- 13 December 2019
On Wednesday the 4th of December, Regional Development Australia (RDA) Southern Inland hosted the inaugural Southern Inland STEM Awards at The Worker Club in Goulburn.
The Awards celebrated the fantastic work students in the Southern Inland region have completed throughout 2019 in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and gave participants a chance to showcase their learning development and capabilities. Over 100 teachers, students, industry partners and special guests came along to celebrate what has been a fantastic year of STEM education.
The Awards also gave RDA Southern Inland a chance to thank the schools and industry partners who have participated in the STEM Industry School Partnership Program (SISP) in 2019. Funded by the NSW Department of Education, RDA Southern Inland act as a link between STEM industries and schools to better engage students in STEM learning and potential career pathways.
Member for Goulburn, Wendy Tuckerman opened the event and spoke about the importance of STEM education and why it is a priority for the NSW Government.
“The NSW Government wants to see our students continuingly learning in our complex world. That’s why the NSW school curriculum is set for the first major shakeup in over thirty years, with a renewed focus on maths, English and science. A back to basics approach,” Mrs Tuckerman said.
“Skills we see here today, are something students have been learning and will continue to learn throughout their entire school life from preschool to year 12. These lessons will be foundations for almost any career that they think of today and even for jobs that may not exist just yet.”
The Awards covered a number of categories including, Science, Mathematics, Industrial and Engineering Technology, as well as a school category that rewarded diversity and accessibility in STEM. This was awarded to Goulburn High School, for their inclusive Robotics Program, whereby their current team, who are regional champions, are made up of 50% Aboriginal Torres Strait Islanders. The prize for Goulburn High was valued at over $1000.
Gift vouchers valued at $150 and $50 were awarded to the winning and runner up entries for each category.
Awards were then given to the SISP industry partners of 2019. They included Goterra, Gullen Range Wind and Solar Farm, Pearson Engineering, Veolia’s Woodlawn Bioreactor, Crookwell 2 Wind Farm, Cullerin Wind Farm, Canberra Institute of Technology, Southern Region Business Enterprise Centre.
RDA Southern Inland, Project Officer, Camilla Staff, expressed her thanks to the industry representatives.
“Our partners this year have been so selfless with their time. They have taken time out of their busy days to engage with students because they want to be a part of developing a workforce of the future that can meet this increased demand for STEM skills.”
Participating SISP schools were also given certificates to acknowledge all their hard work throughout 2019. They included Wollondilly Public, Bradfordville Public, Mulwaree High, Crookwell Public, Binda Public, Bigga Public, Taralga Public, Laggan Public and Crookwell High.
After a short interval and a chance to indulge in some food, it was time to listen to the keynote speaker of the night Olympia Yarger, CEO and Founder of AgTech start up, Goterra.
Founded in 2016, GoTerra takes food waste and feeds it to maggots, before turning those maggots into protein-rich feed for livestock. Currently based in Canberra, Goterra is rapidly expanding their operations to Sydney, Goulburn and other areas.
Olympia started as a sheep farmer, managing food waste in her kitchen before deciding to pursue the business idea full-time. Olympia provided invaluable advice to the students in the room, particularly those considering a career in agriculture of ag-tech. Olympia emphasised the ability today to work in tech and stay on a farm, citing the example of a farm in Emerald, Queensland, who are the only farm in the world who have drone-driven tractors, harvesters and sprayers.
“You can work in really sophisticated tech and be working on farm,” she said.
Olympia also spoke about the importance of failure and that it’s okay to “break stuff”.
“Failure is actually the greater learning curve than success over time, every time you have a success you actually don’t learn because all the success has done is remind you that your assumptions are true. And in doing something that nobody has ever done before, your assumptions generally aren’t true. Breaking things, having accidents and making mistakes is one of the best ways of working out whether your idea is as strong or as right as you think it is when everything is going well.”
The Awards were a fantastic way to conclude a very successful 2019 of SISP and STEM education. RDA Southern Inland will continue and expand the SISP Program in 2020.