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From classrooms to core drills, students from Dalby State High School today unearthed new science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) knowledge at a unique workshop delivered by the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA), the education arm of the Queensland Resources Council (QRC).
In partnership with Arrow Energy, ‘Exploration and Rehabilitation’ captivated the curious minds of 30 Year 8 students who eagerly discovered the life cycle intricacies of a natural gas project through hands-on, resources industry contextualised activities.
QRC Director of Skills, Education and Diversity, Ms Katrina-Lee Jones said on the back of ground-breaking success last year when the program was delivered for the first time, this experience seeks to ignite enthusiasm in the next generation of STEM specialists.
“Under the guidance of Arrow Energy representatives, students rolled up their sleeves and delved into the core of percussive air drills — a critical exploration component used in the natural gas industry,” Ms Jones said.
“With straws and irrigation tubing in hand, they simulated the very technology that uncovers the treasures hidden beneath the Earth’s surface and investigated how geologists and exploration scientists find new natural gas reserves.”
Ms Jones said students will not only learnt about the life cycle of gas but also understood the vital role that STEM plays in shaping the energy sector.
“This workshop cleverly combined common household items with dynamic aspects of a gas project, allowing students to engage with a replica exploration site complete with an aluminium tray, sand, black rock, topsoil, water sources and a splash of flora,” she said.
“After completing their air drill adventure, students then moved onto planning their gas project, factoring in biodiversity by using coloured sticks to map different vegetation and identified the most sustainable and suitable operational strategy.”
Arrow Energy’s Vice President for Corporate Affairs, Rachael Cronin, said the workshop was a fun and interesting way to inform and inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists.
“The workshop gave participants a better understanding of how the natural gas industry finds and extracts coal seam gas, as well as how we rehabilitate the land afterward,” Ms Cronin said.
“Most of our operations are in the Surat Basin surrounding Dalby, so it’s incredibly beneficial for students in the area to learn about what we do. This way, they can gain a better understanding of how the coal seam gas industry operates and how we are contributing to the transition to clean energy.
“Who knows, maybe the students of today will become the Arrow employees of tomorrow!”
Dalby State High School Principal, Dr Dean Russell praised the workshop as a fantastic synergy between exploration, extraction and rehabilitation – domains that demand forward-thinking minds to propel innovation.
“Demonstrating how the energy sector plans for the future, the last activity saw students craft fully costed proposals for rehabilitating a section of land,” Dr Russell said.
“Using magic sand representing topsoil, students used critical thinking, problem-solving and STEM skills to plan the rehabilitation phase for their mini exploration sites – highlighting the intricate balance between sustainable development and environmental preservation.”
As Australia’s largest and most successful industry-led education and schools 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 98 schools and is a partnership between the QRC and the Queensland Government under its Gateway to Industry Schools program.