A program to inspire schoolchildren across Australia to study the sciences and engineering will take its first steps in Townsville tomorrow (July 21).
The launch at JCU of the Wonder of Science by the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) will involve teachers from schools across northern Queensland.
In September, children from more than 20 schools including Cairns, Ingham, Townsville, Mt Isa and Proserpine will be invited to JCU for a one-day conference involving workshops, project presentations and challenging science activities.
The chairman of ATSE’s Queensland Division, Professor Gordon Dunlop, said the program was aimed at school children in years six to nine.
“We want to build a passion and enthusiasm for science and engineering at an early age, not only to develop a love of science but also to address the long-term skills shortage for science and engineering professions,” said Professor Dunlop, who is also Executive Director Business Engagement at the University of Queensland.
Professor Jeff Loughran, JCU’s Pro Vice Chancellor, Faculty of Science and Engineering, said that while there had been a substantial increase this year in students wanting to study engineering at JCU, the supply of graduates was still insufficient to meet the needs of Australia particularly in the resource-based industries.
“The Wonder of Science program aims to foster an interest in such careers by engaging young students with research projects they can do and then have them present their work to a wider audience,” Professor Loughran said.
Program Manager David Sutton said the Townsville launch was a pilot for the rest of Queensland, and Queensland would be pilot for the rest of Australia.
“It is an obvious place to begin because while we want to instil the passion in all students, we are particularly keen to get to students who because of their circumstances might not even consider that university has a place in their future,” he said.
“For some - such as many Indigenous school children, or those from rural and remote areas, or from families where no one before them has attended university - gaining a degree seems to be something for others to achieve.
“We want them to not only develop a love for science but also know that they can go to university and then pursue careers in these areas,” Mr Sutton said.
ATSE Wonder of Science is sponsored by JCU, the Queensland Government, the University of Queensland, QIC, QR National and Xstrata.
Issued: July 20, 2012
JCU Media: Jim O’Brien 07 4781 4822