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Year 7 students at St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School yesterday (24 May) received a unique insight into the increasingly high-tech future of mining at a workshop that was all about using science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills to solve real-world mine safety challenges.
The ‘Mining for Code’ workshop was presented by the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy, the education arm of the Queensland Resources Council (QRC).
Thirty enthusiastic female students learnt how to use STEM skills and a mix of electronics and computer programming to program tiny computers called Arduinos to display sequences of flashing lights, which are designed to alert miners to potential hazards.
QRC Director of Skills, Education and Diversity, Katrina-Lee Jones said the workshop showed students how to use best-practice coding techniques to program micro-controllers that simulate lights on a miner’s helmet.
“We’re running workshops like this to motivate female students to keep up their STEM studies throughout their education and training experiences, because these are the skills that will open up a huge range of job opportunities, especially in the resources and energy sector,” she said.
“Whether it’s in the area of safety, environmental management or improved mining practices, the ongoing uptake of new technology across the resources sector means the fresh ideas and digital technology skills of young people are very highly valued by resources companies.”
St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School Principal, Ms Ros Curtis said the Mining for Code workshop made for an engaging and productive morning.
“Not only did the students learn how important safety is in the real world, but they also practised design thinking, experimentation, creative problem solving, and communication – all critical skills necessary for a successful future.
“A significant number of industries continue to take up digital technologies to innovate our world, make our lives safer, and optimise technical disciplines.
“By showing these students how technology has transformed one of Australia’s largest industries, we’re helping them see how STEM-based learning is applied in the real world,” Ms Curtis said.
As Australia’s largest and most successful industry-led education and schools training initiative, the QMEA seeks to broaden student and teacher knowledge of career opportunities in resources.
The academy encourages a talent pipeline of employees into vocational and professional careers, with a focus on female and Indigenous participation. The QMEA currently engages with over 90 schools and is a partnership between the QRC and the Queensland Government under its Gateway to Industry Schools program.