If there’s a remedy for all the doom and gloom surrounding science education in Australia, it is an evening spent at the Young Scientist Awards. What an absolutely inspiring group of young people.
The awards should probably be called the STEM awards as they cover everything from physics and chemistry through to engineering, design, and maths. There’s a core focus on research and creativity that can only leave the audience blown away by so what many fabulous young people are doing – and in this case ‘young’ covers some really tiny primary school kids through to teenagers at the end of high school.
Projects ranged from using infrared imaging to measure plant health, to looking at plastics on beaches, to a robotic window cleaner. The display of ingenuity and application of scientific thinking on display was breath-taking.
A lot of these projects are still being created outside of school, or in the classrooms of particularly enthusiastic teachers, but one of the keynote speeches described the changes being made to the curriculum to allow for research projects to take place as part of the normal school day. That can’t come soon enough.
In the meantime there remains no question that there are many issues with STEM teaching in Australia, but students like these demonstrate that there are bright beams of light breaking through the clouds.
Congratulations to all the prize-winners.