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Innovative workshops using robots and paper aeroplanes, delivered by the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) has today helped Blackwater students in primary school get a glimpse of the exciting world of the resources and energy sector.

Thanks to support from Coronado Global Resources’ Curragh mine, about 60 students from Years 3 to 6 from Blackwater North State School and Blackwater State School bolstered their science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) skills and built new coding capabilities.

The QMEA is the education arm of the Queensland Resources Council (QRC).

QRC Director of Skills, Education and Diversity, Ms Katrina-Lee Jones said it’s never too early for students to discover how their classroom learning can be applied to real-world scenarios, especially in an industry operating in their own backyard.

“The purpose of today’s educational experiences is to demonstrate the exciting, dynamic characteristics of the resources and energy sector – from simple engineering concepts all the way to advanced technologies,” Ms Jones said.

“QMEA engagements like these are all about sparking interest in STEM subjects from an early age, helping the next generation make connections with a leading industry, and guiding them on a potential pathway to a rewarding career.”

Coronado Global Resources Chief People and Sustainability Officer, Ms Emma Pollard said the company’s valuable partnership with the QMEA helps build regional skills development in the community in which it operates.

“Under the guidance of experienced professionals from Curragh Mine, students as young as seven today got the opportunity to take what they’re learning in school and solve real challenges,” Ms Pollard said.

“During the first session today, students programmed Lego EV3 robots to autonomously drive around a simulated mini-mine site, something they would see automated trucks do on-site.”

Blackwater State School Principal, Mrs Lisa Sweeney said during the second session, students explored the wonders of physics as they worked in teams to construct a paper aeroplane with the longest flight time.

“As educators, we understand programs don’t have to be highly technical or intensive to reach students, and incorporating simple concepts in an entertaining way is highly effective, Mrs Sweeney said”.

“Students had two ‘test flights’ today where they could take on advice from industry mentors to improve their prototype, before competing against the other teams for first place.

“This allowed them to not only bolster their tangible STEM skills, but also their valuable life skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork.”

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

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