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Students from Upper Coomera State College yesterday (16 August) learned how the wonders of science improve safety and efficiency in the minerals and energy sector at the school’s inaugural Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) workshop.

Sponsored by Queensland Resources Council (QRC) members through an education levy, this workshop integrated the Grade 7 and 9 national science curricula with exciting, hands-on activities that explored the properties of light and physics.

QRC Director of Skills, Education and Diversity, Ms Katrina-Lee Jones said about 100 students worked collaboratively in teams as they put their science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills to the test across two different programs.

“The first workshop, Lighting the Way saw students investigate the properties of reflection and refraction as they used lasers and mirrors to manoeuvre a light source, modelling a type of technology called a retroreflector,” Ms Jones explained.

“Retroreflectors are commonly used in clothing and on signage to maintain safe operations at sites in the resources sector.

“This program allowed students to understand how the fundamentals of science can be applied in real-world situations, and how STEM skills from the classroom are transferable to life outside of school.”

“In the Pulleys for Productivity sessions, students explored how simple mechanics can transform a difficult challenge like lifting a heavy object into a simple task,” Ms Jones said.

“Students constructed a pulley mechanism to lift a heavy object, demonstrating how basic physics principles can be utilised to increase efficiency and reduce strenuous manual labour.”

Upper Coomera State College Executive Principal, Mr Noel Rawlins said among other important subjects, the school prides itself on being a leader in STEM education providing innovative, academically challenging, engaging and inspiring learning pathways for high achieving students.

“We are thrilled to have hosted our first series of workshops since the College recently became a QMEA-affiliated school,” Mr Rawlins said.

“As educators, we know how valuable it can be for students to enhance their learning outcomes through engaging and innovative forums such as Lighting the Way and Pulleys for Productivity.

“Yesterday was all about showcasing how the school-based curriculum will be useful for students in their life after school, and the many different career opportunities that lie ahead if they choose to continue studying STEM subjects.”

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 90 schools and is a partnership between the QRC and the Queensland Government under its Gateway to Industry Schools program.

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