Lighting the Way

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Excitement and curiosity lit up Brisbane classrooms over the past fortnight as a series of science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) workshops marked the conclusion of the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy’s (QMEA) engagements for Semester 1 of the school year.

The two workshops, “Lighting the Way” and “STEM Unearthed” were delivered at Corinda and Glenala state high schools by the QMEA, which is the education arm of the Queensland Resources Council (QRC), thanks to funding through a QRC member education levy.

QRC Manager – Skills and Education, Mr Matthew Heskett said these workshops aim to ignite a passion for STEM topics by giving students an insight into how such technical disciplines are used in the resources sector.

“Lighting the Way led over 80 students to understand the physics of the law of reflection to make a retroreflector – an arrangement of reflective surfaces or mirrors where light travels in predictable paths.

“This technology is used in clothing and on signage to maintain safe operations at sites in the resources sector, and in other industries” Mr Heskett said.

STEM Unearthed saw around 50 Grade 10 students undertake a variety of exciting, hands-on tasks related to the resources industry.

Working collaboratively, students devised and executed supply chain management strategies at a “mini mine site”, simulating real-world challenges like managing finances, operating within time and equipment constraints, and maximising efficiency.

Students also used Arduino microcontrollers to solve mine site safety problems by designing and writing programs in the ‘C’ language.

Corinda State High School Principal, Ms Helen Jamieson said the collaboration and observational skills the students learnt over the past fortnight are just as important as the STEM skills they develop in the classroom.

“In addition to the professional skills they picked up, the workshops also helped them see the link between curriculum fundamentals and critical issues like safety in the resources industry and extraction of valuable minerals,” Ms Jamieson said.

“These workshops target students on a STEM pathway at an important point of their education journey, who are interested in pursuing a career into the resources sector.

“We want them to know that continuing their studies can lead to a rewarding career in fields like chemical engineering, geology, metallurgy or environmental science.”

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.

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