- 31 May 2019
On Tuesday 28th May, Veolia hosted Year 8 students from Crookwell High School at their Woodlawn Eco-Precinct. The excursion was organised by RDA Southern Inland, as part of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) Industry School Partnership (SISP) Program, funded by the Department of Education.
Following on from the launch of the SISP program at Crookwell High School a few weeks ago, students yesterday were able to visit a unique and innovative operation and witness STEM skills and knowledge in action.
The excursion began with a few introductory videos about the site and the various different operations that occur. The students learnt about how the waste is transported from Sydney to Tarago via train. Veolia is the first organisation to use this mode of transport and saves 8000 tonnes of carbon by using trains rather than trucks to transport the waste. Each train can hold around 1800 tonnes of waste.
Veolia owns 6000 hectares of land and houses a number of different operations, including a bioreactor, a fish farm, a wind farm and a Mechanical Biological Treatment Plant (MBT). These facilities target resource recovery initiatives by converting wasted resources into energy, by the conversion of methane into electrical energy and heat recovery for the onsite aquaculture where barramundi are grown. In addition, their newly constructed MBT recovers organics from the general waste stream to produce a compost which is aimed at rehabilitating the degraded land from the former mining operation.
After the introduction, students then hopped on the bus to visit the bioreactor. Keith Whitfield, the students tour guide for the day, estimated that it would take another 30-40 years to fill in the old open cut mine. Woodlawn currently takes 30% of Sydney’s waste annually and turns it into biogas. Students were amazed at the size of the hole and the idea that waste can be used to capture green energy.
Students next visited the aquafarm, the most exciting part of the day for many. Keith explained how this operation closes the loop on their energy generation, where waste converted to energy produces the heat to run a fish farm. The water is heated to 28 degrees and the fish are sold to a local fish wholesaler in Fyshwick.
For Crookwell High students, excursions such as this expose them to different STEM careers and encourage them to think differently and creatively.
Felicity Abbey, Head Teacher Science at Crookwell High School, spoke about the outcomes of the excursion and how it can encourage students to ‘think outside the box’.
“Site visits such as this provide students with an opportunity to become more aware of the wide variety of STEM-related career paths that they might follow in the future. Another outcome is more subtle, students see that what starts as a crazy idea can actually become a reality and this encourages them to think creatively and dare to dream about what they could achieve in the future.”
SISP is a program that links industry with local schools to focus the narrative on how STEM skills and knowledge can solve real-world knowledge. Several other schools are also involved in the SISP Program in the Upper Lachlan, including Bigga, Binda, Laggan, Crookwell and Taralga Public Schools.
Crookwell High students and teachers at the Woodlawn bioreactor