of the “Wonder of Science” by the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) tomorrow (July 21) will involve teachers from schools across northern Queensland.
In September, children from more than 20 schools in northern Queensland, including Cairns, Ingham, Townsville, Mt Isa and Proserpine will be invited to JCU for a one-day conference that will involve workshops, the presentation of projects and challenging science activities.
The chairman of ATSE’s Queensland Division, Professor Gordon Dunlop, said that the program was aimed at school children in Years 6 to 9.
“We want to build a passion and enthusiasm for science and engineering at an early age not only to develop a love of science but also to address the long-term skills shortage for science and engineering professions,” Professor Dunlop, who is also Executive Director Business Engagement at the University of Queensland, said.
Professor Jeff Loughran, JCU’s Pro Vice Chancellor Faculty of Science and Engineering, said that while there had been a substantial increase this year in studentswanting to study engineering at JCU, the supply of graduates was still insufficient to meet the needs of Australia particularly in the resource-based industries.
“The Wonder of Science program is to foster an interest in such careers by engaging young students with research projects they can do and then have them present their work to a wider audience,” Professor Loughran, who will be speaking at the launch on Saturday, said.
Program Manager David Sutton said that the launch of the scheme in northern Queensland was a pilot for the rest of Queensland, and Queensland would be pilot for the rest of Australia.
“It is an obvious place to begin because while we want to instill the passion in all students, we are particularly keen to get to students who because of their circumstances might not even consider that university has a place in their future,” he said.
“We know that kids in these crucial years at primary and secondary school are already thinking about their future and whether they will ever go to university.
“For some - such as many Indigenous school children, or those from rural and remote areas, or from families where no one before them has attended university - gaining a degree seems to be something for others to achieve.
“We want them to not only develop a love for science but also know that they can go to university and then pursue careers in these areas,” Mr Sutton said.
Saturday’s program, which begins at 9am, is for teachers from schools that have already expressed a desire to be part of the program.
They will be briefed on the ATSE Wonder of Science program and the role they will play and will hear from a number of speakers including a group of students from Brisbane Girls Grammar School who have participated in a forerunner of the scheme.
Saturday’s events will also include the role that industry will play in the program such as being linked to schools and engaging with students. Industry will also provide “Ambassadors” to promote the program along with Young Science Ambassadors and will act as mentors to the young students.
ATSE Wonder of Science is sponsored by JCU, the Queensland Government, the University of Queensland, QIC, QR National and Xstrata.
Contact: David Sutton 0407 143498
JCU Media: Jim O’Brien 07 4781 4822 or 0418 892449
Issued: July 20, 2012