Western Downs students to try virtual science challenge

BUDDING young scientists from across the Western Downs will have a unique opportunity to become immersed in science and technology, while having their knowledge of the field tested, thanks to Arrow Energy.

Twenty-nine teams from five schools will compete in a two-day, virtual challenge to test their science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills on July 15 and 16.

They will connect with Young science Ambassadors - PhD students from the University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology and Griffith University - in the Arrow Energy-sponsored conference.

"Our challenge tasks immerse students in authentic and collaborative STEM inquiry, helping them gain knowledge and skills essential for twenty-first century jobs," Wonder of science Director Robyn Bull said.

"In addition, the opportunity for students (and teachers) to access young STEM researchers through the Young science Ambassador program, as well as industry professionals through our partner organisations, is highly valuable.

"The Young science Ambassadors will be judging the student presentations at the virtual conference and providing feedback to the teams - eventually finding a winning team in each year level."

The Wonder of science Virtual Program for Years 5 to 9 students was developed in response to the COVID-19 disruptions. This is the first time the conference has been run as a virtual event. In past years, physical Western Downs conferences have been held at Dalby and Miles schools.

The virtual pilot program is running through term 2 in 10 Queensland schools, including small and large schools in the metropolitan region and the Surat Basin.

"It is terrific to have Arrow Energy's ongoing support for schools in the Surat Basin - this year being the seventh year that students (and teachers) have had the opportunity to participate in the Wonder of science challenges," Ms Bull said.

The winning teams will be invited to represent the region at the state conference in late

Wonder of science is a multi-university program hosted by The University of Queensland's Graduate School. It promotes STEM studies in Queensland schools and is delivered in Western Downs through Arrow's sponsorship.

"We have over 100 Young science Ambassadors working in schools across the state - they are PhD research students, involved in a diverse array of STEM areas including astrophysics, bio-fabrication and 3D-printing of body parts, medical robotics, molecular science, ecology, nanomaterials mechanical engineering and much, more," Ms Bull said.

"The ambassadors are very inspiring - and wonderful role models for students."

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